Tag Archives: Son of God

The Creed: Who for Us Men and for Our Salvation Came Down from Heaven

This part of the Creed states that Jesus is our Savior. What are we saved from?

“Salvation” is an interesting word. We don’t often hear it outside of church, and may not often think about needing it. Yet we call Jesus “Savior” and say that He achieved salvation for us. From what did He save us? Jesus saved us from the effects of consequence of sin, eternal death. After we have accepted Holy Baptism, and thus committed our lives to Jesus Christ, we must walk on the path of salvation that He showed to us when He became man. Orthodox Christians know that we must work out our salvation daily, as St. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Jesus took on the consequences of our sins, which is death, thereby opening the path of salvation to us. However, we must walk in the path. When we sin, we have turned from the path. When we Repent, we return to the path that leads to eternal life.

Try this: Show this episode of “Be the Bee” to your Sunday Church School students to jumpstart a discussion on salvation: https://bethebee.goarch.org/home/-/asset_publisher/gAnk4cdUihei/content/-68-salvation-in-christ

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The concept of being saved by “accepting Christ as your personal Savior” is broadened in Orthodoxy, as we continue “walking the path of salvation” after conversion. If your students have friends who are Protestant, or perhaps they have seen television evangelists who speak of a more “instant salvation,” it is especially important to discuss and better understand the Orthodox viewpoint of salvation.

Here’s one way to do so: watch this video that uses two chairs to explain both the Protestant view and Orthodox view of Salvation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WosgwLekgn8. Discuss the differing views together.

The Creed: Light of Light, Very God of Very God

The Creed was formed (in part) because of a popular heresy at that time which stated that Jesus was part of God’s creation: that He was just a man. Which part of the Creed speaks of Jesus as truly God?

Shortly after the legalization of Christianity in 312, the Emperor Constantine convened the first ecumenical council. (“Ecumenical” is from the Greek economos, or “household.”) Indeed the entire “household” gathered: over 300 bishops from the Christian world. They came together to combat the heresy of Arianism that declared Jesus to be a “creature” of God, rather than coequal and coeternal.

In the Creed, the Church Fathers stated that Jesus was truly God with the phrases beginning with “Light of Light.” They continued to emphasize the equality of Father and Son with the phrases, “Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father.” In the Creed, “begotten” has a special meaning assigned to it. Jesus was “begotten,” not created. Everything that exists is created by God. Only God Himself, the Trinity, is not created. Jesus existed from all time with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“The Word, that is, the Son, was always with the Father.” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies, Book IV,” ch. 20, section 3, 180 AD)

“Christ Jesus, the Son of God, because of His surpassing love for His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin.” (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies, Book III,” ch. 4, section 2, 180 AD)

The divine Son of God was born in human flesh for the salvation of the world. This is the central doctrine of the Orthodox Christian Faith; the entire life of Christians is built upon this fact. They Symbol of Faith stresses that it is “for us men and for our salvation” that the Son of God has come. This is the most critical biblical doctrine, that “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” 66)

Try this: Challenge your Sunday Church School students to pay attention during the next Divine Liturgy you attend. Tell them to pay attention to how we express our belief in Jesus as God. We state this truth during the Creed. But where else in the liturgy do we say, sing, or show it? And how do we do so? The next time you gather together as a class, talk about your findings. For fun, divide the class into two teams and see which team can list the most ways in which we tell or show about our belief in Jesus as God during the Liturgy. Create a master list and keep it posted in your classroom so that you can add to it as weeks go by.

The Creed: One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God

What is the first thing that the Creed states about Our Lord Jesus Christ? Why is it important that Christ is the Son of God? What does that mean for all of humanity?

Adam, who was made in God’s image and likeness, walked with God in the evenings right after the world was created. “Walking with God” is a metaphor that describes the union that first existed between God and man. Humanity was created for that kind of union with God. Unfortunately, very soon that union was broken. Adam and Eve’s sin disrupted it. Since that time, God has worked to reunite mankind with Himself. Jesus Christ, the true God and true man, achieved that reunion.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect human being. He is all God intended for each of us to be. He is Love personified. He lived his life on earth without sin and in complete union with God. His life, death, and Resurrection achieved salvation for the world. Jesus was truly God and truly man.

“Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will, He taught us these things for the conversion and restoration of the human race” (Justin Martyr, “First Apology 23,” 150 AD).

Try this with your Sunday Church School class: use a cup of water and a bowl of (frozen water) ice cubes for an object lesson to help your students think about Christ, who is God, taking on human form. (See page 5-6 of http://www.powermarkcomics.com/comics/pdf/Lesson%207%20-%20Seeker%20Series%20Curriculum.pdf for a detailed description of how to do so, complete with discussion suggestions.)