“Who do you say that I am?”
The Lord Jesus Christ asked his disciples that question recorded in Matthew 16. Everyone has an answer to that question. Some people were saying John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
When Jesus asked “Who do you say that I am?” his disciples couldn’t just quote a Bible verse, they had to give it in their own words, and from the heart. After following the Lord Jesus and seeing the miracles he did, and hearing him teach so much, they had to make a personal confession.
One disciple of Jesus, Simon Peter, answered with this, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” And that’s what we believe too! It’s hard to improve on that answer, but over the years, more and more explanation needed to be added. There have been many errors, many confusing teachings, and even many heresies over the years. So Peter’s brief confession needs clarification.
This is how the early church came up with creeds: to give a clear answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Saying, “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9) used to be clear until some people had different ideas of what “Jesus is Lord” meant. The church summarized what the Bible by defending the doctrine of the Trinity, and the doctrine that Jesus has two natures: human and divine. It didn’t take long and saying, “Jesus is Lord” was expanded into a creed, like the Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. We believe that these creeds accurately summarize what the Bible teaches.
And since the Great Reformation of the 16th century, against the errors taught by many Anabaptist and Roman Catholic Church leaders and even later, the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, the church came up with further clarification of the truth in documents like the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, the Belgic Confession of 1561 and the Canons of Dort in 1618-1619. These documents gives an accurate idea of what we believe God says. We especially believe the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone, through God’s grace. We believe in God’s sovereignty: that God does not choose to sit on his hands waiting for people to make their choices. We believe that God the Father (and God the Son) sends the Holy Spirit (a personal Being) to work unfailingly through God’s Word and to save completely those he chose before the foundation of the world. We believe the “Five Points of Calvinism” do summarize the Scriptures well.
Even in a changing world, we believe that the Lord Jesus continues to lead his Church in the truth. The Bible is sufficient for the future, too. Even though we have not updated our Creeds or Confessions, we hold to the historic views of the Church regarding God’s creation of the earth in six days; regarding human sexuality, gender identity and marriage; and regarding the requirement that only godly men may hold office in the church. We do not know what further challenges are coming our way, but we have a duty to answer “Who do you say that I am?” in a way that is consistent with the Word of God. Whatever challenges come, we have to go to God’s Word. What God says about himself, about us and about the way of salvation must be our highest authority.
All these beliefs must serve a purpose. Since “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” we cannot stop here as if our beliefs only need a row of checkmarks. The Lord Jesus does not merely want us to submit to his revelation, but he has made clear that he wants us to submit to his Lordship in many other ways too. Doctrine and life go together. We also believe what Jesus says in a Parable of the Sheep and Goats (recorded in Matthew 25). Jesus Christ will say to many, “‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’”
But many others will hear something else from the Lord Jesus. Those inheriting eternal life will hear this, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
Join us this Sunday
Worship with us:
10290 Wadsworth Blvd., Westminster, CO
Sunday: 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM
Pastor Steve Vandevelde