Tag Archives: Solus Christus

“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 gives what no one else can, and Christ Himself is the greatest of His gifts” by Bobby Jamieson

“We return one last time to this book’s proper subject, the Christ whom Hebrews proclaims. The question with which we conclude is, So what?

What difference did the author of Hebrews intend his portrait of Christ’s person to make in the lives of those who heard his message? What role does Christ’s person play in Hebrews’ hortatory program?

Adolf Schlatter put his finger on the problem Hebrews’ recipients were facing. He said that they were asking, ‘Is it worth it to be a Christian?’ Hebrews answers with a single word: Christ.

The refrain of urgent reassurance that resounds through the letter is, ‘We have Christ.’

What do we have?

A great high priest who is not only exalted but compassionate, a hope that anchors our soul in the inner sanctum in heaven, a high priest seated on God’s throne, confidence to enter the Holy of Holies, an altar from which none but Christ’s people may eat (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 8:1-2; 10:19, 22; 13:10).

In Hebrews, Christ’s work cannot be divided from His person, nor His person from His work. Who He is and what He gives are inseparable. And the greatest gift He gives is Himself. ‘We share in Christ’ (Heb. 3:6).

In Hebrews 8:1-2, summing up the message of the whole letter, Hebrews appeals not only to Christ’s status and present ministry as high priest, but to the fact that this priest reigns on God’s throne.

What matters for Hebrews hearers is that our high priest is not only a man like us but also the God who rules over us. Jesus’ present priestly intercession is a salvific exercise of divine omnipotence.

If this high priest grants you access to God, none can take it away.

As Nikolaus Walter has put it, Hebrews’ portrayal of Jesus as both high priest and sacrifice is in its way an unsurpassable rendering of solus Christus: salvation is in Christ alone.

And Hebrews constantly appeals to who Christ is in order to announce why He alone can save.

The Son extends sonship to ‘many sons’ (Heb. 2:10) by becoming human like us (Heb. 2:11).

The Son became incarnate in order by his own death to deal death a deathblow (Heb. 2:14-15).

The Son was made like His brothers in every way to become the priest we needed, and He can help the tempted because He was tempted (Heb. 2:17-18).

The Son abounds in compassion because He sinlessly endured every temptation (Heb. 4:15).

The Son was perfected with indestructible life at His resurrection (Heb. 7:16) so that He is now able to intercede unceasingly for His own (Heb. 7:25).

The Son assumed a body in order to offer that body back to God in heaven (Heb. 10:5-14).

The Son began a universal rule after accomplishing salvation and was entitled to that universal rule by His unique claim to both divine and Davidic sonship (Heb. 1:3-4, 5-14).

Christ’s divine and human constitution and His faithful execution of His whole incarnate mission are integral to His ability to save.

Only this Christ can save. Only one who is divine; who became human; who endured temptation and gave His life in death; who was raised incorruptible; and who now reigns in heaven can deal decisively with sin, give us access to God, and make the new creation our permanent possession.

The heartbeat of Hebrews’ pastoral program is present possession of Christ. What makes being a Christian worth it is who Christ is, what Christ alone has done for us, and what Christ alone can give us.

Everything Christ gives is founded on and follows from not only what He has done, but who He is. Christ gives what no one else can, and Christ Himself is the greatest of His gifts.

No one else will do. But if you have Christ, you have all you need.”

–R.B. Jamieson, The Paradox of Sonship: Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2021), 168-169.

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“Faith looks to Jesus” by Hugh Martin

“Now this is the very essence of the contest between faith and unbelief. Unbelief shrinks from being contented with having my eternal salvation entirely in the hands of another.

Unbelief searches diligently for something to trust to in myself, and would look upon it with complacency, and rest upon it with peace and delight, could it but succeed in the search.

The search is vain. In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. (Rom. 7:18)

But faith looks out. Faith looks to Jesus. Faith says, ‘Jesus is sufficient; Jesus is infallible. Jesus is true.’

Faith sees salvation safe in His hand and says, ‘My Lord and my God,’ (John 20:28) I am thine: and we so are one, that Thy will to save me is as good to me as my own willingness to be saved; yea, better, brighter, steadier, unslumbering, unflagging, changeless.’

And then: ‘Thy power is all-sufficient. Thou art all my salvation. Thou art all my desire.’

None but Christ: none but Christ.”

–Hugh Martin, The Shadow of Calvary (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1875/2016), 132.

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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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