Back To Basics:The Sola By Which All Solas Stand or Fall(Solus Christus)
Now we come to the sola that is at the heart of all the solas, and this one is called Solus Christus, which when translated in English from Latin means “Christ alone.”
While salvation is found by “faith alone” (Sola Fide), trusting in the work of Christ for the sinner, and salvation is given to the sinner by “grace alone” (Sola Gratia), knowing that one cannot earn righteousness from God, but salvation is received as a free gift from God. “Christ alone” (Solus Christus) tells mankind the origin of where the righteousness of God comes from. It is found in Christ, and Christ alone.
Theopedia highlights this truth found in the Scriptures:
[Solus Christus] emphasizes that salvation is made possible for man only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Scripture, once more, gives us the instruction that salvation comes from Christ alone:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(Jn. 3:16-18 NASB)
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:24-26 NASB emphasis mine)
Jesus told Thomas that no one can come or be reconciled to God the Father, except by Christ alone:
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Jn. 14:5-6 NASB emphasis mine)
Christ alone is even at the heart of the blessed Gospel, which Paul describes to the Corinthian saints when he writes,
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…(1 Cor. 15:1-4 NASB).
Paul in these verses gives us the main reasons why it this is an important instruction of the universal church:
The prophecy given by God in the Garden of Eden that salvation would be by Christ alone: This reality is found in Genesis 3:15 where the Lord declares to the serpent:
“The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”(NASB, emphasis mine)
This passage, known to many theologians, is called the Protoevangelium (i.e., “first gospel”). God declares the serpent’s head will be crushed by the seed of the woman, and the serpent will bruise the seed of the woman. In this verse is found the reality of the good news itself: The redemption of mankind. There is no other way mankind can receive salvation and redemption. It would only be found in the “seed” of the woman.
The prophecies given by the prophets that salvation would be by Christ alone: The Prophets of God in the Old Testament expanded on the promise God had declared to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The prophecy was given in Exodus when Moses discusses a prophet that God will speak through (Deut. 18:18-19). The prophets that spoke of the work of the woman’s seed is found in David (Ps. 22:1; 16:10; 35:11 49:15; 41:9; 50:6; 109:4), Isaiah (7:14; 53:1-12; 63:1-3), and Zechariah (11:12-13; 12:10) to name a few. These prophecies explain how the “seed”would crush the head of the serpent, and how the serpent would bruise the heel.
The prophecies affirmed by the apostles that salvation would be by Christ alone: This is the main point Paul gave when writing to the saints in Corinth. Namely, that Christ died, was buried, and raised in accordance with the Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament). The apostle John told the reader the main point of his gospel: That one would read his book, believe in Christ alone, and obtain eternal life. Peter also wrotethe prophets of old searched the Old Testament for the time that the Messiah would suffer (1 Pet. 1:10-12).
In addition, the righteous fathers of the faith wrote about this truth that salvation is in Christ alone. Clement of Alexandria (30-100 A.D.), wrote an epistle to the church in Corinth concerning Christ alone:
“And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The Epistle to Diognetus, which was written sometime in the second century, and whom author is unknown, highlighted this truth of Solus Christus:
“He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!”
Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) also spoke of the one being justified by Christ alone. In Dialogue With Trypho he commented,
“those who repented, and who no longer were purified by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the blood of Christ, and through His death.”
These are some of the many early saints of the body of Christ that proclaimed the Biblical teaching of Solus Christus.
Salvation from God can be found by no other means, and in no other person. Deliverance from sin, death, and the devil can only be found by trusting in the “seed” of the woman, whom is Christ. In addition, this is the sola that is at the center of all other solas, and the sola all other solas stand or fall. Without Solus Christus (or adding to Solus Christus), Sola Gratia would be cruelty, Sola Fide would be worthless, Sola Scriptura could not be trusted, and Soli Deo Gloria would not be the believer’s praise.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!