This is part 4 of Reflections on the Apostles' Creed. You can find previous parts here: part 1, part 2, part 3.
Even though it takes an active faith to believe that God exists, let alone who He then is in relation to ourselves, it is not enough. It is said that even demons believe in God and they tremble. So the choice cannot simply be, “Am I a theist or an atheist?” Now comes the moment that pulls the Christian out of the vast world of theism. For the Christian is not just a believer in God but also a believer in Jesus, with some very particular beliefs about who Jesus is.
In the Apostles’ Creed, we state three things right off as to who Jesus is.
It is important to understand the uniqueness of these claims. First, to claim that Jesus is the Christ is to say that He is the Messiah, that long awaited promised one of the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophesies are so numerous regarding the Messiah that it quickly dispatches what the Messiah is not. He must be a priest, but not only a priest. He must be a prophet, but not only a prophet. He must be a King, but not only a King.
It is common to think of Jesus as just a teacher, much like Buddha is to Buddhists or Muhammad is to Islam. It is true that he taught, but Jesus cannot just be a teacher and fill the role of Christ. Jesus claimed to be God. Such a claim fits within the role of Christ. C.S. Lewis famously points out that such a claim makes him one of three things: a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
If He is the Christ, then He is certainly different from any key figure of other religions, for He is God’s only son. It is common to think of all people as God’s children but such a claim is not biblical. There is a difference between being God’s creation and being God’s begotten. Just like the claims of a Christ, the claims of being God’s begotten separates Jesus from other religious leaders. In most world religions, the key figure is someone who knows much about God. In Christianity, the key figure is someone who is God.
Which brings about the next claim, He is our Lord. He is the one to whom we submit our will. To call Jesus lord is to claim his authority over our lives, an authority that is only matched by God the Father.
There was a moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry when the multitudes quit following. They enjoyed the miracles. They enjoyed the teachings of mercy. Perhaps they even enjoyed seeing the religious leaders of the day scolded for their heavy burden of laws and offerings. However, when Jesus began to make peculiar claims about being God, specifically being the actual bread of heaven on which they may live, the crowds left.
We reach this moment in the Apostles’ Creed. Is it enough to believe in God? Is it enough to acknowledge God as an Almighty father, who has created all things, myself included. Why take this next step from theism to Christianity?
Consider the words of Simon Peter as the multitudes walked away:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69 ESV
Peter knew that no one else had answers like Jesus. For many claimed to know the way, but Jesus claimed to be the way. This profound difference led Peter to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah.
Once again, we are at a point where active faith must be employed. We must choose to believe and we do this because no other choice offers all that Jesus offers. There is no other choice offered that claims to be the way. No other choice can justify us completely before God.
We actively choose that Jesus is the Holy One of God, and we submit ourselves to His Lordship.
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower