I had mentioned a few posts ago that our church is doing a message series called "These Things We Believe" focusing on the pillars of the Christian faith, explaining the Apostle's Creed and really digging deep into the foundation of our faith...why we believe what we do.
It has been a great series to dig into, a really strong reminder of what I hold dear as a follower of Christ. As someone who was privileged to be raised in the church and by parents who are strong believers, I have a solid background in the foundation of our faith...however, in the craziness of life, when tragedy strikes and when life doesn't make sense, it has become easier and easier to "forget" I am not only a Christian...but a true child of the Creator of the universe, and that comes with an all-access pass to Him. Focusing on the foundations of my faith has been a much-needed reminder of who I am, who God is and why I believe what I do.
This week's message was given by our senior pastor, Brian, and he dug into exactly who Jesus is. This is a huge issue, not just for Christians, but for people of all religions across the world. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Bhuddists, and so many others have a perspective of exactly who Jesus is.
Brian's first point of order was to talk about four major heresies about the person of Jesus Christ that became popular centuries and centuries ago. He made the point that he wasn't just giving us a history lesson in old heretical beliefs that challenged the Christian faith for the heck of it - that these major heresies are reflected in religions all over the world.
#1 - Adoptionism: This belief about Jesus is that he was just a man. A man who was very spiritual and became spiritual enough that God "made him a son" through his baptism.
#2 - Nestorianism: This belief focuses on Jesus being half God and half man, almost seen as a somewhat unstable figure with a multiple personality disorder.
#3 - Arianism: This heresy about the person of Jesus states that God created Jesus himself, then Jesus created the universe. This would give Jesus the status as a step-down from God, a demi-god rather than God.
#4 - Docetism: This is the concept that Jesus/God vacated heaven to come down to earth, put on an "earth suit", the image of a human being, but he wasn't human at all - he just appeared that way.
So all of this begs the question: who is this Jesus? Who do I believe He is? For answers, I turn to the one and only authority I know and need. God's Word. What does the Bible say about who Jesus is? John 1:14 lays it all out for me.
In the beginning was The Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
That says it all. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. I don't understand that. Who could? But, Pastor Brian made a fantastic point about that. If I had to understand everything about God in order to place my faith in Him, my God would be as small as my understanding. I don't know about you, but I don't want a God I can fit into a box...I want the awe-inspiring Creator of the universe. I don't have to understanding everything about Him, I couldn't with this finite little brain of mine. All I have to do is know and trust that God is good, God loves me and always has my best interest as His goal.
Every other world religion can be summed up in two letters...D-O. Do good works, pray, read the religious books, go to church...and when you die, cross your fingers and HOPE you've somehow done enough "good" to outweigh the "bad" on the eternal scales. The difference with believing in Jesus Christ is that it is DONE. There is nothing you have to do other than believe in Him. Any good you do in your life, any prayer and Bible reading comes out of a desire to know God better...not a desperate need to try to earn your place in heaven when you die. The price for that has already been paid. If there was any other way to heaven, then Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is a joke and His blood was wasted suffering.
Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, He came to earth, suffered and died to pay the ultimate price for our sins so we can have a chance to have a relationship with Him and be secure in our eternal destiny in heaven when we die. The whole point of Jesus being fully God AND fully human is that he relates to the pain of humanity. He can literally understand our pain and suffering because he experienced it. One of the best Bible passages that describes this truth is Hebrews 4:14-16
Since we have a great High Priest (someone to intercede on our behalf to God) who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
If you want to check out the entire message (and I highly encourage you to do that!), click on the video below. If you don't have a church you attend regularly, check us out and please - I welcome your comments and questions on the blog, so hook me up with your feedback!