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Solus Christus

The 5 solas of the reformation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Bible Reading

Philippians 3:1–11 NIV84
1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Introduction

We continue this morning with 5 Solae
What we are looking at are those points that were of central / key importance during the time of the reformation.
The church had drifted away from the true Gospel message. They were on a path of a Gospel that was really no Gospel at all.
Within the church, it was preached that one should be in Christ, but that it was also necessary to do good works in order to obtain salvation.
And so Christ was needed, and was certainly a part of salvation
But He wasn’t all that was necessary. He was not sufficient.
You needed to have more than just Christ…you needed to do certain works in order to obtain your salvation.
And what this led to was a situation where a person could never truly know their state of salvation.
Were they saved?
Had they done enough to please God?
And so this morning we come to our next Sola, and that is “Solus Christus” - Christ Alone...
Our salvation is through Christ Alone.
What do we mean by Christ Alone?
There are two senses to this phrase.
In the first place, and the one that I will only be touching on in this introduction, is in the sense that there is no other man who is Savior.
There is no other person who may come and claim to be a Messiah.
There is no other way in which man may be reconciled with God; No other way a man may come into right standing with God; No other way a man may one day enter into the presence of God…apart from Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 NIV84
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus gave a claim to exclusivity.
No other person could claim to provide a way to the Father…only Jesus Christ.
In our world, there are many false Messiah’s even today.
Within South Africa, we have a self-proclaimed Messiah named “Moses Hlongwane
He calls himself “The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus”
The founder of that church, Isaiah Shembe (1865 - 1935) claimed to be sent directly by God.
Consider others...
When Peter and John had healed a crippled man, and they were brought before the Sanhedrin, they proclaimed to them .
Acts 4:12 NIV84
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:
Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
There is simply no other way in which we may be saved.
The second sense in which we should understand this phrase “by Christ alone” is coupled with what we’ve considered over the past two weeks.
Sola Gratia, and Sola Fide
These previous two Solae, along with “Solus Christus” which we consider this morning, go hand in hand, and cannot be considered apart from each other.
They are like three legs of the same stool, where if you remove any one of these legs, the stool will collapse.
In ...
Ephesians 2:8 NIV84
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
The emphasis there was the grace of God towards us...
It is only by His grace that we are saved
The fact of our salvation is entirely a gift from Him!!
But further, it is through faith that we are saved.
It is not through our works that we are saved.
But this morning, we consider the third leg of that stool - Christ alone.
Christ is the object of our faith.

1. A Striking Contrast (vv.2-3)

As we consider Christ as the object of our faith, we will do that from our text in ...
And we’ll do that under 3 headings...
A Striking Contrast (vv.2-3)
Paul’s Solid Credentials (vv.4-6)
The Superiority of Christ (vv.7-11)
Firstly then, let us consider the striking contrast that Paul paints for us in verses 2-3
Paul begins this passage in verse 2 with a solemn warning!!
And in doing that, he doesn’t mince his words.
He gives 3 warning signals, coupled with descriptors of those people against whom he is warning the Philippians.
The NIV translation only puts the warning once - right at the beginning...
But the warning words are sounded 3 times...
“Watch out....watch out....watch out...”
The NKJV version puts it like this...
Philippians 3:2 NKJV
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
The threefold repitition sounds the alarm for the Philippians, that what Paul is here speaking against, is no mere triviality.
He is not speaking about disagreements over theology.
This is no academic / philosophical argument about different understandings of the Gospel.
Paul warns the Philippian believers that here is a serious danger - here you need to tread very cautiously.
How does Paul then describe these people against whom he is warning the Philippians?
The first is that they should “Watch out for those dogs...”.
Paul, so emphatic is he on his insistence against these false teachers, labels them “Dogs...”
Dogs were not lovable, huggable pets and companions in Paul’s Jewish culture. They were regarded “as the most despicable, insolent and miserable of creatures.” Dogs were despised because they would eat anything, including dead animals, human corpses, and their own vomit. [Hansen, G. W. (2009). The Letter to the Philippians (p. 218). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.]
Hansen, G. W. (2009). The Letter to the Philippians (p. 218). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
The word is as insulting as could be found, and was as offensive in Paul’s day as it would be in our own.
But added to the weight and thrust of his words, is the fact that very often it was the Jews who would label the Gentiles as dogs..
And yet Paul here switches this around, and targets the word against the Jews themselves, or at least the Judaizers - those who were supporting Jewish traditions...
The words would have struck his listeners hard.
His second descriptor of these men is “workers of evil...”
Those who do evil!
Really what he’s saying there (which will become more clear as we look further down to verses 4-6 in a moment) is that these are those who advocate works...
“They are evildoers because their emphasis on the works of the law turns into a self-reliance that obscures the need for salvation in Christ.
Furthermore, they are evildoers because their work to convert Gentile Christians to Judaism by requiring circumcision and works of the law harms Christians by misleading them to supplement faith in Christ with works of the law.
Since these missionaries are drawing Gentile converts away from faith in Christ, they are evildoers.
They may boast of their good works, but the results of their mission are so devastating that a warning must be posted: Watch out for those evildoers.”
[Hansen, G. W. (2009). The Letter to the Philippians (p. 219). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.]
Christ plus holding to certain works.
Hansen, G. W. (2009). The Letter to the Philippians (p. 219). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
The third descriptor that Paul uses is “those mutilators of the flesh”.
The very obvious reference here - those to whom Paul refers - Judaizers - those who were saying that you needed to be circumcised in order to be saved.
Won’t say too much on them...
But note that he doesn’t give them the name that they would have liked - “The Circumcision”....that’s what they liked to call themselves.
But Paul instead calls them those mutilators of the flesh.
They were clearly requiring what went beyond Scripture…what went beyond Christ…in order to ensure salvation.
And so Paul’s words concerning them are harsh indeed.
And so Paul’s words concerning them are harsh indeed.
But having given this harsh three-part warning to the church, he goes on to present a striking contrast...
In verse 3, he writes… “For it is we who are the circumcision...”
Philippians 3:3 NIV84
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—
Now before we go further, we need to understand what Paul means when he writes these words.
What does Paul mean that “we” are the circumcision.
The language should take us immediately back to , where God establishes a covenant with Abraham.
In that chapter, God promised Abraham (for a second time - first time ) that he would make Abraham into a great nation.
Abraham would be blessed with many offspring.
But more importantly than that, God promised Abraham that He would be Abraham’s God.
He promised Abraham that He would be the God of the descendants of Abraham.
This was a promise wherein God would identify with His chosen people.
It was a covenant promising relationship.
And the sign that God gave to Abraham was the sign of circumcision.
Every male among Abraham's’ descendants were to be circumcised when they were 8 days old.
And so this was the sign.
If we bring that language into what Paul says in our current verses...
What Paul is really saying is that “WE” - in other words those who are in Christ - are the true circumcision...
Really, we are the only circumcision.
We are the true heirs of the promise that was given to Abraham.
Galatians 3:29 NIV84
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
And so Paul says here: God has set His personal seal upon you, if you are in Christ.
And so what Paul is doing here is he is drawing the distinction between those who truly know God, and are in covenant relationship with God, as opposed to those who do not know God. Those who stand outside of covenant relationship with God.
This is essential for us to recognise.
So weighty is this matter that Paul addresses, that it has to do with the very covenant standing that we have with God.
At this point, Paul gives us a threefold descriptor of those who are children of the promise...
We had previously a threefold description of those who are under condemnation...
And now we have a threefold description of those who are in Christ...
What are the marks of those who are the true circumcision.
The three marks that Paul outlines in verse 3 are...
We who worship by the Spirit of God
We who glory in Jesus Christ
We who put no confidence in the flesh
These three are all interrelated.
We will just briefly consider each of those descriptions that Paul used.
Firstly, those in covenant relationship with God, are those who worship by the Spirit of God.
Those who worship by the Spirit of God are those whose worship is Spirit-guided.
It is those whose worship is an overflow of the filling of the Spirit.
In other words it is those who do not seek to worship God according to the rules and wisdom of man.
Paul asked the Colossian church:
Colossians 2:20–23 NIV84
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
True worshippers, said Jesus to the Samaritan lady at the well, will worship God in Spirit, and in truth.
The second mark there, as Paul describes it, is: “We who glory in Jesus Christ”
In other words, those who are truly in relationship with God, those who are of the true circumcision, are those who glory in Jesus Christ.
And this, dear friends, is the thrust of Paul’s message here.
And this is the message that we must understand - the message of Solus Christus - if we are truly to be called sons and daughters of God.
If there was one defining feature of Paul, it was the fact that he loved to glory and boast and exult in Christ.
His entire life, having been radically transformed on the road to Damascus, where he was going to persecute Christians, became a life there of worship and praise of the One he had formally persecuted.
Paul’s life turned radically around, and he went from a self-centered, self-righteous persecutor of Christ, to being a Christ focused, Christ exalting, Christ worshiping servant of the living God.
That’s how our lives should be transformed.
That’s how our lives should oriented.
Quotation from Hendriksen...
Those whose hearts (and thus lips and ears) have been circumcized make their boast in the Lord, in him alone.
Such boasters rely entirely on Christ Jesus, the Anointed Savior; on his person and work.
They glory in his cross, that is, in his atonement, as the only basis for their salvation.
His presence is their consolation.
His power provides them with energy to endure persecution and to raise and carry forward into battle the banner of the cross.
On his unfailing, sovereign grace they rest for time and for eternity.
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 153). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 153). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Paul himself said to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV84
2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
And to the Galatians believers he writes:
Galatians 6:14 NIV84
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Let the apostle be his own interpreter: “For I determined not to know anything among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (). “But far be it for me to glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world was crucified to me, and I to the world” ().
Thirdly and briefly, the next mark which marks out the true circumcision is “those who put no confidence in the flesh...”
This is really simply taking the previous point to its logical conclusion.
If your delight and your glory is truly in Christ, and the work that has been done on the cross, then it cannot be in the flesh.
No confidence in the flesh.
Any effort by means of the flesh.
If any contribution towards salvation is attempted to be made in order to bring one into right standing with God, if anyone teaches such things...then they cannot be a part of the true circumcision.
That is the force of Paul’s words here.
Those who suggest and teach that you should rely to any extent on your own works for salvation are called dogs…workers of evil…mutilators of the flesh.
These distinctions that Paul has thus outlined, leads him then to develop his argument even further.
And he does this by way of personal example..

2. Paul’s Solid Credentials (vv.4-6)

Which leads to second point - Paul’s solid Credentials.
Paul says in verse 4, “…I myself have reason for such confidence...”
He goes on to say, “…if anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more...”
And then Paul descends into this kind of foolish boasting that he speaks about in .
He is going to boast about these solid credentials that he has...
And that if anyone had reason to believe that he should be accepted by God, then it was him...
If anyone had reason to place any kind of confidence in the flesh, or in working and contributing towards his salvation, it was Paul...
Paul goes on here to compare himself to these Judaizers are demanding works in order to be saved.
In doing so, he outlines 7 reasons as to why he is more reason to boast...
The first 4 reasons all relate to who he is by descent....in other words, the advantages he has through his parents.
1. ...Circumcized on the eighth day...
That promise that was given to Abraham - ...
That sign that was given...
I have it!!
Perfectly.
I was not a proselyte…I wasn’t someone who came from outside of the Jewish people, and was circumcised as an adult.
I was circumcised on the 8th day...
Perfect obedience to the covenant requirement.
2. ...of the people of Israel...
He was a direct descendant not only of Abraham (the Ishmaelites were also Abraham’s offspring)
...nor only of Abraham and Isaac (the Edomites could claim as much)
...but of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It was to Jacob, after his wrestling with God, that God himself had given the new and significant name Israel ().
Of this very Israel Paul was a descendant.
3. ...of the tribe of Benjamin...
But more specifically, from this tribe of Benjamin...
What significance does this have? There are a few suggestions...
I would firstly state that Benjamin was amongst Israel’s most loved sons (along with Joseph)!
Benjamin was also the child of Israel’s most loved wife - Rachel… (again, along with Joseph)
Further to this, it was the tribe of Benjamin, who together with Judah, fought against the Northern tribes of Israel in order to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.
Paul’s point is simply this...
if indeed there were saving value, merit for eternity, in the special distinction of being an Israelite, then Paul was entitled to it, for, being a Benjamite, he surely was a most authentic Israelite.
Indeed, he goes on to state that he was...
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 158). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
4. ...a Hebrew of Hebrews...
Through his lineage, he was the purest of the pure...
No one could claim to be a better “Israelite” than Paul.
But if that wasn’t enough, Paul went on to stress that he also had grounds to boast about his own efforts towards achieving favour with God.
The last 3 points that he raises here for his grounds for boasting all demonstrate his superior efforts, the achievements that he has made in terms of working to be a good person.
5. …as to the law a Pharisee...
When Paul was being charged, and came before King Agrippa, he said to the king about those Jews who were accusing him...
Acts 26:5 NIV84
5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
Paul lived a devout life as a Pharisee.
Every man-made rule and regulation put forward by the religious leaders, he held to it.
No one could fault him.
He was one of those to whom people looked up.
They admired him for his good life.
6. …as for zeal, persecuting the church...
This was another area where Paul excelled.
He was zealous for God.
He was zealous for the law of God (particularly as the Scribes and the Pharisees conveyed it).
He was so zealous that people (particularly Christians) should obey these laws, that he had Christians locked up in jail.
He stood looking on as Stephen was stoned to death for his faith in Christ, all the while giving approval.
If persecuting zeal could ever have opened he gates of heaven, Paul would have walked right in!!
7. …as to legal righteousness, faultless...
So strict had Paul been in his outward observance of the OT law, that he had become blameless..
At least, this is what he had become in human judgment.
His outward conduct was irreproachable.
No one, looking at him, could find fault with him.
This apostle Paul had all the pedigree in the world.
He had all the works-based righteousness that one could hope for.
He’d worked long and hard at his righteousness.
This was not something that came by nature.
It was something that took diligent, hard effort.
It required determination.
It required grit...
.............................................................................................................................................................

3. The Superiority of Christ (vv.7-11)

But it was all worthless
Utterly worthless...
For all this effort that Paul put in, for all the zeal that he had for God...
He eventually came to that point on the Damascus Road, where he realised, by God’s grace that he had gotten things completely wrong.
It was at that moment, where Paul realised that he was “a deluded, self-righteous, damnable sinner...” (Hendriksen..)
And this brings us to our third point…the superiority of Christ.
Paul writes in verse 7-8 of our text:
Philippians 3:7–8 NIV84
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
What so many people in that day considered to be of value, Paul had come to realise was of no value.
What to others were considered assets to be used in their favour, Paul realised that they were liabilities, that only served to work against him.
Why so?
Because all of these achievements took the focus off of Jesus Christ...
Eventually, Paul got to that point where he considered everything a loss....everything...
Not merely some things… not some of the works… not some of his pedigree..
Absolutely everything, he considered a loss…of no value to him.
Compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord
It was for Christ’s sake that Paul abandoned everything...
He considered them rubbish…useless and meaningless...
Because Christ became everything to him!!!
There was nothing of greater value in this world than Jesus Christ.
Christ alone was his hope.
Christ had graciously, miraculously saved him, and called him to minister to the Gentiles.
Paul realised that despite all that he had done, he was utterly unworthy...
In fact, he realised that he was the chief of sinners!!
That is why Paul went on to say in verse 10-11...
Philippians 3:10–11 NIV84
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10 NIV84
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
I’m not talking here about obvious “put on, put off” language that Paul uses...

Application

Those in this life who are more concerned about living according to certain rules and regulations than they are excited and exulting in Christ, beware of them.

Shembe
I’m not talking here about obvious “put on, put off” language that Paul uses...
Zion Christian Church
But when people start to speak about obeying Christ, thus obey this rule and regulation that is clearly not commanded, then be weary.
Moses Hlongwane

A.2. Those Not fully in Christ, are lost

We cannot under-emphasize the importance of the words in this passagae.
It is very clear that Paul vehemently opposes any kind of works-based righteousness that doesn’t have it’s full weight and focus on Jesus Christ and His finished work.

A.1. What do you rely on for your salvation?

Do you rely on the fact that you are descended from a Christian family?
Well, my mom and my dad are Christians...
The advantage of being born in a Christian home and having received a wonderful Christian home-training, becomes a disadvantage when it is viewed as a basis upon which to build one’s hope for eternity.
The same holds with respect to money
The charming look
A solid tertiary education
Physical strength, etc.
a college education, physical strength, etc. All such helps may become hindrances. The stepping-stones will be turned into stumbling blocks, if wrongly used.
All such helps may become hindrances.
The stepping-stones will be turned into stumbling blocks, if wrongly used.

A.2. What moves you towards a Greater Passion for Jesus?

Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 162). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
As those whom God has changed, transformed...
Having come to a knowledge of Christ and his powerful work...
You need to keep bringing yourself in humility before him.
If you are not actively having your affections set on Christ...
If you are not actively being reminded of the power and grace of Christ...
Eventually, you are going to slip back into a works-based righteousness.
Normally that takes the form of: I’ve done x, y, z wrong, and I’m such a bad person, I need to become a better person.
Your assessment of yourself may be right… “I’m such a bad person”
But the solution is not “Become a better person”
Get your eyes of
The solution is: “God forgive me.” I’m going to glory in Jesus, in humility before him, because of his amazing love for me.

A.3. Consider an African / South African context

Within South Africa, many religions (denominations) claim to have some earthly “Messiah”.
Zion Christian Church
They may not state it as plainly as that, but that is the reality.
Moses Hlongwane
The hopes of many people, even those who call themselves Christian, is not in Jesus Christ - it is in some other earthly Messiah or mediator...
We have a massive mission field before us.
There is a huge and significant work to be done.
This is not a work that can be done in our own power, or in our own strength.
Only God can accomplish what needs to be done.
But friends, we need to develop a deep concern for the lost.
When someone claims to be a Christian, let us be sure that we do not simply think that they do not need the Gospel.
The Judaizers would have claimed to know Christ....but Paul gave strong warnings against them.
Because they preached Christ +
In Conclusion...
The Only hope that we have is in Christ.
We are saved by Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone
That is the story of our salvation.
And as we will consider next week (in conclusion) this is all to the glory of God Alone!
We cannot under-emphasize the importance of the words in this passagae.
It is very clear that Paul vehemently opposes any kind of works-based righteousness that doesn’t have it’s full weight and focus on Jesus Christ and His finished work.
MOSES HLONGWANE
In 2013, a South African man appeared on the eNews Channel Africa to declare publicly that he is the black reincarnation of Jesus Christ. This man whose name is Moses Hlongwane also claims that he is immortal. In that TV interview, Hlongwane said that he was “getting ready” to perform miracles like curing the lame and blind and even resurrecting the dead by “opening the graves.”
His claims might seem too preposterous for many us, but surprisingly Hlongwane has managed to convince several people to become his followers. Some of them, like 84-year-old Paul Sibiya who is giving his whole pension as offering every month, are giving all of their possessions to him. But what’s more alarming is the fact that many of his followers are abandoning their families, just like Sibiya who has left his wife, Alfin, to be near their “god.” Allegedly, Hlongwane is using the money he receives from his followers to spread his own version of the “Gospel” to the world.
In Eshowe, South Africa, Moses Hlongwane preaches to his flock during his own wedding ceremony—an event he says marks the beginning of the End of Days. Moses says that God identified him as the Messiah during a dream in 1992. At the time Moses was working as a jewelry salesman. Since then, he’s preached in Eshowe, Johannesburg, and other cities in the region. Moses has about 40 disciples.
Elderly people are not the only ones who are recognizing Hlongwane as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Teenagers too, some of them are as young as 14 years old, believe with all of their hearts that Hlongwane is their true “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
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