Christ Our Life
outline by seminarian Chris Halbert
Return to Articles main page
Principle of This Study
Scriptura (scripture alone)
a. A formal principle is a method or determined rule where one looks
for the shaping of their goal or purpose
b. Scripture is the Source for which we find Christ in the Old and New
Testaments; it is the Rule of which we look to for the purpose of
learning about Christ and the promise of salvation.
c. See John 5:39 -- "You diligently study the Scriptures because you
think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures
that testify about me..."
d. It is important to reiterate this basic principle because it is so
easy to get off track and diverge to other "authorities" for knowing
God and Christ.
i. our own hearts/experiences
e. Look at Romans 12:2 and John 15:3
ii. looking for God "under every rock"
iii. our own ideas/thoughts
f. What can these verses tell us about the relationship between God's
Word and our lives in faith?
g. Note in John 15:3 that Christ says to His Disciples that they are
"clean" (katharoi) because of "the word" (ton logon) which He spoke to
i. katharoi -- can also refer to "innocence" or "purity"
h. Why does it matter to see both the underlying unity in light of the
ii. There is a sense in which this verse applies to our Subjective
Justification in which Christ has made us "innocent" before God by
having the benefits of His Death applied to us through the Spirit
granting us faith.
iii. Christ's Word cleanses by Justifying us and Sanctifying us
iv. Note also how Christ uses "the word" in the singular; there is
God's Word and not God's Words
v. That is, Scripture itself is God's Word and it contains singular and
particular Words which emanate ultimately from God Himself (cf. 2 Peter
vi. Christ has spoken God's Word to His Disciples
vii. This tells us of an underlying unity within the Words of Christ
and that it is both particular and unified at the same time
i. We can maintain both and basically be "okay about it"
ii. That there exists in Scripture the basic message of the Gospel
(Singular) and many individual teachings, poetry, narratives, etc. that
exist to reveal to us God's character but do not detract from
Scripture's Goal: Salvation.
iii. There is a resistance to plurality when it comes to truth and we
do not have to fear plurality to some extent
iv. many favor that there is only one set answer and "that is that"
v. Jesus Christ is the One Truth, but yet we see and perceive Him in
diverse accounts of Scripture (e.g. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
vi. Lee Strobel mentions "Ironically... if the gospels had been
identical to each other, word for word, this would have raised charges
that the authors had consipred among themselves to coordinate their
stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them" (Lee
Strobel, The Case for Christ [Grand Rapids, MI: Harper Collins, 1998],
vii. Moreover, Bible Scholar Craig Blomberg responds, "If the gospels
were too consistent, that in itself would invalidate them as
independent witnesses. People would then say that we really only have
one testimony that everyone else is just parroting" (Ibid.).
viii. Strobel continues to mention, "From the perspective of a
classical historian, German scholar Hans Stier has concurred that
agreement over basic data and divergence of details suggest
credibility, because fabricated accounts tend to be fully consistent
and harmonized" (Ibid., 46).
xi. Diversity shows us the Dynamicity to our faith; that is, Christ is
not a Static Truth that can be easily summed up in one simple
proposition, but a Divine Figure who gives us new insights.
a. We can look at how previous Lutheran thnkers have added their
insights in how we can know Christ.
b. The Church's Confessional Standards provide a normative guide for
understanding Christ with its given emphases and distinctions.
c. Understanding who we are and where our community of faith comes from
helps us with our own Christian identity both privately and publicly
(see Matthew 16:15-16, Hebrews 4:14, 2 Corinthians 3:13).
d. "Why are there so many pages on Justification and so little on the
e. We can look at the Confessions but understand them in their
historical context while still applying their meaning to the present.
f. They hold meaning for the present because they have their foundation
in Scripture which transcends time and culture.
a. The Christian Tradition at large provides many keen insights from
great thinkers such as St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine.
b. Not only can we dig from the well from great thinkers from our
Lutheran tradition, but since we are Christians, we can learn from
Christians representative of different particular traditions.
1. The Material Principle refers to the actual substance which the
Formal leads toward.
2. It refers to the matter, itself.
3. In this case, Christ is the Material Principle
4. The Person -- deals with "the Who" of Christ and His Identity
5. Work -- can refer to the Acts and Teachings of Jesus
6. Suffering -- refers to Jesus' Death on the Cross for us.
7. This three-fold distinction is owed to Luther; he mentions: "This
the gospel is and should be nothing else than a chronicle, a story, a
narrative about Christ, telling who he is, what he did, said, and
suffered..." [emphases mine] (Martin Luther, Timothy Lull, ed., What to
Look for and Expect in the Gospels. [MN; Fortress Press, 1995] 105)
8. Most Systematic Theologians distinguish between the Person and Work
of Christ, but this third distinction for suffering is useful because
suffering is, in fact, distinct from Work.
9. Work refers to active qualities where one is actively performing a
duty or task to achieve a goal.
10. Suffering is passive in nature and involves something enacting on
another; thus, when one suffers some active force from without is
inflicting violence* of some kind upon its object. (*Editor's note: In
this context, "violence" is inflicting force on another -not
11. Christ did not actively seek Death and Suffering, but allowed it to
happen to Him from without and submitted to the passive act of being
Crucified for the Father's will (cf. Luke 22:39-46)
1. The Goal of the study is to strengthen personal faith and knowledge
of Jesu Christ.
2. Christ is our Life as Christians (cf. Colossians 3:3) and we should
integrate every aspect of our being - heart, mind, soul, body -to
growing closer to Him on our relationship.
3. We also need to remember that since Christ is our Life, He is also
the Center of our Faith and Practice.
4. This means He is at the Center of everything we believe and confess
as well as being the Focal Point for Worship - the Living God who
descends to us Tangibly and Incarnationally in the Preached Word and
5. To understand who Jesus Christ is in light of the diverse positions
out there in the present time and age; many differet assertions exist
as to Who Jesus is as well as to How we should understand Him.
6. When we are confronted with differing views and challenges to our
faith we need to be able to judge rightly about what is truthful and
biblical as well as not being "tossed to and fro" by every teaching
(see Ephesians 3:13-14, 1 Corinthians 14:20)
1. Read John 1:1-17
- What aspects can you identify under Christ's
Person and Work in this passage?
2. Read Luke 22:39-46 and Matthew 26:36-46
- These passages serve as examples of different
accounts of the same
event, but what do you learn from each passage which the other does not
emphasize or inform you about? How do they differ? How are they similar?
O Lord, You are My Life
My life is hidden with You vecause Your Life was given up for me
You are my righteousness and truth
Grant me this day knowledge, wisdom and love
That I may remember Your promises for me and that I may exist in You
Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW
VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica (formerly
International Bible Society).