Existentialism is a failure! It is absurd to believe that life has no meaning except what we give it. If we chase the belief that everything is meaningless then we are left with our own futility. The great test of this truth is when we assume something will lead us to joy, yet it leaves us lacking. The gospel teaches us that salvation is not found through looking within, but looking outside of ourselves. We need something outside of ourselves to guide us to joy. We need a Word from God. We need Sola Scriptura.
If Scripture is our guide, where does Scripture lead us? Christ is the unifying theme of the Bible! The Old Testament looks forward predicting Him, while the New Testament looks back prescribing Him. The Reformers rightly understood Jesus as the solution to our primary problem, Jesus Christ is our Savior from sin.
This claim is not initially the Reformers or the Early Church Fathers or even the Apostles. Jesus Himself claims to be our Savior from sin. If the brokenness of this world has broken you, he invites you to come to him and he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). If your soul is weary and dry, he invites you to come to him and find “rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
Those of us who have functioned as existentialists know that all the things we sought in order to find rest and abundant life all proved futile. It is a lie to believe sex and money and esteem and good health and knowledge and toys and popularity will bring you lasting rest and life. We don’t need make overs and more stuff, we need forgiveness and transformation. We need a Savior!
The reason Jesus is our rest and life is because he is our Savior from sin. When the angel appeared to Joseph he summarized the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation as to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus did not come primarily as an example, but a Savior from sin. Jesus taught us in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus views himself as more than a good teacher, but as the payment for sin. Further, this isn’t horrific child abuse but the height of loving service. Paul also taught this truth in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus was sinless, but took on sin in order to defeat sin, which moves believers from the category of guilty to justified. Peter also emphasized Jesus as our Savior in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” Jesus saves us from our sins in order to make us right with God!
Additionally, the Bible is clear that Jesus is our only Savior. Jesus is explicitly exclusive! He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” One can argue that all religious roads lead to the same place, but to make that argument they are concluding that Jesus is a liar. Jesus is our Savior from sin, and Jesus is the only Savior.
These truths about Jesus are the primary message of the Bible, but the Reformers purified the church of false teaching. Protestants understand that our salvation is through Christ alone, but the mechanics of this salvation is that Jesus imputes righteousness to us rather than infuses righteousness within us. Jesus saving us from our sins doesn’t mean we never sin again, rather it means we have moved from a guilty category to a justified category. For example, God says that He reckoned Abraham righteous (Genesis 15:6). However, after this credit of righteousness, Abraham still committed some pretty scandalous sins. Thus, we can conclude that God did not, like a surgeon, make his inner man perfectly righteous. Rather, like a judge, God declares believers righteous through Christ alone.
There is no other way to find salvation and thus rest and life than through Christ alone! What a glorious truth! What a wonderful thing to celebrate! What should we do with this truth?
First, referring to Jesus, Paul wrote “him we proclaim” (Colossians 1:28). If we find salvation through Christ alone, then we should shout this news to anyone who will listen! Martin Luther said the church is to be a “mouth house.” We are to use objectively understandable words to communicate that salvation is only found in Jesus. This charge is foundational to what it means to be a Christian. If you have been saved through Christ alone, you have the privilege and responsibility to announce Jesus to others. Proclaim Jesus!
Second, the ancient Psalmist sang, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8). Salvation from your sins comes through Christ alone. Lasting rest comes through Christ alone. Abundant life comes through Christ alone. Thus, take refuge in him and thus experience his goodness. Taste that Jesus is good! Our Reformer fathers taught us that the world is futile, but everlasting abundant life is found in Christ alone!
We celebrate our Protestant faith because the Reformers pulled the church back to the doctrine of Sola Christus. Proclaim Christ and find your rest and life within him.