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Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian
Prof. David McKay  |  Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Christ Alone
MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
Christ Alone

As we mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation in Europe, when on 31st October, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, we are considering five of the great principles that lie at the heart of the Reformation. These are the five ‘solas’ – the five ‘alones’ – that sum up some of the central emphases of this great time of theological and spiritual revival. Last month we considered ‘Scripture Alone’. This month we turn to ‘Christ Alone’ – ‘Solus Christus’.

To say that salvation is by ‘Christ Alone’ reminds us that in Christ we have a unique Saviour. It is at this point, perhaps more than at any other, that we are also made aware of the difference between the world of the Reformers and our world. The Reformers wrestled mainly with conflicting understandings of precisely how Christ saves sinners. In our context we face a pluralism in which any assertion of a unique way to God is met with amazement, horror or even, increasingly, hostility. ‘How,’ it is asked, ‘could anybody in this day and age believe that there is only one way to be right with God and, worse still, that they have a monopoly of it?’

The ‘politically correct’ view is that, if there is a God at all, there are many ways to him. Indeed it is possible that every way is valid for someone. Thus Christ may be fine for you, yet entirely inappropriate for others. No-one can be told he is wrong and needs to change. The very suggestion is taken as a sign of our bigotry.

If we are to be faithful to God and to Scripture, however, we must assert with Pater that ‘there is salvation in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ as God incarnate is not one among many saviours. In John 14:6 he makes the absolute and unequivocal claim, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.’ We must not be ashamed to assert Christ’s uniqueness, although increasingly we will face pressure to be silent.

‘Christ Alone’ also speaks of a unique salvation. The uniqueness of Christ relates not only to who he is but equally to what he has done. As we read the biblical account of the life, death and resurrection of Christ it is evident that this is the only and the God-given way for the plight of sinners to be addressed.

Consider the natural state of sinners like us: we are ‘dead in…transgressions and sins…by nature children of wrath’ (Ephesians 2:1,3). We are under the just wrath of God and unable to change ourselves. Christ addresses every aspect of that terrible plight. As man he atones for man’s sin; as God he is able to save a vast multitude. The Reformers understood how comprehensive Christ’s work needs to be and indeed is, and as the Reformation progressed that understanding became richer and deeper.

Christ’s life of perfect obedience supplied what we lack – the keeping of God’s law in its entirety. His death pays the price for our sin – ‘God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). This unique saviour is ‘the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:10), taking the punishment for the sins of his people, thus turning aside God’s righteous wrath. His resurrection as ‘the first fruits’ (1 Corinthians 15:20) guarantees the resurrection of his people.

Every dimension of the sinner’s need is addressed by Christ’s redeeming work. The more we understand the true nature of our situation as sinners, deserving only condemnation and punishment, the more we will appreciate the necessity for the rich saving work of our Saviour. If we are mildly unwell, an aspirin may be all we need to put us back on top form. If, however, we are dead, a miraculous work of Almighty God is the only way of restoring the life that has gone.

‘Christ Alone’ testifies to a unique Saviour who has secured a unique salvation. The Reformation understanding of the person and work of Christ recaptured the essence of the biblical gospel which medieval Catholicism had done so much to obscure. Under the blessing of God the Reformers’ preaching of this Saviour and this salvation brought new life and spiritual freedom to multitudes. In the intervening centuries such preaching has continued to have the same effect. Although we live in a very different culture from that of the Reformers, the heart need of every man and woman remains the same, and the proclamation of ‘Christ Alone’ still can and still does bring life and freedom.
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     PAST BLOG ENTRIES     

Scripture Alone
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
We noted last month that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation in Europe – on 31st October Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg and sparked such a revolution as...
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500 - A Big Anniversary
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 06, 2017
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
Anniversaries can be very important – ask any husband who has forgotten his wedding anniversary! They usually mark significant events, sometimes life-changing events, that ought to be remembered. The annual return of anniversaries such as...
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God is our fortress
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
I received an e-mail the other day. No – it’s not really that unusual. I do occasionally slink out of digital purdah to check on how the twenty-first century is getting on. I do read e-mails now and again. Just don’t get me started about...
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Order out of Chaos
TUESDAY, AUGUST 09, 2016
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
‘The whole world’s in a terrible state of chassis,’ says Captain Jack Boyle in Sean O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock (1925). Of course he meant ‘chaos’ – despite solemn expositions on the internet explaining that he meant that the world was...
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In the fast lane
MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2016
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
Where did last week go? Last month? Last year? Do you find yourself asking questions like that? Doesn’t life seem to fly past, almost in a blur sometimes? No. it isn’t a sign of getting older – I refuse to believe that. Of course time is not...
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Gospel Opportunities
FRIDAY, APRIL 01, 2016
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It is not unspiritual in gospel work to make plans, to look ahead and give careful thought to how and where witness should be carried on. The apostle Paul was a missionary who thought carefully about the next steps in his work and who had in mind...
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Declared Righteous
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It doesn’t get much better for a preacher. To sit down at the beginning of the week to start preparation for the coming Lord’s Day, to open the Scriptures at the passage due to be expounded and to read, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for...
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Vital Stats
MONDAY, AUGUST 03, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
Yes, I know – you can prove anything with statistics – yet sometimes they can highlight important trends, indicate patterns we should be aware of, flag up issues that need to be addressed. A good example is a recent survey of the views of young...
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Judgment Day
SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2015
Posted by: Shaftesbury Square Reformed Presbyterian | more..
It must be true! It was on the front of The Times – JUDGMENT DAY. How could we have missed it? Where were the cataclysms, the fire, the floods, the earthquakes, the turmoil? It all seemed strangely quiet. How could the Day of Judgment have...
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