There is one physician (physical and spiritual, born and unborn, God in man, true Life in death, both of Mary and of God, first suffering and then beyond suffering) Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ignatius to the Ephesians VII.2)
I’ve been reading the Apostolic Church Fathers. Sounds a bit boring, I know, but it’s fascinating to see how these pastors, some of whom knew the Apostles, understood the Scriptures, taught them, and preached them to their people. Their context was very similar to our own. They were surrounded by polytheism (many gods) and a world that was hostile against them, we are surrounded by pluralism (many paths to one god) and a world still hostile against the Christian message.
In his context, Ignatius, who was the lead pastor (aka Bishop) in Antioch, had some very specific things to say to the Christian churches in Ephesus, Rome, and Philadelphia for example. Many times and in many different letters he says, “Jesus our God.” Jesus is our Hope, our Savior, our Lord, our Life in the midst of death. Why? Because Jesus is our God. That’s the point Ignatius keeps coming back to.
Our God Jesus the Christ was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan from the seed of David and the Holy Spirt. He was born and baptized so that the water would be cleansed by His Passion. (Ignatius to the Ephesians XVIII.2)
This is the heart of the Christian message. Jesus is God who was born to die for us and rise for us. Jesus Himself says, “When you have exalted the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM.” (Jn 8:28) When asked if He was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk 14:62 NKJV)
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8–12 NKJV)
Jesus is your God. He’s died for you, risen for you. Jesus reveals the Father to you, reconciling you to Him through His death and resurrection. He sends you the Holy Spirit, who creates faith in Christ, who is the downpayment and guarantee of eternal life. That’s your God. We are Christians, after all. We are believers in the Christ Jesus. He’s our God. No other God will do. There’s no other God in the Bible besides Jesus.
With this bold confession (which was Jesus’ confession, Peter’s confession, Ignatius’ confession) we proclaim the true and living God to the nations. His name is Jesus. There’s no “we all worship the same God” here, no true and real commonality between the “Abrahamic faiths” (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). The true God was crucified and raised on the third day. He is the one we worship. He is the one through whom we pray. In fact, we even pray to Him! (Jn 14:13!) The only God, the only Hope, Life, and Savior we have is Jesus who died and rose. He is the Christian God. He is the God of the Old Testament. He is the God of the New Testament. He is the God of all, but more importantly He is the Savior of all.
Farewell in God the Father and in Jesus Christ, our common hope. (Ignatius to the Ephesians XXI.2)