Rusty Dawson 02/06/2022
Primary Scripture 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Good morning church, it is an honor to be able to stand before God’s people and proclaim His Word. Most of you probably know me, some of you may not, and some of you may know of me but do not really know me and that is ok. However, I want to share with you a little fact about me that you may or may not know. I am an overachiever. No matter what I am doing or what I am working on, I will work myself to death doing it. Working tirelessly is not always a bad thing, but it is not always a good thing either because I can get so wrapped up in what I am doing that I neglect everything else around me. But, why am I so willing to work myself to death? The answer is that there is always something that I am striving towards. That can be a promotion, pay raise, college degree, some sort of goal or just plain pridefulness. If I’m honest with myself there are even times I am trying to garner favor with people or God. Maybe you can relate.
When we set our sights on something high, like a goal, we must work our way up to it; in a sense we climb ladders. In a way, I am constantly climbing a ladder, climbing hand over hand trying to reach the top of it. We all do it, we set our sights on some goal and begin to climb the ladder, rung by rung, until we reach the top.
As I was studying for this sermon, I came across this analogy from Douglas Van Dorn in his book on The Five Solas. He talks about these three ladders of the Roman Catholic church: moralism (just do good), speculation (observance of sacraments), and mysticism (the over spiritualization of the common things). Unlike the ladders we climb to reach our goals, these ladders are used to reach heaven, which would be at the top of these ladders, with each rung being some type of work or “good deed.” I bring this up because, let's face it, we are all climbing one of these ladders hoping that we will one day earn enough favor with God to secure our eternal destination.
Over the last few weeks, you have heard Pastor Ricky explaining the five solas of the reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and today we look at Solus Christus. The doctrine of solus Christus, or Christ alone, anchors our hope and salvation in Christ alone. Turn with me for a minute to 1 Timothy 2:5-6. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the witness for this proper time.” Paul is saying that there is only one God and therefore one plan of salvation. There is only one mediator between God and man, someone who is perfectly righteous and able to come before a holy God on our behalf. This mediator, being Jesus Christ, gave himself as a ransom for all people; no one took His life from him, no one forced Him, but He gave of himself on behalf of his people, freely. Because Jesus freely gave his life for his people, we don’t have to work our way up to God, we don’t have any ladders to climb; the work has already been done for us. This is the heart of Solus Christus, this is what the reformers were fighting for. This is what you will hear at Redeemer Borger, repeatedly.
You have also heard us speak about Martin Luther over and over the last few weeks; the reason for that is because he is central to the reformation and helped to form the doctrines and principles we are teaching. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk sent to Rome to deliver a message; upon entering Rome, he saw just how corrupt the church had become. One of the many things the church in Rome was doing at that time was selling what I call "tickets to heaven," they called them indulgences.
Rome’s View of Salvation
While it was the selling of these "tickets to heaven" that set Martin Luther off, the reformers were battling against many other issues as well. One is Rome's view of salvation for the church. You see, the church in Rome was teaching the doctrine of "Christ and." Meaning that salvation came from Christ AND sacraments, Christ and good works, Christ and worship of the saints. There are three fundamental sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church: Baptism, the Eucharist, or what we call communion, and penance.
According to Roman Catholicism, baptism is the first sacrament one receives. Baptism granted the forgiveness of sins, it granted a new spiritual rebirth, it made you a member of the church, and they also believed that Jesus requires baptism to receive the offer of eternal life. The Roman Catholic church even wanted babies and children baptized as early as possible; this way, they were freed of the original sin they are born with. This is a quote according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, listen closely to the wording; "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, we are incorporated into the church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word." Therefore, baptism was essential for salvation according to the Roman Catholic church; so essential that without it you were not saved.
Then there is the Eucharist, or communion, which is another sacrament required by the Roman Catholic Church. The eucharist is commonly known as communion, mass, the Lord’s supper, and divine liturgy. The difference between our practice of communion and that of the Roman Catholic church is that they believe that the bread and wine is transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ. Meaning it somehow, beyond human comprehension, becomes the literal body and blood of Christ; essentially, Christ was making another sacrifice on your behalf each time you took it. They also believe that you become one with Christ in partaking in this communion because you are literally taking in his body and blood.
A third sacrament is penance or confession to a priest. According to this sacrament, if you confessed your sins to the priest and did whatever they asked you to do, you would be absolved, or forgiven, of those sins. So, you can see how the Catholic church was teaching Christ AND sacraments; without sacraments you were not saved. It is not that they didn't believe that Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, but they did not see it as sufficient, it was not enough. Essentially you needed to be forgiven repeatedly by performing works, and if you were good enough in this life, then you would not spend as long in purgatory and be able to enter heaven. This is a works based salvation that teaches moralism, speculation, and mysticism.
The Reformers View of Salvation
Martin Luther was greatly convicted of these teachings and that selling indulgences was wrong and wanted to correct it, but he was met with significant opposition. You see, what Martin Luther and the other reformers began to realize is that Christ alone grants salvation. The only work needed to be forgiven and enter heaven was completed on the cross. Each of these five Solas build on each other to give us a clear picture of salvation that is all to the glory of God alone.
None are Good Romans 3:9-18
Before we can get to what Christ has accomplished on the cross on our behalf, we need first to understand our NEED for what Christ accomplished on the cross. Turn with me to the book of Romans in chapter 3, verses 9-18.
Pause and read Romans 3:9-18 “9 What then? Are we better? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
In these verses Paul is making a universal charge, pulling from the Psalms and Isaiah, to make a point to the Roman believers. The point that he is trying to make is that, contrary to popular belief, there are no good people; none seek for God, because all have turned aside and there is no fear of God before them. Now, we must remember that God's standard of "good" and our standard of "good" are not the same. In Mark chapter 10, you don’t have to turn there, but the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and calls him "good teacher," and Jesus's reply is, "why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Jesus made the same point, only with far less words. If it is true that none are good, because “none are righteous” then we have a real problem with a real need.
By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in the Works of Christ Alone
Now turn to Ephesians 2:1-10, and Paul takes it a step further, in typical Pauline fashion, and reminds the believers in Ephesus that they were “dead” in their sin.
Pause and read Ephesians 2:1-10 “And you were dead in your transgressions and sins,2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the Spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom we all also formerly conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.4 But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
What can a dead man do? The answer is nothing because he is dead. Paul's point is not that we are physically dead, obviously, but that spiritually everyone outside of Christ is dead in sin and can do nothing to garner favor or salvation from God. We need new life to be breathed into us! Look again at Verse 4, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." “But God,” because He is rich in mercy makes us alive in Christ. This is a verse to highlight. If you want to put a verse on a coffee cup this is one of them; Christian, remind yourself of this every chance you get, I was dead in sin “But God” made me alive in Christ.
By His grace, we were made alive, not by our works, not by being baptized or taking communion, or even because we confess our sins to some priest. "By grace you have been saved." And, still, some will say, "oh yes, that’s all true, but I still had to place MY faith in Christ." Because faith is something WE muster up right? Well, Paul addresses this issue as well in verses 8-9. "For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast.” If you don’t hear anything else today church, hear this. There is nothing we contribute to our salvation except for the sin that made it necessary, and this is good news. The work of redemption is done for us, there is nothing for us to do, no ladders to climb, no sacraments, nothing. Remember this and rest in it. This is why we are so dependent on Christ alone. Because Christ stood in our place, as a mediator between us and God, and because of this we are declared righteous.
Christ the Perfect Mediator Hebrews 9:11-15
Turn to Hebrews chapter 9 verses 11 through 15. In this passage, the author is comparing two different systems. One is the OT sacrificial system, in which one would come to the priest, confess their sins, and a sacrifice would be made on their behalf to absolve them from their sins. The other is the NT sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in which Christ, with his blood, makes a perfect and final sacrifice before God on behalf of God's people.
Pause and read Hebrews 9:11-15 “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation,12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy places once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?15 And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the trespasses that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
In one commentary, it states that "This depiction of Jesus offering himself as a sacrifice is at the center of the extended comparison between old-and new-covenant realities." In other words, what Jesus ushered in on the cross was a new covenant, a covenant that is final and perfect, unlike the first covenant.
The word "mediator" in Greek is "mesites." It means "a go-between," a person who stands and argues on behalf of one person to another. It is better translated as a "reconciler," someone who reconciles a relationship between two people. Much like in a marriage counseling session, the counselor stands as a mediator, or reconciler, between the two. This is precisely what Jesus does for us; he reconciles us, the church, with the Father and grants us eternal life with Him. Not only does Christ reconcile us with God, but he also justifies us before God
The Great Exchange Romans 5:18-21
I titled this next section "the great exchange" because of what happens when we become true believers in Christ. Turn to Romans chapter 5.
Pause and read Romans 5:18-21 “18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.20 Now the Law came in so that the transgression would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In verse 18, Paul makes a parallel statement about Adam and Jesus Christ. In Adam, all are under condemnation for sin, but, in Christ, all are declared righteous, which results in the justification of all who believe. In verse 19, Paul is stating this same thought differently, making it plainer perhaps. Because of the disobedience of Adam, the many are made sinners, and through the perfect obedience of Christ, the many are made righteous. To be justified, means that God, the justifier, no longer condemns us because of our sin. Because of Christ we are freed of guilt and condemnation due to our sinfulness.
In verses 20 and 21, Paul establishes another point. Paul says, "Now the law came in so that the transgression would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." Paul's point in these two verses reveals the purpose of the law, which was to expose human sinfulness and point us to the grace of God. You see, sin and grace both abound, and just as sin reigns in death, so also grace reigns in righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ. And this is "not of our own doing, that no man may boast."
I'll close with this. The reality of salvation is that God is holy, and we are not. We cannot live the perfect, sinless life directed to us by the law. Therefore, we need a mediator to stand in for us and argue on our behalf. That mediator is the God-man Jesus Christ, who did live the perfect, sinless life. Jesus went to bat for us and bore our sins on that cross, took the punishment we deserved and was buried in a tomb for three days. On that third day, Christ rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, showed himself to the apostles and many more before ascending to the right hand of God, where he now reigns from heaven until he comes back for his church. This is the gospel that we believe. By grace alone, through faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all to the glory of God alone.
Church, we don’t have to climb any ladders to get to God. We don’t have to work ourselves to death in order to get into heaven. I need these reminders myself and maybe you do as well. Christ has already accomplished the work on our behalf and there is nothing more we can do or need to do. This is good news, it’s the best news, especially if your like me and tend to forget or get so wrapped up in doing things that you neglect everything else around you.
Invitation and Closing Prayer
Therefore we are called to repent and believe. This is the gospel that Christ is calling us into. If God calls you to repent and believe, do not harden your heart against Him. If you are not in Christ this is an opportunity to seek Him, don’t harden your heart. If you are in Christ and you just need prayer, Pastor Ricky will be in the back to talk to and pray with you. Let's pray: Father, I thank you for the opportunity to stand before your people to preach and make known the wonders of who you are. God, I stand in awe of who you are and at the work of your Son on our behalf. Father, may we grow in the knowledge and goodness of your Son and what he has accomplished for us. Lord, if there be anyone here today that you are calling unto yourself, may they not harden their hearts against you but come running with arms wide open to you. God, we love you and pray all these things in your Son's glorious name. Amen.