Recently we had occasion to evaluate a potential coworker’s beliefs to see whether they are compatible to ours. Since he had not written out his “statement of faith” or “philosophy of ministry“, we had to ask his position on various “fundamentals of the faith” and what his practice would be under different scenarios. Some tools we had found useful in situations like these are the five fundamentals, plus the three main historical creeds:
1. Apostles’ Creed – AD 390, based on the Roman Symbol (Creed) of the first to second century. It was not written by the apostles but contained a summary of their teachings.
2. Nicene Creed – AD 325, which emphasized the divinity of Jesus.
3. Chalcedonian Creed – AD 451, which stressed the two natures (divine and human) of Christ unified in one person.
There are others, such as Athanasian Creed (AD 500) which defended the Trinity, and subsequent confessions of faith during the Reformation, but these were the main one we referred to as a checklist to quickly assess whether a person’s beliefs are orthodox.
Q. Last Sunday the speaker told us not to be too hung up on Christmas, because Jesus had to be dedicated, circumcised and fulfill all the OT requirements in order to be perfect. What’s your opinion on this?
A. I have not heard the speaker for myself, but based on what you reported I would disagree with his premise. To claim that in order to be perfect, Jesus had to fulfill all OT requirements is to state that He achieved perfection by works or performance, which is heretical.
First, Jesus is perfect because He is God:
• Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
In fact, He is the standard by which perfection is measured. He did not have to fulfill His own laws to qualify. It’s His nature.
Secondly, perfection can never come through the Levitical priesthood or the Law:
• Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
Jesus is priest according to the order of Melchizedek, higher than the order of Aaron.
The only sense Jesus need to be perfected was through sufferings:
• Heb 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
This does not refer to Jesus being deficient in any moral sense. It only points out that as God Jesus had not experienced human suffering. Therefore He had to be made perfect or complete by suffering what we went through to sympathize with our weakness:
• Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
I believe Jesus is perfect because of who He is, not because of what He had done. The latter flows out of the former, not the other way around. Doing follows being.