Solus Christus Through Christ alone

January 22, 2017

What is in a name? The question was asked by Shakespeare when he wrote
In Romeo and Juliet, “What’s
in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  To which Anne Shirley responded  “I read in a book
once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been
able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a
thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
For those of you who don’t know, my name is
Dennison.  I was named after my father’s
uncle.  And yet the only person who has ever
called me Dennison was Austin White when he was little.
For the first 19 years of my life I was
called Denny, and I still am by some who knew me then.
When I went to university I decided that
Denny was a little boy’s name and so I changed my name to Den, spelled with one
“N”.  And for the next 15 years’ people
would correct it for me and spell it  Dan
or Don.
In 1994 just before we left Australia,
someone asked my what Den was short for, when I told them Dennison they asked
how that was spelled and when I told them they asked “Then shouldn’t Den be
spelled with 2 “Ns” and three months later when we returned to Canada I became
Denn, with 2 “Ns”.
I thought the misspelling of my name was a
thing of the past, one of the first thing I applied for with my new spelling
was my library card.  And it arrived in
the mail two weeks later, addressed to Dean Guptill.  
Oh well, I guess it just goes to prove the
truth of W.C. Fields’ words “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
In the scripture that was read this morning
Peter was defending himself in front of the Jewish religious leaders.  And his message that day shared the common
theme that most of his messages in the book of Acts revolved around.  “God sent his Son, you killed him, now say
you are sorry.”
And he ends his message with these
words.  Acts 4:12  “There is salvation in no one else! God has
given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
 In
case you missed it let’s read it again, “There is
salvation is no one else!  God has given
no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  The name he is talking about is the
name of Jesus.  And that is not a
comfortable concept in 2017 where people feel like there should be many names
by which a person can be saved.  But the
Bible, the word of God tells us that God has given no
other name under heaven by which we must be saved. 
This is week three of our “Old Foundation”
series.  2017 is the  500th anniversary of the
Protestant Reformation.  Which was the
point in history that the Protestant church saw it’s beginning. 
And while there were other people who were
seeking to reform the Catholic church at that time, history tends to point to a
Catholic Priest, named Martin Luther, who challenged the church on some of its
teachings that he felt were in error, as the father of the reformation.
Luther didn’t start down that path so that
he could start a new denomination, although eventually he did.  He didn’t start down that path so he could
leave the priesthood, marry and become a father, although eventually he did.
Luther was simply trying to open debate
within the church on some of these topics, which he thought would ultimately
strengthen the church and make it better. 
But the church didn’t feel that way and eventually the church
excommunicated Luther.
Often the central beliefs of the protestant
reformation are referred to as the “Five Solas” 
Sola being the Latin word for “One” or “Only”.   And while there was no attempt by men like
Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and other reformers to define what they were doing,
church historians have gone back and kind of reverse engineered their beliefs
and came up with the Five Solas.  In hind
sight, this is the foundation of the reformation.
And so, in week one we looked at Solas Fide,
or By Faith Alone, and this was the belief that it is faith that is the main
component of our salvation, not works or good deeds and certainly not a belief
in purgatory.  So, we are saved by faith
alone.
Last week we looked at Solas Scriptura, or
in the Scripture Alone.  And that was the
belief that the final authority for our Christian life is the Bible.  And while the reformers would allow room at
the table for tradition and the teaching of the church only the scriptures
would be considered infallible and it would be by scripture that those other
traditions and teachings would be measured. 
This week we are looking at Solus Christus,
through Christ Alone.  And there are a
number of scripture that teach us that there are not many ways to God, or
several ways to God or even two ways to God but only one way to God.
And while that may seem very exclusive it
is reality of Christianity.  And while
the other Solas may have been seen as a reaction to error in the Catholic
church, the Catholic church very strongly believes in Solus Christus.  More so even than a number of liberal
protestant churches today.
If there was one difference in how the
Catholic church and the Reformers would view the centrality of Christ it would
have been in how they viewed the priesthood. 
For the reformers, there was nobody standing between the believer and
Christ, everyone had direct access to Christ. 
However for many Catholics the parish priest was seen as the intermediary
or the go between them and God.
Which was why Luther
would remind priests of his time: “You are not
lords over the pastoral office.… You have not instituted the office, but God’s
Son alone has done so.”
And Solus Christus is drawn and taught from
the many scriptures that speak of the “Name of Jesus”.
Throughout the New
Testament we see this concept of the “Name of Jesus” being brought up again and
again. By Peter, by Paul, by James and by Jesus himself.
There is something
about the “Name of Jesus” which is unlike any other name.  So what is it?
The first
thing we need to realize is that The
Name of Jesus is a Descriptive Name 
Remember
how we started with the quote by Shakespeare, who said that if you called a
rose by a different name it didn’t make it a
different thing?    Well in the same way simply calling something
a rose that isn’t a rose will not make it a rose.
Abraham Lincoln was fond of asking people “If you call a
dog’s tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have?”  And when people would respond with “Five” Lincoln would
say “No, four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
If someone
handed you a tulip and said it was a rose, you would know right away it was not
a rose.  But only if you knew what a rose
looked like.  However, if you had never
seen a rose it is conceivable you would think the flower you had been handed
was indeed a rose and you might even tell other people it was a rose.
But would that
make it a rose?  No.  it would still be a tulip.
And so, we
have churches and those who are part of those churches who say “Here is Jesus,
but he’s not the Jesus who was born of a virgin, because we don’t believe
that.  And he’s not the Jesus who was the
Son of God because we don’t believe that. 
And he’s not the Jesus who was raised from the dead or who will return
again because we don’t believe that either.”  
Then I would
tell them that you are looking at a tulip and not a rose.
When the
Gospel Writers talk about the name of Jesus they were talking about a very
specific Jesus.  They are writing about
the Jesus who always was and always is.  They
are writing about the Jesus who is not only the son of God but is God.  They are writing about the Jesus who was born
of a virgin. They are writing about the Jesus who lived a sinless life.  They are writing about the Jesus who died on
the cross. They are writing about the Jesus was raised from the dead and ultimately
they are writing about the Jesus who will someday return.  That is the Jesus who is named in the
Bible.   
And for two
thousand years churches around the world have embraced that Jesus.  
And we are
told in the Bible in Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ
is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 
And then in the very next verse we are told: Hebrews 13:9  So do not be attracted by
strange, new ideas.   There is a reason why
for two thousand years the church has taught and believed that Jesus was born
of a virgin and why for two thousand years the church has taught and believed
that Jesus lived a sinless life and why for two thousand years the church has
taught and believed that Jesus died on the cross. 
And why for
two thousand years the church has taught and believed that Jesus was raised
from the dead and and why for two thousand years the church has taught and
believed that that Jesus will someday return.  Because Jesus Christ is the
same yesterday, today, and forever.
You might
remember five years ago when Mitt Romney was running for President of the US
there was some discussion about whether or not he was a Christian because he
was a member of the church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, the group
popularly referred to as the Mormons. 
And when Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist
Church of Dallas, called Mormonism a “theological cult” he was vilified by the
press for being judgemental. 
But he was
correct.  Because the Jesus of the Latter
Day Saints is not the Jesus of the Bible. 
On the other hand I think Jeffress was over the line when he went on to
declare “Evangelicals ought to give preference to a
Christian instead of someone who doesn’t embrace historical Christianity.”   Mitt Romney might have made a great
president. 
I think
history has shown that you just because you are a good Christian doesn’t mean
that you will make a good national leader. 
And vice versa.
Lifeway
Research a Christian research firm in the states did a survey and found that
among Protestant pastors 75 % disagreed with the statement that Mormons were
Christians.    But hopefully most of us
would agree with the president of Lifeway Ed Stezer who stated “Though pastors believe overwhelmingly that Mormonism is
not Christianity, their opinions should not be confused with personal scorn for
Mormons, A person can respect a religious group and even appreciate their
commitment to traditional moral values without equating their beliefs with
Christian orthodoxy.”
But understand
that it’s not enough to claim the name of Jesus without claiming the Jesus of
the name.
The Name of Jesus Is a Holy Name  This goes back to
what we believe about Jesus, if we truly believe that Jesus is God then his
name deserves the same respect as the name of God.
 And that takes us back to Exodus 20:7 “Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not
let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.   and we’ve talked
about this before.  To misuse God’s name
is to use it in a frivolous manner, to misuse Jesus’ name is to use it in a
frivolous manner.  It’s not an
exclamation, or a statement of surprise or anger.  It is a holy name and deserves to be treated
as such. 
It’s not just a command about the way we speak, it’s also a
commandment concerning the way we live. 
When you call yourself a Christian then you are calling yourself a
follower of Christ, you are in effect taking his name, his name, and attaching
it to yourself and to your behaviour.  
And when your life does not reflect your commitment as a Christian then
you are misusing his name.  So, when you
call yourself a Christian then live like the devil what does that say?  What are you doing to the name of Christ with
the way you are living?
Not only is his name descriptive his name is holy, but more than
that:
The Name of Jesus Is a Powerful Name  If you read
through the book of Acts you discover that the early church depended on the
name of Jesus.  It was in the name of
Jesus that the message of the Gospel was preached, it was in the name of Jesus that
demons were cast out and it was in the name of Jesus that people were healed.
I love the
story about Peter and John going to the temple one afternoon to pray and they
encounter a crippled beggar outside the temple gate.  And when he sees them approach he asked them
for money.  And this was their
answer:  Acts 3:6  But Peter said, “I don’t have
any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus
Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”   And he was healed.  But it was
done in the name of Jesus.
And it was in
the name of Jesus that tyrants were rebuked and it was in the name of Jesus
that people found the strength to be martyred for their faith.
And there are
great scriptures that we claim and hold unto to, scriptures like John 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will
do it.   How
often have we heard that promise, and how often have we claimed that
promise?  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. Wow! 
But did Jesus
actually mean that you could ask for anything in his name and it would be
yours?  That you and yours would never be
in want, that you would never be sick that you could ask for anything in Jesus’
name and it would be yours?  Because if
that’s the case I want an electric smart car convertible, and a giraffe. 
That’s how it
is preached sometimes and that is a heresy and a mockery of the words of
Jesus.  Seriously you can’t just cherry
pick verses like this and let them stand on their own.  You can’t just take a sentence out of the
bible and look at it in isolation. 
The very least
that you can do is look at the verses that immediately surround that verse.  That’s called taking the verse in context.
In this case,
we need to look at John
14:12-13
I tell you the truth, anyone
who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater
things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you
ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.   What is it talking
about here?  It is talking about doing
what Jesus did.  That your prayers and
your life would bring glory to God. 
And you are
thinking “Well sure Denn, but if I won the lottery that would bring glory to
God.”  Do you really believe that? 
This goes back
to the line in the Lord’s prayer that says “Your will be done on earth as it is
in heaven.”  There is power in Jesus name
and that power is living in Jesus name and means that we live in such a way
that our requests are requests that Jesus would honour.  John 15:16 You did not
choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that
will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   
We sure like
the last part.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   But you can’t isolate
the last part from the first part of Jesus statement and that is that you will
bear fruit that will last, because that is what your requests are supposed to
lead to. 
When you pray
for the power and desire to live the life that Jesus would have you to live, then
then power that you need is there.   When
you pray for the strength to resist temptation then that strength is
there.  When you pray that you will be
better able to bear the name of Jesus and that your life will produce the fruit
that Jesus wants you to produce, that request will be answered.
As a young pastor,
I thought that praying “Your will be done” was a cop out, that if we were truly
to pray in faith, believing that whatever we asked for in Jesus name would
happen that we were just given ourselves an out by praying “your will be done”
because if our prayers weren’t answered then we could just say “well I guess
that it wasn’t in God’s will” 
But what if we
truly believed that God is smarter than us, and ultimately that God wants the
very best for our lives, even if at this point in our lives it doesn’t seem
that way? 
Sometimes we
are like children who feel that we need every shiny new toy that captures our
imagination and every cone of ice cream or candy bar that tickles our fancy and
that doesn’t bring glory to God. 
But have you
ever wondered what would happen if every prayer you ever uttered had been
answered in just the way you wanted it to be answered? 
The power that
is in the name of Jesus is the power to live as a new creation, the power to be
a witness to his name, the power to bear the fruit that he would have us to
bear. 
Paul wrote
these words to the believers in the Colossian church, Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the
Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.   Now listen to how it
is said in the New International Version,  
NIV Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do
it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  
So, you understand that if you are a Christ
follower, then whatever you do, whether in word or
deed, you’re supposed to do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God
the Father through him.  The question of
course is: Do you? 
So to finish this morning let’s go to the
book of Romans, where Paul writes Romans 10:13  For
“Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”   Have you called on
the name of the Lord?