PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
Jesus Christ, His Only Son, our Lord
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Sunday, October 12, 2008 -

It is significant that the Apostle’s Creed, while starting with belief in God, doesn’t end there. The creed immediately moves from God the Father to God the Son. And it isn’t accidental that this progression takes place. The designers of the creed knew they were obligated to press this issue from Jesus Christ Himself: John 14:1 - “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

And this was not the first nor the last time Jesus linked up belief in God with belief in Himself. To Jesus it was imperative that people saw and appreciated the connection between Himself and God. One was unapproachable without the other. Neither one could be properly understood apart from the other. “Believe in God - believe also in me.” Believing in Jesus and believing in God are not two separate choices. The two can’t be separated in the theology of the New Testament: 1 John 2:23 - “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean people don’t try to come to God apart from Jesus Christ. But it does mean, however sincerely they may try, they can’t successfully approach Father God apart from commitment to Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

This is at the very core of the Christian faith. In other words, we must be very careful not to fall into the misunderstanding that the Christian faith is related to Jesus Christ the way Marxism is related to Karl Marx or the way feminism is related to Betty Friedan. These people are related to ideologies and movements that now carry on their ideas and teachings. But this is not the relationship that exists between Jesus Christ and Christianity. Jesus Christ is not primarily related to Christianity through His teaching. This is what separates Christianity from Confucianism or Buddhism. These religions live on in spite of the fact that their leaders are long dead and gone. But Jesus Christ isn’t related to Christianity through His teaching. He is related through His life and Lordship. The fact that Karl Marx is long dead doesn’t affect the Marxist movement. But if Jesus is long dead and gone there is no such thing as Christianity.

Christianity isn’t just linked to the teaching of Jesus, as important as His teaching is. It is linked to the person of Jesus. It has its source and power and reality in Jesus, not just Jesus’ teaching. In other words, Christianity doesn’t exist as an opinion about Jesus’ teaching. It only exists as a relationship to His Lordship. It’s dangerously possible for church people to forget this. We can so easily live our own lives with Jesus on file in our minds under “religion.” But this is to drift into unchristian waters. Where there is no active relational Lordship of Jesus Himself there is no such thing as Christianity. You can’t cling to Jesus as an idea or concept. Christianity is not an “ism.”

This is why the creed says we believe “in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.” Not, “we believe that Jesus Christ...,” but “we believe in Jesus Christ...” Our lives are in this belief. The belief is a living, vibrant, current, functional belief. The roots of our existence are in this belief.

In future weeks we’ll study many of the important things the creed affirms about Jesus Christ. In the next three studies we’re going to focus only on the first three concepts in this short phrase - “Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”:

1) WE BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST - It’s unfortunate that we have come to think of Christ as Jesus’ surname. Like Don Horban. But that’s really not the case at all. Christ isn’t Jesus’ second name. It really tells us something much more important than that.

Strictly speaking we ought to speak of Him as Jesus the Christ. Christ is the Greek version of the Hebrew word Messiah. The word describes the office or role of Jesus. The word Messiah literally means “the anointed one.” And we can see how throughout the Old Testament people like kings and leaders were “anointed” for special assignments and tasks.

But there was one special individual who was anticipated, one to whom all the other anointed prophets, priests and kings were only temporary pictures of. There was one coming who was literally and distinctly “the anointed one” who’s coming would accomplish what no other earthly leader ever could: Malachi 3:1-2 - “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.[2] But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.”

Or, Isaiah 52:13-15 - “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.[14] As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— [15] so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 - “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.[7] Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

These are just brief samples of grand sweeping statements of promise of the coming anointed Messiah. And Jesus was constantly bold in His application of these prophetic words of the Old Testament to Himself. Over and over again He would tell the people that all the prophets from Moses to Isaiah were talking about Him:

Luke 24:25-27 - “And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:44-47 - “Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Jesus turned these people back to their own Jewish Scriptures. He knew He wouldn’t be properly understood or identified until people saw all the predictions of the coming Messiah - the Christ - being fulfilled in Himself. Jesus is the promised Messiah - the Christ. This is what the creators of the creed meant when they said we believe in Jesus Christ (or Jesus, the Christ).