“God the Son”
Part 2 of “This We Believe” Series
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Trinity Sunday – BOTH Services
Luke 2:11; John 3:16
Today is Trinity Sunday on the Church calendar. It’s a great day to keep going with our series on The Apostles’ Creed…The phrase we’re looking at today with the second person of the Holy Trinity…Jesus.
“I believe”…I have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reality of something – without absolute proof that I am right. (dictionary.com)
“I believe in God the, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth” – that’s where we started this series last week…This week: “and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,”
“I believe…” is a powerful and risky statement to make…It puts you “out there” affirming something as true that more than half the world’s population does not believe. We dare to proclaim, “I Believe…” because we have the confidence of 2,000 years of church tradition telling us that God will take care of us as long as we keep the faith…That’s fine when you’re in Sunday school, VBS, or Confirmation Class…The trick is: really understanding what we believe and why it makes sense to 21st Century adults. It’s important that we view The Apostles’ Creed as a concise summary of the Christian faith…If we were to assemble the essential teachings of all the Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches…We could even throw in the basics of the Orthodox and Roman Catholics…If we mush all that stuff together and boil it down to the essentials that everyone can agree on, we’d have The Apostles’ Creed. It is also important that we realize how carefully crafted The Apostles’ Creed really is…Every word is precisely chosen…Every phrase is filled with rich meaning…The entire creed calls us back to the core truths of who God is and who we are as God’s children.
So this morning we consider the second affirmation of The Apostles’ Creed…“and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,” This phrase focuses on the heart of WHO Jesus is; separate from WHAT he did for us…Just as Jesus is the central figure of the Christian faith, he also occupies the majority of The Apostles Creed…6 of the 12 affirmations revolve around Jesus. We cannot truly be Christians unless we understand the nature of who Christ is…Throughout church history, the biggest arguments and the most troubling heresies stem from the identity of Jesus Christ…Ancient Gnostics, Arians, and modern-day Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us believe that Jesus was a created being…As a “creature,” Jesus does not share in God’s eternal nature or his divine essence. The Mormon Church denies the uniqueness of God and teaches that we can all become gods. Even modern Protestant liberals try to portray Jesus as simply a great moral example…A good man who did marvelous deeds like so many religious leaders…Muhammad or Buddha. By denying or ignoring the true identity of Jesus Christ, these groups are set against the Christian faith because they deny the supremacy of Christ as part of the One Holy Triune God. Scripture declares that God did in fact speak to the world through prophets UNTIL he sent his one and only Son Jesus into the world. As we read the Old Testament we encounter many prophets, teachers, and priests used by God to bring revelation to the people…Because of this study of Scripture we are able to see that God’s revelation is finally fulfilled in the presence of God’s only Son Jesus…While the original writers and hearers of these ancient stories found God and important life-lessons in the Scripture in their time, the modern world finds new meaning in these texts that point us toward Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law, the Jewish Priesthood, and the sacrificial system…These ancient Scriptures speak to us in terms of God’s ONLY Son, Jesus being the fulfillment of the revelation of God as promised.
You may have heard that there has been a move in the past few years to explore the use of more gender-neutral language for God in the Trinity…Some people feel that the traditional language of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is no longer relevant in our politically-correct culture…We have begun to hear the Trinity referred to in terms such as, “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier”…I remember this discussion in seminary, talking about how the “Father” image of God might be off-putting to those who may have suffered abuse at the hands of their own fathers…The feminist movement has led us to create gender-neutral terminology in many instances where such changes simply portray an inaccurate understanding of the truth…“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” rightly portray the relational nature of the Triune God…These terms tell us WHO God is, HOW God relates to God’s-self, and how WE relate to God. The alternative terms, “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” simply tell us WHAT God does. There is a huge difference in the intention of these words and we must stick with the Scriptural basis for our Creed that clearly describes the identity of God as a relational Being.
The final words in this phrase are vital to our understanding of the identity of Jesus…“our Lord” This simple pair of words identifies Jesus as God who has authority and power over us and all of Creation…There are 5 times in the New Testament where Jesus is explicitly called God: Hebrews 1:8, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” Romans 9:5, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Titus 2:13, “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” John 20:28, “Thomas said to him, “’My Lord and my God!’” Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” As Dr. Tim Tennent says, “Jesus is fully God, the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being who created the world and then, through the incarnation, entered the world of His creation to redeem us.” When we say, “and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord” we affirm that we believe Jesus is both the eternal Son of God and that, in the flesh, he has become our Lord and Savior. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen