Five Solas of Reformation (4/5 a): Solus Christus

Christ Alone

The fourth Sola, Solus Christus, Christ alone, is the logical conclusion of the previous three. Scripture alone, grace alone, and faith alone all point to Christ. Christ alone is the Messiah the Scripture bears witness to. Christ alone is the channel God’s saving grace flows through. And Christ alone is the person we put our faith into.

There are three aspects about Solus Christus: Christ alone is the Lord, Christ alone is the Savior, Christ alone is the King. Christ the Lord exercises His loving authority over us. Christ the Savior bestows His saving power into us. Christ the King exerts His absolute sovereignty throughout His dominion, including us.

Christ is the Lord

  • For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11, KJV)
  • Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. (Acts 2:36)

In the Bible Jesus is associated with the title “Lord” more than other titles combined. He is a good friend, a wonderful counselor, the good shepherd, but most of all He is the Lord. This fact is made clear by the two most important announcements in the New Testament. At the birth of Jesus an angel announced to the shepherds the good news for all people, that a savior has been born, who is “Christ the Lord.” At the Pentecost apostle Peter announced to the Israelites that God has made the resurrected Jesus “both Lord and Messiah.” What the Bible says is this: make no mistake, Israelites and all people, Jesus, the Messiah who saves you, is the Lord.

The Bible uses the word “Lord” to connote two meanings: it means Jesus is the supreme Master, one who has complete authority over you. It also means Jesus is God, the one and only creator and ruler of the universe. Let’s take a look of the first meaning.

The Lord and His Servants

In the Greek language the word for Lord is kurios, meaning “a person in supreme authority.” The corresponding word for kurios is doulos, mildly translated “servant,” actually means “slave,” or, as some older translations put it, bond-slave. When we say “Lord Jesus” we mean Jesus is our supreme Master, we are his bond-slaves, people under His authority. Our relationship with Jesus is that of a Master-Slave’s, the so-called “authority relationship.” On the master’s side all he has to do is to give commands. On the slave’s side all he can do, and should do, is to obey. The dynamics of this relationship is best illustrated by the words of a Roman centurion:

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matt. 8:8-9

The centurion’s understanding of authority relationship was simple and direct: his soldier obeys him, everyone obeys Jesus, the Master of All. When Jesus heard his words, He was amazed, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” To Jesus true faith is recognizing Him as the Supreme Master and take actions accordingly. Jesus Himself taught about this relationship. He said:

Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ Luke 17:7-10

These seemly harsh words from Jesus accurately describe what I call “a loving truth.” Jesus speaks the truth. The only correct response from a servant, or slave, after a day’s hard work is “I am an unworthy servant, I have only done my duty.” He is not to expect a “thank you” from the master, for he has done nothing more than what he ought to do. But Jesus didn’t speak this truth harshly, He said it with loving kindness. What He said about the servants is built upon His love for them. The supreme Master loves his servants so much that He died for them:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Our Master is not a ruthless slave-driver, but a loving Lord who always has his servants in his heart. Not only Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He died for them. He gives His life as a ransom so anyone who believes in Him will live. Here is the key: rather than weakens the authority relationship, Jesus’ sacrificial love strengthens it. The love He has towards us makes it more compelling for us to obey. The person who loves you so much will not hurt you. He exercises authority over you not to exploit you, but to bless you. And when we realize this person is actually the all-knowing and all-mighty God, the choice is even more clear: it is not only right, but wise, for us to obey the Master.

As a footnote let me say this: loving-authority is not only the base for God-man relationship, but also other relationships that form the backbone of human society. It is the base for parent-child relationship, owner-employee relationship, and government-citizen relationship. The one in authority is to love those who are under him, the one under authority is to obey the one who is above him. This doesn’t conflict with the concept of equality. All human beings are made in the image of God, we are equal before God,

but not with God. God is God, we are not His equal, we are His people. Christ is Lord, we are not His equal, we are His servants. Until we recognize this fact and act accordingly, it would be impossible to bring our relationship with Jesus to the blissful state where God intends it to be.

The Lord is God

In the Bible the word “Lord” is employed to translate the word Adonai, a Hebrew word for God. The Hebrew people had so much reverence for God that they dared no to say His name out loud, so they invented the word Adonai to represent God. In the New Testament, the Bible uses the word “Lord” to represent either God or Jesus, for Jesus is God. For example, Paul quoted a famous verse from the book of Joel in his letter to the Romans:

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

In Joel “the Lord” is God. Everyone who calls on God’s name, praying to Him in faith, will be saved. In Romans “the Lord” is Jesus. Everyone who calls on Jesus’ name, praying to Him in faith, will be saved. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is God. For us believers the divinity of Christ is a nonnegotiable truth. The Jesus we pledge allegiance to is God Himself. The early disciples, being ardent monotheistic Jews, had no problem recognizing Jesus as God. Doubting Thomas missed the first opportunity to meet the risen Lord, his doubts turned into belief when he saw the resurrected Jesus himself. He cried out:

My Lord and my God! John 20:28

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ alone is the Lord. He alone is the loving Master that commands our immediate obedience. He alone is the holy God that deserves our undivided allegiance and worship.