It was a warm spring day in DC, and my Catholic friend explained with great earnestness that if I were to be ordained prior to converting to Catholicism, then I might be able to be a priest and keep my wife and kids. Dispensations can be obtained.
My heart and mind toyed with the thoughts: the great creaking beauty of the medieval liturgy, the pageantry and fancy dress, the history, architecture, the universities, libraries, philosophy, and Latin. The specter of the Mass rose before me. Worshiping bread and the wine, bowing and kissing statues of saints excused with the thinnest of theological distinctions, Pilipino adherents nailing themselves to crosses. No, this is not the Way.
And I said, “The problem is that one of us is a blasphemer. Either I blaspheme Christ by not worshiping him at every available Mass, or you commit an act of idolatry by worshiping bread and wine. There is no middle ground. In heaven if allowed or required I will kiss and pray to Mary; in heaven I will adore the body of Christ, but until heaven or when Christ returns I will trust the Bible and my conscience.”
Ligonier: For the glory of Christ and the edification of His people, the Ligonier Statement on Christology seeks to encapsulate the historic, orthodox, biblical Christology of the Christian church in a form that is simple to confess, useful to help teach the church’s enduring faith, and able to serve as a common confession around which believers from different churches can rally for mission together.
John 1:1—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was in the beginning (He had no beginning), He was with God, and He was God. The grammatical structure of the passage supports the idea that Jesus was the Word, and that He was God, but that He was not the Father or the Spirit, as both persons are distinguished clearly from Jesus (e.g., Jn 15:9, 26). While the concept of the triune God, or the trinity is prevalent in the New Testament, it is not simply a New Testament concept, as it is found in Old Testament as well (e.g., Isaiah 48:12, 16).
Colossians 1:15-17—“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” That He is the firstborn of all creation means that He is sovereign over creation, not that He is the first created thing Notice the parallel reference to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead in 1:18. Clearly this shows His sovereignty over death, as the one conquering death. The passage is not indicating that He was the first to die.
While the Holy Spirit has an incredible ministry directly to believers, that is certainly not His only role. Before the Spirit’s present ministry in the church, He also interacted with Christ in several profound ways. As we understand the relationship of Christ and the Spirit, and their relationship to the Father, we can be encouraged and strengthened, knowing that we also have a relationship with all Three, and that they are doing amazing things so that we can have life (Eph 1:3-14), and walk with Him (Jn 17:3).
The Holy Spirit bore witness to the fact that Christ was sent from the Father, and by so doing provided a testimony to Israel that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Note the fourfold witness identified in John’s gospel: (1) John (Jn 5:33-35) was the forerunner prophesied by the Holy Spirit (Mal 3:1; Lk. 1:67-79), (2) Jesus’ works (Jn 5:36), many of which were accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit, (3) the Father (Jn 5:37-38)—through His word, which is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17), and finally, (4) the Scriptures (Jn 5:39-47), which are the words and testimony of the Spirit (Is 59:21; Zech 4:6; Acts 21:11; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:7; 9:8; 10:15; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). His words were provided by method of inspiration—or God breathing (2 Tim 3:16), as He moved men to speak His word (2 Pet 1:20-21).
(Originally posted 3/22/2011)
Many children raised in Christian homes do not understand the meaning of Resurrection Sunday. They might choose the correct answer on a multiple-choice test but would flunk an open-ended question (“Why do we celebrate Easter?”). Open-ended questions provide the best measurement of understanding.
Fortunately, some of these kids will later appreciate the meaning of the holiday. They will learn that Easter is not about bunnies, baskets and ham, but the resurrected Savior. There were no bunnies at the tomb as far as we know. The women may have carried baskets, but we know that Jesus never tasted ham.
Similarly, Jesus’ disciples understood many of His teachings only in retrospect. After the resurrection, the disciples finally understood that He had to die an atoning death and then be raised.
Seven hundred years before Christ (i.e., Messiah) was born, the prophet Isaiah was told that He would be one person with two natures—divine and human.
At a time of great crisis for Israel, the house of David was given a great promise. “Then he said, ‘Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son [i.e., fully human], and shall call His name Immanuel [i.e., God with us, fully divine]’” (Isa. 7:13-14). In the very next chapter, the prophet is told that the God of Israel is “Immanuel” (Isa. 8:8; cf. 8:10).
But how could a virgin have a child? That was the urgent question that Mary asked Gabriel, the messenger-angel sent from God: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). The answer was astounding, and is recorded by Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14): “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit [i.e., the third person of the triune God] will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…. For with God nothing will be impossible’ ” (Luke 1:35-37).