Friday, March 24, 2017

Affirming the Apostle's Creed by J. I. Packer #2

packerWe are continuing to work through J. I. Packer's little book, Affirming the Apostle's Creed. In this post we finish up the section about God the Father and move into the section about God the Son. I am posting from my reading in New Testament theologies and devotionals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday..  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

The creed affirms God as "Maker of Heaven and Earth." The great difference between the Triune God and everything else is that God is eternal, uncreated, unlimited, while we, and the rest of creation, are time-bound, created, limited and dependent. This affirmation acknowledges our absolute dependence on God for our life and being. We own nothing. God is gracious and merciful to include us in the management of His world.

It was to show us the Creator rather than the creation, and to teach us knowledge of God rather than physical science, that Genesis 1 and 2, along with such celebrations of creation as Psalm 104 and Job 38–41, were written. 54

The Creator-creature distinction reminds us that God does not depend on us as we depend on him, nor does he exist by our will and for our pleasure, nor may we think of his personal life as being just like ours. J. I. Packer, 55

The world exists in its present stable state by the will and power of its Maker. Since it is his world, we are not its owners, free to do as we like with it, but its stewards, answerable to him for the way we handle its resources. 56

The affirmation that we believe "in Jesus Christ" is what makes Christianity unique in the world. Jesus identifies him as a fully human historical person. Christ describes his "office-title" as the expected prophet, priest and king who would set up and rule over God's kingdom. Lord identifies him as the 2nd person of the Trinity. In Jesus, God Himself has come to earth in human form. This is the claim of the whole New Testament.

Christ” is what Presbyterians would call an “office-title,” identifying Jesus as God’s appointed savior-king for whom the Jews had long been waiting. Since the Christ was expected to set up God’s reign and to be hailed as overlord throughout the world, to call Jesus Christ was to claim for him a decisive place in history and a universal dominion that all men everywhere must acknowledge. 60

If Jesus is God the Son, our co-creator, and is also Christ, the anointed savior-king, now risen from death and reigning (sitting, as the Creed puts it, “on the right hand of God the Father almighty,” in the place of authority and power), then he has a right to rule us, and we have no right to resist his claim. 63

Next, Packer discusses what it means that Jesus is God's only son. First it means that Jesus is fully God. Jesus has no less power, authority, position or any other Divine attribute than the Father because both are fully God. Second, he is "begotten" not made. That is He is just as eternal as the Father. The Father-Son relationship denotes a familial love relationship, not a time bound or hierarchical one, into which the Son, through his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension, brings us.

Jesus was not just a God-inspired good man. Nor was he a super-angel, first and finest of all creatures, called “god” by courtesy because he is far above men. Jesus was, and remains, God’s only Son, as truly and fully God as his Father is. 67–68

The pre-mundane “begetting” of the Son...must be thought of not as a momentary event whereby God, after being singular, became plural, but as an eternal relationship whereby the first person is always Father to the Son and the second is always Son to the Father. 69

Understand it or not, the fact remains that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14); that was the supreme, mind-blowing miracle. Love prompted it; and our part is not to speculate about it and scale it down but to wonder and adore and love and exalt “Jesus Christ … the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 70

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