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New City Catechism 23.1

This week we begin with Question 23 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 2 (questions 21-35), which focuses on Christ, redemption, and grace.

Question 23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?

Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

The words “truly God” in the answer to this question proclaim powerful truth that has long been confessed by the church in the words of the Nicene Creed, namely, that Jesus Christ is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.” When we confess that Jesus Christ is “truly God,” we mean that he is, in substance, identical with the Father. Whatever the Father is, so is the Son, except for the fact that he is Son and not Father. There is no sense whatsoever in which the Son’s deity is any less than that of the Father. The Son has no less power, glory, majesty, or authority than the Father, for in being they are, together with the Holy Spirit, one God.

The implications of this truth are significant. It means that if we want to know God, we must look to Christ, for Christ is not only God himself, but also the fullest revelation of God given to humanity. As John writes in John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Although we have a natural knowledge of God implanted in us and a clear perception of his eternal power and divine nature in all that he has made (Rom. 1:20-21), the truth remains that we cannot know him in a saving manner apart from a personal response of faith to his revelation of himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. There simply is no other way, for it has always been God’s plan to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth (Eph. 1:10).

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Mark 9:2-13. What does this story teach us about Jesus? How should we apply this to our lives?

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