What we believe and to whom we express our love tells us whether we are Christians or not. We are Christians because of the doctrine, the truths of Scripture that the Spirit has written, and what He teaches us, especially of the truth of Christ Jesus. It is not deeds that make us Christian. It is not doing good that make us Christian. It is the teachings of the revealed word and will of God written upon our hearts that make us Christian. Peter writes: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (Peter 1:2–3). It is the knowledge of Christ, and that we belong to Him that gives us the name ‘Christian.’
Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Only do thou today believe in the mercy of God, in Christ, and cast thyself on Him, and thou art saved to the praise and glory of that grace which meets thee just where thou art, and saveth thee from sin.”
Jesus was alone and praying; His disciples joined Him and He asked them: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Some thought Him to be John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets risen from the dead. Jesus asked His disciples: “But, who do you say that I am?” Peter answered: “Thou art the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God: (Matt. 16:16). It is upon this rock that Christ builds His eternal and universal congregation, the Church, and Christ Himself being the Rock!
The reason for the warning not to tell is given in these words of our Lord: “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” When He had accomplished the will of the Father for which He came, then this confession of Peter could be seen as it should, that He came to die for the sins of His people. He accomplished salvation, the forgiveness of sins, through the payment of His blood, that we might have eternal life.
Our confession is the same today that we confess Him before men as the only Savior, Christ, the Savior, the Son of God. We are convinced that what God in Christ has taught us: we are sinners. For God the Father so loved us that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins: He Himself took our sins and its punishment. The Holy Spirit has given us a new birth that we might, by the gift of faith, know Christ as our Savior. Being so convinced that Christ is our Lord and Savior; it is reflected in our prayers, worship, service, and discipleship.
To follow Christ, we reveal the spirit of self denial: “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” By this we are “enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness” (35); “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24),
Our greatest desire as Christians is to know God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Who has the greatest love for your soul, even greater than you have yourself? Who will protect your soul that it may never be lost again? Is it not Christ? You may gain the whole world, but you cannot save your soul! We follow Christ knowing that, if we lose all, He will not lose us!
Our joy is found when we honor our Master, Christ Jesus: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Christ testified, “Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
The transfiguration revealed Moses and Elijah as they were talking with Jesus, whose robe glistened and whose face was transformed. Christ Jesus spoke about His death to come on that Cross of Calvary. Moses and Elijah were to know that what was prophesied through them would be accomplished at Calvary’s cross. Moses had been dead almost 1500 years; Elijah had been taken up about 900 years before by a whirlwind. They were and are alive! We will be alive! They knew the Son of God, the second person in the Godhead. We will know the Christ and see His glory face to face. Moses and Elijah and those of the Old Testament may have seen things as in a foggy mirror; now they would know that the forgiveness of sins rested in a Messiah to come; they would understand the reality of the atoning death of Christ.
We are sinners: “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me” (Psa. 40:12). We are sinners in need of a Savior. Peter and the disciples, having awakened from their sleep, “saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.” Peter’s first response was, “let us make three tabernacles”—not really knowing what he was saying. The rebuke of such a request is this voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, Hear Him!” Hear no one but Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God! Hear no one but the Savior who was sent by the Father! Hear the word of the Son and you will speak the word of the Son!
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