For what is the significance of the sola, Chirst Alone, as we look at the differences between Protestants and Catholics?
For Protestants, we are talking about the idea that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that salvation comes through no other (1 Tim. 2:5); that we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and come to God through Christ Alone. The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified (WCF 7.1).
The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. In the Church of the Middle Ages before the Reformation, the minister was seen as having a special relationship with God, as he mediated God’s grace and forgiveness through the sacraments. The idea was that there were no sacraments in the church except by the service of priests ordained by apostolic succession under the authority of the Pope. The sola of Christ Alone, however, rejects this principle of “sacerdotalism”.
We have to remember that this reaction was against the teaching, as the Reformers saw it, of something else needed to approach God and by those who denied that they needed the Roman Catholic Church to know God or to be reconciled to him. In the centuries preceding the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had effectively placed itself between believers and God. They taught that Jesus’ death had produced ‘merit’, and that He had entrusted the keys to that treasure chest of merit, to the Church. The role of the Church was then to distribute that merit to the faithful.
Our response should be the same as the Reformers, ‘No, Christ Alone’. We don’t need ‘The Church’ for us to know God or to be reconciled to Him; it is in Christ alone that we are saved and are able to approach God. We don’t need ‘another’ mediator, Christ Alone is sufficient. Don’t get me wrong, fellowship with other believers is vitally important, and is commanded in Scripture (see Heb. 10:25, Acts 2:42). Attending a congregation of believers and ‘going to Church’ on a most regular basis should not by any means be neglected, for it is there that we are taught the Word, take part in the Sacraments, and join in corporate worship and prayer. It is not ‘the Church’ however by which we receive our merit.
This is a big difference is it not? The difference on how we approach God is set in stark contrast between the two camps.
Vaya con Dios mis hijas,
Dear ol’ Dad