Salvation is in Christ alone, and this morning we expand our study on the person and work of Jesus.
For the past few weeks we’ve been studying The Five Solas, a handful of theological truths that were highlighted during the Reformation, roughly 500 years ago. These slogans go a long way towards answering a question that captivated the minds of the Reformers: How does a person get right with God?
One of the most direct answers to that that which is found in Scripture comes from John 14:6.
John 14:6 (ESV) - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Man, Jesus is making a bold claim here, isn’t He? How does a person get right with God? Through faith (as we discussed last week), in Jesus Christ specifically.
Of course, He wasn’t the only one who said this sort of thing. In Acts 4, the Apostle Peter was arrested, and the next day he preached to the Jewish religious leaders gathered in Jerusalem. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, he told them:
Acts 4:11-12 (ESV) – 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Solus Christus. Salvation is in no one, but Christ Alone.
Man… That’s just not politically correct! It’s not “tolerant” to make truth claims.
We live in a world which is very pluralistic. People believe a lot of things about God, and most of those things contradict things other people believe. Sometimes one person might even claim to believe multiple conflicting ideas. Nevertheless, ignoring the contradictions, many folks figure that there are just multiple paths to God, and that all the world’s religions eventually lead to one transcendent truth. Yet almost none of those religions teach anything resembling that.
Even for professing Christians, there is a danger of combining the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other religions, philosophies, and worldviews. We call this syncretism and you can find it for sale in the Christian and Inspirational Books section at any of our local Walmart stores. Secular humanism creeps into the church through “self-help” books. Materialism and worldliness sets in through “health and wealth” prosperity preaching. People even allow worldly political endeavors to seep into the church as “social justice” ministries.
What do you get when you mix a little bit of falsehood with a lot of falsehood with a little bit of truth? Not truth, that’s for sure. That’s one of the reasons that David and I spent so much time on the concept of truth in our Coram Deo series last month.
In the same way, when you mix a little bit of falsehood with the message of the Gospel, you get something else. Something not Gospel. Something that geeky theologians like myself call “syncretism.”
But Jesus says HE IS the truth. HE IS the way to get right with God. In Him, and Him alone are abundant and eternal life found.
The message of the Gospel IS the message of the grace that’s found through faith in Jesus Christ. That means we don’t need to add anything to it in order for it to be complete or sufficient for our lives.
But, we do need to know a bit about Jesus.
Now, let’s be clear about something up front… There’s a lot to this discussion. You don’t need to turn to John 21:25, but it sums up my thoughts well:
John 21:25 (ESV) - Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
If the world itself could not contain the books that could be written about Jesus, think of how many messages I’d have to preach to do Him justice? It isn’t going to happen… So this one sermon is only meant to scratch the surface of a very limited scope of information.
If you’ve listened to me preach for more than a few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that I often refer to “The Person and Work of Christ.”
That phrase is a shorthand term. For the Christian, it’s meant to bring to mind WHO Jesus is, and WHAT He has accomplished on our behalf. Again, there’s a lot in this discussion we could focus in on. But let’s start with the “person” part.
Who is He? Open to the Gospel of John, Chapter 1.
John 1:1 (ESV) – 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
To begin with, Jesus (called the Word, here) is God, God the Son; the Second Person of the Trinity. Pre-existent before the creation of the universe, and co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirt.
In John 8:58, Jesus told the Jewish people gathered in the temple, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” That was a direct reference to the Old Testament name of God.
Furthermore, Jesus claimed that He and the Father were ONE. He claimed He had the authority to forgive sin. He spoke AS God, and demonstrated the power OF God.
He was worshipped as God, because He is God.
Now, jump down to verse 14:
John 1:14 (ESV) – 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Here we see that the infinite God took on a finite existence. He “became flesh and dwelt among us”. Therefore, Jesus possesses two distinct but united (hypostatic union) natures, one in His deity, and one In His humanity.
In His humanity, Jesus lived the perfect sinless life you and I could not live.
You may recall two weeks ago when we looked at Romans 5:12. Look again:
Romans 5:12 (ESV) - 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
Sin and death are passed down to all of humanity through Adam. This means that anyone born of Adam continues to inherit a sin nature.
However, Jesus didn’t come from Adam’s line. He stood apart, and as we see in the Gospels every year at Christmas, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit.
This unique genealogy is what made it possible for Jesus, in His humanity, to be the perfect sinless sacrifice that the rest of humanity so desperately needs. Jesus was born without His human nature being corrupted by sin. He was able to keep all of the commands of God’s perfect law.
While we couldn’t do that ourselves, we can certainly relate to all of the other characteristics of Jesus’s human life. He worked, He sweat, He ate, He slept, He laughed, He cried, He bled, and He died. In short, Jesus was fully human.
Jesus was and is fully God, and fully man.
We’ve explored a bit about The Person of Christ, so let’s transition a bit to discuss The Work of Christ, and what He has done on our behalf as a mediator between humanity and the Father.
Historically, Baptists have looked at the work of Christ from a bit of a three-pronged perspective. In the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith it says:
This office of mediator between God and humanity is appropriate for Christ alone, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God.
While they aren’t the only offices in which Christ ministers, it’s these three roles (Prophet, Priest, and King) which have traditionally been the focus of our understanding of Christ’s work.
A prophet is one who speaks the Word of God, and calls people to repent. However, Jesus isn’t just any prophet, but rather a specific, long-awaited prophet, sent into the world to preach both Law and Gospel.
We saw Peter’s words in Acts 4, now look at Acts 3:
Acts 3:22-24 (ESV) - 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.
Back in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses foretold of a specific prophet who would come to call people to repentance. Here the Apostle Peter makes the connection between Moses’ prophecy and the fulfilment in Christ. He says that all the previous prophets pointed forward to the coming of Christ.
That’s because Jesus Christ is the Prophet humanity needs. The one who makes clear the holy standard of God’s law. The one who shows us, all of us, that we don’t measure up.
Jesus the Prophet is the truth of God, and the truth convicts men, women, and children of their sin.
He calls us to repent. But repentance would have little result without the work of Jesus the Priest.
In the Old Testament, the priests of Israel had a number of responsibilities, among which was to make sacrifices on behalf of the people.
I mentioned Romans 5:12 earlier. Now look at Romans 5:19:
Romans 5:19 (ESV) - 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
We were made sinners by Adam’s disobedience. However, we are made righteous by Christ’s obedience. It’s interesting the pararlels between the two. So much so that in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul calls Adam the “First Adam” and Jesus the “Last Adam”. It’s finished in Christ.
But, in what way was Jesus the Priest obedient? What finished the curse of sin? Well, he made a sacrifice on behalf of the people, of course! However, instead of a yearly sacrifice of the blood of bulls or goats, Jesus the Priest made a once-and-for-ever sacrifice, shedding his own blood to wash us clean of sin.
Jesus’ death on our behalf was the ultimate priestly sacrifice. He took our place on the cross, and paid the sin-debt that we are rightly due.
Now, while Jesus’ sacrifice took place only once, Jesus continues to serve as out great High Priest. Take a look at Romans 8:34.
Romans 8:34 (ESV) - 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Jesus the Priest remains the One through whom all acceptable prayer and praise are made to God. He is our intercessor, praying on our behalf, and our advocate, declaring us justified and righteous before our Heavenly Father.
Despite the essential ministry of Jesus as Prophet and Priest, He still has another role.
Back to Acts, this time chapter 2:
Acts 2:29–32 (ESV) - 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
David had been the earthly King of Israel. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with David that His throne, that is, God’s Kingdom, would be established forever, ruled by one of His descendants.
As we see in Acts 2, Jesus is the fulfilment of that promise. Jesus was in the line of David, on His mother’s side. He was the promised King. The one Israel had looked for, for centuries. And while His earthly ministry wasn’t what Israel had expected, Christ remains King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
In Revelation 19, we see a description of the events that will take place at the second coming of Jesus. Verse 16 tells us:
Revelation 19:16 (ESV) - On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
This isn’t the meek and mild Jesus so often portrayed in literature, movies, or even paintings. This is a King, coming back to make war against Satan, Sin, and Death. Coming to redeem His people, and establish His Kingdom forever.
And yet, even today there are implications of Christ as King. We live for His Glory (as we’ll see next week!). We grow in the Christian life only as we live obediently under Christ’s rule and by His power. Coram Deo.
In His Person, Christ is fully God and fully man.
In His Work, Christ is Prophet (who teaches us), Priest (who has sacrificed and now intercedes for us), and King (who guides and protects us).
If you want to live a SOLUS CHRISTUS life, then I encourage you to hold every thought captive, and accept no syncretism. Don’t let the wisdom of this world color your understanding of Christ, but rather, allow Christ to guide and direct your view of the world.
Salvation, and life itself, is in Christ Alone.