Do you believe that Jesus is God? That He was created by God?
Recent answers to those two questions from Americans in general may not be that surprising, but recent answers from people who say that they are more religious are somewhat surprising.
Every two years Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research ask Americans what they believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible.
The full 2020 survey results are due out next week, but preliminary results were released last week.
Just more than half (52%) of Americans to some extent agreed that Jesus was a “good teacher” but not God, and that group included nearly one third (30%) of “evangelicals”, operationally defined as those who, among other things, reported strongly agreeing that the Bible is the highest authority for what they believe. Similarly, more than half (55%) of Americans, including nearly two thirds (65%) of “evangelicals”, said that Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God.
Apparently there is either a problem with the questions or at least some people think that Jesus can be created by God and somehow still be God.
The Bible teaches both that Jesus was not only a “good teacher” but also God and that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who in time took on flesh as Jesus, existed from eternity.
One report about the survey listed Bible passages such as John 1:1; John 8:58; Romans 9:5; and Hebrews 1:1-4. An official with Ligonier Ministries emphasized Scripture’s right teaching about Jesus’s identity and saving work and attributed the misbeliefs to people’s drifting away from Holy Scripture.
Based on the Bible, the Early Church condemned as heresy both the teaching that Jesus was not divine and the teaching that He was a creature.
So, the Nicene Creed rightly confesses that Jesus is both “of one substance with the Father” and “not made”.
Jesus’s being true God is essential for His death on the cross to atone for the sins of the whole world.
What you believe matters! Saving faith has specific content. For example, the Divinely-inspired St. John wrote his Gospel account “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31 ESV).
Through His Word and Sacraments Jesus freely gives that life to all who repent of their sin and rightly believe in Him!
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.