This article represents the fourth in a series I’ve entitled Five Things Every Christian Needs To Know. The first article served as an introduction to the topic and the next two discussed The First Thing Every Christian Needs To Know. This was identified as “The Bible alone is the infallible rule of faith for the church” and we discussed many of the ramifications of that belief as well as some of the ways it has come under attack in the church.
If you would like to get caught up, here are the previous articles:
- Five Things Every Christian Needs To Know
- The First Thing Every Christian Needs To Know
- The First Thing Every Christian Needs To Know (Part 2)
The final four things every Christian needs to know flow naturally from the first. If we truly acknowledge that Scripture is the infallible rule of faith for the church, it stands to reason that this same Scripture will tell us what we must do and know to be followers of Jesus. As we learned in the second article in this series “The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.” Thus by examining the Bible we can discover the emphases of Scripture and determine the other core doctrines of the faith. Today we will turn to the second thing every Christian needs to know: “Our salvation has been accomplished soley and fully through Christ.” In theology we know this as Solus Christus or Christ Alone. As with our previous discussion, this may seem like an obvious doctrine, yet it is one we would do well to study, to determine if we truly understand it and the ramifications it ought to have on our lives. A consistent study of the Word will soon prove it to be true that Christ alone has fully and soley accomplished our salvation. This is a theme of the Scripture from beginning to end – Scriptures written before Christ’s death prophetically speak of this and Scriptures written after rejoice in it.
We will turn to a brief examination of some of the Scripture passages that form the foundation for this doctrine.
We find the first reference to Christ’s work immediately after Adam and Eve have committed the first sin. Genesis 3:15 reads “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” So soon after our first parents sinner we see that God already speaks of the death of Christ in which He would crush the head of the serpent, defeating the one who brought sin into the world.
While we cannot contain it to a single passage, the Old Testament system of sacrifices was meant to foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ. Blood had to poured out in order to satisfy the justice of God. Similarly, the sins of the people were symbolically laid on a goat (the scapegoat) that was then driven into the wilderness. All of this pointed forward in time to the work of Christ.
From the moment of Christ’s conception God began to reveal first to His parents and then to others that He was the Christ. In Matthew 1:21 Joseph is told that his wife “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” When John the Baptist first met his cousin, Jesus, he said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Through Jesus’ life God began to reveal to more and more people just who Jesus was and what He would accomplish. Years later Peter began to realize who Christ was, affirming “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
In the years following His death the apostles wrote about Jesus’ work and what it meant. The author of Hebrews writes, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time…” (Hebrews 9:27-28a) Peter writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
These are only a few of the many verses which could be offered as proof of this doctrine. Solus Christus, then, is built from the testimony of the entire Scripture, and not merely on a few chapters or verses. To understand it adequately, one must look through a wide lens that allows him to see the whole scope of Scripture’s revealtion of redemptive history, from the first sin to the resurrection.
At the time of the Reformation when this doctrine was first clearly defined, the Reformers meant to indicate by it that they rejected many Roman Catholic beliefs that they felt were contradictory to Scripture. In this doctrine they indicated that we do not need to invoke or venerate saints or Mary, that we do not need to venerate relics and that purgatory does not exist as a place where believers must be further purified before coming into God’s presence. In short, they felt all of these were Catholic additions to Christ’s work that had no basis in Scripture and served only to remove the emphasis on the finality and completeness of His work. Today we fight different battles in regards to the completeness of Christ’s work. We will turn to this tomorrow, but first will examine the work of Christ under three headings: satisfaction, sacrifice and substitution.