Sola What?: Solus Christus

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This post was edited July 21, 2014, Edits appear in red italics.

Gentle Reader,

We continue in our journey through the hallmark doctrines of Protestantism, focusing today on the position and role of Jesus Messiah.

Solus Christus: Christ alone (sometimes rendered Solo Christo)

In our earlier discussion on Soli Deo Gloria, we looked at the necessity of honoring God. Living in such a way that brings Him glory is a mark of the true believer. Knowing the love and grace of God moves the Christian to obedience. We should seek to submit to His will in all things. He is the Lord, the Master, of every aspect of our lives.

It is my opinion that turning our eyes to gaze steadily on the beautiful countenance of God leads us to grapple with the Incarnation; whoever has seen Him (whether by common or spiritual vision) has seen the Father (Jn. 14:8-9). Jesus is God revealed. If we wish to know the Lord, we need only look to Him.

How, then, does the Messiah, the God-Man, tell us that we are saved?

Jesus said to Him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus intimately connects His own Person to the process of salvation. In the Gospel of John alone, He refers to Himself as the water (Jn. 4:10-14), the bread (Jn. 6:35), the light (Jn. 8:12), the gate (Jn. 10:7-9) and the shepherd (Jn. 10:11-18). These are just a few examples of how integral Jesus is in mediating between God and humankind. Water is essential for survival. Bread quiets hunger pangs. Light dispels the darkness. Gates let in those allowed and keep out those not. The shepherd knows His sheep – and He sheep know Him, following no other.

Protestants and Catholics agree on this, but there is sharp divergence on whether or not the redemptive work of Christ is enough to bring about salvation for each of us. Here we arrive at the role and meaning of the sacraments, meritorious works and the role of Mary and the saints (who, to my understanding, form a sort of repository or treasury of faith and works the Christian today can access and benefit from). Let us consider each separately.

The word “sacrament” is defined as a sacred act or ceremony. Most Protestant denominations engage in only two sacraments, Baptism and Communion/Eucharist, neither of which are understood to confer grace in and of themselves. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, by contrast, defines the sacraments as:

efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions. (1131)

In other words, to a Protestant, grace already exists in the life of the Christian by virtue of His belief and the sacraments are the outward signs or rites of that inward reality. The Catholic Church teaches that the sacraments (of which there are seven – Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony) are avenues (instituted by Christ) through which grace is deposited into the Christian.

The contrasting ideas of the sacraments flow directly into the role and place of meritorious works in the believer’s life, a bone of deep contention between the two sides. The role of works is inextricably linked to the doctrine of justification (right standing before God); is the righteousness of Christ imputed (assigning a value, possessed by one, to another), imparted (bestowing a quality) or infused (fill and instill) into the life of the Christian?

In Romans 3:21-4:25, Paul goes into great detail about the imputed aspect of justification. Christ’s righteousness, His life of perfect and complete sinless obedience, is “charged” to or against the sinful account of the one who cries out in sincere repentance. Thus, while the sinful nature is not immediately eradicated, God may still look upon the Christian as if she is complete and pure.

Imparted righteousness may be more closely identified with sanctification (the process by which God, with the submission of the believer, works to remake her). The more we come to know and love God, the more we want to be like Him and do what He wants us to do. Sin becomes abhorrent as we submit to God and He heals our blindness, our deafness and melts our hearts of stone.

Infused righteousness must be maintained by meritorious works. We cannot be filled with the Spirit, or, really, filled with salvation if we are not doing what God wants us to do. Here we see that there is less distinction in Catholicism between justification and sanctification than in Protestant theology, which sees justification as a “moment” and sanctification as “life.” Catholicism, to my understanding, lumps the two together. We are both justified and sanctified over the course of our years. And yet it goes further; the emphasis on this infusing means that works become inextricably linked to maintaining one’s position in Christ. Instead of righteousness coming by faith and works being an expression of that faith, righteousness comes by what one does. There is a heightened sense in which man plays a role in his own salvation, a sense not found in even the most ardently Arminian Protestant theology.

It would be easy to spend the rest of our time in the discussion of works, but I would like to conclude this section by saying that I see ample evidence in Scripture and experience for justification as imputed (seen in the Romans passage above), imparted (2 Pt. 1:4, 1 Jn. 3:9) and infused (Jn. 14:15). God declares us righteous, remakes our natures and then expects us to live accordingly. But it is important to note that we are immediately made right before God the moment that we confess Christ and that our works, while showing evidence of imparted righteousness, are not what makes us pure before God. It is only the death and resurrection of Christ, and our faith in Him, that accomplishes such a thing.

Now it seems that we come back to Mary, and, frankly, that annoys me. I do not want to consider Mary, for she was only a human being. And yet it is impossible to escape the place of importance she occupies in Catholic theology. Mary is given the title “Co-Redemptrix” for her free cooperation with God in the plan of redemption, something that seems plainly offensive to me. Without her obedience, the Incarnation would not have happened, and so I am thankful that she chose to submit to God. Yet I cannot make the leap that Catholic thinking requires in asserting that, because of her obedience, Mary is thus a mediator, though of lesser value, between God and man. This blatantly flies in the face of everything Scripture teaches. For confirmation, we need only to consider the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Finally, the faith and works of the saints are available for additional “goodness” in the life of the Christian. While I am thankful for and inspired by the lives of Christians who have gone before me, neither their sins or their righteousness have anything to do with me. I am judged solely on whether or not I am in Christ, not on whether or not I “dipped” into some pool of obedience.

I do not believe that it is a stretch to say that Catholicism teaches that the death and resurrection of Christ is not enough to secure salvation for each person. We must have faith, but we must also work. And the work, when it becomes a means to salvation rather than an outflow of it, cheapens the faith.

Salvation is by Christ alone. He was the perfect sacrifice (again, read all of Hebrews). He did all the work. Our only role in the process is to respond to His offer. It is to take the complete and perfect package. We don’t do good things in the hope that they will save us. We don’t “start” with Jesus and then “add” to Him by doing good things. We don’t need to “add” to Jesus at all. We do good things because we are already saved. We do good things out of love and adoration.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all posts in the Sola What? series, go here.

 

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5 thoughts on “Sola What?: Solus Christus

  1. My DEAR friend you’d be SHOCKED if I did not reply to your current post.

    Wish I could honestly say that I am indeed “a gentle reader” of this post

    Again what is missing is right understanding [full and true understanding]

    FACTS:

    The CC is the Only Church and THE ONLY SET OF FAITH BELIEVES 1. TAUGHT 2. ACCEPTED 3. AND COMMANDED BY CHRIST TO HIS APOSTLES [AND THROUGH THEM TODAY’S CC] TO BE TAUGHT.

    THE BIBLE NEVER-EVER SAYS ONE IS ENTITLED TO THERE OWN FAITH-VIEWS; IT DOES HOWEVER SAY TO “OBEY THE BIBLE”

    Acts.5:[29]. “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. [32] And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” … Rom.10:[16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” … 2Thes.1:[8] inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus

    ONLY the Apostles are given the Command; the authority and the warranty and protection of Christ Himself to teach BECAUSE they alone have the TRUTH [singular] promised from Christ Himself.

    Matt.10: 1-8 “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [later changed in Mt 28 to the ENTIRE WORLD] And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay”

    Matt.16 Verses 15 to 19 “He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I[JESUS] will give you[Peter and through him the CC] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    Matt.28 Verses 16 to 20 ” Now the eleven disciples[APOSTLES] went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

    NOTABLELY SINGULAR AND ADDRESSED ONLY TO THE APOSTLES AND TODAY’S CC

    The warranty of Christ also is exclusively to this same group and the same church ALONE

    Luke.10: 21 “In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will”

    John.14: 26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”

    John 20:19-23 “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

    JESUS HERE IS PRAYING IN HIS HUMAN NATURE TO GOD THE FATHER FOR THE APOSTLES AND HIS NEWLY FOUNDED CC

    John.17 Verses 15 to 19 ” I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

    [19] And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth”

    FACT:

    All Seven Sacraments were and And are instituted by Christ Himself. OBVIOUSLY He does so with a purpose and for a reason; that REASON is that EACH Sacrament is a source and an opportunity of the GRACE humanity in an absolute sense needs to be saved.

    Each sacrament has the God Given power to produce of itself when properly administered and receive to produce “the GRACE that it signifies”

    For example the MOST Holy Eucharist [the Gift Of God the Father of God the Son by God the Holt Spirit] is THEE single most abundant fountain of GRACE available to “man”

    John 6:41-46 “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, `I have come down from heaven’?”

    [43] Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    [47] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

    [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.
    I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”

    ND THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT TAKES PLACE IN CATHOLIC HOLY COMMUNION

    GOD CANNOT LIE
    GOD CANNOT DECEIVE

    GOD IS PERFECT AND KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID AND WHAT HE MEANT AND IT WAS UNDERSTOOD BY
    Mt. 26
    Mk.14
    Lk 22
    Paul 1st. Cor. 11

    I’ll continue in a seperate reply because of length

    God Bless pat

    .

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    1. Of course I would disappointed if you didn’t comment!

      Here is what I don’t understand:

      If each sacrament is a means of grace, irrespective of the faith of the person, meaning that grace is conferred on the person whether there is belief or not…then what role does faith play? Or am I not understanding the teaching of the CC on sacraments? Having not been raised Catholic, I fully admit to my ignorance.

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  2. Patrick j miron is a bit over zelis– he dosen’t realize that in acts 10 — when the Holy spirit was poured out on cornelious — peter ws to observe understand and see– what God intended in the Gentile branch of his church body..

    The counsel of trent — summarized the 7 sacrements– and cursed you if you did not accept their decree..

    the actual impartation of “grace” is something promised in the activity and ceremony of the mass, confirmation , marriage ect–

    but if nothing happens– then you are cursed — because you “have to believe” according the the rules of the counsal of trent

    in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

    Like

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