“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:13-18
A non-negotiable within the Christian faith is the exclusivity of the gospel message, meaning salvation is found in Christ and Christ alone. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” This unwavering truth was highlighted during the Protestant Reformation by the use of the Latin slogan “Solus Christus” meaning “only Christ” or “Christ alone.” The Roman Catholic Church had complicated the doctrine of salvation by teaching salvation was obtained through various combinations; Jesus plus the church, Jesus plus good works, Jesus plus prayers to Mary and the saints, Jesus plus indulgences, Jesus plus communion, or even Jesus plus baptism. But with his 95 Theses, Martin Luther called out the church for these heretical additions to the doctrine of salvation. He stressed that nothing could be, should be, or needed to be added to Christ’s completed work on the cross. Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary was sufficient to save sinners. No additions were necessary.
Another reason Luther and the Reformers used the phrase “Solus Christus” was in effort to place the focus back on Christ. Sadly, all of the additions to the doctrine of Salvation had pulled the focus away from Christ. The Reformers simply wanted to give Christ the honor and glory He deserved. In our passage above, Paul articulated the greatness of Christ. He first expressed thoughts on Christ as Creator and His involvement in creation as the second person of the Trinity. He then addressed themes such as the eternality of Christ, the sovereignty of Christ, Christ as the Head of the church, and the supremacy of Christ. The passage is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful expressions of the incomparable Christ in all of the New Testament, and it was a favorite passage of the Reformers in returning the focus back on Christ.
“Solus Christus” reminds us that salvation is not about man. We might be the recipients of salvation, but the real story of salvation is Jesus. We are paupers. He is King. We are sick. He is the Healer. We are wretched. He is Glorious. We are in turmoil. He is Peace. We are sinners. He is the Savior. “Solus Christus” also reminds us that Jesus Himself is the gospel. The Word of God is all about Jesus because Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is His story. Luther understood this, and fully embraced “Solus Christus” by referring to Christ as the center and circumference of the Bible.
Christ is King of kings (Revelation 19:6). He is our Savior (Luke 2:11). He is our Redeemer (Galatians 3:13). He is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the Door (John 10:7), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and the Vine (John 15:5). He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), and the Son of God (John 10:36). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He is the Root and Offspring of David and the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16). He is the Resurrection (John 11:25) and the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8). It is because of these wonderful truths that Jesus must have preeminence in all things. His position of supremacy is reserved for Him and Him only. Oh that we would have the highest regard for our incomparable Savior; for He deserves first place in everything!
– Pastor Eric