Statement of Faith III: The Lord Jesus Christ
His Preexistence and Deity (Jn 1:13)
“Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God.” So begins John’s gospel (1:1, TEV). There was never a time that the Word did not exist; so he is coterminous with the Father and eternally loved by the Father.
John 1:1 is such a simple verse but with profound implications. Jesus is the same as God–it is so difficult to conceive of the easily described yet profoundly misunderstood mystery of the Trinity. Jesus is one in essence with God, yet a separate and distinct person. What does that really mean?
For our purposes here, it can mean only one thing: that Jesus is deity. There is only one deity, and that is God (Deut 6:4). Yet Jesus shares this divine essence, even though he is a distinct person from the Father and the Holy Spirit, who also share the divine essence.
Incarnation by Virgin Birth (Jn 1:14; Mt 1:18-23)
What separates the Word from the other members of the Trinity is the fact that he took on sinful flesh to become like us. Original sin, the sin of Adam, passes to the offspring by way of the father. Jesus had no earthly father; he was born of a virgin who had not yet known the touch of a man. Therefore, he was not tainted by original sin.
Sinless Life (Heb 4:15)
Though Jesus had sinful flesh, he remained in all ways free of the stain of sin. In fact, it is argued by many that it was impossible for him to sin because it would violate his divine nature. Either way, he accomplished a feat that none had done before, nor have any done since: he lived a sinless life. He, who would become the Ultimate Passover Lamb, was without blemish.
Substitutionary Death (2 Cor 5:21)
Of course, this is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. The next section discusses another cornerstone, that of the Resurrection. While Jesus conquered death through the Resurrection, it was important that he suffered death to begin with. Why? To appease God’s wrath for all time.
God’s nature demands that justice be meted out for sin. There are two possible alternatives: either the person who sinned suffers the consequences of his own sin, or a substitute takes the punishment for that person. The entire sacrificial system prefigured this penal substitution that was meted out on the Cross.
Jesus, who had no sin, became sin for us so that we can become righteous before God. He suffers the full penalty so that we don’t have to.
Bodily Resurrection (Lk 24:36-43)
The Resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity. The apostle Paul wrote that without the Resurrection, we are above all to be most pitied (1 Cor 15:19). We are still in our sins (1 Cor 15:17).
Most of all, the Resurrection is a bodily Resurrection. What is common to the Resurrection appearances is that Jesus appeared bodily to the witnesses. They were able to touch him and he ate with them. He was not a Spirit; he appeared bodily.
Ascension Into Heaven and Present Ministry (Heb 4:14-16)
Jesus is the Great High Priest of our faith; he has lived on earth and was tempted in every way that we were yet remained without sin. He goes alone before the Father on our behalf (1 Tim 2:5). With such a high priest for us, we need no other.
Coming Again (Acts 1:11)
Jesus will return one day to set up a kingdom that will last forever. He will return bodily and visibly, and all creation will bow their knees to their Creator (Phil 2:10).