“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-17
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord … The Apostles’ Creed
All true Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. As with Simon Peter, this reality is revealed to each Christian as a work of the Lord in their heart. To this revelation of the true nature of Jesus, we respond in faith. We don’t believe in an empty name. We don’t believe in one who can merely help us live better and more fulfilled lives. We don’t follow a wise teacher named Jesus. We believe that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited Savior (“the Christ”) and “the Son of the living God.” During His ministry on earth Jesus claimed to be the “only begotten” (John 3:16) Son of God, to be one with God the Father (John 10:30), and the only way of salvation from judgement to come (John 14:6). Those who crucified Jesus long ago understood that He made these claims, and they hated Him for it. They rejected Jesus’ teaching, prophetic fulfillment, and miracles. They did not believe.
Today, many would say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but cannot define what is behind that wonderful name. Also, there are those who know what the Bible teaches about the person and work of Jesus Christ, but choose to reject and redefine Jesus. They want a Jesus that affirms them, not the biblical Jesus who preached a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. If we are to believe in Jesus, we must believe at least three basic things.
First, Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that God exists eternally as one God in three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three divine persons – one God. Jesus is God the Son. He is eternally existing as God. Jesus participated in the creation of the world and will one day judge the world in holiness. In the midst of these things, He was born of virgin. God with us – Emanuel.
Second, Jesus was born to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus was not born into the world to inspire us. Jesus was not born into the world to be a political leader. Jesus was born to live a sinless life and to be the atoning sacrifice for sin, that His elect people might be saved. Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world! He was born at the proper time to fulfill all prophecy spoken of Him from ages past.
Third, Jesus is Lord. For many ages this is what Christians have proclaimed at baptism. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord. When we believe in Jesus Christ and follow after Him in discipleship, we submit to His Lordship. This means that we submit to His authority in all things. The ways of Jesus are not suggestions and are not meant to be therapeutic. Jesus’ teaching and commands are not open for cultural re-interpretation. Those who believe in Jesus and submit to His Lordship are radically changed to walk in a way that is counter to this world. By a changed heart and a renewed mind, we are not conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2). There always has been, and always will be, a significant difference between the words, actions, and ways of those who follow Jesus Christ and those who follow after this world.
On a final note, please take very seriously the beautiful and precious name of Jesus. It is the intentional name given by the angel Gabriel (Matthew 1:21). Always speak highly of our Lord Jesus. Sing His precious name in worship. Use His precious name in prayer, but hear the will of the Lord in Exodus 20:7. Never use the precious name of Jesus as a curse word. Never use the Lord’s name in vain.
I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord,
|“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”|
I would like to speak to a common and understandable struggle that came from last Sunday’s sermon on divorce. If two people are in a long-term miserable marriage, why should they stay married? The unhappiness of this couple’s relationship affects the family, children, and everyone related to them. The blame for this prison of dysfunction is often laid on Jesus. It’s often said, “If they only had the freedom to divorce, they could be happy.”
This reasoning makes two wrong assumptions. First, it assumes the problem is with the relationship and not the individuals. If the two people could separate, they would leave their misery behind. Second, that the will of God in marriage is not universally good. Instead, marriage is only good when you have a match of two good people. Let’s examine both of these wrong assumptions.
First, a miserable marriage comes from one, or both, spouses living in a constant pattern of sin. The problem is not with the “relationship,” the problem is with the individuals. If they divorce without justification from their present situation, they would simply take their sin with them into loneliness or their next marriage. This is the basic reason why people that divorce, without biblical justification, have a high rate of divorcing again and again. Their personal sin problems compound, instead of resolve. However, EVERY marriage is made up of two sinners. It’s a false notion that good marriages come from “two happy people” married to each other. I have met countless couples that were miserable together, but from an outside perspective, had no reason for unhappiness.
This goes to the second argument: “That the will of God in marriage is not universally good.” The will of God in marriage IS universally good, because it is used by God to help sanctify (make more godly and drive out sin) two sinners in a marriage relationship. Selfishness destroys relationships. The primary way, designed by God, to truly drive out selfishness is marriage and family. The long-term nature of biblical marriage and children, acted upon by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, will radically change you.
The answer to a miserable and failed marriage is not divorce. This excludes the justified reasons for divorce spoken about Sunday, but speaks to the reality that most failed marriages result from anger, harsh words, selfish spending, relational withdrawal, an unwillingness to serve a spouse in need, inflexibility, selfish personal career choices, and so on. All of these reasons are sinful. The answer to our sin is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The main point I want to make here is that the answer to our miserable relationships, destroyed by sin and selfishness, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are in a struggling marriage, do not focus on escaping the marriage. Instead, examine yourself and look to Jesus. Jesus came to save sinners. The Holy Spirit has been sent to accomplish the radical transformation of selfish sinners into servant-hearted people that bless those around them. If you know people who are in a terrible marriage, please do not center your conversations with them around nursing their selfishness or encouraging them to run away from their sins. Point them to Jesus and the gospel of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith. When you see others in a low and beat-down place, don’t encourage them to run further into the darkness; point them to Jesus who can make all things new. Jesus can, and will, give them rest for their souls.
Speak the gospel truth, for the truth alone can set you free.
May our marriages be strengthened by the Holy Spirit this week,