This post continues our examination of the 5 sola’s of the Reformation.
This post will look at solus Christus, or ‘by Christ alone’. I pray that I will be able to do justice to this most holy of subjects – to proclaim the glorious truth of Jesus Christ is a holy and awesome task that should be the desire and aim of all pastors at all times.
In this post, I hope to spur a desire to look at Christ anew – with fresh eyes; eyes illumined by the Holy Spirit, such that you might once again be drawn to Him afresh – taken in by the beauty of His person and work.
The focus of the church should be on Jesus Christ, however she no longer has Christ and Him crucified as her primary message. We have reduced the Bible to a great moral story, and like Thomas Jefferson did with his Bible, we have effectively removed Jesus’ deity, and atoning work. We now have sermons such as “How to raise positive kids in a negative world”, or “How to eat healthy, like Jesus did”, or, as a local pastor is currently doing, we have sermon series on the joy of SEX! Jesus Christ, and Him crucified is relegated to an Easter service. We have the mistaken notion that once one comes to Christ they no longer need to hear the gospel – they now need moral stories. The truth is that every Christian needs to regularly hear and reflect on the salvation found in our Lord Jesus Christ!
Without Christ as the focus of our message, the Bible becomes all Law – what to do and what not to do, and we become legalistic – I know, I have been there, and regrettably, all too many of my messages have been heavy on Law and light on Gospel. It is not from an ivory tower that I preach this, I have been there, and have several t-shirts!
Without Christ as our focus we cannot understand the message of the Bible; Jesus, in speaking to the Pharisees says this in John 5:39, 40 -- You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
The Pharisees knew the Bible, all the do’s and don’ts of the Law, but they did not know Christ. They could preach a mean moralistic message on how to live but without Jesus Christ there was no true understanding of God’s word, and tragically, no salvation! It is not Biblical knowledge in and of itself that saves. It is the Christ revealed in those Scriptures that saves!
Many claim to find the Bible dull and uninspiring (I speak here of Christians), and sadly, it is because they sit under teaching that does not have as its focus Christ and Him crucified! How can one expect the Bible to be interesting, when the pastor has removed the plot line, the main character and even the ending from the book? What book would hold your interest without those key elements?
I have had pastors tell me that their people do not want to hear the Bible taught; they want something relevant. I claim that if they were properly taught the Bible, they would view it as the MOST relevant thing in their life! The Bible is not dull and uninspiring – it is pastors who, in seeking to be relevant, offer up the same promises as the world, just repackaged in ‘Christian’ wrapping, that are dull and uninspired! Take the superficial moralistic and therapeutic messages and throw them out, plug Jesus into His rightful place in the Bible and then teach Christ and Him crucified, and you will discover that the Bible goes from Lawrence Welk in Black & White, to Transformers in full color and THX sound!
In the church today we find many types of 'jesus' presented:
(1) - The ever popular sugar daddy jesus; always a favorite with televangelists – you have heard about him, haven’t you? Just say some magic words, click your heels together and say “there’s no place like home” and He MUST give you your hearts desire.
(2) - Then there is the comforting Doctor-Phil-jesus; he is at our disposal for all our dysfunctional concerns and worries; this Jesus is preached in messages such as the aforementioned Joy of Sex sermon series.
(3) - Then there is the latest, and in my opinion most disgusting jesus: jesus as my boyfriend, reflected in many of the so-called worship songs that are being sung today.
(4) - And finally we have jesus as Ghandi, a great moral teacher who showed us, by example on the cross, how we are to live sacrificially.
Sadly, none of these Jesus’ are the Biblical Jesus. Did Jesus provide us with an example – yes, He did. Did Jesus say to ask in His name for things – yes, He did. BUT, first and foremost, Jesus is the Christ; the ONLY mediator between God and man, whose death on the cross redeemed us from death, hell and the grave! These other facets of His ministry are not the primary focus.
What did Paul say in 1st Corinthians? “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…” Why? Because the most important thing that you can know is Jesus Christ and Him crucified!
The fruit of these faulty presentations are people in pursuit of the gifts in lieu of the giver, healing in place of the healer, and blessings devoid of the blessed. Sadly, many of those who do not get their prayers answered in the 'allotted time-frame' promised by the pastor, or don’t experience a perfect marriage after completing the “Seven Steps to a Successful Marriage”, leave the church never actually hearing the good news of the gospel! These people will say things like “I tried Christianity, and it didn’t work for me”, as if Christ is just another apothecary jar in the medicine chest of life. “Well, that didn’t work, let’s go to the Bah’ai Temple next week…”
Saddest of all, oftentimes these people have never been presented with Christ, and Him crucified; the church may have spoken a lot ABOUT the gospel, but the actual gospel was never presented in all its glory! People do not realize that salvation is found OUTSIDE of themselves; it is nothing that we have done, or will do that saves us – it is the finished work of Christ, and Him ALONE that saves!
Many of the most popular preachers in the land preach a neo-nomian message – no gospel, just an emphasis on the Law and doing ‘our part’. Just because these people have a pleasant demeanor and a blinding smile, makes them no less responsible than the Pharisees in Matthew 23. These people scour the Earth for a proselyte and make them twice the son of hell that they are; the result of Christless Christianity – a message stripped of Christ in His person and work!
We are saved by something OUTSIDE of ourselves! It is who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done that saves.
With the hymn writer we can exclaim:
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -
Friday, January 23, 2009
This post continues our examination of the 5 sola’s of the Reformation.