Man has a problem. It’s called sin.
The Almighty, Holy God has a standard and we have fallen short of it. In last month’s doctrine article, “Man and His Sin,” Johnny left us with a grim picture of “our condition apart from Christ.” Without some amazing solution to this problem, we as human beings are vile in our sin-guilt, separated from God, and fully deserving of His righteous judgment and wrath as our punishment.
So we know about sin, and we know about “Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins.” It’s what we’ve always heard. He’s – yeah, yeah, we know all that. Let’s get on to something interesting…
Wait – is this really our attitude?
I feel like I write those italicized sentences above almost at the risk of being sacrilegious. But honestly, are we so accustomed to hearing the Story and the words of the Gospel that we become flippant or calloused about it? Do we lose sight of the astounding truth of the Gospel?
Do we lose sight of Jesus?
We say a prayer and say we’re saved. We might go to a good church. We might even go into missions work to share the Gospel with others. We might remember that Jesus saved us, but somehow have a mentality, perhaps subconsciously – and I, for one, have been there – that we’re keeping ourselves saved.
I’m afraid it can be too easy to get focused on other things (even good things) and to begin to somehow attribute our salvation to them.
Have we lost sight of our Savior?
Article 5 of the 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith begins:
We believe there is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “mediator” means “a go-between” (Strong). A mediator works to bring resolution to a problem between parties.
Note that there is no need for a mediator if no problems exist between the parties involved. We need a mediator between us and God because our sin has created a separation between us and Him. God Himself provided that Mediator in Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man. Only Jesus can bridge the gap and reconcile us to God.
Our Redeemer, Victor, Reconciler, Prophet, and Priest
How has Christ bridged that gap between God and man? What was His purpose in coming to earth? The writers of the Confession used these words in an effort to describe Jesus and His role:
The purpose of the incarnation of God’s eternal Son was to redeem men from sin and death, to destroy the power and works of the devil, and to reconcile men to God. As a prophet, the Lord Jesus not only proclaimed God’s Word; He was in His very person the Word of God. As a priest, He Himself was the sacrifice for sin, and now makes intercession with the Father for the saints.
This list does not nearly exhaust what the Bible says about the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation. And while not all of the things in this list are stated exactly this way in Scripture, we can see the ideas if we take a look. (I wasn’t sure about some of them myself, so I started searching. The references listed at the bottom of Article 5 in the Confession are not all the Scriptures used; I ended up finding quite a few others).
There’s so much here we could discuss, but I’m reminded of one main thing: Jesus is the only way. Nothing else comes close to fixing the problem.
Our Risen Lord and King
As our risen Lord and King He is vested with all authority in heaven and on earth.
Jesus rose. Again, that’s a truth with which we’re familiar, but do we recognize its implications? It’s not just that Jesus did His work on earth and was done – He is still alive, still working!
In Matthew 28:18-20, we read the risen Jesus saying these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” Because He has all authority, we have a purpose and a calling: We can and must go and tell! Knowing the truth about Jesus as our Savior is not solely for our own benefit.
In His life the Lord Jesus demonstrated perfectly the will of God. Although tempted in all points as we are, yet He never sinned. Through the shedding of His blood He inaugurated the New Covenant, broke the power of sin for those who exercise faith in Him, and triumphed over Satan. By His resurrection from the dead, Christ accomplished the full justification of those who believe in Him.
As I started looking into some of these points, I was surprised by things I don’t remember noticing before.
For example, I don’t think I’d ever made a connection between Christ’s resurrection and our justification. But it’s there, in Romans 4:24-25. It gave me something deep to think about – What is the connection between His resurrection and our justification? How does it work?
Or think on this: How did Jesus demonstrate perfectly the will of God?
Or, how did He through the shedding of His blood accomplish those things listed above?
These are things beyond our comprehension as humans, but I believe we do well to ponder and study them. Not to gain a better salvation, but to learn about and stand in awe of a compassionate God much greater than we. There isn’t time or space here, but take some time and study them for yourself.
I entitled this section “His Work.” Notice this: It’s all His work, not ours. He inaugurated the New Covenant, He broke the power of sin, He triumphed, He accomplished full justification. He saves us.
By faith each believer is united with the risen and glorified Christ, the Lord of glory.
We see Christ and His work and we believe. We are saved by His grace, through faith. It is not of our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of our works, so that we cannot boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The next article of the Confession discusses this truth.
What do you believe?
Through this discussion I want to point us all to Jesus. I hope we see what the writers of this Confession wanted to say and will take time to see where they drew their writing from. And I hope we will think about the truth of Jesus as our Savior from sin. It’s a simple truth, yet a profound mystery.
And it leads to the pivotal question: What do you believe about Jesus?
I am impressed by the Early Church’s faith in Jesus and their focus on Him, as seen in the book of Acts. Jesus was their Savior, their everything! What would be the result of a church or a group of believers so focused on Jesus Christ today?
Let us look to Jesus and fix our eyes on Him. He is the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He is the Savior from Sin.
“Mediator” and “Mediate.” Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com/. Web. Accessed Oct. 2016.
“Mennonite Confession of Faith, 1963.” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, www.gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Confession_of_Faith,_1963. Web. Accessed Oct. & Nov., 2016.
Strong, James. Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries (digital version through eSword). 1890. Accessed Oct. & Nov. 2016.
|Timothy Reitz lives in Virginia, though he feels he also has a second home in northern Mexico, where he has recently spent about 2 1/2 years. He enjoys reading and writing, interacting with his family and others, speaking Spanish, and eating Mexican food, among other things. He has a passion to pursue a deeper walk with Jesus Christ, and to encourage others to the same.|