We continue our series on the Heidelberg Catechism, on the portion of the Apostles’ Creed—which is the statement of faith of the universal church. (Today’s focus is on “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son our Lord”).
Our catechism takes our attention to the meaning of the name “Jesus.” Unlike people’s names today (e.g., “Abcdef Garcia Habal”), names in the past are given with a particular meaning.
Jesus’ name in Greek form Iesous is the Hebrew name yesu’a—the short form of the Hebrew yehosua (i.e., Joshua). That means “Yahweh is salvation.” And Jesus is the ultimate Joshua, who saves his people and brings them to the ultimate Promised Land.
This is clearly expressed in the angel Gabriel’s message to Joseph in the dream concerning the baby in Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:21). “… for he will save his people from their sins.”
And this afternoon, we will look into this “Jesus, who is the one and only Savior.”
A. JESUS, THE ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR
Ang buong Kasulatan ay nagpapatotoo na ang kaligtasan ay nagmumula sa Diyos at sa Diyos lamang.
Isaiah 43:11 – “I, even I, am Yahweh” (the covenant name of God identified with his redemption and choosing of the people of Israel)
- Context: The days when Judah was exiled to Babylon and God confronts them of their idolatry and futile trust in other nations. They trusted in idols and called other nations for help, instead of calling to God, who chose them, and delivers them and forgives their sins
- God is the only God and Savior, who proclaims salvation and indeed fulfills salvation for his people
In the New Testament, God proclaimed and fulfilled his salvation in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Context: The Sanhedrin asking “by what power or by what name (or in what name) did you do this?” (4:7) (In reference to the miracle of healing the lame beggar [“pilay na pulubi”] in chapter 3, and Peter and the apostles were preaching about Christ).
- “There is salvation in no one else” – Statement of fact
- “Name” or “In the name”
- Similar with prayer. “In the name” signifies citing or invoking the authority carried by that name. Kaya kapag tayo ay nananalangin, sinasabi natin yung “we pray this in the name of Christ,” hindi lang siya basta “magic word” ending ng prayer. We affirm that we bring our requests to God and expect his answer not in our own authority, not because of our worth or merit—but because of Christ. It is Christ who represents us in praying before the Father.
- Peter says that by Christ himself, by the power and authority of Christ that the lame beggar is healed and delivered from his misery. (which is a direct rebuke to those who crucified Christ)
- At the same time, that the beggar was healed in the name of Christ refers to faith in Christ (see Acts 3:12, 16). So Acts 4:12 is saying that salvation is in Christ, by the power and authority of Christ, by faith in Christ.
- No one can have salvation unless it has been granted to him/her from above.
- Salvation is outside of us. It doesn’t come from us, it is not by our efforts, but it is given—a gift from God.
- “Under heaven… among men”
- All throughout the world, and in all human society, you’ll never find salvation in anything or anyone other than in this one person—Jesus.
Only Jesus has all the power, righteousness, and merit to grant us salvation.
1 John 1:7 – “… the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Hebrews 7:25 – “… he is able to save to the uttermost.”
A portion of Article 26 states after declaring the perfections of Christ:
“Ano pa bang kailangan namin?
Sapagkat si Cristo mismo ang nagsabi:
“Ako ang daan, ang katotohanan, at ang buhay.
Walang makakarating sa Ama
kung hindi sa pamamagitan ko.”…
Yamang nalugod ang Diyos
na ibigay sa atin ang Kanyang Anak bilang ating Tagapagtanggol (intercessor/mediator),
huwag natin Siyang itakwil para sa iba—
o kaya’y maghanap pa, dahil wala naman din tayong makikitang iba.”
These truths may be too familiar and basic to most of us. But being in a Reformed church doesn’t mean we don’t need to be reminded and exhorted about these things.
- We can be orthodox in our minds, and yet be dead or cold in our hearts and lives
- The end of theology is to know God, to draw near to him, to delight in him
A call for self-examination. We may agree that Jesus is the one and only Savior—but is he your Savior? Is it a reality to you? Do you cherish him as your only and complete Savior? Do you find your comfort, security, and everything in him?
B. IS HE YOUR SAVIOR?
We cannot acknowledge Jesus to be the Savior and yet rely on ourselves or something else for our salvation.
As the Catechism Q.30 says, “It’s only either Christ is complete or not.” We may not be like the Roman Catholics who give reverence to the saints or Mary, but we may have idols in our hearts and worship ourselves or someone/something else.
John Calvin – “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”
WAYS DO WE LOOK FOR SALVATION AND SECURITY IN SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE THAN JESUS CHRIST?
- When we pride in ourselves and rely on our self-righteousness
- When we think we are good in ourselves. When we think that we became Christians and mature by our own effort. When we think we can persevere on our own.
- The cry of a true believer is, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:9-14).
- Our pride and self-righteousness manifests when we come to God in prayer for forgiveness only when we think we are already righteous and worthy enough to face God (Example of yourself in the past)
- It can also manifest when we don’t ask forgiveness from others, and only strive to fix it ourselves. Or when we hate criticisms.
- Truly understanding that we are nothing but sinners and are saved only by grace through faith in Christ breaks any form of pride and self-righteousness in us. (James 4:6 – God to the proud and humble)
- When we seek to be complete by others
- Recognition, social identity, etc.
- We can also idolize people and think that they complete us (Rachel to Jacob: – “Give me children or I die!” [Gen. 30:1)
- Getting married or having children indeed gives us a lot of experience that could lead to sanctification. But it doesn’t guarantee it. A man who has no spouse or child but has Christ and follows Christ, has a lot more than a man has a spouse or child but not have Christ.
- It’s human to be sad when losing our loved ones. But when God takes away what he has given to us, we don’t lose hope as if we lost everything, because in Christ, God is still with us and for us. Life continues. As the Psalmist said, “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psa. 73:26). “He who has the Son has eternal life” (1 John 5:12)
- When we live in sin and seek after worldly things
- Just like Judas who thought that having pieces of silver is more pleasant than being in fellowship with Christ (but only ended up depressed and killed himself!), so we may think that fulfilling the desires of our flesh and getting the riches of this world at the expense of Christ and our fellowship with him will lead to satisfaction. But sin and this fleeting world will only make us worse instead of giving us joy and comfort.
- We long for true and lasting comfort, satisfaction, and rest. But we’ll never find it in the things of this world (e.g., wealth, fame, material possessions, adventures/movies/Netflix). Augustine confessed to God, “You made us for yourself, and our heart/soul is restless until it finds its place of rest in you.”
Matthew 12:28-29 – “Come to me, all who labor (weary!) and are heavy laden (by sin and self-righteousness), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Friends, Jesus is the one and only Savior, and those who repent and put their faith in him obtains perfect salvation and receives favor in the sight of the Father—not only in this life but also in eternity. That’s the best gift, the perfect comfort, the perfect rest that you and I can ever have!
So repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus. And keep repenting and believing and living for him.
May Jesus—the only Savior—be our Savior, our all in all.