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Nov 5, 2017 Five, Part Two

The number five is a remarkable number.  I brought out some of the unusual characteristics and applications of five before. Just to review a few of them (and I’ve added a few more):

 

  • We have five digits on each hand and foot.
  • We have five senses.
  • Five is a prime number.
  • Five is a Fibonnaci number (the series of numbers obtained by adding the two previous numbers in a sequence). In fact, it is the fifth Fibonacci number.
  • The Fibonnaci numbers before and after 5, when combined with 5, create the most pleasing rectangles to the human eye (3 x 5 and 5 x 7; think of index cards and photographs). Other dimensions, even if off by only a ¼ inch, are less pleasing to the eye. [NEW]
  • Natural (wild) roses have five petals.
  • Apple flowers have five petals.
  • So do the flowers of blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears, cherries, plums and peaches.
  • A starfish, a beautiful creature, has five legs.
  • Birds, the most beautiful and smartest of God’s creatures, and the only ones besides us which sing and talk, were created on the fifth day. [NEW]
  • The representation of a star is a five-pointed figure. Children love to get stars on their papers at school. (I did!)
  • The highest rank one can obtain in the army, air force and marines is the rank of General. Not just in the U.S. but all countries have their highest non-maritime officers designated as Generals. The rank of General is represented by a five-pointed star. Usually, the highest rank that a General can have is four stars. In times of war, though, a General may receive an even higher rank as a five-star General. There have been only five five-star Generals in the history of the U.S.: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, and Bradley. (Even Patton did not achieve five-star status.)
  • The best selling perfume of all time and still considered the best by experts is…Chanel No. 5.
  • There is a cultic principle called the “Law of Fives” which states that many unusual things happen in fives or in numbers divisible by 5 or somehow appropriate to 5. (I give no credence to this principle, but it is interesting!) [NEW]
  • The Ten Commandments consists of two tables of five commandments. In Jewish rendering the first five were towards God and the second five were for our fellow man. (The fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” was seen as towards God because parents are his delegated authority and represent the Lord to their children.)
  • The fifth commandment is the only one that has a promise associated with it.
  • The altar in the Tabernacle was five cubits long and five cubits wide, a perfect square (Exodus 27:1).
  • Five pillars were commanded to be made at the entrance to the Tabernacle.
  • When David went out to fight the giant, Goliath, how many stones did he take with him? Yes, you are right – five.
  • Jesus took five loaves of bread and multiplied them to feed five thousand people.
  • There are five very encouraging verses in the New Testament. They are: Matthew 5:5; Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:5; I Thes 5:5; and I John 5:5. [NEW]

 

 

The prefix penta means five.

 

  • The first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, are called the Pentateuch. The Jews called it the Torah and considered it as more important than the rest of the Old Testament.
  • The pentagon is the five-sided building that protects our nation. It is the headquarters of the Department of Defense. That is why it was attacked on 9/11. Although it is only seven stories tall, it holds twice as many people as the Empire State Building!
  • The shape of the pentagon has unique advantages over rectangles. It creates shorter distances for travelling within the building – up to 50% shorter as compared to a rectangular building.

 

Still more…

 

  • The musical staff has five lines.
  • There are five vowels in the English language.
  • The symbol of the Olympics is five circles overlapping one another. The circles represent the five continents on the earth.
  • The most common ending time of a workday is 5 O’Clock.
  • In chess the King has five pieces that protect him as well as attack. [NEW]
  • With the white pieces, the King is on the fifth square (counting left to right).
  • Many studies have been done on birth order and how birth order affects the personalities of the children. It is common knowledge that firstborn children are more driven, more intelligent, and more successful than their siblings. But did you know which child comes in next in those same categories? The fifth born! So, regarding US Presidents, the largest number were firstborn (11). But, four were fifth-born. (John Tyler, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, and Grover Cleveland). There likely would have been more but many of the Presidents’ original families had fewer than five children. [NEW]
  • The five most positive words in the English language each consist of five letters. They are: FAITH, PEACE, MERCY, GRACE, AND TRUTH. [NEW] If you possessed these five things, you would need nothing more! You would be HAPPY (another five letter word!).

 

 

Why the fuss about five? This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. From the Reformation came what is known as the Five Solas.  The Five Solas are just as important today as they were in the Reformation for capturing what is at the heart of the gospel. Not just the gospel, but for guiding our lives. If we would know and become familiar with the Five we would discover an anchor for our souls and a hedge of protection against deception in spiritual things.

 

Last time we considered Soli Deo Gloria. As with all the Sola phrases, it is Latin meaning “The glory of God alone.” The Roman Catholic Church taught that the glory of a sinner’s salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary, partly to the deceased saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers responded, “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.”

 

It is not just in salvation that God should receive all the glory. It is in every aspect of life. The number five might have some mystery to it, but what is a real mystery is this: when we seek our own way, our own satisfaction, our own glory we end up getting lost, we end up unsatisfied, we end up often embarrassed. We may even find ourselves in a dangerous place (emotionally, spiritually, or physically). We may find ourselves not only unsatisfied but depressed and in despair. We may find ourselves humiliated.

 

Yet, when we begin to live for whom we were created for, the true and Living God, we find that for which we sought but could not get. It comes when we live for the Lord.

 

When we live for the glory of God and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, we discover the way of joy and peace and the purpose of living. We find fulfillment. We find satisfaction.

 

The second[1] Sola is Solus Christus. This means Christ Alone. In order to understand Solus Christus, let us consider it in light of its origination, its application to cults, its truth against the world, and its application to our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

 

Put another way, we may ask four questions about “Christ Alone”: 1. Why did the Reformers say it? 2. How does it protect us from the cults? 3. How does it stand against the world? 4. How may it bring us closer to Jesus?

 

Why did the Reformers affirm it? Remember that the Reformation was in response to the corruption and severe doctrinal errors of the Roman Catholic Church.  The phrase, Christ Alone, was meant to communicate the sufficiency of Christ’s work for our salvation without the need of human effort. Rome taught, and still teaches, that “Christ’s suffering works its effect in them to whom it is applied, through faith and charity and the sacraments …”[2] According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.”[3] In other words, its Christ plus something else. That “something else” is the sacraments. In RCC teaching there are seven sacraments. The first four are necessary for salvation and the last three are for special circumstances.

 

The four that are necessary for salvation are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, and Penance.

 

To this the Reformers strongly objected.  It is Christ alone, given who he is and what he has done. We can add nothing to his work. He has accomplished it all! Praise be to God for Christ and his powerful, sin-atoning work! If it were left up to us, we would fail. But it is not left up to us. It is Christ alone!

 

Of the four sacraments[4], two are biblical: baptism and the eucharist – better known as the Lord’s Table (or, Lord’s Supper). The Reformers said, and I say, that baptism and the Lord’s Table, and participation therein, are important to a healthy and victorious Christian life. But they are neither effective nor essential for salvation. Christ alone is both essential and sufficient!

 

How does Solus Christus protect us from the cults? First, we might ask, “What is a cult?”  A cult is a group that adheres to unorthodox doctrine, especially, perverting the gospel. So, the more well known cults would be the Jehovah Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Christian Science, some forms of the Church of Christ, and Scientology. There are two other identifying marks of a cult. They also pervert the nature of God in their teaching and they often have an additional source of revelation besides the Bible. However, our concern presently is with their perversion of the gospel.

 

How do they pervert the gospel? They add works. There are things that you must do to be accepted by God. Just like the Roman Catholic Church, their view is that Christ’s work is insufficient in itself. Actually, they are much worse than the Catholic Church. At least the RCC has a right understanding of the nature of God, that He is Triune. Most Christians are aware that Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons teach false and dangerous things and will not get caught up with them. But there are smaller and newer cults arising all the time. How can we see through them? By holding to Solus Christus!

 

If you know that Christ Alone is God’s remedy for our miserable, sinful condition then you will see through any teaching that seeks to add your good deeds to get right with God.

 

When I was in college at California State University I met this well dressed and pretty student who invited me to a Bible Study. I went to the study and found out that it was sponsored by the Unification Church, better known as the “Moonies” because they follow Sun Myung Moon, a former Korean pastor. Back in the 80’s they were a big group and growing, but their reputation preceded them. I knew they were considered a cult but I wanted to analyze what they taught. So, I asked for a book and this young lady gave me Moon’s book entitled The Divine Principle. I read it and took notes on where it directly contradicted the Bible. For one thing (there were many!), salvation in Moon’s teaching was not about being delivered from God’s righteous wrath. It was about undoing – reversing – the effects of the fall. Man, according to Moon, has a big part in this and salvation includes getting married and having children. It includes working for the restoration of the earth, which means working for the Unification Church, the only church doing it. There it was! Christ’s work is not sufficient. It takes our good works, too. The next time I got together with this lady I pointed out all the contradictions between Moon’s teaching and the Bible. Sadly, she did not want to meet with me anymore and stayed with the cult.

 

The truth of Solus Christus will keep you cult-free!

 

How does Solus Christus stand against the world? The Western world promotes pluralism. The new pluralism demands that you must not say that anyone else's belief is inferior or, worse yet, flatly mistaken. To say someone is wrong is to be intolerant, to be close-minded and provincial, to be extreme and impossible to reason with.

 

The world will tell you there are many paths to heaven. Its one of the few things they all agree upon. One hears it so often that one may be tempted to agree with it.

 

One of the other facets of Christ Alone is not only his all-sufficiency in redemption, but also his exclusivity in redemption. There is salvation in no other person. There is salvation in no other way except Christ alone.

 

If Solus Christus is nothing but the idea of the Reformers, then maybe they were wrong. Maybe the world is right. The Reformers, though having given their lives to God and all well educated, all scholars of the Scriptures, could be wrong. But, it is not just their idea. It is firmly, clearly, and unequivocally taught in the Holy Scriptures.

 

And, that is the best way to handle objections to the exclusive claim of the Christian faith. You say, “That Christ alone is the only way to the Father is not my idea; nor, the idea of the church. It was taught by Jesus Himself.”

 

            Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [5]

 

Is not this statement by our Lord as clear as it can be? “No one” comes to the Father except through him! This is a verse that every Christian should memorize.

 

In speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” [6]

 

If a person rejects Jesus, they reject God. You cannot have one without the other. But there is more here. If a person rejects the message that a disciple gives – that is you! – then they reject Jesus. And, if they reject Jesus they reject God. In shorthand, if a person rejects you, they reject God! They may say that they love God. They may feel that they are “in good” with God, but if they reject the gospel that you give them then they are rejecting God.

 

            I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” [7]

 

Jesus said, that unless one believes that He is the Savior of the world, and that includes submitting oneself to Him – following Him, then they would die in their sins. This means they will have to pay for their own sins. That payment is eternal punishment.

 

These are three verses that every Christian should memorize. If you have neglected memorization lately, these three verses are a good place to start anew.

 

The second Sola is Sola Christus – Christ Alone. If you keep this truth in your heart then you will not be seduced by a works-oriented religion like Catholicism nor false cults. If you keep this truth close to you we will not be tempted to go along with the pluralism of the world.

 

Did you know that proclaiming things in unison has the power to impress it more fully upon the mind and heart? And, it even stirs up your spirit! Let us end by proclaiming these two simple words together.

 

Christ Alone!

Christ Alone!

Christ Alone!

 

 

[1] These are in no standardized order. Each Sola is important in its own right and one can find various orders when they are presented.

[2] A quote from Thomas Aquinas, representing the RCC position. Further, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the sacraments confer the grace they signify.”

[3] ¶ 1129.

[4] Evangelicals seldom refer to them as sacraments. Rather, the term ordinances is used.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 14:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 10:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.