June 11, 2020
"Jesus said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter responded, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God'" (Matthew 16:15-16). Our Christian faith and life all rests upon who we say Jesus is. When Peter dared to say that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, Jesus responded, "I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (v. 18). Within our branch of the Christian family tree, Presbyterians have insisted that the rock that grounds the Church is not Peter himself, but the confession of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. Thus, Jesus' question to Peter is also our starting point in life together. Whenever a new person joins our congregation, we ask, "Do you turn to Jesus Christ, and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?" Whenever we ordain officers like Elders, Deacons, and Ministers, we always begin by asking, "Do you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?" The gates of hell will not prevail over a Church that answers these questions with a unified voice.
When a member of our congregation told me this week that it seems like our faith is being tested by the many challenges around and within us, the words to the classic hymn "The Church's One Foundation" came to mind. I pray that as you read (or sing!) the verses below, the Holy Spirit will inspire us to answer Jesus' question afresh with one voice, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."
The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
She is his new creation by water and the word.
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride.
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.
Elect from every nation, yet one o'er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food.
And to one hope she presses with every grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder this world sees her oppressed,
By schisms rent assunder, by heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up: 'How long?'
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore:
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
Yet she on earth has union with God, the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord give us grace that we
Like them the meek and lowly, may live eternally.
Grace and Peace,