by Mike Ratliff
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Colossians 1:13-18 (NASB)
As we have seen, Sola Scriptura is essential to genuine Christianity. Sacred Scripture is supreme and authoritative over the Church. It is the only ultimate and infallible authority for faith and practice. From Sola Scriptura flows Sola Graita, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. The individual Solas cannot stand apart from the others. From them we state, From Scripture we learn that our salvation if by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. For instance, if someone says that they reject parts of this and simply want Jesus they are violating this and are out of balance theologically. This leads to all sorts of unbiblical behavior in the name of Christ.
I am currently a member of a SBC church. We are not part of the current Social Justice, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality controversies. Our focus is on reaching our city and surrounding area with the Gospel. Since the Covid-19 “crisis” and us not being able to meet in our church facilities nor have small group meetings in our homes, etc., we have adapted in a way that has had some very surprising results. We are meeting online both in our weekly church services and our small groups. The only “service” that is being carried out in the auditorium is baptisms. They are taped and then shown during the Sunday morning service. However, the surprising results are that we have had a lot of baptisms and we have learned that people from all over the world are watching our services. When darkness descends upon the earth, God uses that to draw souls into the light. What we are doing has very little to do with denominiations. That being said, why do we have all of these different denominations? Why are there all these one-off churches out there? Is not the Gospel that Paul preached very clear?
“It seems that we are some of the first who ever anywhere in the world, from the foundation of it, thought of ruining and destroying persons of the same religion with ourselves, merely upon the choice of some peculiar ways of worship in the religion” – John Owen from Indulgence and Toleration Considered, 1667
Owen was addressing outright persecution from the State sponsored church of his day which tried to destroy other forms of Christianity in England and the Colonies. To Owen, the Gospel preached by men such as John Bunyan was the same Gospel that He believed and preached even though he was a Congregationalist while Bunyan was a Baptist. These men could fellowship and consider each a brother because they both clung to the 5 Solas as that “spiritual glue” that binds all genuine Christian brothers and sisters together. On the other hand, these men would not find themselves calling a Pelagian a brother in Christ. Why?
Both Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagiansim, violates the 5 Solas in some way. For instance, Pelagianism is more or less just moralism, which refuses to believe that Sola Scripture, Sola Gratia and, therefore, Soli Fide are essential for salvation. They even teach that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not essential for salvation thereby rejecting Solus Christus.
What is Solus Christus?
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.
We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.
In other words, the Gospel preached without Christ’s substitutionary work is not the Gospel. Also, we know from the Bible that the genuine Gospel is accomplished by God by His grace through faith. Do you see how genuine salvation is God’s work alone from first to last? Now, what about those “professing Christians” who just want Jesus, but forget this rigid adherence to the Biblical Gospel? Should we just welcome them with open arms or what? That’s not what Paul did. Read his Epistle to the Galatians if you doubt that statement.
Solus Christus means there is only one genuine and saving Christ. He is not only sufficient in his bleeding and dying to save us. He is the only Christ. In our relativistic culture we find that it offers many “Christs” who are not really Christ at all. Asserting solus Christus means that a Christian rejects positions in opposition to it as false (“and therefore we condemn…”). I know that those reading this who are enamored with relativism will not agree, but here are four examples of “another” Jesus that many are in love with who is not the real Jesus.
- Christ the psychotherapist. This is an extremely popular position in today’s evangelicalism. This “Christ” is preached as the one who can heal our inner psychological wounds. He can heal broken marriages, aid us in communication with our children, and deal with other dysfunctional situations.
- Christ our example. Often Christ is preached as a moral example whom we are to emulate. The idea lying behind this view is that our sin is little more than confusion and that we have within us the inner moral wherewithal to do whatever should be done, once we are taught it. The “gospel” of this particular “Christ” is pure law, though few pastors who preach “Christ is your model” seem to recognize this fact.
- Christ who gives health and wealth. Surprisingly common is the preaching of a “Christ” who always grants health or wealth to those whose faith in him reaches the level it should. Those who have watched the Pentecostal televangelists recognize this “Christ.”
- Christ the lover. This is popular in certain seminaries where faculties recommend (or even require) students to read the supposed profundities of the mystics. The idea here is not (as it should be) that the student is enabled to critique these writings as examples of man’s perennial attempts to use inner experience as the basis for his justification before God. Rather, the student is encouraged to see the possible application of such writings to the laity in his parish. But as Luther said, mystical experience is just one more counterfeit “ladder to heaven.” Such examples could easily be multiplied.
There are innumerable others I assure you. It happens every time a preacher or teacher misrepresents Christ, His character, His mission, His deity, et cetera. The real Jesus is the Biblical, historical Jesus whom we learn of in the Bible. He is not subject to philosophies or culture or attempts by cultists and heretics to force their version of Him on everyone else. This is why the 5 Solas must stand together.
The Christian skeptic (is that an oxymoron) says that the Bible is not inerrant. Therefore, nothing in it can be trusted. Therefore, we can reject the necessity of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. We can make up our own version of Christianity that is just love and compassion saying things like this:
And let me be clear: I do not have a problem with people who believe in inerrancy. I respect that belief. I just personally can’t go there. My problem is when there is no understanding from their perspective for the other point of view. But these matters are trivial…
My larger concern is why we as Christians cannot fully accept brothers and sisters who are 100% committed to living out the way of Jesus but who happen to think differently on theological grounds. Let us be a community of grace and love committed to the community and kingdom of Christ. This is all that I ask.
I have no doubt that this person means this in all sincerity, however, does that sincerity make it right? This was a response from a commenter on one of my older posts. Do you see the focus of this? This is forcing the Gospel to change in order to accommodate other’s beliefs. This is removing the 5 Solas as essential. This is removing all barriers to fellowship other than Jesus just the way you want to have Him. In other words, this is all about being a Christian on one’s own terms. My friends and brethren, this is not real Christianity.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)
Jesus gives us the standard here for authentic Christianity. What is it? Genuine Christians deny self and take up their crosses then follow Christ. This is dying to self. This is being a Christian on Christ’s terms, not our terms. When the believer believes then receives Christ as Lord and Saviour, they become subject to Jesus’ Lordship. This is that dying to self and living for Christ stuff. It is not subject to religiosity nor is it editable.
Soli Deo Gloria!
In scripture alone we find Salvation is by grace alone Through faith alone In Christ alone For the glory of God alone!