Christ Alone?

We may find ourselves asked to give an account of the hope that we have. That's when we find out how well we've thought things through! We can know the truth but not be clear how to explain it to others.

So what can we tell them, based on the bible of course, of what Jesus has done for us and how we should live now we have accepted this great salvation provided freely by God?

No human before Jesus or since has ever lived a truly holy and righteous life. Jesus can do it through us but how does that come about? What do we have to do, to live according to our new understanding?

Some believe that all you need to do is have faith in Jesus Christ, alone.

Some want to add their 'traditions' to Christ's provision. Some want to add 'law' to Christ's provision. Some want to add 'baptism' to Christ's provision. Each church can have it's own “additions which they want their members to include as part of the salvation requirement!

The early church had the same challenges because these ideas that WE have to provide something extra to complete the requirements for salvation are not new! But when faced with this and after reviewing the scriptures, the reformers assessed that there were five principles to salvation.

The five principles are these… Salvation comes...

1. "Sola Scriptura” (Via Scripture Alone);

2. “Sola Gratia” (by Grace Alone);

3. “Sola Fide” (through Faith Alone);

4. “Solus Christus” (in Christ Alone);

5. “Soli Deo Gloria” (For God's Glory Alone).

We see from this that the understanding from the word of God is that 'Only Jesus' is required – Christ and nothing else!

In other words, the gospel tells us not what we must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God has done for us.

Baptism for instance, is one of the things that is mentioned as being done to those who repented on learning about being sinners. We can see this in Peter's speech at the first New Covenant Penticost.

Baptism is the outward expression of the repentance that has taken place within the new believer. It gives an external display of the believers heart felt surrender to Jesus as Lord.

But, the forgiveness of Jesus is not dependent on baptism. Forgiveness has already been provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Belief on Jesus applies this forgiveness to the believer and salvation is conferred by God. On the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing. Those who hated him and those who simply did their jobs. All forgiven before any of them repented! Baptism is an outward demonstration mostly for the observers benefit.

Now, what about the law. Aren't the moral, ceremonial and spiritual laws of the Ten Commandments a requirement for all belevers?

The first problem with this belief is that the Ten Commandment or Law Covenant was given to increase sin and show Israel that their boast that they could do everything God said, was vanity! The Law increases sin and gives strength to sin so that it holds people in condemnation and bondage.

Rom 5:20 Now the law entered in, that sin might abound. And where sin abounded, grace did more abound.

Sin abounds where there is man's attempt to keep law! So God's grace had to super-abound and did so in Jesus.

There IS a place for the law. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that…

1 Tim 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately. 9 We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.

The law shows the sinner his sins but it's not made for the righteous!

The law was given when Israel boasted that they could do anything that God said! So God gave them the Law, which no previous group or individuals were given before that, and death came with the Law.

Deuteronomy 5:3 It was not with our ancestors that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

In Matthew 5, verses 21-48 Jesus tells us that the law given to Israel, though spiritual, is limited compared to His righteous requirements! In fact in verses 46 & 47 the level of performance which keeps the loving requirements of the law is compared to that of tax collectors and Gentiles (ie. pagans)!

Now, God's requirements for His people do change with time, and this would certainly be expected with ceremonial laws like the Sabbath.

With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the New Covenant was brought into effect and the Old Covenant was rendered obsolete.

Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Jesus shows us that even the moral laws of the Old Covenant are not deep enough to encompass the true heart of God. We see, for instance, in Mathew 5 verses 21-48 what the Law of Christ entails. The ten commandments and any other commandments in the Old Covenant are only a subset of the law of Christ suitable for carnal men to attempt to keep!

This subset was given to Israel when they boasted of their own power to live righteous lives. And what happened?

During the march out of Egypt although the Children of Israel rebelled at every turn, no-one died. God covered them with His grace. Until Sinai no-one thought of holding an orgy or worshipping an idol, but immediately after getting the ten commandment with the laws against adultery and idolatry they set up a golden calf and threw an orgy!

Just as Paul said – Sin increased under Law, and 3,000 people died!

During the walk out of Egypt, before Sinai, some went out to gather manna on the Sabbath but no-one was killed! God covered them with His grace. After Sinai a man went out to pick up sticks on the Sabbath and the children of Israel did not consider applying the mercy God administered before. They asked what should be done with the man now that Law was in place. And God gave a ruling to suit their attitude – the death penalty!

1 Cor 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

The law gives power to sin in our lives and so sin increases as compared to living entirely through grace which teaches us to say no to unrighteousness.

Titus 2:12 It (grace) teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

To me then, since the Law came by Moses while Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ, then Christians should not be following a subset of the law of Christ, which subset with human effort only brought death.

Rather, since Holy Spirit in us with Jesus and the Father, empowers us through grace to live holy and righteous lives according to the law of Christ we should allow Holy Spirit to be our guide in keeping the law of Christ and so naturally, or is it supernaturally, we will automatically keep the subset, in the manner God requires, without even thinking about it!,

Now while you were looking at Matthew 5:21-48 did you notice verse 48? Jesus says…

Mat 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus does not say “Become perfect”. That would mean that it's a process and we have to work at getting there! No, what He says is, “Be perfect”. It's the reality of what we are in Christ. We are to realize and live from the position that we have IN Christ; We are perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.

It's not because of our goodness. It's because of our position as Christians. It's because we are IN Christ.

John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Jesus in us, brings His holiness, His purity, His perfection, and His righteousness. As an example of our position in Christ we are told that…

2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are the righteousness of God in Christ. It does not say we are righteous ourselves. It's not that somehow we have lived perfect lives of ourselves and made ourselves righteous. No, we are God's righteousness, revealing that righteousness to the world as Jesus lives His life through us by Holy Spirit in us!

We cannot make ourselves righteous to please God and in fact trying to make oneself righteous is an impossible task. The alternative to living through faith in Jesus is to keep the whole law, and there's no prize for failing!

So how are we to live?

2 Peter 1:5-11 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

V9. But those who fail to develop in this way are short-sighted or blind, forgetting that they have been purified from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It's easy to think that we have to somehow work up these qualities but if you look at verse 9 you will see that one lacks these qualities if one has forgotten that one has been purified from former sins. Purity is not something we have to work up as I mentioned earlier. It's something we have from Jesus and being IN Jesus and we must not forget it. Once we don't forget we are pure, we will be able to exhibit those qualities (like patient endurance) of Verses 5-7.

We are to live with Holy Spirit as our guide showing us what Jesus would do in all situations and His grace teaching us to say NO to all unrighteousness. And so we grow into our positions through knowledge of Jesus. We are clean because of the word, and there is now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus!

From our position IN Christ we can exhibit all the Godly qualities God wishes to see in us when we maintain the knowledge that we are pure - cleansed from all our past sins. Every morning God's mercies are new and we are clean because of the word!

Isn't it great when a God plan comes together?

Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.


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