Faithlife Sermons

God the Son, the Savior of the World

Notes
Transcript
I will begin with three quotations that describe Jesus Christ. The first is a quotation of Scripture. The second, from the Luther’s Small Catechism, and the third, from the writing of the late Rev. Dr. James H. Cone.
THE SECOND ARTICLE
Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 329.
(ESV) — 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Redemption
Colossians 1:15–20 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The Second Article

Redemption

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord,

who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,

that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,

just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.

This is most certainly true.

Redemption
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
What evidence could I advance to support the claim that Christian theology is defined by liberation? The black experience and scripture were my central sources for defining the meaning of Christian theology. Both were essential and could not be separated, but the black experience was the starting point. Yet when I examined both the black experience and scripture, it became crystal clear that liberation was at the heart of Christian theology. After all, the central themes of the exodus, the prophets, and Jesus of Nazareth defined both the black experience and scripture. When Israel was in Egypt's land, Let my people go; Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go; Go down, Moses, ’way down in Egypt's land; Tell ole Pharaoh Let my people go. I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians…. () The exodus was a liberation event—the deliverance of Israelite slaves out of Egypt and the deliverance of African slaves in the United States. The prophets, with their emphasis on justice for the poor, were also central to black experience and scripture. No scripture verse was more commonly cited in the black religious experience than Amos's “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24). Jesus of Nazareth was the third and most important theme, defining God's commitment to liberation of the poor. He is the liberator whose life was shaped by God's coming justice for all, especially the poor. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (). Jesus lived among the poor, and, like them, he died on the cross. - Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition. cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians…. () The exodus was a liberation event—the deliverance of Israelite slaves out of Egypt and the deliverance of African slaves in the United States. The prophets, with their emphasis on justice for the poor, were also central to black experience and
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
These three documents stand behind my thoughts that I am sharing with you today. Scripture, our Confessions, and James Cone’s work on Black Liberation Theology. Now I don’t hold them equal in weight. As a faithful Lutheran preacher, God’s Word is the Norma Normans - the “Ruling Rule” for my understanding of the Who, what and why of Jesus Christ. Our Confessions and Catechisms explain what it is we find revealed in the Word of God and declared by God’s faithful servants, and thus are the Norma Normata the “ruled rule.”
What does this mean?
The late Rev. Dr. James H. Cone is recognized by scholars to be the “father” of Black Liberation Theology. Like other “Liberation theologians,” he argues that a theology that leaves the sinfulness of oppression unaddressed is a tool of the oppressor. As an pastor in a city with a city that is made up predominantly of the American Descendants of Slaves (84% per most recent census data), I must address the issues that affect the residents of that city, many of whom will be sympathetic to the thinking of Cone and others who believe that the Church in the U.S. has not gone far enough in addressing the impact of racism and the legacy of slavery upon the former slaves and their descendants, of which I am on both of my parents’ sides. Nevertheless, I must resist the enticement to limit the Gospel to the felt pain that many of them feel, to show that so “great is Thy faithfulness, oh God our Father,” that He can save all who come to Him by faith, even in scenarios where there is a “villain and a victim,” for, in the Spirit-inspired words of the St. Paul the Apostle,
(ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
(ESV) — 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
Romans 3:23–25 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
What does this mean?
The first thing that I see from the Scriptures is that God is the ultimate ground of being as well as the final authority. The Sovereignty of God is a real thing, such that the first statement of Scripture declares that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The First Article of the Apostles’ Creed addresses this. This, however, gives me only some comfort, because it tells me nothing about how I can avoid being an object of God’s wrath. It is, in fact, by virtue of the revelation of that I know that God does not wink at sin, nor does He judge based upon a cumulative scale. Instead, in the words of Paul, “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin” (). Adam didn’t die because of the cumulative weight of his sins outweighed the cumulative weight of his previous obedience, but because Adam sinned. God set the standard then, and nothing that the Scriptures revealed after that point showed any change.
Answer: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. He did this not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that I may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
The next thing that God’s Word reveals to us is how God creates and sustains His creation - by the power of the Word. Not by mechanical energy, nor by continually replicating the initial creation, but by the power of His Word as Isaiah the Prophet declared by revelation of the Holy Spirit,
Isaiah 46:8–10 ESV
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Answer: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. He did this not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that I may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .”
It is the Word of God, also identified as Wisdom in , Who is further revealed to be the Son and the Messiah in , who is declared in the Gospels, most fully in the first chapter of “According to John,” along with the rest of the New Testament, as our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” ().
The 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed is our Confession of this Biblical revelation. Without it, we would know why God is entitled to our fear, thanksgiving and praise, but we would not know the love that God has for us, “the love that passes knowledge” (). Such a love does God have for us, that God could not just stand by as sin wrecked the purpose of His creation, but instead confronted it head-on by engaging sin and its destructive fruit of death. In the words of Athanasius of Alexandria,
“He was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality.”
Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 329.

The Second Article

Redemption

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord,

who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,

that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,

just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.

This is most certainly true.

Elliot Ritzema, 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church, Pastorum Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).
Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 329.
The strength of this declaration is that it encompasses all men, both those who know their need for Him, and those who have been deceived into thinking that they do not. It is at this point that the Liberation theologians fall short of the glory of God, for they are imprisoned by their anger. As a result, they can only see Christ as being for them in their pain, sharing in their suffering. His must be seen on the Cross, and only on the Cross, until they have been raised to newness of life, which means the temporal eradication of the sources and elements of their oppression
Cone reveals this in his book, Said I wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: the making of a black theologian, when he wrote, “Writing my first book was the most liberating experience I've ever had. I felt that I had been waiting all my life for this, to take off my mask and tell white folk—especially my former professors at Garrett and Northwestern—what I really thought. I had listened to them insult and ignore me for so long, treating me and other black students as if we, along with our history and culture, were unimportant. They regarded Africa as having no history and black religious history in the United States as unworthy of mention. This was payback time.
Cone reveals this in his book, Said I wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: the making of a black theologian, when he wrote, “Writing my first book was the most liberating experience I've ever had. I felt that I had been waiting all my life for this, to take off my mask and tell white folk—especially my former professors at Garrett and Northwestern—what I really thought. I had listened to them insult and ignore me for so long, treating me and other black students as if we, along with our history and culture, were unimportant. They regarded Africa as having no history and black religious history in the United States as unworthy of mention. This was payback time. As I started writing, words just flowed out so easily that I could hardly write fast enough. I was in my culture, swimming in words like a fish in water. It was an amazing experience, something I had never felt before. In graduate school, I didn't really know what I was doing, trying to write essays about European theologians who didn't know or care about black people, any more than I cared about them. But now I came alive, with ideas about blackness and liberation, writing about something that mattered...Oppression in any form was a denial of a people's humanity, and the oppressed must use whatever power they have to defend their humanity. Defending one's humanity against an oppressive political system was not only a human but a Christian responsibility. Indeed Jesus came to liberate the oppressed. That was the message of Black Power. Jesus and Black Power were advocating the same thing. If we didn't think Black Power was Christian it was because we had accepted an interpretation of Christianity derived from the culture of white supremacy. When theologians and churches interpret and preach the gospel in a way that ignores society's systematic denial of a people's humanity, as in slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching, their gospel and theology are antithetical to the message of Jesus Christ.”
Oppression in any form was a denial of a people's humanity, and the oppressed must use whatever power they have to defend their humanity. Defending one's humanity against an oppressive political system was not only a human but a Christian responsibility. Indeed Jesus came to liberate the oppressed. That was the message of Black Power. Jesus and Black Power were advocating the same thing. If we didn't think Black Power was Christian it was because we had accepted an interpretation of Christianity derived from the culture of white supremacy. When theologians and churches interpret and preach the gospel in a way that ignores society's systematic denial of a people's humanity, as in slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching, their gospel and theology are antithetical to the message of Jesus Christ.”
As I started writing, words just flowed out so easily that I could hardly write fast enough. I was in my culture, swimming in words like a fish in water. It was an amazing experience, something I had never felt before. In graduate school, I didn't really know what I was doing, trying to write essays about European theologians who didn't know or care about black people, any more than I cared about them. But now I came alive, with ideas about blackness and liberation, writing about something that mattered...
Oppression in any form was a denial of a people's humanity, and the oppressed must use whatever power they have to defend their humanity. Defending one's humanity against an oppressive political system was not only a human but a Christian responsibility. Indeed Jesus came to liberate the oppressed. That was the message of Black Power. Jesus and Black Power were advocating the same thing. If we didn't think Black Power was Christian it was because we had accepted an interpretation of Christianity derived from the culture of white supremacy. When theologians and churches interpret and preach the gospel in a way that ignores society's systematic denial of a people's humanity, as in slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching, their gospel and theology are antithetical to the message of Jesus Christ.”
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
Jesus is more than the projection of our pain, however, He is the Healer of it. As Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth:
Cone, James H.. Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian . Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.
(ESV) — 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 ESV
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:18–21 ESV
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Thus, “the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” as Mark opens his Gospel, addresses us all, regardless of our temporal station, regardless of our “felt needs” or apparent ability to meet them without God, even our alleged ability to “be good without God.” The reality of our human condition escapes us so much that only God Himself could reveal it and resolve it. In the person of Jesus Christ, God has done so:
(UBS4 w/Swanson) — 16 Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλʼ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
Jesus Christ is the God’s Final Answer for sin, righteousness and judgment. He is the One Who reconciles us to God and reveals God to us. He is, in the words of the ancient acronym “ixthus,”
James Swanson et al., The Swanson New Testament Greek Morphology: United Bible Societies’ Fourth Edition, 4th ed. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002), .
Iesus Xristos, God’s Son, Savior!
So may the peace of God, that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.
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