Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meditation on the Second Article of the Apostles Creed

The Second Article
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suf­fered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary; and that He is my Lord, Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His inno­cent suffering and death; in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
Picture yourself falling into a deep dark pit.  The only form you can make out at the bottom is a ferocious beast that is ready at a moment’s notice to swallow you whole.  This is the condition into which each of us is born.  Dead in trespasses and sins, all are moving headlong into the deepest depths of hell with no ability of our own to escape what lies below.
When Adam and Eve fell into sin, the entire world fell with them.  “By Adam’s fall is all forlorn, man’s nature and his thinking, The poison’s there when we are born, In sin yet deeper sinking.” (ELH 430.1)  In our fallen condition, all of us are just dangling over the beast, waiting to be devoured.  Both our sin that we have inherited from our parents and the sins that we continue to commit, earn us a place as food for the devil’s appetite.
Yet, the truth of who Jesus is, brought out in the Second Article of the Creed gives us reason to spite the devil.  Jesus, became man for us so that he might be swallowed up by Satan in our place.  Jesus became our vicar or substitute, clothing himself in human flesh.  Much like a worm covers up a hook, Jesus covered himself in human flesh, by being born of the Virgin and entered our world in the likeness of mankind.  Bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.  Jesus dangled himself within reach of the ferocious beast, so that once He was seemingly devoured, He would defeat that beast once and for all.
Because Jesus was perfect He had no reason to fear the devil’s snapping jaws.  The devil had no hold over him.  But so that we might be saved, Jesus shows us what kind of a Lord we have…One who was willing to experience death, so that we would not have to experience the terrors of hell.  Jesus removed us from the clutches of Satan and placed us safely at His side where he is able to nourish and strengthen us through His holy assuring us of the forgiveness of our sins.
The Gospel that the Church preaches is based solely upon Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection which has won for us the forgiveness of sins.  There is nothing we have done to rescue ourselves, there is nothing we can do to be saved.  Christ has done all of the work…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  He called us out of darkness, into His marvelous light.  He requires nothing in return and promises us the blessing of heaven when we, by His power, trust in Him as our Lord and Savior.
O God, our Maker and Redeemer, You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature.  Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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