The Oldest Christian Confession
From very early on, while the church has stood on the firm foundation of God’s word, she has also looked to the support structure, as it were, of her creeds and confessions to faithfully summarize the core tenets of the Christian faith. Perhaps you have recited the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed, or maybe you have made use of the Westminster Confession of Faith to aid your understanding of a particular point of doctrine.
The historical nature of such creeds and confessions demonstrates how the Christian faith has held its ground over time. For example, the Nicene Creed reaches all the way back to AD 325, when the earliest version was adopted at the Council of Nicaea. Seventeen hundred years is quite a shelf life! But it is not the oldest confession, for there is one that reaches back even earlier, to the earliest days of the church. It’s only three simple words: Jesus is Lord.
This earliest confession can be found throughout the New Testament, in places such as Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 12:3, and Philippians 2:11. In making such a statement, the early Christians said a great deal about the identity of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, God identifies Himself with four Hebrew letters, equivalent to YHWH in English, which some pronounce “Yahweh.” This divine name is rendered in our English Bibles most often as LORD, with small caps. When the Hebrew version of the Old Testament was translated into Greek, nearly all the occurrences of Yahweh—over 6,000 of them—were rendered with the Greek term for “Lord,” kurios. So to say “Jesus is Lord” is not just to call Christ Master but to affirm that He is fully and completely God.
While some try to argue that the New Testament never really identifies Jesus as God, nothing could be further from the truth. To confess Him as Lord is really to call Him Yahweh. He is not just a teacher or healer or miracle-worker but God in the flesh.
This earliest confession demands some reflection from us: Do I really confess, with my life as well as my lips, that Jesus is Lord? Do I really believe that He has total claim over my life and every right to command my allegiance and obedience? Do I really accept that He knows better than me and that I may hold nothing back from Him?
“Jesus is Lord,” then, is no trite statement. But it is not a terrifying one, either. For this Lord is kind and good, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). His love means that before He sat on His heavenly throne, He hung on a wooden cross. Since He is Lord, He can always ask for your all—and since He loves you, you can give it joyfully.
So what will you confess today?
Moses Makes New Tablets
1The Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for thousands,1 forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. 9And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
The Covenant Renewed
10And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
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