Christ is Christianity.
On the sufficiency of faith alone in the matter of one’s eternity.
I am gearing up to preach at my first outdoor evangelistic meeting next week. I’ve been asked to speak on the theme of “Standing Steadfast in Faith.” When that topic was presented to me, I couldn’t help but be reminded of St. Paul’s polemic to the Churches in Galatia, wherein he decimated any notion of salvation apart from faith in the crucified Christ. I have long considered myself to be a “sola fide guy,” in the sense that whenever the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is impugned, I am predisposed to take up arms in its defense. However, the prospect of preaching an entire sermon on the history and efficacy and utility of sola fide presents its own unique set of challenges, not the least of which is the sheer daunting scope of the task.
Nevertheless, taking the titular third chapter of Galatians as my text, my aim is simple: to lay open the sufficiency of faith alone in the matter of one’s eternity. It is sufficient precisely because of the One to which it clings and lays hold of — namely, Christ alone. He is what makes Christianity possible. In Rev. Alexander Maclaren’s sermon on Galatians 3:1, he declares the following:
Christianity is Christ, and Christ is Christianity; and wherever there is a pulpit or a book which deals rather with doctrines than with Him who is the Fountain and Quarry of all doctrine, there is divergence from the primitive form of the Gospel.
I know, of course, that doctrines — which are only formal and orderly statements of principles involved in the facts — must flow from the proclamation of the person, Christ. I am not such a fool as to run amuck against theology, as some people in this day do. But what I wish to insist upon is that the first form of Christianity is not a theory, but a history, and that the revelation of God is the biography of a man. We must begin with the person, Christ, and preach Him. Would that all our preachers and all professing Christians, in their own personal religious life, had grasped this — that, since Christianity is not first a philosophy but a history, and its centre not an ordered sequence of doctrines but a living person, the act that makes a man possessor of Christianity is not the intellectual process of assimilating certain truths, and accepting them, but the moral process of clinging, with trust and love, to the person, Jesus.
May all come to that juncture wherein they are made to cling to the person of Christ by faith alone.
Grace and peace.
Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vols. 1–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1944), 14:1.102–3.