Monday, November 20, 2006

Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord

Up until this point, the Apostle’s Creed has focused on the first person of the Trinity, God the Father. Now, it begins to address belief in God the Son. This portion of the Creed can be divided into two sections: the first provides several names or titles for Christ; the latter portion focuses on a summary of his life and work.

The Creed focuses on four specific names or titles for the second person of the trinity:

Jesus
Christ
His only Son
Our Lord

Each of these names emphasizes some specific aspect of His life or work, and all of them should be a regular part of the vocabulary, especially in prayer, of believers. Christians nowadays tend to use these names indiscriminately, based largely on personal preference, but the New Testament writers did not do so. They used these names intentionally, speaking of Him using nomenclature that was relevant to whatever it was about Him that they were discussing at the time.

Thus, for example, there are many Christians who speak of Him almost exclusively as “Jesus,” with no title appended (i.e., Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus, etc.). I have heard some Christians even speak as though there is something especially spiritual in doing so, though there is no biblical basis for that idea. Interestingly, while the Gospels frequently refer to Him in this way, the rest of the New Testament rarely does. The name “Jesus” by itself in the Bible always looks back to something that Jesus said or did during his earthly ministry.

I might also add that many Christians have misconstrued Jesus’ promise to answer prayers made in Jesus’ name. This is not a promise to answer prayers when those magic words are spoken: it is a promise to answer prayers consistent with the character and will of Him.

The term “Christ” speaks of His saving work. He was the promised Messiah who died and rose again in order to save his people from their sins. As there is much about this in the part of the Creed devoted to describing Christ’s life and work, I will leave further discussion to that time.

The phrase “God’s only Son” focuses on relationships within the Trinity. God the Son is not inferior to the Father, but has submitted to the Father in order to accomplish the Godhead’s eternal purposes. The terms Father and Son reveal the eternal and perfect familial love within the Godhead. That love has only been broken once in all eternity: when the Father punished the Son upon the cross because of the sins for which He died. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The incredible prophetic passage in Isaiah 53 says that “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” It is a remarkable thought that the eternal fellowship between God the Father and God the Son was broken at Calvary as Christ died for our sins.

“Our Lord” refers to the enthronement of Christ, who is the ruler over all Creation. One day, He will be acknowledged by all as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It may be that those who speak of Him primarily as “Jesus” have focused on His humanity or his closeness to the exclusion of His other attributes, while those who talk only of “the Lord” may have lost sight of His closeness or His saving work. Of course, these are only words, and they may not say anything about the thoughts of one’s heart, but it is certainly worth taking a look inward to see if we are thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ in a way consistent with all of His majesty and glory.

Learning to think and speak His names and titles in this way is a difficult habit to start, and in the beginning it may seem stifling. However, in learning to do so there is great devotional value, as intentional thinking can help to produce intentional worship that focuses more clearly and dearly upon the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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A Simple Solution said...

i put in www.monroedoctrine.blogspot.com expecting to find the blog of my friend who reviews local bands.
i wanted to read her review of our latest benefit show for the Invisible Children foundation.
instead, i found your blog.
you have no idea how glad that makes me.
i realize that we're not exactly peers and my favourite music may not be your favourite music, but if you could...
would you read my blog and [if you have one] suggest a title for my song?
i'd appreciate that.

God Bless.

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