Last week we covered three terms that are interrelated and are critical for maintaining a Biblical focus: Christology, Soteriology, and Eschatology. Any time you see -logy at the end of a word, that denotes “study of” or “account of” or “words about.” So Christology refers to the “study of Christ.” Soteriology refers to “study of Soter/Soteria” or “study of Savior/salvation.” And Eschatology refers to the “study of the end.”
An early Christian attribution to Jesus Christ was:
If we use the first letter of each word, then in Greek it spells ΙΧΘΥΣ which in Greek spells out the word “fish.” This in fact is an early symbol to designate who Jesus is and what he has done.
Where do we find Jesus?
We sometimes hear that we need to “run to the cross.” The phrase indicates an inability of the person to find a solution, so we turn to, go to, the cross. The problem is “how do we do that?”
In Exodus 20 we find this often overlooked statement but it helps us as we look to solve this question:
[Yahweh says:] in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. (Exodus 20:24 NAS)
Note that Yahweh (LORD) is setting the precedent about who determines where God is and how that happens. God himself cause his name to be remembered. It is there that the Israelites were to look, not to their own places. As time passes in the Old Testament, we discover Israel often trying to establish where God “has to be, because we have said so.” Ultimately the “high places” reveal this fundamental misunderstanding. Even Solomon struggles:
Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. (1 Kings 3:3 NAS)
As we move into the New Testament we discover the same issue. Simeon was told he would not die until he saw the “salvation of the Lord.” We might expect that since the temple was the “traditional dwelling place” of God, that being in the temple would be sufficient. But, not, only when he saw the baby Jesus, could he exclaim, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:32 NAS). That was the place where God was causing his name to be remembered.
Later Jesus himself provides three specific instances, places where Jesus has caused his name to be remembered:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24 NAS)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 1:17)
Baptism (and Word):
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NAS)
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39 NAS)
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the (new) testament [covenant], which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament [covenant] in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)
[Jesus said:] If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:15-20)
Notice that salvation, forgiveness of sins, etc. are given through these, and there is remembering connected with each. Jesus causes his name to be remembered in his Word, in Baptism, and in the Lord’s Supper. And the promise of Jesus’ presence in Matthew 18:20 is often taken out of context to mean any generic presence anywhere. But in the context it is specifically connected with the pronouncing forgiveness in 15-18.
Jesus died on the cross about 2000 years ago, a once in the history of the world event. Everything that God promised is fulfilled and accomplished in Jesus Christ:
Fulfilled the Law
[Jesus said:] Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17 NAS)
And he did so perfectly,
We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. (Hebrews 4:15 GW)
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4 NAS)
Died for the sins of the whole world
For Christ also died for sins once for all (1 Peter 3:18)
He is the payment for our sins, and not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 GW)
How do we find the “cross”? Even as old as I am, I was not around when Jesus died on the cross. So how do I “find the cross”? Instead of my imagination, Jesus tells us in the above passages. We now connect the two pieces.
This is also noted to be “objective justification.” It is done entirely outside of us, accomplished by Jesus Christ.
But how does all that work that Jesus did come to us? We have to look at how God has promised to deliver the benefits. This connects us back to the promise of “where God causes his name to be remembered.” Thus, we are not left to our imaginations. Rather, we find forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation where Jesus tells us to find it: Word, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and Absolution [Forgiveness pronounced].
This is often called “subjective justification.” That is, the Salvation Accomplished by Jesus is now brought to the person. Even this is done entirely outside of us. God makes alive (Ephesians 2:4-5), so that even faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). God regenerates (Titus 3:4-7), forgives, etc. But all this is done through the delivery means.
Our worship services focus on those delivery vehicles. Worship is centered on Word, Sacrament [Baptism and Lord’s Supper], and Absolution.
Thus, if we are troubled, anxious, sorrowful, distraught, etc., we need to turn to the Salvation Delivered, which brings us the benefits of Salvation Accomplished.
Now Applied to End Times
It is interesting that much of the talk about end times focuses on the latest news and what happens in certain countries with certain leaders. The assumption is that the better you know the signs, the better prepared you will be for the end times.
But when you read 2 Peter, a letter definitely focused on end times, you discover something far different.
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18 NAS)
The preparation for the end is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And how do we do that? We go where Jesus told us his name is remembered and receive Christ’s benefits through those delivery methods.