Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | April 22, 2006

Christ Alone

Many of us have learned something the wrong way, had to unlearn the wrong way and learn it the right way.  When I first began driving I used both feet (one on the pedal and one on the break).  I had to unlearn that incorrect driving method and learn the correct method to obtain my driver's license.  I had an intership for approximately 3 years before I became a full fledged employee.  During this period I did a lot of learn-unlearn-learn along with tons of copying.

We find this need for remedial learning in children and teenagers who lack experience in life.  We find it in athletes who constantly need to be coached during their careers to improve and/or maintain their best performance.  We also find this in Christians, which have a tendancy to stray away from "the faith once for all delivered to the saints."  I'd like to recommend a sermon series called Remedial Christianity, which is very fitting to this concept.  This series was delivered by Rev. Paul Viggiano who has a radio program on 740 am on Sunday mornings at 8:30 am.  I've been listening to him for about 4 years now and recommend him to you all: 

 http://www.branchofhope.org/html/remedialaudio.htm

I must admit that I am the poster child for being a Remedial Christian.  I have come a very long way in my 12 years as a Christian.  Most of my Christianity came from radio programs, which has a wide variety of brands and versions.  This is not the best source for a young Christian who may be confused by the varying opinions.  Fortunately over the years I have been able to weed out many of the bad ones and actually find some really good ones (like the one noted above, RC Sproul is another good one).  My understanding of Chrisitianity has come under a considerable amount of Reforming.

This pattern, however is not unique to my individual situation.  It has actually been a big part of Church history.  The most renoun period of Reformation began in the sixteenth century with men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonh Knox and Ulrich Zwingli.  During this movement the Protestant Churches were formed based on an attempt to call the Church back to a more faithful interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.  This movement has had a major impact on the world as we know it today.  However, after 500 years many in the Church are conceding to the fact that another reformation is needed. 

The first step in reforming our understanding of what we believe is to return to the basic beliefs that are revealed in the Holy Scripture.  Thus, we will continue our examination of the Apostles Creed with the help of the Heidleberg Catechism.  We pick up at Question 30, which states the following:

 Q.  Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

A.  No.  Although they boast of being his, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, Jesus. 1 Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who in true faith accept this savior have in him all they need for their salvation. 2 

1.  1 Corinthinians 1:12-13:  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."  Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?   Galatians 5:4:  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

2.  Colossians 1:19-20:  For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  Colossian 2:10:  …and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  1 John 1:7:  …but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Our topic today concerns a major issue that was the cause of division during the Reformation era.  The Church at that time had developed and advocated practices that allowed veneration and prayer to saints.  It also promoted a system that placed an individuals salvation within their own control.  These practices remain in our day and are still promoted by the Roman Catholic Church.   

The problem with these doctrines during the Reformation and today is that they seek to supplement the cross.  We should not be fooled, the Holy Scriptures are very clear that salvation is by Christ alone.  However, we not only need to guard against the practices explicitly noted above, but all the new strains that evolve over time.  Most Protestant or Evangelical Christians are not drawn towards veneration to saints, indulgences or penance.  Today new practices insidiously and covertly gain entry into Christian life, yet can divert the emphasis away from Christ just as well.  Modern forms manifest themselves in holy practices, such as baptism, quiet times, Church attendance, dietary restrictions or other pietistic practices.  

Christianity is prone to fall into this error, since we are expected to transform our lives.  Most critics of this view claim that it advocates the idea that a Christian can live anyway they want as long as they believe the right things.  In the upcoming weeks we will examine this closer, however for today I'd like to address this with a quote from John Calvin:

For justification is withdrawn from works, not that no good works may be done, or that what is done may be denied to be good, but that we may not rely upon them, or ascribe salvation to them.  For our assurance, our glory, and the sole anchor of our salvation are that Christ the Son of God is ours, and we in turn are in him sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, called to the hope of eternal blessedness by God's grace, not by our worth.

Until next time continue to consider if you are trusting in Christ alone.  

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