Christ alone. I’ve watched several movies where there is a prison inmate scheduled for execution. Usually the crime is either murder or treason, both punishable by death. In most of the stories, there are people busy on the outside trying to find evidence that might stay the execution or completely exonerate the prisoner in question. I have no idea if this is really how it works in real life, but in the movies, only a call from the governor can grant a stay of execution or exonerate the prisoner with a pardon. And in many of the movies I’ve seen, the people desperately trying to prove the prisoner’s innocence submit their evidence at the last hour so that the governor can make the call to stop the death sentence from being carried out. It is only the governor who can change the fate of the prisoner. Only the governor has that authority. Only the governor can pardon or postpone.
To be perfectly honest, I have wrestled with how to write about this particular topic. How should I approach the topic of Christ alone? Should we talk about different religions and worldviews? Should I talk about the functional saviors that many Christians embrace instead of Jesus Christ? Even as I type right now, my heart is pulled in a few directions. So let me start by defining the belief of Christ alone.
Christ alone is the axiom of the Christian faith that teaches that only through Jesus Christ can we receive salvation, forgiveness of sins, access to God, redemption, and eternal life. It also means that all the promises made in the Scripture given to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob find their ultimate fulfillment through Christ alone. The reformers of the sixteenth century called this, Solus Christus, which is Latin for Christ alone. When they protested the Roman Catholic Church, they proclaimed that Christ alone is the mediator between God and man, therefore there is no need to pray to Mary, or any other saints, and neither is there the need for a priest to mediate between man and God. Christ alone is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and he alone is sufficient. What are the implications? If Christ alone is sufficient, then how does that affect the practice of our faith?
Christ alone provides salvation. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). This is an exclusive statement. Jesus is saying that only He provides the way of salvation. Salvation isn’t found in the Law (John 5:39) and it cannot be found in be in doing enough good works (Isaiah 64:6). Rules and regulations (the Law) will never provide salvation because we are incapable of keeping them perfectly. Good works can never save because you can never do enough to make up for the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ.
Also, don’t believe the hype that all religions are essentially the same and only differ on superficial matters. Either Jesus’ statement of himself is true, or it isn’t, it cannot be both. Biblical Christianity cannot accept Jesus’ statement and then at the same time embrace the idea that other religions can lead to God as well. That’s nonsensical logic. If you believed that a green lights were the only lights that mean “go” and then also believed that red lights can mean “go” as well, you’re heading for disaster! You cannot believe Jesus and also believe Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, or anyone else because Jesus eliminates that possibility: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Christ alone provides forgiveness. If Christ alone provides salvation, then by virtue of that authority, Christ alone forgives. “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,” (John 5:22). All matters of judgment have been given to Jesus Christ. That means he alone has authority to forgive sins. You do not have to go through an intermediary to receive forgiveness. No earthly authority can do this for you. Only Christ provides forgiveness of sins.
Christ alone provides access to God. Because salvation and forgiveness come from Christ alone, access to God can only come through Christ. To get to the Father, you must be righteous. If all of our righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), then to gain access to God, someone else’s righteousness must cover us. Through the salvation and forgiveness that comes from Christ our unrighteousness is transferred to Jesus (which is what is meant when we say that he died for our sins on the cross), and we are given HIS righteousness. This is called justification, and by this we gain access to God. Christ alone grants us access because it is only by his perfect righteousness that is given to us that can stand before the Father.
Christ alone provides redemption. If salvation, forgiveness, and access to God come through Christ alone, then redemption also is through Christ alone. The process of receiving salvation, being forgiven, being justified can be boiled into one word: adoption. God the Father through Jesus Christ adopts us. To be adopted is to become a son or daughter of someone who wasn’t your natural father. And by becoming a son, we become an heir. We receive an inheritance. That inheritance starts in this life through the spiritual blessings that we receive as sons (Ephesians 1:3-14). This is redemption. Redemption is the transforming process that we go through, beginning the moment we are born again. You cannot experience redemption apart from Christ because he alone saves, forgives, and justifies.
Christ alone gives us eternal life. Finally, because through Christ alone we are adopted and receive redemption, it is only through Christ that we can have eternal life. Eternal life is impossible without redemption because without redeemed bodies, we cannot survive eternity (1 Corinthians 15:53-55). So you see from beginning to end, salvation, forgiveness, access to God, redemption, and eternal life only come from Jesus Christ! You cannot be a New Testament Christian and believe otherwise. It is Christ alone and no one else!
Why? Why would Christ endure everything he endured? Why would God send his Son to die for sinful humans? The answer may not be what you expect. That’ll be next time.