Editor’s Note: It has been a while since a post in the Westminster Shorter Catechism series has been produced. It is my intention begin taking on one question per week and post them on Wednesdays. So we can perhaps call them “Westminster Wednesdays”?
Question 21 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: Who is the redeemer of God’s chosen ones?
The answer given is: The only redeemer of God’s chosen is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, Who became man. He was and continues to be God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever.
There is a lot of content in the answer that the Westminster Divines gave to this question.
First, it clearly states the belief that Jesus provides the only means of salvation. This belief is foundational to Christianity.
Secondly, it identifies Jesus as the eternal Son of God who became man.
Thirdly, it clearly teaches that beginning with the incarnation, Jesus was and still is both God and man in one person.
In the last few months, I have been reading about the first Ecumenical Councils of the church in the 4th and 5th Centuries. It was at these councils that the nature of Jesus was clearly defined for all of Christendom. Many of the misunderstandings about Jesus that survive today were addressed by these councils. So an understanding of the events leading up to the councils and the results of those councils will help us avoid error today.
It would be good to consider the words of the Nicene Creed, first developed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and then adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. The portion of the Creed which speaks to belief in Christ is quoted below.
[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.