Tag Archives: Christ Alone

“Saving faith is not the enemy of good works” by Michael Horton

“Saving faith is not the enemy of good works, but their only possible source.

We never offer up our good works to God for salvation, but extend them to our neighbors for their good. As a result, everyone benefits.

God, who needs nothing from us, receives all of the glory; our neighbors receive gifts that God wants to give them through us; and we benefit both from the gifts of others and the joy that our own giving brings.

Reverse this flow, and nobody wins. God is not glorified, neighbors are not served, and we live frustrated, anxious, joyless lives awaiting the wrath of a holy God.

The gospel produces peace and empowers us to live by faith. We live no longer anxious, but secure and invigorated because we are crucified and raised with Christ.

We are no longer trying to live up to the starring role we’ve given ourselves, but are written into the story of Christ.

We have nothing to prove, just a lot of work to do.Good works are no longer seen as a condition of our union with Christ, but as its fruit.

We are no longer slaves, but the children of God– co-heirs with Christ, our elder brother.

The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism summarizes this faith well:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, 
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 
He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.

As God’s creatures, made in His image, we are ‘not our own’ already in creation. Yet our redemption doubles this truth.

Created by God and saved by His grace, I am truly ‘not my own, but belong– body and soul, in life and in death– to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.'”

–Michael Horton, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 41-42.

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“Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation” by Martin Luther

“The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh (Eph. 5:31–32).

And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage– indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage– it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil.

Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits.

Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation.

Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, He must take upon Himself the things which are His bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are His.

If he gives her His body and very self, how shall He not give her all that is His? And if He takes the body of the bride, how shall He not take all that is hers?”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 351.

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“His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell” by Martin Luther

“Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and He cannot sin, die, or be condemned; His righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent.

By the wedding ring of faith He shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are His bride’s. As a matter of fact, He makes them His own and acts as if they were His own and as if He Himself had sinned; He suffered, died, and descended into hell that He might overcome them all.

Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow Him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by Him in a mighty duel; for His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell.

Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom.

So He takes to himself a glorious bride, “without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26–27) of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way He marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hos. 2:19–20 says.

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace?

Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all His goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by Him.

And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all His is mine and all mine is His,” as the bride in the Song of Solomon 2:16 says, “My beloved is mine and I am his.”

This is what Paul means when he says in 1 Cor. 15:57, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” that is, the victory over sin and death, as he also says there, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 351–352.

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“True faith in Christ is a treasure beyond comparison” by Martin Luther

“It ought to be the first concern of every Christian to lay aside all confidence in works and increasingly to strengthen faith alone and through faith to grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who suffered and rose for him, as Peter teaches in the last chapter of his first Epistle (1 Pet. 5:10).

No other work makes a Christian. Thus when the Jews asked Christ, as related in John 6:28, what they must do “to be doing the work of God,” He brushed aside the multitude of works which He saw they did in great profusion and suggested one work, saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29); “for on him has God the Father set his seal” (John 6:27).

Therefore true faith in Christ is a treasure beyond comparison which brings with it complete salvation and saves man from every evil.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 347.

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“You are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone” by Martin Luther

“The moment you begin to have faith you learn that all things in you are altogether blameworthy, sinful, and damnable, as the Apostle says in Rom. 3:23, “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and, “None is righteous, no, not one; all have turned aside, together they have gone wrong” (Rom. 3:10–12).

When you have learned this you will know that you need Christ, who suffered and rose again for you so that, if you believe in Him, you may through this faith become a new man in so far as your sins are forgiven and you are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone.”

–Martin Luther, The Freedom of the Christian (1520), in Luther’s Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 31; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 31: 346–347.

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“Solus Christus” by Michael Horton

“It is solus Christus that measures the gulf between Paul and every other system.”

–Michael Horton, Justification, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 2: 124.

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“The only source and fountain of true happiness” by Jonathan Edwards

“We must be sanctified and made holy, and all the men and angels in the universe can’t do that. They have not power enough to raze out the old image of Satan, nor skills enough to draw the image of God upon our souls.

This is a work of the almighty power and wisdom of God, which is Christ: ‘Christ the power of God, and wisdom of God,’ (1 Corinthians 1:24); ‘And what is the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,’ (Ephesians 1:19).

There is none else that can fill our hearts with grace. We must receive of His fullness and grace for grace.

‘Tis He alone that has received the Spirit without measure: ‘For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him’ (John 3:34).

He is an infinite vessel. He has enough for Himself and for us too, but it is not so with angels.

None else can give us spiritual wisdom, for none know the things of the Spirit. And Christ alone can send into our hearts the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to teach us heavenly things.

There is no other Vine that we can be ingrafted into, that can communicate vital and spiritual nourishment, and, at last eternal life unto us but Christ alone, by whom and for whom are all things, who is before all things, by whom all things consist.

There needs an almighty power to give us our natural life, and less will not suffice to give us our spiritual life.

There is no one else who can conquer our enemies but Christ alone: Power that can conquer the world, power that can triumph over the devil and make a show of him openly, as Christ did upon the cross; power that overcame death and broke his bands, power that can take away his sting, and power that can raise us up at the last day; power that can make us happy when we get into the other world.

Christ Jesus is the only source and fountain of true happiness. ‘Tis He alone that can fill the soul and satisfy it forever.

Christ Jesus is the only complete Redeemer that has worthiness enough, that has enough power, and enough wisdom, and an inexhaustible fountain of grace sufficient for our spiritual life here and our eternal life hereafter.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Life Through Christ Alone” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 524-525. You can read this sermon on John 6:68 in its entirety here.

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