The Five Solas of The Protestant Reformation–Part 5c Solus Christus: Christ Alone

So far, our understanding of Solus Christus has been guided by principles of viewing context, chorus of unity, and covenants mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:5-6.  We conclude our discussion based on characteristics of Christ.   

His Name
Contrary to what you may have heard, Jesus Christ does not refer to His first and last names!  This leads to a further discussion about our first impressions about Paul referring to Him as “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5 NASB).  
 
The word “Jesus” (often translated as Joshua) refers to His earthly name; His humanity.  Smith and Judson explain that “Jesus” has several meanings including: “Jehovah is salvation; Jehova, my salvation; Savior. Greek form of Jehoshua.”  1   By the same token, the title of “Christ” or Anointed One or Messiah relates to His redemptive work as the Son of God.  For this reason, Easton refers to “Christ” as “the official title of our Lord, occurring five hundred and fourteen times in the New Testament. It denotes that he was anointed or consecrated to his great redemptive work as Prophet, Priest, and King of his people.” 2
 
These distinctions are not an exercise on word play.  On the contrary, they reveal sound doctrine that’s at the very heart of the Christian faith.  Simply put, Christ Jesus is simultaneously 100% God and 100% man! I admit this is a mind-blowing claim but we need only to read what’s commoningly called the kinosis experience recorded in Philippians 2:1-11.  In like manner, Hebrews 4:14-16 describe Jesus as our Great High Priest who knows what it’s like to be human.
 
His Description
The doctrine of Solus Christus also hinges on Jesus’ description as a “ransom.”  I Timothy 2:6 calls Jesus someone “who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
 
This begs two key questions:  Why do we need to be ransomed?  Why is Christ Jesus the only one who can ransom us?  
 
The answer to the first question boils down to one word:  “sin.” In the Garden of Eden, Satan precipitated man’s original sin through Adam and Eve which led to spiritual separation from a Holy God.  This introduced physical and spiritual death as the wages or penalties for sin and introduced humanity as slaves or indentured servants to sin (Romans 6:15-23 and John 8:34-38).
 
This leads to answering the second question of why Christ Jesus is the only One who can ransom or pay for the penalty of sin.  First, the concept of ransom is based on the Greek concept of antilytron or “liberation” which implies that someone is held against their will by someone else based on their behavior.  3   Second, Hebrews 9:22 makes clear that the cost or ransom for removing sin involves “the shedding of blood,” i.e. a blood sacrifice.  Third, Romans 5:15 and I Corinthians 15:20-22 describe Christ’s role as the Second, more Perfect Adam who’s death on the cross paid for the sins of humanity.  
 
The allusion to Christ as the ransom or Perfect Substitution for humanity’s sin is echoed throughout both the Old and New Testament.  In Leviticus 4-7, we find an exhaustive description of how priests sacrificed animals according to different types of sin. Most notably, however, is the process recorded in Leviticus 16:1-34 involving sin atonement and the scapegoat. Toward the end of this ceremony, priests prayed for and released the scapegoat in the wilderness symbolizing the removing of sin among the Jews (Leviticus 16:21-22).  It’s important to note, however, that this act was symbolic but not practical:  it was done repeatedly because the sins (of commission and omission) continued.  
 
But there’s hope in the New Testament!  John 1:1-34 introduces the background of John the Baptist and those who mistakenly believe he is the Messiah.  He’s quick to point out that he isn’t and we are told the following in John 1:29: “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”  The phrase “takes away” is in the spirit of the concept of ransom and sin atonement found in the Old Testament. Unlike the repetitive sin atonement of the Old Testament, Christ’s sin atonement is a one-time only event: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). 
 
I’ll end with these words from Wiersbe:  “Though the death of Christ is efficient only for those who trust Him, it is sufficient for the sins of the whole world. Jesus said that He came ‘to give His life a ransom for many’” (Matt. 20:28). 4
 
My last blog involving the Five Solas will be Soli Deo Gloria, “all to the Glory of God.”  
 
1  Smith, Stelman, and Judson Cornwall. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. 1998 : 131. Print.
 
2  Easton, M. G. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. 1893.
 
3  Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) 1997.
 
4  Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996. Print.

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