Dear friends,

How can Jesus say, before Abraham was, “I am”? How can Jesus say that “your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day, saw it and was glad”? These are deep matters. They are not opposed to reason but they do open up into matters which are far deeper and higher than our minds can encompass. I want to share two simple and old statements which help us.

For the first question, I commend to you the Athanasian Creed. Some people do not like the creed because of its statements that it is essential to salvation to believe it. For a simple explanation of this, Google: Athanasian Creed + Church Society to find a short and helpful discussion on the matter. The creed is probably from the fifth century and is one of the three creeds central to Messiah and the denomination we are part of. It is one of the classic and formative creeds in Christianity, both Protestant and in the Roman Catholic Church. All of the creed is worth reading and remembering. Let me focus on the discussion of the Incarnation. Here’s what the creed says: “Now, the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and Man. He is God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and He is Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world; perfect God, perfect Man, of reasoning soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead; less than the Father as touching His manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but is one Christ; one, however, not by conversion of Godhead into flesh, but by taking of manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ…”

For the second question, I invite you to the 7th Article of the 39 Articles of Faith. Once again, the 39 Articles are an essential part of the orthodox Anglican Way, so they are a key part of the official doctrine of Messiah and the Anglican Network in Canada. The Articles are well worth reading. Here is Article 7. I am using modern language version from The Church Society. “The Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for in both the Old and the New Testaments eternal life is offered to mankind through Christ. Hence He, being both God and man, is the only mediator between God and man. Those who pretend that the patriarchs only looked for transitory promises must not be listened to.” This article has more to say on how the Old Testament Law relates to Christians.

One more Article, number 8. “The three creeds: the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and that known as the Apostles Creed, ought to be wholeheartedly accepted and believed. This is because their contents may be proved by definite statements of Holy Scripture.”

The above quotes – long ones, I know – help point our mind and heart in the right direction to hear, believe and know the truth of what Jesus says in John 8. The promises that God made to Abraham were not transitory. Abraham did not receive them as transitory. He obviously did not know all that Jesus was to reveal, but Abraham and Genesis and the Old Testament, as a whole, understood God’s promises to be far bigger than transitory ones – the promises point to God’s promise to save by grace alone through faith alone in the Messiah alone – Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

George +