Solus Christus: Christ alone

Transcription of Sunday, October 8, 2017 sermon. 
Oct 8 cover pic

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Those words are as controversial now as they were when were first spoken. But when were those words first spoken?

Let’s go back and look at the whole story that begins in Acts 3 when Peter and John are going up to the temple at the hour of prayer. They come across a man who can’t walk. He’s got something wrong with his legs since his birth. He’s sitting there at the gates of the temple begging. Every day his friends bring him to the temple and they sit him there so he can beg for money. Peter and John approach the temple and see the man. He sees them. They know exactly what he wants. Peter says, “We don’t have any money, but we will give you what we have. I tell you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” He grabs him by the hand and immediately the man’s legs and ankles are strengthened, he’s up on his feet for the first time in his life. He walks into the temple praising God and worshiping him.

Everybody sees this man walking and they know him because he’s always been sitting outside the temple. A crowd gathers. They are just amazed. Peter stands up and says to them, “Don’t be amazed. Remember that Jesus you denied and asked to be killed? God brought him back to life. He is alive. He is active among us. That is why this man is walking.” Everyone is astounded at their message.

Everybody except the religious leaders. The religious leaders are annoyed at what they have to say. They are going around telling everybody that they killed Jesus, and now Jesus is alive again. They bring the apostles in and ask, “So how did you do this?”

Peter says, “We didn’t do anything. Remember that Jesus that you killed? God brought him back to life. He’s alive and active and among us. That’s why this happened here today. Nobody else could do this. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Nobody else can step into this world and do these things except our Lord alone.

What are the religious leaders going to do? They can’t deny that something happened. The healed guy is standing right there. They tell the disciples, “Alright, just keep this to yourselves. Don’t go walking around telling everybody what we did or that Jesus is alive.”

Of course, they didn’t. It just emboldens them to do even more.

We live in a world where many would like us to keep that message to ourselves as well. That whole idea of solus Christus or Christ alone doesn’t resonate very well in this world. Even in our country, we live in a nation where there is religious freedom, which demands tolerance of different religious thought and defends individual beliefs. The prevailing thought is, “You can do whatever you want, you can say whatever you want, you can believe whatever you want, just keep it within the walls of your church.” Don’t bring it out onto the streets.

The problem with that is that message of Christ alone doesn’t resonate well inside the church either. As soon as we say that, that we are saved through faith in Christ alone, we exclude people we know. It excludes people in our families who don’t believe. It excludes friends or people we work with who have other ways of believing or believe in different gods or have different systems of faith. It leaves out people who may never have heard of Jesus. What you’ll find is that inside the church when we talk about Christ alone we use our “inside” voices.

This is hard to do because throughout the pages of scripture the theme of Christ alone echoes from cover to cover.

The Lord says, “Besides me there is no other god, a righteous God and a Savior.  There is none beside me” (Isaiah 45:21).

“For God alone my soul waits in silence, from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation” (Psalm 62:2).

“There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:9).

When Jesus has just lost a number in his congregation because his teachings are too hard to swallow, he turns to his disciples and says, “Are you going to leave too?” Peter says, “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6).

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though there is a negative side to that, when the Bible speaks of Christ alone, it is a positive message. It is a message that is good news for God’s people. There is somebody who can give life. There is somebody who is a ransom. There is somebody who has come to rescue us. The negative is not the main part of the message. The main part is that there is one who loves you and cares for you and is your Savior.

Let’s look at how Jesus alone, how Christ alone is a positive message. First of all, Christ alone is our ransom. Paul talked about that when writing to Timothy. After he says, “There is one mediator between God and men the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”

You know what a ransom is. A ransom is what you pay to a kidnapper to make them release the person they have taken prisoner. A ransom is what you pay because a virus locked up the data on your computer and you need to get that data back. Jesus is the ransom that pays for our freedom.

Freedom from what? I would contend that we are held captive by any number of things. For instance, fear. We are held captive by so many fears. We are afraid of where the next shootings will be. We are afraid of where the next disaster will hit. We are afraid of the possibility of war. We are afraid of where the next cancer will be. Or when the next heart attack will be. Or will the next death will occur. There are so many things we’re afraid of that it limits us and we don’t want to do things and we just want to stay in our homes and be safe with our families.

We are held captive by deep mistrust of so many. We don’t trust the government. We don’t trust the police. We don’t trust pastors. We don’t trust our neighbors. We don’t trust the teachers in our schools or the coaches of our athletic teams. We don’t trust anybody. So we keep to ourselves and we don’t believe what they say and that keeps us shut up in a small place.

We are held captive, we’ve been kidnapped by despair in our lives. There’s nothing we can do to fix things. Things are not going to get better. We aren’t in control. We don’t know what to do. So we turn off the TV and close the books and we try to pretend its not there.

But there is somebody whose perfect love casts our our fear. Jesus, who’s perfect love is seen on the cross. That’s what love is, that he would give his life for us.

There is somebody you can trust. Jesus is the faithful one. When he says, “I am going to die and come back to life again,” he does it. He keeps his word. He is somebody we can trust.

Jesus doesn’t let us sit there in despair. He gives us hope. There is a resurrection. There is much more to this life than what we see going on around us. God has so much more in store for you. Despair gives way to hope because of that one, Jesus Christ, who ransoms us with his own life to buy us that freedom to live and have hope and to trust and to enjoy the blessings God has given us.

Number two, Jesus has words of life. Sometimes he’s the only one who speaks of life. All we seem to hear about is death. All we see on the news is the latest shooting, or the latest explosion, or the latest disaster that has taken countless lives. Sometimes all we can think about is those who have died and left us behind. Sometimes we get to the point where we’re thinking about our own lives and what that is going to be like.

But Jesus is the one who doesn’t come to us to speak about death but life. He says, “There is somebody in this world who want to kill, steal, and destroy you. But I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. If you believe in me you’re going to live even if you die and if you live and believe in me, it’s as if you’re never going to die at all.” Jesus comes with words of life from the one who can give life to the dead. He comes back to life after his awful death on the cross to show us that his words are words of life.

Jesus is the one who comes to rescue us. Nobody else comes to rescue us. People teach us the way to find enlightenment. Or the way to see things in a positive way. People come and give us tasks to complete so that our lives will be happier or we will be more successful. People come and they remind us that it’s up to us to make the right choices and do the right things. There’s only one who steps into this world, to get a hold of our lives and says, “Let’s get you out of here. Stick with me and you’ll discover what this life is really all about.” Jesus is the only one who does that, who steps in and take us by the hand and brings us back to life.

Jesus is the only one. And that’s what solus Christus, Christ alone, is all about.

That message of Christ alone is the good news. Yes, there is a negative connotation to that. Whoever does not believe in him is condemned. But that’s not the main message. The main message is that we have a Savior and his name is Jesus. He has died for us and he is alive and active in this world.

The whole idea of Christ alone reminds the church that when we go out into the world, that’s what we bring: Christ alone. We don’t just food for people who are hungry. We don’t just bring clothes for people who need something to wear. We don’t just bring justice for those oppressed or find a place to live for those who have no homes. We bring Christ. We bring Jesus. As his hands and feet and voices we are the body of Christ and that’s what we bring.

That’s all we can bring. We don’t have the power, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the knowhow, but we have Christ. We bring him in a very real way with our words and testimony, with our mercy and love, with our presence and our support.

There’s the real power of Christ alone.

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