“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Luther was once asked, “If you take away penance, indulgences, and the veneration of relics, what will you put in their place?” Luther responded, “Jesus Christ. Man only needs Jesus Christ.” Solus Christus (“Christ Alone”) means that Christ alone accomplishes our salvation by his life, death, and resurrection. Christ’s work is sufficient to save us from our sins. Solus Christus weaves together Sola Gratia and Sola Fide. We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in what Jesus Christ alone has done in our behalf. The reason salvation is by grace alone is because Jesus is the grace of God that has appeared bring salvation to all people (Titus 2:11). The reason it is by faith alone is because faith is the only Spirit-wrought virtue that receives everything and contributes nothing. We must accept and receive what Christ has accomplished in our behalf. We must not attempt to add any good works to his perfect finished work. We are nothing; Christ is everything. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ is the Christian’s perfect righteousness. Jeremiah prophesied that Christ would be called “the LORD our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). Christians are those who are “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our Christian baptisms signify and seal our union with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:11-12). Christ died for us, and we died with Christ. Our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). We confess, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Here we see the Christ-centered nature of the Christian life. He speaks of Christ for him. Christ loved him and gave himself up for him. He also speaks of Christ in him. “Christ lives in me.” One speaks of our justification; the other speaks of our sanctification. Since Christ loved me and gave himself for me, I am justified by grace through faith in him. Since Christ now lives in me, I am being sanctified by the power of his Spirit who enables me to die daily to sin and to live to righteousness. This keeps us from thinking that we need Christ more at conversion than we do throughout the Christian life. Instead we should see that we are dependent on Christ from beginning to end. He is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5). We must commune with him in a moment-by-moment relationship. As the vine supplies the branches with the resources for life and power, Christ supplies us with the resources for life and power in him. He produces his fruit through us (Galatians 5:22-23). As Christ alone justified us by his life, death, and resurrection, he alone sanctifies us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Today we must remember that Christ is our all in all. Make the following words your motto: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). May God grant it “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).