Emmanuel Presbyterian

A congregation of the PCA in Franklin, NC

Category: Articles

Our Only Hope

The Heidelberg Catechism begins like this:
What is your only comfort in life and death?

That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Recently a friend of mine was explaining to me the fear she felt as she is dealing with uncertainty regarding her health. There was a desperation at feeling tossed about by life, not knowing what was coming next, or where this would all lead. One of the first things I shared with her was the truths expressed in this catechism question.

I am not my own

We truly belong to Christ our savior. We are literally His possession. As our savior says in John 10 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no on will snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
And the wonder of it all is that being owned by Christ, we are truly set free.

I am set free from sin

Paul tells us in Romans that all have fallen short. This means that all mankind is under God’s curse and deserving of punishment. God, being infinitely just, cannot simply wink at sin and excuse it as a doting earthly father might. The fact is, the debt incurred by sin must be paid. As Christ groaned on the cross he uttered “it is finished”, and by that he meant “the debt is paid.” See, for all who trust in Christ, their debt is forgiven. Again, this is not a “cheap” forgiveness. The debt was still paid, only by another – Christ! This is what it means to be “purchased by Christ.” He paid our debt in full and purchased us for Himself. So we are no longer slaves to sin, but rather, free in Christ!

He preserves me

Some would make it seem as if, being saved by Christ, all of our worldly problems would disappear. However, Jesus himself told us that in this world we would have trouble. But here is the catch: God himself preserves us. As Paul tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This means that whatever trials we face, we face with God. Moreover, these trials are known and ordained by God for our ultimate good and salvation! This doesn’t mean that we hope for trials, but rather that we face life knowing that the God who keeps our souls never sleeps. Again, as Christ himself says in John 10 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

He gives me His Spirit

Not only has Christ purchased us as His own, but he as given us His Spirit as well. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are made, not perfect, but willing and ready to obey God as faithful servants. Or, as the catechism puts it – “heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.”

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church

This is the main welcome post.

How can there be 5 “Solas”?

At first it seems a little odd to speak in terms of 5 “Solas”. After all, sola comes from Latin and basically means “alone”. But during the Reformation, 5 “Solas” emerged that have come to be considered basic points of Protestant theology. So what are they?

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (the Bible) are the only infallible and inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation. There may be wisdom in many other places – you won’t find a manual on maintaining a 1940 “knucklehead” Harley in the Bible for example. But the sole authority on matters of Christian faith and practice is the Bible. The apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped for every good work.”

Sola Fide – Through Faith Alone

Justification (“salvation” or “being declared right with God”) comes only through faith and not by works. Good works in the Christian life are a result of justification, and by no means the other way around. We can do nothing to merit favor from God. As Christ himself said, at best we are unprofitable servants. So where do our good works come in? Our works flow from thankful hearts. As Romans 3:28 says “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone

Salvation (or “justification”) comes to us by God’s grace alone. It is the unearned gift of God, given for Jesus’ sake. In Ephesians, Paul says of our saving faith, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Solo Christus – Christ Alone

Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and Man. Salvation can come through no other. It is through the perfect obedience and submission of Christ that we are made right with God. As Peter proclaimed to the council of Jerusalem elders in Acts 4:12 “.. there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Soli Deo gloria – Glory to God Alone

This point flows from the four previous Solas. Because Scripture alone shows us that salvation is through faith alone, by God’s grace alone, on account of Christ alone, it follows that God deserves all the glory! We add nothing to our salvation – unless you count the need! God glorifies himself through the salvation of sinners. And it is to this end that we gather and worship. Please join us!