I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.
Dear People of God,
The above comes from the first Christological article in the Apostles’ Creed. I’ll divide it into three parts.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
What does this mean? We must know what it means to “believe.” To believe at its most basic level is to trust, to cling to. To believe, or to have faith, is not a mere knowledge of history. Nor is believing something conjured up by reason or human ability. But, as is has been put, “we are speaking about a trust in the promise and mercy of God.”
Namely, that God forgives our sins freely on account of Christ. So, once again, the Apostles’ Creed is to be thought of more as God’s promises than a checklist of what is proper for Christians to believe. Let there be no confusion, one does not come to believe because of their own efforts or decisions, but from beginning to end faith is the work of God, i.e., “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). It all depends on God’s promise, and God’s promise in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, which could be rendered as Jesus Messiah, is God’s chosen instrument for the salvation of humankind.
God’s only Son.
Surely God has many children. You and me, for example. However, there is one who is uniquely and distinctly God’s only Son. There’s something about him that you and I could never be. We have a beginning. We’re created; the only Son is uncreated. Neither of us have been with God from eternity, whereas, the only Son has. This is because God has only one Son who is the Word. And only one Son who with God the Father has created everything—as the Gospel of St. John says:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” ~John 1:1-3
So, in this way Jesus Christ is uniquely God’s only Son. This status means that Jesus is at one time God and a human being. Jesus did not ascend and obtain a divine status. He descended, “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…in human form” (Philippians 2:7). Therefore, Christian faith is not about us becoming gods but about God becoming human—to save us from our sins.
“Jesus is Lord” is perhaps the oldest creedal statement. A list of competitors for the title of Lord are sin, death, the devil, the world, our own sensibilities, wealth, ideology, racism, white supremacists, political figures, academia, fear, rage, despair, etc. As you can see, an endless number of things purport to be our Lord. But here in the creed we remind ourselves again and again that Jesus Christ is our Lord. Nothing else deserves the title in our lives. It is Christ who did everything, even suffered death, for our redemption.
Through his life, death, and resurrection we have peace with God and with one another. When Christ is our Lord, we can trust without a doubt that God is with us, that he forgives our sins, that he seeks what is best for us, and we can be certain that he will heal our wounds—not because of anything about us, but simply because God is gracious to us. When Christ is our Lord, we live in this world dominated not by our fears, but freed to love and serve the neighbor. For true freedom is not about what I can do for myself, but about what I can do for God and for my neighbor. In our turbulent times, consider who your Lord is.
“I will give myself as a kind of Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me. I will do nothing in this life except what I see will be necessary, advantageous, and salutary for my neighbor, because through faith I am overflowing with all good things in Christ.”~Martin Luther
Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church
Rock Springs, WY