Friday, September 01, 2006

Treasuring Sola Christus (Christ Alone)

Young Luther"That Word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them abideth,
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
through Him who with us sideth,
let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also,
the body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever."
(A Mighty Fortress by Martin Luther)

There is nothing that is more weighty or delightful to the Christian believer than the person of Jesus Christ. It was once said of Christ that to be in heaven without Jesus would to be in hell, and to be in hell and have Jesus with us is to be in heaven. Christ is everything to the Christian. All the Christian's hopes lay in the person of Jesus, He is our sin absolver, our righteousness, and our exceeding great reward. Christ is so precious that the apostle Paul said:

"To live is Christ and die is gain" (Philippians 1)

To those who treasure Christ their lives are poured out for Him, and to die is gain, for to die is to be with Christ. Thus, Martin Luther in his hymn can say "let goods and kindred go this mortal life also..." for there is a treasure more precious to be had than earthly goods and even family. Jesus Christ is the world to the believer. Now, there is so much that can be written about the Person of Jesus, we could talk about His Divinity, His incarnation, His eternality, His Lordship, and at some point I will. The person of Christ deserves nothing less than infinite in depth studies (that is what heaven is for). However, I will in this post focus on those aspects of Sola Christus that surround the redemption of sinners.

Christ our Sin Bearer:

It is a truth that lies at the very heart of Christianity that Christ took the sins of men upon Himself. Underlying this truth is the fact that Christ became Man, and was without sin (Ex 12:5) and thus was able to stand in the place of the guilty and take the punishment they deserve. The backdrop of the crucifixion of Christ is the Jewish Passover. In all four gospels Christ is crucified on the Friday morning/afternoon proceeding the celebration of the Passover feast the preceding Thursday night. The point is that Christ is the Passover Lamb to all who are in Him.

"For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Cor 5:7)

Jesus Christ through His death has suffered the punishment that rebellious sinners deserve, thus God can justly forgive and Passover the sins of those in Christ. For God to be holy and treat sin in a cavalier manner would be to compromise/negate that holiness, thus sin is taken very seriously by a thrice holy God. So then are all men doomed? For all have sinned and deserve the wrath of God. Yet here is Christ who takes our sins upon Himself so that God can both be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ:

" [Christ] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Rom 3:25-26)

Some so called Christians want to abandon this truth, it seems like Divine child abuse they say. Ah, but what know they of the heights of God's holiness and the depths to which He was willing to sink and suffer to redeem His bride. What know they the depths joy from the forgiveness springing from kneeling before Calvary to have our burdens of sin fall off our backs. What know they of the love of Jesus Christ?

"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh," (Rom 8:3)

"But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself...so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:26-28)

Christ is clearly portrayed as the sin bearer of His people in the scriptures, He became sin in their place to bear their guilt and justly pardon.

Christ our Righteousness:

As one may have seen particularly in 2 Cor 5:21 Christ not only became our guilt bearer but our righteousness. This is the "double exchange" that has happened to all who are in Christ. Christ not only has taken our guilt and sin and suffered the penalty due, but also has given us a righteousness that is not our own and we reap the rewards due to possessing a perfect righteousness.

"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us..."(Rom 8:3-4)

"and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- (Phil 3:9)

I have briefly addressed how the imputation of Christ's righteousness is being challenged by NT Wright and the "New Perspective" folks already. This truth is very precious to me, to know that I am clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus and that my standing before God is not damaged through my imperfections nor any better through my good frame. For Jesus Christ is my righteousness. To know that I do not have to defend myself and make myself look like I am something other than a beggar is very liberating. The truth of imputed righteousness frees us from all the idols of self-esteem and self righteousness. Puritan Thomas Watson writes wonderfully as to what it looks like to be wed to Christ and have our guilt covered by Christ's righteousness as Watson states:

Watson"When the law brings indictments against you. When the law says, 'Here are so many debts to be paid.', and it demands satisfaction. Acknowledge the debt, but turn it all over to your Husband, Christ...Tell Satan when he accuses you, 'It is true that the debt is mine, but go to my Husband Christ, He will discharge it.' If we took this course we would relieve ourselves of much trouble. By faith we turn the debt over to our Husband...This is the believers triumph. When he is guilty in himself he is worthy in Christ. When he is spotted in himself, he is pure in his Head."

ultimately, by Christ being our righteousness all glory for our salvation belongs to Christ alone.

Christ Alone?:


As with all of the five solas of the Reformation the divergence from Rome lay in the sola (alone) aspect of the truth. Here in Sola Christus it is no different. Rome has and does hold to a system of merits and works based righteousness. Christ's death in the sinners place is part of the righteousness of the sinner but the sinner himself must also participate actively through masses, confession, sacraments, penances etc to store up a righteousness and cut down years in purgatory.

The problem for the guilty conscience is that how do we know when we have said enough prayers to saints? How do we know when we have confessed all our sins (even the ones from when I was 8 years old June 17th)? Martin Luther suffered tremendously under a guilty conscience and found no ease in any of this but only found himself to be condemned. I got your ecumenicalism right here!It was the truth of Romans 1:17 "The just shall live by faith." that freed this man from a guilt stricken conscience. How? The faith we are to live by is faith in Christ. Christ and His finished work alone is the saints resting place. We find nothing in Scripture about asking Mary to intercede for us but we do find passages like these:

"Most assuredly I say to you that whoever believes in Me has eternal life." (John 6)

"For there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved except the name of Christ Jesus" (Acts 4:12)

The point of these scriptures is that salvation is attatched to belief in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. Jesus never prescribed a new law for us to live by and earn our salvation by adhering to. This is the fact that separates true Christianity from all the other worldviews that exist. Christianity is the only worldview that does not give man a ladder (rules) to climb and earn heaven, rather it says you can't earn it, but here is Christ look to Him, and Him alone. Christ is presented as the "Author and finisher of our faith", how can this be seen in any other way than that He alone is our hope?

"My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus' blood and righteousness,
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name."

5 comments:

Richard Dawkins said...

Bob, I assume you do not embrace the Lutheran position in its entirety. Luther's uniquely intransigent brand of Christian protestantism provided a crucial base for Nazi propaganda, and the accentuation of anti-semitism in Germany principally due to his rigid intpretation of Christian doctrine. I am not ideologically-diposed to ascribe the holocaust to Luther however am aware of the significance of his teachings and their relation to the fundaments of the demonisation of Jews in Germany, and their key role in the development of anti-semitism that is inextricably linked to that abomination of human-behaviour.

Bob said...

Mr.Dawkins,

I really don't understand how people can link Luther to Nazism. Luther's Refomation occured over 400 years prior to Nazism, between these junctures protestantism in Germany pretty well died in the 1800's giving rise to theological Liberalism (which championed higher criticism of the bible, and an anti evangelical emphasis). To link Luther to Nazism is really a cheap guilt by association fallacy, Luther was German and so were the Nazi's...hmmm.

Rather, I think it is much more rationale to link Nazism with the recent popular theories of evolution giving suppot to the rise to eugenics (perfection of the race genetically) which was part of the Arian vision. Also, deeply influential on the Reich was the teaching of German atheist philosopher Neitzche. Both of these influences closely predate the rise of Nazism. Whereas, the orthodox Lutheran influence was hundreds of years prior to this event, and really a dead movement in Germany at the time.

natamllc said...

Bobby

two portions of your posting on Christ Alone jump off the page when I read the posting over several times again.

It is to these two portions of your posting I will address my remarks.

First portion:

[ Jesus Christ through His death has suffered the punishment that rebellious sinners deserve, thus God can justly forgive and Passover the sins of those in Christ. For God to be holy and treat sin in a cavalier manner would be to compromise/negate that holiness, thus sin is taken very seriously by a thrice holy God. ]

By Grace alone, by Christ doing Himself to us we come to realize our own sins and depravityliving on earth under the curse God pronounce upon the creation after Adam's transgression. In this portion of your post I come to realize that God did not take the Lord's Name in Vain or count what He did alone for us as vain or of no effect in our life now or in the life to come. Everyone now, by Christ alone has "safe passage" to A GARDEN PARADISE to live for all the rest of eternity through Christ alone!

There are two verses from the Scriptures I want to post here. The first is Paul addressing the "reckoning" of Abraham and where and when he was "restored" back to the FELLOWSHIP lost to Adam in the Garden Paradise:

Rom 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Rom 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Rom 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Verse 21 says something was done to Abraham. It says Abraham was 'FULLY PERSUADED' about God and His PROMISE to Abraham. This implies that Abraham "LEARNED" to trust God and His Word of Promise.

And speaking to the knowledge by revelation of Christ alone we read this from Hebrews six:

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

I have not found many who have given me an adequate explanation of verse 3 and it's meaning.

Here's my interpretation of the meaning. God does Himself to us by a Choice He made about Christ alone. We go onto perfection if God permits us to go beyond that level of faith that Jesus talks about in the Gospels. In the Gospel accountings, where the Holy Ghost gets to be the Spiritual CPA, certified public accounter of the account of Christ alone, Jesus tells us we TRUE BELIEVERS can bind on earth and loose on earth and "when we bind on earth", it is bound in heaven and "when we loose on earth", it is loosed in heaven.

It is interesting to me that what Adam lost was fellowship with God and he lost it while living in an earthly garden paradise.

It is also interesting to me that Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, while living on the earth tells us about binding and loosing on earth heavenly things.

The second portion of your post I want to address:

[ The point of these scriptures is that salvation is attached to belief in the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. Jesus never prescribed a new law for us to live by and earn our salvation by adhering to. This is the fact that separates true Christianity from all the other worldviews that exist. ]

The word SEPARATES in your posting strikes me. What is sin but separation from God? That's the original sin that when I was born into this world separated me from God. I didn't have to partake of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil to be partaker of lost fellowship with My Creator! All I had to do was to "be born" into this place, planet earth.

When did Adam separate from God? When was fellowship with God "cut off"? And where was he living when the separation occurred?

Adam separated from God, the Bible story tells us, in the "Garden Paradise" on earth and after he was tempted to eat the prohibited fruit of the knowledge of good and evil that he ate. He was comfortably living in God's created Garden Paradise on the earth when according to the Bible Story, he partook of the fruit and by thus partaking of it, separated from FULL FELLOWSHIP with Our Creator. In the day you eat, you shall surely die.

None of us had to commit one sin to become partakers of the Curse.

Adam broke the First Commandment and he died. A curse of death came upon all creation. When I was born I was born into a cursed world!

Christ alone frees me from that broken commandment and from the curse that followed by becoming a CURSE for me as the Scripture teaches us, CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE.

The Apostle Paul goes further to teach us that we are now by CHRIST ALONE freed from the curse of the law when we receive what we don't deserve, Grace and Mercy and the FRUIT of GRACE AND MERCY is PEACE WITH GOD IN THIS LIFE AND IN THE LIFE TO COME WHEN WE WILL ENTER INTO HEAVENLY GARDEN PARADISE.

David McCrory said...

It is encouraging to see sound orthodoxy in a day where it is so rare.

natamllc said...

HEAR HEAR DAVID

HERE HERE

I WILL DRINK TO THAT,

aaaah, what are you drinking?

16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And he who is thirsty, let him come. And whosoever will, let him take of the living water freely.
18 I testify to every man who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his portion from the tree of life and from the holy city and from the things which are written in this book.
20 ¶ He who testifies these things says, Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, all you holy ones. Amen.


natamllc