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November 12, 2017 Five, Part Three (Solus Christus)

 

Five is an amazing number. There are many unusual and unique things about it. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. What Martin Luther did when he posted his 95 theses on October 31, 1517 may be the most significant and important event in history outside the Bible.

 

It is no exaggeration to say that Martin Luther and the Reformation changed both the Western world and the church forever in very positive ways.

 

Out of the Reformation came what is known as the Five Solas with which every Christian should be familiar.  So many good things come in fives or are somehow related to five and the five Solas are no exception to this strange phenomenon. We should know the five solas and embrace them for they speak against the self-sufficiency of man.

 

Previously, we considered Soli Deo Gloria, which means “The Glory of God Alone.”

We saw that this phrase was meant to communicate and to remind us that God alone should get the glory in our salvation. It also magnificently affirms that God should receive all the glory, not just in salvation, but in all of life!

 

We began considering the second Sola, Solus Christus. This means “Christ Alone.” We saw that this beloved phrase is meant to communicate and remind us that Christ Alone is all-sufficient in the work of our redemption. He doesn’t need us and we don’t need to rely upon ourselves nor on the sacraments for our salvation.

 

Secondly we saw that our redemption, our salvation, is exclusive to Christ. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. Therefore, if one wants to see God, it is Christ Alone. Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Krishna (not even a real person), El Ron Hubbard, Sun Yung Moon, Joseph Smith, nor any other person is adequate to bring you to God the Father. In fact, every one will lead you further away from the truth.

 

We also need to know that Christ alone is both necessary and sufficient for our living.

 

The Christian life is a supplied life. Many believers are under the impression that, once they come to Christ, they must try to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. Of course, all persons are under that obligation. It is true that, once a person is born again, they become more sensitive to what is true and good and they have a heightened awareness to that which is false and bad. However, this is often expressed by just putting forth human effort to do right and avoid sin.

 

If it is only our own efforts that try to live the Christian life, our lives will be a failure. Yet, this is the way so many Christians live.

 

Only Christ can live the Christian life. He is not only all-sufficient for our redemption. He is not only the exclusive Savior. He is all-sufficient for our living!

 

Christ’s life is the divine life. It is a matter of tremendous significance for the divine life to be imparted to us. This is what we need. And, once we receive it, we must be acutely aware of it and rely upon it. Not upon ourselves.

 

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20, KJV)

 

The apostle Paul relates his genuine experience of Christ in this verse. His experience must become our experience if we would live the life that we have been called to live.

 

Paul says that he is crucified with Christ. He writes in Romans 6:6 that what has been crucified is the “old self,” that is, who we are before we receive the divine life. Before we came to faith we lived our lives according to our natural inclinations and desires, apart from God. That “old self” has been put to death. But, we must beware. It can be resurrected! If we neglect the divine life, Christ in us, then the “old man” or old self can rise again.

 

He then says, “nevertheless I live.” Who lives? Paul lives. By extension, we live too. But it is the new self, the new “I.” This new “I” has received the divine life!

 

All genuine[1] Christians have been regenerated. To be regenerated means to have God added into us. The very “I” who did not have God is over, is terminated. He will only come back if you allow him to. As soon as we appreciated the Lord Jesus, we had faith. At the same time that we had faith we not only had faith in Christ, but Christ was added into our being. From that time onward we have a new “I.”

 

Praise the Lord that the old “I” has been terminated and the new “I” now lives!

 

Paul makes himself clear. He goes on, “Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” It is not just him living his life by his own life-force or energy. Christ is living in him. Christ is living in you if you really belong to him! This is not just doctrine. It is a divine reality!

 

The way we live the Christian life is by Christ Alone. We live by him and he lives in us.

 

Paul writes, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” The “flesh” here just means his body. The way he lives on this earth in his body is by the faith of the Son of God. Most translations have “faith in the Son of God.” In the original language the word “in” is absent. Not only that, the grammatical construction[2] indicates “of” not “in.” The KJV gets it right along with a few other versions. However, “in the Son of God” is not a problem because there are so many other verses that communicate that very idea – that we place our faith in the Son of God. Hence, we can say this with confidence: The faith in which we live God’s life is in the Son of God, the life-imparting One. The Son of God loved us and purposely gave Himself for us that he might impart the divine life into us.[3] Let me repeat that because it is so good!

 

The faith in which we live God’s life is in the Son of God, the life-imparting One. The Son of God loved us and purposely gave Himself for us that he might impart the divine life into us.

 

Your faith brings about an organic union in which you and Christ are one.

 

How do we have the same experience as Paul? How do we begin to live in Christ’s power? Simply by receiving from him. It is not a matter of doing. It is a matter of receiving. It is a matter of being supplied by him. He supplies us with his all-sufficient life to live in us and through us.

 

Let us be clear about the kind of life that we are talking about. The Bible, especially the New Testament, refers to three kinds of life. There is physical life. The New Testament was written in Greek and we have thousands of ancient Greek manuscripts preserved so that we may examine words and phrases in the original language if we wish to. One Greek word for life is bios. This is where we get our English word for “biology.” It refers to biological or physical life.

 

Another word for life in the NT is psuche. This is where we get our English word “psychology.” It refers to our psychological life or, to use biblical language, our soul.

Our soul is our mind, emotion, and will.

 

Even unbelievers have lots of biological and psychological life. Athletes abound who are unbelievers. You don’t have to have faith to be good at sports. There are many smart people who have no faith and are good at mathematics, composing literature, and a host of other intellectual activities.

 

There is one more word for life in the original language. That is zoe. It refers to spiritual life. We have a human spirit. Until Christ comes to us our spirit is dead. It is made alive by His Spirit. It is through Christ coming to us, regenerating us, indwelling us, and then living in us that we receive the supply. But it still must be received as a supply. The reception of the divine life is not a one-time event.

 

God has used the most basic picture of being supplied in the physical realm to show us this truth in the spiritual realm. How is it that we are supplied physically? We partake of food and water. The principle is so simple. We eat and drink and we live. In order to have the energy to function we must eat and drink.

 

I had a friend who went hiking into the Grand Canyon. He started early in the morning because he did not want to spend the night. It takes three hours to hike down and seven hours to hike up. In the summer, you have about 15 or 16 hours of daylight, so he would have only 5 or 6 hours to spend in the canyon before heading back. He brought a canteen and some snacks but it was a hot day. After hiking down, spending a few hours in the canyon, and starting back up he had run out of water. As he tried to hike up he was not only very thirsty but he experienced a profound lack of energy and lethargy. He wasn’t even half way up and he felt as if he could not go on. It would soon be dark and the temperature was supposed to fall quite a bit in the night. All he was wearing was a sweaty shirt and shorts. He was starting to wonder if he might die. He started praying.

 

In the canyon one can rent donkeys, which many people do to make the trip down and up. Some people came by and he was able to ride one of their donkeys up the rest of the way. His experience shows how much we need food and water.

 

I had a similar experience when we lived on Maui. I went hiking with a friend of mine and we took my dog, Kula. He was a pit bull and was never ran out of energy. On Maui there are jungles with rivers but there are also dry mountains. We began hiking over the driest part of the ridge and it was about a three hour hike. We brought water, but about half way through my dog slowed down considerably and eventually just laid down and refused to move. It was very hot that day and the sun was blazing. It was 95 degrees. I looked up and there on a big, elevated rock was a natural bowl-shaped depression that had a bout a quart of water in it. It looked clean, probably from a recent rain. I had to pick Kula up and put him on the rock. He saw the water and drank the whole thing. Within a minute or two his energy returned and he was his old self. We completed the hike and had a good time doing it.

 

This principle is also true in the spirit. In order to live spiritually we must eat spiritual food and drink spiritual drink. This food and drink is just Christ Himself!

 

Jesus said, “He who eats me, he also will live because of me.” [4] He did not say, “He who tries harder or who resolves more, he will live because of me. He said, he who eats me will live.

 

What did he mean by eating? Jesus explains himself just a few verses later, in John 6:63.

 

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [5]

 

The Spirit just conveys Christ Himself. That is why receiving life from the Spirit is eating Christ. Notice Jesus says, “the flesh is no help at all.” If we seek to live for the Lord out of our natural ability it will be no help at all.

 

The words of Jesus are spirit and they are life! The way we eat Jesus is by taking in his words, not as an intellectual exercise, but as a supply of life.

 

Jeremiah even had this experience under the old covenant.

 

Your words were found, and I ate them,

and your words became to me a joy

and the delight of my heart, [6]

 

When we take in Christ’s words as food they become our joy and delight. If you are not experiencing joy and delight then you are not getting nourished by the word.

 

It is not only good to study God’s word, it is essential; because we must rightly understand it to apply it to our lives. But I am not talking about studying now. To study is one thing to eat and enjoy is another.

 

Thanksgiving is coming up. What if you invited a nutritionist over for Thanksgiving dinner and, after giving thanks to the Lord for the meal, this person did not begin to eat but lectured you on the nutritional advantages and disadvantages of each entrée? They even brought a testing kit to measure the quantities of nutrients in the food. You would think they were loony. You would say, “What is wrong with you? Enjoy the meal!”

 

We can get that way with the Bible. We can study it but not receive what we need from it.

 

Eating his words is different from just reading them and different than studying.

 

Try this: First, get alone so there are no distractions. Then select some verses from your reading of the Bible that impress you and then pray these verses back to the Lord. As you speak these words back to the Lord from within your spirit you will discover food! You will enjoy them and you will find delight! In this way Christ is supplied to you.

 

There are five Solas. Solus Christus relates three blessed things.

 

  • Christ alone is all-sufficient for our redemption. We do not need the sacraments and we do not need our own good deeds.
  • Christ alone is the only way to see God. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.
  • Christ alone is the way to live the life we have been called to live. We do this my his own supply of life. We receive him not just one time, but we daily need to feed upon him. Otherwise, we will become weak, lethargic, or depressed.

 

Let us live according to Christ Alone!

 

[1] We must face the fact that some people come to church who have not been born again. Because they do not have the life of God in them, they will soon find a reason to stop coming.

[2] The genitive form of the direct object for all you language nerds.

[3] This marvelous statement is taken from The Life-Study of Galatians by Witness Lee, p. 90.

[4] The New American Standard Bible. (Jn 6:57).

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 6:63). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Je 15:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.