Our second affirmation: ‘We believe in Jesus’ Non-subscribers do indeed believe in Jesus. And whilst others are drawn into theological speculation as to how the whole Father, Son and Holy Spirit thing works; our faith in content with the simplicity and sufficiency of scripture; that Christ is our Lord, Master, and Saviour. These words: Lord, Master, Saviour are central to our faith. Let’s consider each in turn.
Jesus is Lord. We find this in 1.Corinthians 12:3 and in Romans 10.9 (just as we heard in our opening sentences). The title does not mean God, as in the LORD God. The Bible distinguishes between ‘LORD’ and ‘Lord’. Rather, it is a respectful form of address; think of ‘Honoured Sir’ (in Greek Kyrios) and this was not unique to the person of Christ. But the Jews also used the word when they spoke of God, so when early Jewish Christians adopted the same title for Christ they were certainly implying that in Christ, God Himself is met.
Christ as Lord means to put His name above all others. That is what we believe. There is none higher; it’s even in Clause 3 of our Constitution and Code of Discipline:
‘The Lord Jesus Christ is the sole King and head of the Church.’
And if Jesus is Lord, He is also our Master. The Son of Man (that is, the new man, the new ‘Adam’) and the Son of God; the one in whom divinity and humanity meet. As disciples we are attentive to Jesus’ teachings. And notwithstanding, His Great Commandment to love God and neighbour (Mark 12:28-31) these are most beautifully expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, we heard earlier.
Our first reading was from Matthew 5:1-12 (NLT):
‘One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.’
Note here the simplicity. So much of Jesus’ teaching, preaching, healing is amongst the people, even in the open-air; you don’t just meet God in church! Jesus said:
“God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they shall be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of God is theirs.”
Friends, the poor referred to here are the spiritually poor. And the message in each blessing is that as we turn to God, God will turn to us; in fact He has already done so, is already doing so through the person of Jesus Christ. Remember what I said last week, God is intimately involved with His creation.
So we non-subscribers take Jesus seriously. In Christ, God is met, and to listen to Christ means to hear the voice of the Divine. Christian discipleship, you see, really matters to us. We seek to lead Christian lives of humility, of justice, of mercy, and of purity, in the knowledge that as we do so, as Christ teaches, all will be blessed.
But that doesn’t mean that good deeds are sufficient. Good deeds don’t get you to Heaven. Being right with God does (for that’s all ‘justified’ or ‘salvation’ means to be right with God).
And that requires our third word, Saviour. I’ll put the question simply. Do you think you’re perfect? What judgement on human nature do you think the world make? When we consider the wars, terrorism, prejudice, famines, all around us? Something is surely wrong with humanity. And if our nature is flawed; who or what can save us from ourselves?
Our second reading was from John 3:1-4 & 10-17 (NLT):
‘There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Christ said we need to born again. Non-Subscribers believe that too! But here’s the difference; reborn not just once (and please no tele-evangelists with shiny suits and appeals for money) but reborn again and again; a continual process of moral and spiritual reformation after the example of Christ.
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish leader, and yet you do not understand these things? …. No one has gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him, will have eternal life.”
Friends, the answer you see, is faith in Christ. Salvation by faith alone! Turning from Sin (the mistakes that we all make), trusting in Christ: His mission, His ministry, His death and His resurrection, as the means by which God and Humanity are reconciled, the means by which the world – and us in it – are changed. John 3:16 you know spells it out:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save it through him.’
Friends, what do non-subscribers believe? We believe in Jesus. He is Lord (name above all others), Master (our guide in living) and Saviour (the one makes us right with God). And we believe that everything is changed by the Holy Spirit (which we explore next week); but for now, let me say again.
What do non-subscribers believe?
We believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord our Master and our Saviour. Amen.
This is the second in a series of addresses by The Rt. Reverend Christopher Wilson, MA )
Click here for the first address, We believe in God