The Apostle Paul was a man with a one-track mind. Following his conversion, Paul embraced a singleness of purpose in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He cared more about the gospel than his reputation, his comfort, or his safety. He was not interested in Christianity as a social movement or political ideology. What mattered to Paul was the person and work of Christ. This is reflected in his words to the Corinthian church, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
The message of Christ and Him crucified (the gospel) was the thing that rose to the place of supreme importance in Paul’s ministry. He could have spent his entire ministry preaching about the moral teachings of Jesus, His ethical code, His perfect wisdom, or His miracles. And certainly Paul did address those things on many occasions. However, of all the matters concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ it was His death on the cross which occupied the place of supreme importance (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
In the 16th century it became clear to the Protestant Reformers that the medieval church had traded its focus upon the finished work of Christ on the cross for a complex hodgepodge of extra-biblical doctrines and practices. The Mass was and is today the centerpiece of worship in the Church of Rome. As the priest pronounced the words “this is my body,” it was (and still is) believed that the bread and wine were mystically transformed into the literal body and blood of Jesus. Thus, the priest sacrificed Christ anew for the forgiveness of sins. In this system of mass, confession, and absolution the priest became the mediator between God and the people.
The Reformers rightly protested against this notion and its practices. Solus Christus or “Christ Alone” is perhaps the linchpin of Reformation theology. It puts the lie to the notion that Christ can be or need be sacrificed again. Solus Christus undermines the system which set up the priests as “little Christs” mediating salvation to God’s people. It tears down the entire system of indulgences, confession, veneration of saints, transubstantiation, veneration of relics, popery, and all the other corrupt doctrines and practices of the church of Rome. Solus Christus is the confession that will keep the church proclaiming Christ and Him crucified. It is the confession that will hold us to the conviction that justification can only be by grace alone through faith alone. And Solus Christus will keep our eyes fixed on the glory of God alone.