by Rob Dyck
Solus Christus – in Christ alone. Salvation depends on it. One would think this should be painfully obvious when Jesus Himself said that “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), or when Peter said, “there is no other name by which man may be saved” (Acts 4:12). So, why is this an issue? Why would people think they could add something to the work of Christ in salvation thereby denying the sacrifice of the Lamb of God as sufficient? To believe that it is Christ alone who saves should be the greatest news of all; it means we do not need to rely upon ourselves in even the most trivial way. Yet, in our sin nature, we vainly want to rob God of His glory; and it is seen not only today, but throughout church history.
In the 11th and 12th century the church had risen to such a power that it was the church who removed and appointed kings and rulers over nations. The church had assumed an authority the Bible never gives. How did the church get to this point? The Bible was still only available in Latin, even though it was no longer the common language. Yet, the church would not allow the Bible to be translated for all to understand, therefore very few people had access to the Scriptures. Using the ignorance of the people to their advantage, the church began to teach that in order for people to be saved they must be obedient to the church. The people must now keep ordinances, sacraments, attend mass, etc. Imagine the power the church held. Not only did people have to depend on the church as the highest form of government, but they had to depend upon the church for salvation! It was no longer Christ alone – as the Word of God teaches – it was Jesus plus the church that saved you.
Not only did the church teach Jesus plus obedience to the church for salvation, but it taught access to Christ came through a mediator. These mediators included dead saints, Jesus’ mother Mary, or the pope. In fact, pope Innocent III, who was pope from 1198 to 1216, applied the words of God to Moses, to himself, when God said, “I have made you like God to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1). Innocent saw himself (as he also preached in his coronation) as the intermediary “between God and man, under God and over man, less than God, but greater than man.” Unfettered corruption spread through the church with this kind of authority.
Fast forward to the reformation when God used the reformers to proclaim the truth of Scripture once more. As a result, many were burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English, French, and German – common languages understood by the people. Through much pain and suffering the truth and exclusivity of Christ was once again revealed. It is Solus Christus, Christ alone, who saves. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus sacraments. Not Christ plus the church. The protestants were adamant that adding anything to Christ was to rob God of His glory. As Tertullion, a church father, said, “Jesus plus nothing equals everything”, or, another way of putting it as author and speaker Jarod Wilson did “Jesus plus anything equals nothing”.
If we add anything to Christ, we are saying His work was insufficient therefore we will make it sufficient by our works – by what I do. However, man is completely incapable of adding anything to the work of Christ. This is why He had to come and be perfectly obedient to the Father in the first place, because we could never be and the Bible says to break even one law is like breaking them all (James 2:10). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice in our place! Spurgeon once declared “If thou puttest one atom of trust in thyself, thou hast no faith. If thou doest place even a particle of reliance upon anything else but what Christ did, thou hast no faith. If thou doest trust in thy works then thy works are anti-christ. And Christ and ant-christ can never go together. Christ will have all or nothing. He must be a whole saviour or no saviour at all.” Salvation exists nowhere else, not in the world, not in the church and not in our works.
There are many subtle ways even today we may deny the doctrine of Solus Christus. In today’s world there is a tendency for churches to want to be hip and trendy in a desire to reach the world and the culture for Jesus. In essence, however, this denies that Jesus is enough to bring people to salvation. Is Jesus enough to bring people to the Father, or must we entertain people to bring them into fellowship? What you bring people into the church with is what you will need to continue to give them in order to keep them.
What about the false gospel of health and wealth? Is Jesus sufficient for me or do my itching ears desire the earthly pleasures the prosperity gospel offers? Do I find sufficient joy in Christ, or will I only be happy if I have my health?
Jesus truly is our only hope, not only in salvation, but in an ongoing basis even after we have been saved. Our sanctification itself depends not on us, but on Christ (Gal 3:3). By His power we are kept (1 Peter 1:3-5) and He is the one who helps us in times of temptation (1 Cor 10:13). Our justification, our sanctification, and our future glorification fully depends upon His finished work (Rom 8:30). Our assurance is not reliant on what we can do (our obedience or performance), but on what Christ did! That truly is the best news ever!