What We Believe
JESUS: GOD & MAN
By David E. Crosby, Ph.D.
Peter says of Jesus Christ, “Through him you believe in God” (I Peter 1:21). This is a true statement for me and many others. Our belief in God is truly founded upon the work of revelation and redemption that God accomplished through the Lord Jesus. Jesus is central to our conception of God, of humanity, and of the world. He is the brightest and clearest picture of God that humans can receive. The person and work of Christ should rise above all other considerations in our formulation of the doctrine of God as well as our doctrine of salvation.
Nothing is more important to us than the person and work of Christ. We are “Christians” because we have trusted in Christ for our salvation. We believe that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). All that Satan destroys and steals through sin and guilt, God restores through Christ the Lord.
The Uniqueness of Jesus
We believe that Jesus alone has the power to save humans from their sin, that there is no other name given among men that brings salvation. We believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son sent from heaven to rescue us (See John 1:14, 18).
We believe that the death of Christ upon the cross is sufficient for our salvation and that we can add nothing to this work that Christ has accomplished on our behalf. We do not believe that being baptized helps to save a person. Nor do we believe that receiving communion or attending church or going to confession helps to save a person.
No religious activity or good work or moral living can help save us. Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ. When a person believes in Jesus that means that he has given up all other avenues of salvation and is depending only upon Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We believe and receive this exclusive claim because Jesus (John 14:6) and the disciples (Acts 4:12) said it explicitly. We further believe this claim because any other position makes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ unnecessary for salvation. If works of righteousness or other religions are sufficient to save souls, then Jesus died needlessly upon the cross.
Jesus and Human Nature
God created humans in order to enjoy the companionship of a creature that could freely choose to love him. Mankind rebelled against the law of God and the relationship with God was broken. God moved to heal this breach between himself and people by communicating his love in the most personal way possible. Having spoken through the prophets and having delivered his word to Israel (Hebrews 1:1-3), he climaxed his work of revelation and salvation by coming himself to this planet in the form of a man, Jesus of Nazareth, a first century Jew.
The truth that God himself became human is not a proposition based upon human wisdom and imagination. Rather, it is a surprising, even startling truth revealed by God himself through the recorded life and words of Jesus and the divinely inspired words of the apostles in the Holy Scriptures.
THE PERSON of JESUS CHRIST
"Jesus" is the name given to him by his parents in obedience to the command of the angel. It means Savior. "Christ" means Messiah or Anointed One and is the title given to him by all who believe. He was God's one and only Son (only begotten). He was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He is truly divine and truly human.
Jesus as Man
The favorite title of Jesus for himself was “son of man.” That title has an Old Testament background in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. Daniel pictures a son of man coming in the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13). This picture gave rise among some groups in the first century to the connection between the “son of man” and the Messiah. The title points out both the true humanity of Jesus and his assignment as God’s anointed one.
Jesus lived as a human, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, and rose from the dead the third day. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. He became like us in every way (Hebrews 2:17) in order to become a faithful and merciful high priest and in order to make atonement for the sins of the people.
It was necessary for Christ to be fully human. As the early church fathers declared, "What he has not assumed he has not redeemed.” He assumed full humanity in order that he might rescue the whole man—heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Son of God became fully human for another reason. He is the one who intercedes for us--our “high priest.” He became the perfect and complete high priest for us by experiencing the nature of full humanity, including suffering and death. God understands our human condition, not just philosophically, but experientially. He has been tempted just like we are. He has endured what we endure as humans.
Jesus as God
Jesus is fully God as well as fully man. These two natures—divine and human--exist "without confusion and without division," as the early church father declared (see John 1, I John 5:20, John 20:28, I Timothy 2:5).
Jesus is Lord. The term “Lord” refers to one who has complete and absolute authority. Jesus ascended into heaven. He sits at the right hand of God the Father. He will judge the living and the dead.
Jesus used frequently the term “I am.” This Greek term, ego eimi, was used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) to translate the “I am” given to Moses as the name of God (see Exodus 3:14). Among the many significant instances where Jesus said “I am” are these:
“…the bread of life” (John 6:48).
“…the light of the world” (John 8:12).
“…the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7).
“…the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
“…the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
“…the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Jesus told Philip, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (See John 14:9-14). Because of these scriptures and many others, we believe in the full deity of Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior.
A SIMPLE APPROACH
The Book of Romans in the Bible is written to describe the nature of salvation.
Paul’s first conclusion in regard to salvation is this: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Paul then describes the result of our sin: For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This means death in three ways:
1. Physical deathwhen Adam and Eve sinned, they earned death in the physical bodyand they did eventually die.
2. Spiritual deathwe can be dead while we live, not experiencing any of the good things of God. Our joy, peace, love, hope can all die, and these are the substance of life! We become "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
3. Eternal deaththis the Bible says is Hell, eternal separation from God.
But there is GOOD NEWS: God demonstrated his love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).
1. We were going away from God.
2. God loved us and gave his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.
3. Jesus never sinned, yet he paid the wages of sin which is death. For whose sin did he die? For ours. Our death wages have been paid by Christ.
However, no one is automatically saved by knowing these facts. Pauls writes, If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom.10:9, 13).
We must personally receive Christ into our lives. Then we can know and experience God love and plan for us.
Some things all of us know and feel when we come to Christ. We feel unworthy. We need forgiveness. We feel lost. We need found. This prayer expresses these common concerns.
A Sinner's Prayer: Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sin and show me mercy. I ask you to come into my life, to save me and make me your child. I open my heart to you right now. Thank you for saving me. Amen.