Slideshow image
In contemporary society it is quite acceptable to affirm one’s belief in “God.”  After all most people have a sense of a divine being or reality.  To speak of one’s belief that there is a God is acceptable because it remains in the general sphere of ideas and personal beliefs which really do not require universal adherence to those beliefs.  They are not universal truths that all people must embrace.  To believe in God means one can choose which god and what that god is like.  However, once someone says “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,” that individual leaves the world of the general and moves immediately into the world of the specific and defined.  This is typically not met with wide acceptance because the life and person of Jesus requires either total adherence to his claims or total rejection.  There is no middle ground.  The God that Christians believe in is the God who is revealed as the man Jesus of Nazareth.  The claim of Christianity is simply, if in fact Jesus is God himself then there is no other god.  

To understand the Christian story, we must understand what the scriptures say concerning the identity of Jesus of Nazareth.  In Revelation 13 the apostle John says that Jesus, “was slain from the creation of the world.”  Peter says that the “prophets inquired carefully what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating … the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”  In Galatians 4 we read, “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”  The plan of God has always been from the very beginning that Jesus would come to redeem his people by his death and resurrection and that through this act he might renew the world by dealing with sin and death (Heb 9:26).  But to do this monumental task takes a unique person.  The creed teaches us that Jesus, in order to fulfill this role, must be both human and divine.  In order to redeem humanity God took on human flesh.  The theological word is the incarnation.  It means the ‘enfleshing’ of God the eternal Son in human form (John 1:14).  It is not that Jesus pretended to be human (Docetism) nor that Jesus becomes divine (adoptionism) but that he is fully human and fully divine at the same time and in the same person.  To be our sacrifice he must be fully one of us.  This is why the scriptures say, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is the devil … For this reason, he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:14-17).  Athanasius (an early church father) put it this way, “what is not assumed cannot be redeemed.”  Or as Michael Bird has said, “If Jesus is only partly human, then he can only partly save us.  If Jesus does not have a soul, he cannot save our souls.  If Jesus does not have a real physical human body, then he cannot redeem our bodies.  Yet if he is fully human then he can fully save us.”  On the other hand, if he is not fully God, then neither can he save us.  The Bible makes this clear in many ways, Thomas’ declaration after the resurrection of, “My Lord, and my God” shows that Thomas could only come to one conclusion about the identity of Jesus.  He was Lord and God.  Furthermore, the author of Hebrews stresses Jesus unique mediatorial role as a high priest, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  The fact that Jesus is without sin points toward his divinity and his unique status to be both the appropriate sacrifice (human) and the sufficient sacrifice (divine) so that we can truly be saved.  “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.  For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”  To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, is to affirm that Jesus alone is able to be your representative for his is flesh and blood like you and at the same time capable of being your representative since he is fully God without sin.”  Would you worship him today as your appropriate and sufficient sacrifice?  As Martin Luther once wisely put it, “No other God have I but thee, born in a manger, died on a tree.”