CHRIST ALONE (REVISITED)
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
— Martin Luther, 1521
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, ESV
On this Reformation Day we take the first pillar, or sola, “Sola Scriptura,” to let God speak on the vital issue of salvation. In doing so we must revisit the middle three pillars, “Sola Gratia,” “Sola Fide,” and “Solus Christus,” for this is how salvation is given to us, by God’s grace through God-given faith in God’s Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Next Sunday, Lord willing, I will conclude this study with a message on the fifth and final sola, “Soli Deo Gloria.” But to conclude today’s emphasis, let me emphasis the doctrine of “Solus Christus,” Christ alone!
Christ Alone Has Made Us a New Creation
“In Christ” is a favorite Pauline expression. He uses it verbatim seventy-five times, and if you count the locative “in” plus other names of deity and pronouns, the count runs to approximately two hundred. The expression is a well that runs very deep, but pulling a pail of water out here simply states that if you are there, “in Christ,” you are a “new creation.” In other words you are a born again Christian, and Christ alone made you that way.
We are born fallen creatures because of inherited sin and depravity. Sin kills us and cuts us of from God, and depravity means there is nothing we can do about it. We are dead (ref. Ephesians 2:1), doomed (ref. Romans 6:23a), and danged if we can change it on our own (ref. Romans 3:10ff). We do not come to Christ until Christ, and Christ alone, comes to us and save us, revives us, changes us into this “new creation” called a Christian.
When this happens to us, “the old has passed away,” meaning the old nature’s dominance with its pride, greed, and lust. The “old” curse is gone, too, and Hell has no sway over us anymore. “The new has come,” meaning new life, the new presence of God’s Spirit, and new love for God, God’s people, and the things of God. This is by the grace of God’s calling, the faith God gives and receives back from us, and the person and work of Christ, and Christ alone.
Christ Alone Has Reconciled Us to God
Four times in the next two verses (vs. 18-19) and five times in the next three (vs. 18-20) Paul speaks of reconciliation between God and man. Old friends do not have to be reconciled, only bitter enemies.
Most people, especially lost people, do not see themselves as enemies of God. But “we were enemies” (ref. Romans 5:10), the Bible says of us before we were Christians; therefore, all lost people are still enemies of God. God is against their sin, and will punish it with death and Hell. God is against the collective ungodliness in this present world system, and He has it surrounded. It advances to the end when, as is written in the book of Revelation, evil and sin and all who are enemies of God will be utterly destroyed the rider on the last white horse, by Christ, and Christ alone.
But Christ, alone, also saves the lost, by grace through faith in Him. This not only makes us new creatures, Christians, it reconciles us to God. We become friends of God. Even more, we become children of God with an unfathomable inheritance. We become heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ, and Christ alone.
Christ Alone Has Made Us His Ambassadors
Since the USA became a superpower, they say the most super and powerful job a person can get other than the presidency is to be appointed as a United States Ambassador to another country. You gain an excellent salary and benefit package, you get to live in luxurious and secure quarters, you get wined and dined almost every night with the best food and drink the world has to offer. It’s quite a gig. Guess who gets them? Friends of the President, that’s who.
Since in Christ you have become a new Christian and a friend and child of God, God has also appointed you as His ambassador. You are an ambassador of the King and the kingdom of God, and you have a specific, God-given assignment on earth (ref. Acts 1:8).
In God’s kingdom, an ambassador does not necessarily live an easy life. Lottie Moon starved to death in China. Jim Elliot and four fellow missionaries were speared to death by the Waodani Indians of Ecuador. Many pastors in the USA live on the poverty line. Many Christians do, too, as well as suffer all manner of injustices and deprivations.
As an ambassador for Christ, Christians should not be too concerned with what is around them (material possessions) but instead on who is in them, namely Christ, and Christ alone. Represent. Live for Him, in worship and in work. Live like Him, in spirituality and simplicity. Live with Him, in joyful fellowship and serious witness. Live in Him, in Christ, and Christ alone.
Christ Alone Has Made a Double Imputation for Our Salvation
So far the text has taught us what Christ, and Christ alone, has done for us. He has made us new, reconciled us to God, and appointed us as His ambassadors. The last verse (vs. 21) tells us how He has done it.
This is the doctrine of double imputation. When God saves you, by grace through faith in Christ, two things happen which are the work of Christ for you, not any work you have done for Christ.
On the one hand, and at the moment the Son was forsaken by the Father, all of your sin was put on Christ to bear in His death. Your sin penalty was imputed to Christ, and Jesus paid it all.
On the other hand, when His life on earth was done, Jesus Christ had perfectly obeyed every commandment, every order, every whim of the will of Almighty God. He died perfect. He died righteous. And, by grace through faith in Him, this perfect righteousness is imputed to you, so that you can stand righteous before the throne of God.
That’s double imputation. That’s salvation. That’s grace, alone, through faith, alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Christ alone!
In Christ alone, my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm,
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease;
My Comforter, my All in All;
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, who took on flesh;
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save;
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live.
There in the ground His body lay;
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ!
No guilt in life, no fear in death;
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
— Stuart Townend and Keith Getty