Confession on Christ

I wrote this confession about three years ago as an assignment for my Systematic Theology II class that I took while working on my Master’s degree.  It’s a bit longer than the others.  As you read, you will see why it was necessary.  Here is what I believe concerning Jesus Christ.

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The Son’s preexistent divinity, promised coming:

I believe that the Second Person of the Godhead eternally existed before creation, absolutely equal in deity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Scripture states that in the beginning was God’s own Word, the expression of His being.  The Son co-created and sustains all things with the Father and the Spirit.  The coming of the only begotten Son of God was planned in eternity past, promised by God, and foretold by the prophets throughout the Hebrew Scriptures long ago.

Incarnation and birth:

I believe that the Son of God took on human soul and body in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was called Immanuel, God with us. Although the Son was of one essence as God the Father, in order to be fully human inside and out, He temporarily laid aside the independent use of His divine attributes by coming to earth as a servant who obeyed His Father, even unto death on a cross.  He was supernaturally conceived in the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, which fulfilled prophecy and made Him to be the Son of God.

The God-man; divinity and humanity:

I believe that Jesus was undoubtedly the God-Man; fully and inseparably both divine and human. He possessed all of the attributes of God and man in body and soul at all times as one unified person, but without sin.  Jesus knew this about Himself.  The Lord was uniquely qualified to be the one and only mediator between God and humanity.  This is essential because He needed to be both God and man to pay the penalty for our sins and represent us as our merciful and faithful high priest, Savior, and deliverer.

Jesus’ life/moral character, ministry/message:

I believe Jesus the Messiah was sent by God the Father to die for humankind and reconcile the world to Himself. Jesus completely obeyed God the Father and depended on the power of the Holy Spirit to live a sinless life.  He did this so that He could transfer His righteousness to our account.  Jesus’ ministry was one of compassion for the needs of the lost, the last, and the least; to show us God’s love and bear all our human sufferings.  His clear teaching and message was that His authority as King was right there in our midst, on earth as it was in heaven.

Roles as messiah, prophet, priest, and king:

Jesus was the anointed Savior who was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures; the Messiah, the Christ. He fulfilled all the burdensome requirements of the Old Covenant Law.  He took on the Old Testament roles of prophet, priest and king: to speak the word of God to us, represent us before God, and rule over us in His kingdom.

Jesus’ death; nature of the atonement:

I believe that Jesus willingly suffered and died a cruel death on a cross at the hands of political and religious leaders under the sovereign plan of God the Father. The blood of Jesus Christ, His death, paid the penalty for the sins of the entire human race.  It purchased our freedom, granted forgiveness, and fully justified those who believe in Him.  Jesus’ death was an acceptable sacrifice in our place which satisfied the wrath of God towards us.  This brought reconciliation between us and God, redeemed us from Adam’s curse, restored God’s image in us, and delivered us from the powers of Satan, sin, and death.  All who receive God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ become God’s adopted children and have eternal life with Him.

Jesus’ burial and resurrection:

I believe that after Jesus died on the cross, He was taken to a borrowed tomb, and was buried for three days. As He had predicted, God raised Him from the dead.  The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty, setting Him apart from every other religious leader throughout history.  His resurrection signified that God was satisfied with His sacrificial death on our behalf, and that He had victory over Satan, death, and the grave.  The fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead gives believers hope as we too will be raised from the dead to live eternally with our Lord.

His ascension, restoration of glory, ruling at God’s right hand, promised return:

I believe that after appearing to many over forty days, Jesus gave His disciples final instructions and then was taken up in a cloud into heaven. Immediately, Jesus was restored to His rightful place in glory, seated at the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for His followers and reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He will remain there until the time comes for Him to visibly return to earth, render judgment on the living and the dead, and usher in the final consummation of His eternal Kingdom just as He had promised.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His Church at Pentecost:

I believe that the ministry that Jesus did and the things He taught while He was among us have continued through the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised many times and gave to His followers at Pentecost. This is the means by which the Church will experience the presence of Jesus always and be able to preach the gospel to all nations in His mighty name.

Scripture listing:

Gen. 1:1, 26, 3:15; Deut. 18:15; Ps. 2:7, 22:1, 14-18; Isa. 53:3-12; Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 1:20-23, 3:16-17, 26:63-64, 27:46, 57-60, 28:6, 18-19; Luke 1:26-35, 19:10; John 1:1-3, 12, 18, 29, 3:16, 8:58, 10:30, 14:26, 15:13, 19:30, 20:31; Acts 1:1-11, 3:22-26, 10:38-43; Rom. 3:21-26, 4:25, 5:8-11, 15-19, 8:3-4, 32; 1 Cor. 5:7, 15:3-6, 20-22; 2 Cor.5:21; Gal. 2:16, 3:13-14; Eph. 1:7,  20-23, 5:2; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:13-20, 2:9, 13-15; 1 Thes. 4:14-17; 1 Tim 2:5; 2 Tim. 1:9-10; Titus 2:13-14; Heb. 1:1-4, 2:14-17, 4:15, 7:24-27, 9:15; 1 Pet. 3:18, 22; 1 Jn. 2:1-2, 3:1, 4:10; Rev. 1:17-18.

Confessional sources:

The Creed of Constantinople (381); The Definition of Chalcedon (451); The Athanasian Creed (500; 2nd part); The Belgic Confession (1561; Articles 8-10, 18-23); The Heidelberg Catechism (1563; Questions 12-24, 29-52); The II London Confession (1689 Baptist Confession; Chapters 2, 8, 11); Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism (1855; Questions 6, 20-28, 32); The Nottingham Statement (1977; Statements B, C); Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Affirmation (1986; Sections 23-27); Hendrickson Topical Bible (pages 69-134).

 

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God’s Presence with me in Government Work

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I want to take a fresh look at how I personally have experienced God’s presence as a government employee.  As many of my readers know, I refer to God’s presence in our various professions as Immanuel labor.  (See previous blog.)

I hope to ground my experiences in God’s word, and to encourage others who work in government at any level with the notion that God can use them for His good purposes right where they are, as agents of common grace, bringing shalom to all who are made in His image.

As far as Scripture goes, it is clear that God designed and empowers human government to protect and preserve society at large.  In the Old Testament there were the patriarchs, priests, judges, and kings, under God’s rule, that took care of the His people.  Yahweh used these leaders to ensure that righteousness was rewarded, evil was punished, and that resources were distributed fairly.  In Matt. 22:15-22, we read of Jesus’ statement regarding his endorsement of paying of taxes to government, even a secular one.  He points out that Caesar’s likeness (image) is on a coin, just as God’s image is on us.  He said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21).

The Apostle Paul, in Rom. 13:1, tells believers to submit to governing authorities.  He explains in verses 2-7 that it is God Himself who appointed them as His servants in authority over us to minister to us, with the understanding that they are under His authority as He ministers to us.  The Theology of Work Commentary elaborates: “Knowing that the systems of Rome’s rule were not in line with God’s justice, this counsel must have been hard for some in the Roman churches to hear.  How could obeying the idolatrous, ruthless Roman emperor be a way of living in the Spirit?  Paul’s answer is that God is sovereign over every earthly authority and that God will deal with the authorities at the right time.  Even Rome, powerful though it might have been, was ultimately subject to the power of God” (vol. 5; pp. 36-37).  Peter tells his readers the same thing in 1 Peter 2:13-17. Christ-followers are to be subject to the governing authorities and to honor them because they were sent by Him “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good”.

Martin Luther had something to say on this subject.  In Gustaf Wingren’s book, Luther on Vocation, we read: “A good government, which fulfills its duty of office, rules the people in opposition to a contrary power which would control.  The authority of the government is not derived from the fact that it gives expression to a people’s genius, but from the fact that God has ordained it to thwart the devil.  Government is of God, created by him” (p. 79).

I have been employed by the US Army for over 30 years.  I spent 20 years, 6 months, and 17 days on active duty, a year and a half as a civilian contractor, and over eight years as a Department of the Army civilian employee.  Every day I sense God’s presence with me.  He has called me and enabled me to do a variety of tasks that contribute in some small way to this country’s defense.  I serve the men and women who work for me and with me and I serve the officers appointed over me.  I truly understand that I support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Some days I do this one PowerPoint slide at a time.  Some days I accomplish only a few small missions and only take care of a handful of people.  But there are many days I realize with gratitude that what I do eight hours a day enables others to do their jobs more effectively, making our Army a little stronger, which allows all citizens to experience peace (shalom) in this great Nation.

I found a verse that highlights the importance of what I do on the job most days.  In 2 Chronicles 32:3, we see that King Hezekiah “consulted with his officials and military staff”.  They helped him make a tactical decision when the king of Assyria was threatening Jerusalem.  That is a big part of what I do as a member of the staff of the U.S. Army Chemical School.  My input and recommendations, based on the experiences and wisdom that God has graciously provided, are valued and listened to on many occasions, assisting the Commandant to make decisions that affect the width and breadth of the Chemical Corps around the world.

No matter what job we have, we are truly co-workers with God.  We bring order out of chaos.  We participate in fulfilling the creation mandate to fill, subdue, and rule the earth.  As His agents in human government, we can demonstrate what it means to submit under God’s authority in His kingdom, which is not of this world, but is most definitely in our midst.  As we accomplish our missions and take care of people who are eternal and beloved of God, we are ministering to many.  These are the thoughts that get me out of bed every morning.

I hope that this small snapshot of biblical truth combined with my personal experiences will encourage those who are also employed in civil service at every level: local, state, or federal.  Your work truly matters to God!