(10/11) I. What Do You Believe?
When the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, he told him to focus on teaching sound doctrine. It is important to know what you believe and why you believe it. Let’s look at 1 Timothy 4. (Read It Aloud)
Just 30 years from the resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus, cults were already developing like Gnosticism that we looked at when we studied 1 John. They were a little like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were also those who were teaching that Jesus is okay but you still had to keep the Mosaic Law, an issue that Paul addresses in Acts 15 and his
letter to the Galatians, much like the 7th Day Adventists of today. There were also those who claimed that the church had missed the rapture and were experiencing the Tribulation of the end times, as in 2 Thessalonians.
Paul told Timothy to focus on doctrine, teaching the truth about God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
From our Lord Jesus to Jude we are warned to be aware of false teachers. Jude wrote in verses 3-4, "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in
unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." The Faith is not just Christianity as a whole but the truth of our doctrine that was established under the apostles. To contend earnestly is to fight for it, protect it. Not with physical violence but
with the truth. You must know what you believe and why you believe it.
Today we have thousands of cults under the name of Christianity that pervert the truth God’s Word. Then there are the major world religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, and others, including Athiesm, are all designed to keep people from knowing and believing the truth of God. On top of that is the major philosophy of this
country called Post-Modernism, which says that all truth is relevant and that there is no such thing as absolute truth. This is a form of belief that I once embraced; that is, it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Bill Clinton said after 9-11, 2001, that no one has the truth. I remember a lady saying in the first church I pastored, that doctrine
wasn’t important, we just needed to love one another. Sounds like a Beatles song doesn’t it? "All you need is love, love…"
Article in the Christian Post earlier this year says:
"Barna Group has released its 2015 study on the state of atheism in America, and has revealed that one in four unchurched adults in the country now identify as atheists or agnostics. The study also found that rejection of the Bible and lack of trust in the church are two main reasons why people are turning away from faith.
The study was focused on those who have not attended church within the past six months, and found that the majority of such people identify as non-practicing Christians. One in four, or 25 percent, however, were classed as skeptics, which Barna defines as people who "either do not believe God exists (atheists) or are not sure God exists, but are open
to the possibility (agnostics)."
II. I Believe The Creed
I am grateful for Larry’s message last week. I read it and thought he did a great job. The Apostle’s Creed is one of the best tools for expressing in a concise way the essentials of the Christian faith. I am not sure who wrote the following, but it describes why I want us to study and learn the Creed. The Author writes:
"I believe we need the Apostles’ Creed today, and we need it in our own lives and in this congregation.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed because it is the oldest expression currently in use of the beliefs we hold in common as Christians.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to connect us to the church of the first century, and to the faith of the Apostles themselves. For even if the apostles did not write the creed, it was certainly what they proclaimed as they carried the Gospel to Jerusalem, and Judea, and the ends of the earth.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to humble us, and remind us that we are not the first generation to have followed Christ. There is a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, who have handed the faith off to us, and to whom we are responsible for its transmission to our generation.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed as a clear expression of what we believe when called to give account of our faith.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to remind us of the whole counsel of God.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to help us affirm the uniqueness of Christ.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to remind us that the Holy Spirit is still with us.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to remind us that we do indeed believe in the church, in an age in which the church is being attacked or ignored.
* We need the Apostles’ Creed to draw us into a new appreciation for the communion of saints,
* to make us newly thankful for the forgiveness of sins,
* and to remind us that there is indeed a life everlasting.
Mostly, we need the Apostles’ Creed as a brief expression of our faith. The Creed is short enough, only 109 words, to commit to memory with only a few recitations. It is broad enough to join us to the greater Christian family that transcends denominational division. The Apostles’ Creed stands as the oldest and most concise expression of the beliefs we
hold as followers of Jesus Christ. It provides an outline for our self-reflection on the great doctrines of the faith, and gives us a concise way to speak of that faith to others."
What did our Lord tell the Apostles and therefore us in Matthew 28:18-20? 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things
that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen
I am concerned that with the focus of the church the last 30 years being on felt needs and how God wants to make us happy and comfortable, that the memorizing of important scriptures and creeds such as this one isn’t happening much anymore. We aren’t reciting the Creed or, the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, or the 10 Commandments. Most Christians can’t
even name half of the big ten.
III. I Am Committed to What I Believe.
I am also concerned that most people don’t understand the word, believe. To many it simply means to give mental assent to. Some of you here, today, may give mental assent to the reality God, or to the Gospel. I believe that God exists. I believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again; however, I mean, it is just what I accept in my brain. But the
word, believe, as in the Creed and as it is used in the Bible, means more than to give assent to, it means to commit trust to. It is to stake your life on. You have heard me use this in an almost comical way, but I believe in parachutes. I believe they work. I have watched them work. But I am not willing to strap on one for recreational purposes. I believe that bungee cords
can give you a thrill without letting you die, but I am not going to strap one on. You have all heard of the tight rope walker Blondin who stretched a cable across Niagara Falls. He walked across and back and the crowd cheered. He hoisted a wheel barrel and pushed it over and back and the crowd cheered. He asked if the crowd believed he could put a person in the wheel barrel
and push it over and back safely and the crowd cheered. He asked for a volunteer and nobody cheered and nobody volunteered. James says, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!" (James 2:19).
To Believe is to trust yourself to what you have given assent to. John wrote his Gospel for this reason, (John 20:31) "…that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Paul told the Romans in 3:21-22, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by
the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." And again, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,"
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C. S. Lewis
This is what I believe and trust with all my heart and stake my life upon. I believe what I believe. Let’s say the Creed together.
I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
was crucified, dead and buried:
He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost
I believe in the holy catholic church (one Holy Church):
The communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.
I believe…in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.
When the early Christians wanted identify themselves to each other they did so with the symbol of the fish. The Greek word for fish is Icthus. It was used because the letters were used as an acronym for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior.
I Believe, Trust, commit my life to, and stake my life on Jesus Christ.
These words were carefully chosen. Let’s look at them.
1.) I believe in Jesus. I affirm that there was a real, historical person. I believe that
although there were lots of people named Jesus, there is only one who fits all that follows (our lessons for the next few weeks). The name Jesus means the Lord saves, or Jehovah is salvation. Jesus is Greek for the Hebrew name Joshua. You recall for Matthew 1:21, "…you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." Peter would
say (Acts 4:10-12), "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." This Jesus is the one who died as our substitute as a payment for our sins and rose again so that all who believe in Him, trust him and stake their lives on Him are saved from hell and saved to be with Him in His Father’s house forever.
2.) I believe this Jesus is the Christ. Christ is Jesus’ title, not His family name.
Christ is Greek for the Hebrew word, Messiah. Messiah is the Anointed One, the Promised One, The Chosen One, the Deliverer, the Hope of Israel, and of the whole World. He is the serpent crusher, the sin payer, the righteousness restorer, the sinner’s reconciliation with God, the only true peacemaker, and the King of the world. He is the one promised
throughout the Old Testament who would restore righteousness, regain paradise, and rule on David’s throne. He is the One who we will worship for eternity. He is the Prophet like Moses, the Priest like Melchezidek, and the Prince of David’s throne. There will be no other messiah, no Jewish messiah, no Islamic messiah, no cultic messiah. He alone is the Christ. I stake my life
on this truth.
3.) He is the Only Begotten Son of God. Some versions just say, "His only Son,"
That phrase Only Begotten is important. John 3:16 identifies Jesus as the only begotten Son of God. The phrase only begotten is Monogenes, meaning unique, the only one of its kind. It differentiates Jesus from us as adopted sons or children of God and from the angels who are created sons of God in the book of Job. It is also used of Isaac in Genesis
22:2 where Abraham is instructed to, "take your only son, Isaac whom you love…and offer him…" Isaac was not Abraham’s only son, but he was unique in that he was the son that was promised and he was conceived when it was impossible for his parents to have children. I love that.
The Uniqueness of Jesus is that He is God the Son. He is the Second Person of the Godhead. There was no point in time in which He came into being. There is only the point in which He came in a human body through the womb of Mary. There have been many throughout history, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have said that Jesus was created by God the
Father, but this was not the understanding of the people of the Bible. It was always understood that the phrase Son of God referred to the one who is characteristically God Himself and is revealed to man. We read of Him in the Psalm 2:7-12. "I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The
nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’" 10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When
His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Proverbs 30:4 asks, "Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know? Nebuchadnezzer, threw 3 young men into a fire but saw four and said, "the fourth was like the form of
the Son of God," (Dan. 3:25)
After Jesus healed the man who was lame for 38 years, "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the
Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:16-18)
In the same book in the 10th chapter, 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one." 31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone
Me?" 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."
Remember when Jesus asked Life’s Most Important Question, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16). Jesus is God in the flesh. Immanuel, God with us. He is totally God, Totally Equal with God, He said, I and the Father are One. (John 10:30),
But He also said, "If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I." How is Jesus equal to, yet less than the Father? Simply in this way, as God the Son and taking on Human flesh, He made Himself submissive to the will of God the Father, to provide salvation for all of us. That is why He
constantly says, I always do the will of my Father, and, not my will but thine be done." Phil. 2 explains it for us. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
Jesus is the Christ and the Unique Son of God, and I stake my life on it.
4.) Our Lord.
The word Lord is Kurios in Greek. Sometimes it is used as a simple term of politeness and respect, much like we used the word, "sir." But it was mostly understood as a term used of one who is in authority, one who is in charge, the master, the boss. Jesus used it this way in Luke 6:46; "But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I
say? Peter understood this. In his sermon on Pentecost, he said (Acts 2:36), "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." If you say Jesus is Lord, then you are saying, "He is my authority, He is my master, He is my boss, He is my CO, I am under His command."
But it is also understood that to say Jesus is our Lord is to affirm that He is God. The name of God used in the Old Testament and translated as Yahweh or Jehovah is translated as Lord. Isaiah 42:8, "I am the Lord, that is My name." Isa. 45:6, "I am the Lord and there is no other." And then there is Isaiah 45:21-23, "Who has declared this from ancient
time? who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. 22 "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath." Paul said, that this refers to Jesus, (Phil 2:9-11) "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.
Early Christians were tortured and killed because they could not ascribe this title to the Roman Caesar. They could save their lives if they would just say, "Caesar is lord," but they wouldn’t do it. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior, alone is Lord. They staked their lives on it.
Listen carefully, I firmly believe and stake my life on the fact that Jesus is the Lord God, the Messiah, and my boss, I am subordinate to Him. My prayer every day and yours, if you believe the Creed, should be, "Lord, what would you have me to do.?" Many like me, believe that believing in Jesus for forgiveness must include submission to His authority.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. We trust in Him and we yield to His authority over our loves. Our lives belong to Him, and it is His will we will seek to do in every area of our lives. I believe what I believe! I Believe the Creed. Do you believe it?
Several popular commercials use the phrase, "This changes everything." Life isn’t about me. Life is about Him. Jesus said that one day, many will say to Him, "Lord, Lord, in your name we did good stuff," and He will say to them, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Why? Because they believed in their heads, but life was still about them and not about
Him. They would not get in the wheel barrel or strap the parachute on, or tie themselves to the bungee cord, or deny themselves and take up their crosses to follow Him." If He is Lord then He is not Santa Claus, or some weekend, if I feel up to it religion. He is the King of Glory, and my life is not my own, I am a servant to the King. Do you believe that?
So, here are a few questions. They are tough but honest questions.
• Do you believe it in your head, or do you trust in what you believe to the point of staking your life on it?
• Have you said, "I will follow you?"
• Can you or will you say, "I will get in the wheel barrel, I will strap on the parachute or bungee cord of total faith, obedience, trust, and commitment to Him."
• Do you ask the question every day or throughout the day, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" Is your life about how you may serve the Lord God your King, or about how He can serve you? Do you trust God’s chosen Messiah by seeking His will and direction for your life?
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman