Solus Christus: Christ Alone

Christ AloneWhat is “Christ Alone”?

Our only source of salvation is the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Christianity is inclusive because Jesus died for the sins of the entire world; it is also exclusive, for only one way exists to God: Jesus (John 14:6.)  “Salvation is found in no one else [Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to people, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The righteousness of the sinner before God has to do with what Christ did for us, outside of us, on the cross (we’ll get to how He delivers His salvation to us later).  A sinner’s status before God has nothing to do with what God might accomplish in us—even though He does do something within us.

John 5:39: “You [those who wanted to kill Jesus] pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them—they testify of me [Jesus]!”

  • Who is at the heart of the Christian faith?


Galatians 2:15-16: No one is ‘righteoused’ [justified] by the works of the Law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be ‘righteoused’ [justified] by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be ‘righteoused’ [justified] by the works of the Law.

  • What doesn’t play a role in saving us?


Paul once tried to pursued an alternative route to salvation by what he did.  Going against that, Paul wrote:

Read Philippians 3:7-11

Vs 9: The Greek is ambiguous.  It can mean that someone has a righteousness, not of his own, but by “faith in Christ” OR because of “the faithfulness of Christ.”  To your pastor, context points to Christ’s faithfulness.  In other words, contrasting the person with Christ, Paul is emphasizing Christ, not the person, not even the person’s faith.  Because of “Christ alone,” Paul is saying:

… in him [Jesus Christ], not having a righteousness of my own from the Law, but one that is through the faithfulness of Christ, the righteousness of God based on the faithfulness [of Christ]—that I may know him [Christ]…

Romans 5:1-2: Since we have been ‘righteoused’ [justified] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

  • What are some of the results of Christ saving us?


How Christ Saved Us

John 8:29: “The one [God the Father] who sent me is with me [Jesus].  He has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.”

John 8:46: “Who among you [the Jews] can prove me [Jesus] guilty of any sin?”

Romans 5:19: For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

  • How does Scripture describe Jesus’ work for our salvation in these verses?


Hebrews 2:14: Since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that by his death he might destroy the one who has the power of death (that is, the Devil).

2 Timothy 1:10: This [God’s grace] has now been revealed through the coming of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Hebrews 9:12: He [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place—once, for all—not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, securing our eternal redemption.

Titus 2:14: He [Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people…

  • In these verses, what did Jesus do, so He could allow events to take place for our salvation?


  • Did we have anything to do with what Jesus did and allowed to save us?


How Christ Alone Chooses to Deliver His Salvation to Us

Read John 3:1-18

  • In vs 18, what reality exists for those who believe in Christ?


  • Reconcile John 3:3-6 and John 3:16-18 without denying either teaching.


Titus 3:5: He [God] saved us, not because of righteous deeds we had done, but because of his mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

John 20:23: [Jesus speaking,] “If you [ the Church’s first pastors, the Apostles] forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Luke 24:47: …repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his [Jesus] name to all the nations [Gentiles]…

Matthew 26:28: “[In the Lord’s Supper] …this is my blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for the many for sin’s forgiveness.” [Pastor’s translation]  The accusative form of the preposition eis denotes movement from unforgiveness into forgiveness.  Jesus uses the Hebraic expression, “the many,” to denote everyone.  Jesus objectively forgave everyone’s sins on the cross; someone subjectively receives such forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper.

Does God demand faith in Christ?  Yes!  Can we produce it in our hearts?  No!  How then can we have faith in Christ?  God gives it as a gift to us [Ephesians 2:8-9], through the ways He chooses to do so: The preaching of the Gospel [Luke 24:27] and the administration of the Sacraments [Titus 3:5, John 20:23, Luke 24:47].

Luther wrote:

We treat of the forgiveness of sins in two ways.  First, how it is achieved and won. Second, how it is distributed and given to us.  Christ has won it on the cross, it is true.  But he has not distributed or given it on the cross.  He has not won it in the Supper or Sacrament.  But there he has distributed and given it through the Word, as also in the Gospel, where it is preached….  If now I desire to have my sins forgiven, I must not run to the cross, for I do not find it distributed there….  But [I must hold] to the Sacrament or the Gospel, where I find the Word, which distributes, delivers, offers, and gives to me such forgiveness which was won on the cross.  [Luther’s Works, vol 40, pgs 213-214]


The Relationship Between “Faith Alone” and “Christ Alone”

“Faith alone” does not contradict salvation by “grace alone” or by “Christ alone.”  Salvation by grace alone rests on God’s universal love for all people.  Salvation by Christ alone stands on His universal payment for all the sins of all people.  In the same way, salvation through faith alone rests on the truth that God’s justification of the world is already an accomplished fact.  One’s righteous standing before God does not occur because of his faith; no, faith believes and receives the justification that already exists because of what Christ has done and delivers through Word and Sacrament.


5, The Flow of Christ Alone For Us


Excursus: An Argument Some Make Against “Christ Alone” Objectively Saving Everyone

When someone only understands the words of Scripture from his culture and language, he reads the text, seeing what is only there in English, not Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.  Even more, the English reader can be held hostage to the translator of the text by what is left out or added.  For example, consider Romans 5:12-19.

Read Romans 5:12-19

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

“the many”: (Greek: hoi [direct article] polloi)

Some assert, “Paul says that many [not “the many”] will be made righteous through Christ, not all.”  First, the Greek word, polloi [many], emphasizes “the large number referred to.”  It does not distinguish “many” from “most” or “all,” as the word “many” does in English.  Looking only at polloi [many] and leaving out the hoi [the], the verse reads: “Through the obedience of the one man [Christ] a large number will be made righteous.”  The large number may only be many but may also include everyone.  Such is the meaning of polloi, “many,” without the “the.”

However, the context of these verses deal with everyone, not some or many.  How many became sinful because of one man, Adam?  The entire human race!  Then contrasting how everyone fell victim to sin by Adam’s fall into sin, Paul brings in Jesus, the “second Adam,” who undoes what the first Adam did.  Jesus is not the second Adam if He doesn’t undo all of what Adam did.

The Greek word polloi can mean “all.”  The context and subject matter of these verses point to “many” meaning all.  But, here’s the clincher.  “The many” was a Hebraic expression meaning “all,” to the entire group to which someone is referring.  Remember, Paul was Jewish.

We even see the Old Testament show us the meaning of “the many.”  Unfortunately, our translations don’t usually translate “the many” because it is awkward in English.  Here are some examples:

  • Exodus 2:23: “It came about in the day, the many, that the King of Egypt died.” “The many” refers, not to some of the days when the king was dying but all the days.  During that time, the people of Israel groaned because of their bondage.  The point is that not a single day passed where the people did not suffer because of their slavery.
  • 1 Kings 18:25: “So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are the many…’” Referring to the prophets of Baal, Elijah was referring to all of them “the many,” not some of them or most of them.
  • Nehemiah 9:19: “You [referring to God] in your mercy, the many, did not forsake them [the people of Israel] in the wilderness.” This verse doesn’t mean some of God’s mercy, but all of God’s mercy.
  • Jeremiah 29:15: “What [right] has my beloved to do in my house, when she has done vile deeds, the many?” God, through Jeremiah, is warning the Israelites of impending exile because they have forsaken God.  Referring even to the blasphemies taking place in the Temple, God refers to all of them, “the many,” not some of them.
  • Daniel 9:18: “We do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your mercy, the many.” Daniel prays to God and reminds God, not of some of His mercy, but all of His mercy.

So, Paul, using the Jewish expression “the many,” is referring to all “sinners” (which is the entire human race).  “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many [all] were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many [all] will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).  If everyone is a sinner, then in His obedience, Christ will make the many [all] righteous.  This is what Jesus objectively does for all humanity!