An Overview of “Solus Christus”
What is Solus Christus?
Solus Christ is the Protestant doctrine stating that salvation is obtained through the person and work of Jesus Christ. I already posted that we are saved by grace alone and justified through faith alone (You can read those here and here). However, our faith alone needs a sole object. We must have something in which to place our faith. The object of saving faith can only be Jesus Christ. We cannot be saved by placing our faith in our works or religious leaders or even in the church. We are justified through faith alone in Christ alone. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among by which we must be saved.” Nothing else has saving power.
Another biblical example is Romans 8:1-3: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…” Ours is a Christocentric salvation. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, meaning that we must be found in Christ to reap the spiritual blessing of salvation. It is only through Christ Jesus, the true and better High Priest and the sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God that we are to avoid condemnation.
In short, Solus Christus is the doctrine that believers are justified through faith in Christ Jesus alone, who has the power to save, based on the grounds of his redemptive work on the cross. Christ alone acts as our substitute, taking on the full wrath of God, and it is by his shed blood that we have redemption.
Why was Solus Christus important during the Protestant Reformation?
The doctrine of Solus Christus was important during the Protestant Reformation because, like the other Solas, the Roman Catholic Church had long abandoned Christ as the only object of faith. Rome had adopted a sacramental theology, but the Reformers adopted a doctrine of the sufficiency of Christ and his finished work on the cross. Rome believed in the sacraments of baptism to take away original sin and penance, which takes away sins committed after baptism. Both of these sacraments were administered by the Roman Catholic Church, and were used to offer the forgiveness of sins. The Protestant Reformers attempted to recover the doctrine of Solus Christus to correct the obvious heresies within the Roman Catholic Church, which believed it could administer grace. The Roman Catholic Church, out of selfish ambition and desire, neglected the doctrine of Solus Christus. I would argue that any denial of Solus Christus is done out of selfishness and a desire for power. When we downplay Christ’s role in salvation, we are denying the true gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith.
When speaking on Solus Christus, Martin Luther had this to say: “I must listen to the gospel. It tells me not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me.” If we try to replace what Christ has supernaturally done for us, we will bring in man made institutions to give grace. Christ will become less of the founder and perfecter of the faith, and more of an additional consultant to our faith. The Reformers recovered the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Why is Solus Christus relevant?
The doctrine of Solus Christus is so relevant today because we often mess this up, especially in the Bible belt. We so want to add the salvation doctrines laid out in Scripture. We want to add our rules or our church traditions. The Bible proclaims that it is only by the name of Jesus Christ that we can be saved. I’ve given three reasons why Solus Christus is still relevant.
- We desire traditions over Scripture. I am not saying that traditions are bad or unhealthy. I am saying that I think it’s natural that we desire to trust in traditions over Scripture. We are more comfortable with traditions. We tend to trust in traditions created by men for men over the beautiful and life-giving Word of God. We view the Scripture as a cold, dead book rather than the living and active Word of God. When traditions reach this point, we often replace Christ alone with tradition alone. We begin judging salvation based on how people are following the traditions. Matthew 15:1-9 covers this very topic. I would encourage you to read this and study it. Make sure you are focusing completely on Christ, not traditions. Your traditions should glorify Christ and his role in your salvation, not the other way around.
- The propagation of false gospels. We often think of false gospels to have only existed in Paul’s time and in the first couple of centuries of Christendom. That could not be further from the truth. False gospels are more prevalent than ever, even in our context in the Bible Belt. They are ravaging the church like a wildfire. False gospels always seek to undermine the power of Christ in salvation and in his finished work on the cross. False gospels replace Christ with other traditions. We must familiarize ourselves so much with the real Jesus that we can spot these false gospels quickly and stop them in their tracks.
- American ideals aren’t founded in satisfaction found in Christ alone. The American dream is built on the idea that satisfaction and contentment are found in vocational success and wealth. American ideals and principles are founded on political power and gain and family success. This is why so many in America want to add to the gospel. They want to add false prophecies to the Bible. We aren’t satisfied in Christ alone and the spiritual blessings found in him. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone doesn’t satisfy because that doctrine doesn’t promise a life of ease and success. It, at times, can be antithetical to the gospel message. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you satisfaction in Christ Alone. Rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
I hope you’ve found encouragement by reading this. Realize today that Christ is the true Founder and Perfecter of your faith, and it is by Christ that you are saved. Rest in Christ alone.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peach by the blood of his cross.”