The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Nine

The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Nine

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Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.

ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19-20

I Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.  I Timothy 2: 5-6

Good morning Prayer Team!

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made.  Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.  He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.  And He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead.  His Kingdom shall have no end.

The majority of the Creed is devoted to Jesus Christ.  There are several things that we believe concerning Jesus Christ.  First, going back to the concept of the Holy Trinity, there is one God, in three persons.  Though they are “numbered,” the three persons are equal.  The “first person” of the Trinity is “God,” also known as the “Father,” the “Creator”, and the “Almighty.” 

The “second person” of the Trinity is the “Son,” also known as “Jesus,” “Christ”, the “Word,” the “Logos”, the “Son of God,” the Son of Man,” the “Light” and the “Only-Begotten Son.”  We believe that the Trinity is uncreated.  Therefore, Christ is, like the Father, from “before all ages.”  He is the “Lord Jesus Christ.”  All three titles are used.  He is Lord, because He shares divinity with the rest of the Trinity.  “Jesus” is His earthly name.  “Christ” means that He is the Messiah, the promised Deliverer.  He was not created, and shares the same essence with the Father.  And the Creed affirms the words of John 1, that Christ participated in the creation of the world together with the Father and the Spirit. 

When we affirm that Jesus Christ came “for us men and for our salvation” we recognize that there is a need to be saved.  We recognize that we cannot save ourselves by ourselves.  When we place God as our Creator, we recognize that someone greater than us made us, and we therefore are not the center of the universe.  When we place Jesus Christ as our Savior, we recognize that we need to be saved from something, that we are not perfect, and that the way to salvation lies with Christ, not solely with us.  We work in tandem with Him in order to be saved.

The way by which Christ entered the world was through a woman, the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Spirit.  Again, salvation is a gift from God accepted by mankind.  The Holy Spirit created this conception, but the gift had to be accepted by a human being.  We not only recognize the supernatural birth of Christ but we recognize the important role that the Virgin Mary played in it, and by extension, in the salvation of mankind.

The reference to Pontius Pilate is important because it puts a date on when the salvific work of Jesus Christ took place.  Christ walked the earth at a certain time in its history.  Historians verify that there was a Roman leader named Pontius Pilate, who ruled in Jerusalem and the surrounding area two thousand years ago.  The crucifixion is also an historical fact.  Jesus was crucified on a Friday afternoon during the Jewish Passover, in what is now believed to be the year 29 A.D.  In fact, it doesn’t take faith to believe that a man named Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago, worked miracles, was a moral teacher, who angered the Jewish temple establishment and was crucified because of it. Before and during the Crucifixion, Jesus suffered, as much as any man has probably ever suffered.  Hours of torture, on top of betrayal and ridicule and finally a heinous and painful death on the Cross.  Not only Christ was perfect God, but He was fully man, able to understand us and suffer like us. 

Faith is required in order to believe that Jesus was born through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and that after dying on the cross, that He rose from the dead.  The Prophecies (the Old Testament) foretold that a Messiah would come and would do many “signs.”  Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies, including rising from the dead after the Crucifixion.  The Bible testifies that Jesus was seen by many people after the Resurrection.  After forty days, He ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, just as He did at the creation of the world.

We also affirm that Jesus Christ will come again.  The next time will not be in the quiet of the night with little fanfare, as He came at the Nativity.  He will come again “with glory” and upon His return, He will judge the living and the dead.  He will judge everyone who has ever lived.  In affirming the Last Judgment, if we believe this, then it is going to affect how we are living our lives today.  Because if we are trying to put together a favorable case for our last judgment and no one knows when this will occur, it should affect how we are living our lives today. 

Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death and to those in the tombs He has granted life. (Hymn of the Resurrection, official translation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

In order to belong to Christ, we must first believe in Him.  This is why the majority of the Creed, our statement of faith, is focused on Him, in order to help us focus on Him!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”