Of the five solas, solus Christus may be most pivotal. Without the person and work of Jesus Christ, we have nothing to talk about. Jesus is the interpretative key of the Bible (sola Scriptura). Jesus is the only means by which one may receive God’s grace (sola gratia), through faith in Christ alone (sola fide). Jesus completed all his work for God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria).
The sixteenth century Reformation restored the centrality of this cardinal doctrine. At the time of the Reformation, the Roman Catholic tradition had placed popes and priests into the role of intercessor between the laity and God. The Reformers, upon the authority of Scripture, denied this and emphasised Jesus’ role alone as our High Priest.
It is not surprising, then, that this central doctrine is always under attack.
C. S. Lewis captures this intention well in his Screwtape Letters. There, the senior devil advises the junior devil concerning strategies to keep Christians in their bondage. He advises not to remove Christ altogether from the scene, but to propagate a Christ and religion (and thus not a Christ alone). He writes,
What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of “Christianity and.” You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychic Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.1
What do we mean when we say Christ alone? Let me briefly mention at least five crucial truths encapsulated in this phrase.
First, Christ alone means that Jesus is the only way by which man can enter heaven—the presence of God (John 11:25–26; 14:6). Jesus is the only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). There is no reconciliation except through him.
Second, Christ alone means that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are wholly sufficient to secure our salvation. There is no “Christ and” but “Christ alone.” We do not need priests, popes, sacrifices, or good works to secure our salvation. Christ has done it all.
Third, Christ alone means that he is the central figure of God’s work in redemption. Therefore, he alone can be the cornerstone of our faith and practice.
Fourth, Christ alone means that God has given the ultimate revelation of himself to us by sending Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15). We come to a saving and transforming knowledge of God through God’s gracious self-revelation in Jesus alone.
Fifth, there is salvation in no one else and in no other name (Acts 4:12). No other religion will save you from the righteous wrath of the God who has made the heavens and the earth, and whom you have offended. The angels will not save you. The saints will not save you. Mary will not save you. The pope and the priest and your religious system will not save you. Parents, politicians, and schools will not save you. Sinners are saved in Christ alone. Jesus alone. His cross alone. To his glory alone.
With this in mind, and against the background of the waning contemporary confidence in Christ and his finished work in our day, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals found it necessary to affirm the five solas. Concerning solus Christus, the Alliance made this affirmation:
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.
We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.
The sole object of our faith is Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross. Charles Spurgeon told his congregation on a Sunday morning in May 1890: “Both feet must be on the Rock of Ages.” He was preaching from Romans 10:11, which says, “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’” Spurgeon preached on this text because he wanted to explain the importance of placing faith in Christ alone for salvation. He said,
It is not written, “He that believeth on Jesus nine parts out of ten, and on himself for the other tenth.” No! “Whosoever believeth on him”—on him alone. Jesus will never be a part Saviour. We must not rest in part upon what we hope to do in the future, nor in part upon the efficacy of an outward ceremony. No! The faith must be “on him.”2
Sola 5, an association of God-centred evangelical churches in Southern Africa, is committed to having the Lord Jesus Christ rule in our midst alone. He is therefore the focus of our exposition from the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures alone, through which he dispenses his saving grace alone, through faith in him alone, to the glory of God alone.