Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
January 31, 2020

Below is an excerpt from my new book, The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits.

Christians are defined by one primary mark: we believe in and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever beliefs may separate churches and denominations, a true Christian is someone who has repented of his or her sin and embraced Christ as the only Lord and Savior. We are a people of Christ. In fact, we instinctually use language such as “Christ-centered” to describe our worship and our lives. This commitment to Christ is not just a modern evangelical phenomenon; it is also reflected in the ancient faith of the Apostles’ Creed. The largest portion of the creed is devoted to Christ. As a matter of fact, we should see the Apostles’ Creed as a confession of Christ with an introduction and a conclusion. The creed chronicles the storyline of Jesus, from his conception by the Holy Spirit to his elevation and his ascension—from his exaltation to his promised return as king.

One thing to note immediately is how the creed confronts today’s tendency toward theological minimalism. It is not enough to simply say “I love Jesus” or “I follow Jesus.” Many who say they love Jesus and follow Jesus do not follow Jesus as he has revealed himself in Scripture. As the confession reminds us, we must confess that we believe in “Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”—the Jesus whose true identity and mission is revealed in Scripture.

We must identify who this Lord is whom we worship—this Savior who has redeemed us from our sin. Regrettably, even in Christian churches, a superficial Christology sometimes permeates the church, its worship, and its witness. Some of this spirituality has devolved into unabashedly false doctrine. Some want a Jesus who is a great teacher but not the Son of the Father. Some want Jesus as savior but not Lord.

We’re living in this strange time in which it appears to people that heresy is exhilarating. Just as in the early centuries of the church, it takes courage to be an orthodox Christian. It takes courage to confess the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It takes courage to believe the orthodox faith of the church, rooted in Scripture—but confessional courage is exhilarating. Throughout Christian history many believers have faced persecution, imprisonment, and even death for the sake of the gospel. Their courage in the face of immense adversity should inspire us.

Years ago, I traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in a theological debate of the Christian faith. It was an invitation I could not let go. I felt duty bound to accept it. They were finding it very difficult to find someone who would actually stand for the orthodox faith, and I felt that I should do it. It was one of those debates that (as I got into it) I discovered was set up for something other than an honest exchange of ideas. It was an opportunity for the faith to be humiliated. And in the midst of this very hostile audience, I prayed that the Lord would give me some opportunity in an unexpected way to break through the mechanism of this debate and to give a testimony to the gospel that would not just be the answer to a question but would somehow be used by the Holy Spirit to open eyes and hearts.

This particular debate allowed questions from the audience. A man stood up and identified himself as holding two PhDs—one in astrophysics and the other in something similar. We knew, therefore, he must be smart. Furthermore, he declared, he had studied theology, and then he said that he was a senior scientist with NASA. He said, “Dr. Mohler, I am just so tired of all this theology. I’m tired of all this doctrine. Every time you get asked a question, you respond with a theological answer.”

And I said, “Sir, you’ll notice the program says, ‘A Theological Debate.’ Someone with two PhDs should understand what that word means.” And then he said something that gave me all I needed. He exclaimed, “Dr. Mohler, I am so tired of all this doctrine and theology! I’m a Christian, and I want nothing to do with doctrine and theology. All I want is Jesus Christ.”

It was as if the runway was cleared. All the traffic went away, and the clouds parted. I was cleared for takeoff. I said, “Sir, do you think there was a mailbox in Judea that said, ‘Christ, Jesus’? Do you think that’s his last name? You just made a theological statement! You, who want nothing to do with theology, by naming the name Jesus Christ have made a profoundly theological statement. You say that all you want is Jesus Christ, but do you know what you’re saying? You’re declaring Jesus to be ‘the Anointed One of God, the Messiah.’ Christ is not a surname. It is a title. Jesus Christ is not merely a name; it is a theological proposition. It is the claim that all the promises given to Israel are fulfilled in this one incarnate man. His name, Jesus, means ‘The Lord Saves.’”

That moment in the debate reveals the inevitability of all statements about Christ to bear theological significance. Indeed, to say “all I want is Jesus Christ” amounts to a profound theological declaration. The Christian faith cherishes the truth that Jesus Christ is God’s only Son—the Lord. This is actually the sum and substance of the Christian faith. The shortest and most universal declaration of any Christian is simply this: “Jesus is Lord.”

When it comes to answering the central question, “Who is Christ?” it is Jesus himself who forces the question. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). Later Jesus again asked the question, “What do you think about the Christ?” (Matt. 22:42). In reality there is no more important question than this. It defines who we are. On the Day of Judgment, we will be defined by our Christology. We will meet the Christ either as Savior, or we will meet him as Judge. We face the temptation of theological minimalism and confusion. We want to say something other than what the church knows through Scripture. But we must always confess with Scripture and with the creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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