The Creed sets the stage with faith in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth, but immediately moves to faith in the Son. Again, the Creed is a succinct statement. It is ultimately not concerned with what happened in the desert with Israel, or with David writing the Psalms nor with numerous prophecies proclaimed in Scripture. These certainly are important, but they are not necessary for the purposes of the Creed. So for a Creed based on the teaching of the apostles, faith in Jesus Christ is fundamental.
With so many views on the person of Jesus Christ, an appropriate definition is essential for knowing the truth of his real person. As the Son, he does the will of the Father (John 5.19-23; 6.40; 8.28, 42; 10.18, 29-32; 12.49-50; 14.10). While having a different role, he is not of unequal being. Just as an earthly father has the same human value as his son, God the Son has the same divine value as the Father. This is an oversimplification but it helps to illustrate the point. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) uses the word “con-substantial” meaning “co-essential” or more simply put, of the same essence. That same essence is described of the Holy Spirit, with a different function yet without loss of oneness. A Trinitarian understanding of God is essential for Christian belief, yet we stray from our focus on the Son.
Jesus is Lord. If one claims belief in this statement, I believe this has two important implications. First, Jesus has authority in regards to deity. He is God, our Lord. The same word describing God in the Old Testament is used for Christ in the New. He is the one we look to for authority. The Father has granted him all authority, and he is the head of the church (John 5.27; 10.18; 12.49; Eph. 1.22). Second, Jesus has authority in regards to the life of a believer. Faith in Christ should naturally be followed by making him the Lord of your life. This includes following the commands of Scripture, seeking to make his name known to the nations, and seeking to model Christ-likeness. It’s a pledge of loving obedience to the one whom your obedience is due. To have a Lord is to say that your own life’s priorities are not as important as his.
With so many views of Christ, ranging from a God-inspired man to merely a mythical character, it is important to understand the true nature of faith in Jesus Christ. As the Son, he has authority over life and death given to him by the Father. He is equal with the Father, yet also sharing equality with mankind. He is truly the God-Man. Because he is so, he is also our Lord. Our Lord in respect to authority, both in spiritual life and the physical life of believers. The relationship of the Son and Father is ultimately one of mystery. Despite our (appropriate) attempts to understand the relationship, the fact that “the Word became flesh” (John 1.14) is ultimately a matter of faith. The Creed makes a statement which we appropriate by faith, not by scientific reasoning. As I close this week, I will leave you with the words of theologian and teacher J.I. Packer: “Love prompted it (that is, God becoming man); and our part is not to speculate about it and scale it down to but to wonder and adore and love and exalt ‘Jesus Christ…the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13.8).”1
Peace in Him,
1. J.I. Packer. Affirming the Apostles’ Creed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 70.