The Core: Jesus
The Person of Jesus
We believe Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus - Israel's promised Messiah - was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
Jesus is one Person (Jn 3:13; 1 Tim 2:5) with both a full, distinct divine nature (Php 2.6; Jn 1:1, 14, 18; 20:28) and a full, distinct human nature (1 Jn 4:2-3; Hb 2:14,17; 1 Tim 2:5). He was born of the of the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18; Lk 1:34-35) and the Virgin Mary (Isa 7:14; Lk 1:34-35). He eternally exists as the Son of God (Jn 17:5) and a member of the Trinity (Mt 28:19). He is of the same essence as the Father (Heb 1:3; Jn 10:30; 14:9), but is not the same Person as the Father (Jn 1:1). Due to His divine nature, He has all the attributes and capacities of God (Col 2:9). Due to His human nature, He has human attributes (Php 2:7), capacities (Lk 2:40; 52), and some limitations (Jn 4:6, 19:28; Lk 2:45). He was a Jewish man in particular (Jn 4:9) and a descendent of King David (Lk 1:32-33). He did not, however, share in human sin (Rom 5:19; Heb 4:15).
Jesus experiences everything as a whole person (Jn 8:58) rather than with just one of His natures. When He hungered, His entire person experienced hunger, and when He healed people, His entire person experienced healing them. Therefore, when He died on the Cross, we can say God did not die, and yet God fully experienced human death (i.e. separation from the Father). For His sacrifice to be sufficient, He must have both natures in full because only a human can atone for human sin (Gal 4:4-5; Heb 2.16-17) and only God has the enormity to pay for all sin (1 Pe 3:18). Jesus is the only one with both, so salvation comes solely through Him (Jn 3:36, 14:6; Acts 12:4).
God promised Israel He would send a Messiah to save them (Gen 3:15; Mic 5:2; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; 53:5) and fulfilled that promise by sending His Son (Jn 1:41; Acts 2.36; Rom 1:2-3; Heb 10:1-10). Jesus boldly claimed this about Himself (Lk 4:16-22; 24:27, 44; Jn 5:39, 46), using several “I AM” statements to hijack key Old Testament images for Himself, often accompanied by related miracles to reinforce the claim (Jn 6:35, 8:12, 10:7, 11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1).
Jesus is sinless (Heb 4:15; 9.14; 1 Pe 3.18; 1 Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 5:21) and yet His human nature allowed Him to be truly tempted (Lk 4:13; Heb 4:15). He bested sin by enduring the extremes of temptation. In computer programming, “load testing” is intended not to break the software but to prove that it cannot be broken. Jesus’ temptations, though real, proved that He cannot be broken.
Jesus “emptied Himself” at the incarnation (Php 2:7), which raises questions such as how He could be simultaneously omnipresent and circumscribable. He could not have forfeited any divine capacity for any period of time since God is unchanging in His nature (Heb 13:8; Jms 1:17). Rather, Jesus humbly refused the free exercise of at least some of His divine prerogatives without forfeiting them in order to live within human limitations. A sighted person who dons a blindfold has not lost the capacity to see; she “can’t” see and yet never stops being a sighted person.
Jesus' resurrection is among the things of “first importance” (1 Cor 15:3-5). His resurrection was bodily (Lk 24:39; 1 Cor 15:35-54) and transformational (1 Cor 15:44, 47). The empty tomb bears additional witness of the bodily resurrection (Mt 28:1-10). Without it, we have no hope of also being resurrected (1 Cor 15:14-19) or of being made like Him (Php 3:21; 1 Jn 3:2). Even at the Father’s right hand, Jesus continues to have a fully human nature (Acts 1:9-11; Php 3:20-21).
Presently, Jesus gives truth to us through the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13-15). He is our priest (Heb 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:14; 7:15), interceding for us (Rom 8:34) and advocating for us when we sin (1 Jn 2:1). He is our lone mediator with the Father (1 Tim 2:5) and reveals the Father to us (Mt 11:24; Heb 1:3; Jn 1:18; 14:21). He is the ongoing object of our worship (Rv 7:9) and is our King (Mt 12:28; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:3), so we eagerly await His glorious return (1 Thess 5:1-11).
The Work of Jesus
We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.
On the cross, Jesus freely acquiesced to His Father as if He was us (our representative) and instead of us (our substitute). As our representative, He presents His pure obedience and righteousness to the Father as if it is our own (Rm 5:18-19; Mt 4:1-11), and for those in Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection become theirs (Rm 6:1-7; Jn 11:51-52; Gal 3:13-14; 1 Cor 1:30). Jesus is the head of the Church (Eph 1:22-23; 4:15) and so represents the Church to the Father.
As our substitute, His unmerited suffering and death on the cross, enduring the Father’s wrath for our sin (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 3:5; see propitiation below), supplanted the death and wrath we sinners deserve (Isa 53:4-12; Rom 3:21-26; Gal 3:13; Mk 10:45). God laid the foundation of substitutionary sacrifices in the Old Covenant (Lv 16:11-17) but completed it once and for all only with His Son (1 Pe 3:18; Rom 5:6-8). Everyone in Christ can say, “It had to be someone, and it should have been me” (Hb 2:16-17).
There is no forgiveness of sin except through the shedding of blood and death of a substitutionary sacrifice (Lv 17:11; Hb 9:20-22; Mt 26:28), but only the shed blood of Jesus and His death are fully efficacious (Eph 1:7; 1 Jn 1:7; Hb 9:24-28; 10:4, 10-14). Sin deserves only death (Rm 6:23), yet we can escape that fate by Christ’s work (Col 1:13-14; 2:13-15). In His death and resurrection, He also conquered Satan (Hb 2:14), sin (Rom 6:8-14; Col 2:14-15), and our pending eternal separation from God (Hb 2:15; 1 Cor 15:54-58). Furthermore, His resurrection vindicates His teachings, claims, and authority (Eph 1:20-23: Rm 1:4; Act 5:30-31; 17:31). Through His resurrection we can have life (Rm 4:25; 6:4, 11; 1 Cor 6:14; Eph 2:5-6; 1 Pe 1:3).
Jesus, our representative substitute, whose death and resurrection gives us life, paid our penalty for sin before God and therefore removed our guilt (expiation; Psa 103:12; Jn 1:29; Rm 3:25; Hb 2:17; 1 Jn 4:10). More particularly, He diverted God’s wrath due us and took it on Himself (propitiation; Rm 3:25, 5:9-11; Hb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2).
Through this expiation and propitiation, He offers us salvation. At its core, salvation means rescue from some sort of danger. The work of Christ rescues us from the death wages of sin (Rm 6:23; Eph 2:5; Jn 3:36), the ongoing power of sin (Rm 6:14), the guilt of sin (Eph 1:4; Rm 5:16, 21; Php 3:9), the evil age (Gal 1:4), and eventually even the presence of sin (Rv 21:27). To receive this salvation, a person must be born spiritually from above (Jn 3:3; 1 Pe 1:3). Once obtained, our rescue is secure (1 Pe 1:4-5). We can rightly say we have been saved (Eph 2:8-9), we are being saved (1 Cor 1:18), and we will be saved (Hb 1:14; 9:28). Jesus is qualified to be called our Savior (Act 13:23) who rescues us because of His great love for us (Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 4:7-10, 16). With this rescue comes every blessing available in the Kingdom of God (Eph 1:3-8) and the privilege to co-reign with our Savior (Eph 2:6).
Our sin devastates our relationship with God (Gen 3:23-24) and imperils our eternal life (Gen 2:17; Rm 6:23). Jesus’ work on the cross completely repairs that damage (atonement). God introduced this kind of repair with the Day of Atonement (Lv 16; 17:11), providing the means for Israel to keep its relationship with Him in good repair. The work of Christ, however, is the only means of complete and permanent atonement (Hb 2:17; 9:12; 10:10; 1 Pe 2:24), bringing us full reconciliation with God (Rom 5:1, 10-11, 8:1; Col 1:20) and restoring us to His favor (Rom 5:2).
Finally, Jesus is exclusively the Savior who can atone for our sins as our representative and substitute to expiate our guilt and propitiate God’s holy wrath through His death and resurrection (Act 4:12; Rm 5:17). Jesus makes this claim about Himself (Jn 14:6), specifically through His work on the cross (Jn 6:53-56). Being the lone Savior is God’s eternal nature (Isa 43:11), and the Father conveys this role to the Son (Mt 11:27-30). From our perspective, Jesus becomes effectively and exclusively our Savior by believing in Him (Jn 3:18, 8:24). The exclusivity of Christ is a claim so critical that Paul calls a curse on those who deny it (Gal 1:8).