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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jesus Christ and the Apostles' Creed


Jesus Christ and the Apostles’ Creed
 
For Christians, the beliefs expressed in the Apostles’ Creed are basic to the Christian faith. When we choose to believe the tenets expressed in the Apostles’ Creed, our lives are changed.  Here below is part of the Apostles’ Creed – the part that proclaims our beliefs about Jesus Christ:
I believe in Jesus Christ, Gods’ only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried:
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again:
He ascended into heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And will come again to judge the living and the dead.
And I believe in the forgiveness of sins.  
 
What sets Christianity apart from all the other faiths is its’ specific beliefs about Jesus Christ.   But the most amazing thing is that the Christian faith is not just a set of beliefs or traditions, like other faiths. But the Christian faith is a “living” faith.  The “Word” which is a name for Christ is “alive.” (Hebrews 4:12) (John 1:1-4)
 
 Jesus Christ isn’t just a great Teacher and Savior who lived long ago, but He is Son of God who lives and walks right here in our world today. The Spirit of Christ “lives” in our hearts today when we believe.   Like a favorite Christian hymn goes, “And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”  And He brings us His peace and joy.
 
The early Christians set out their beliefs in The Apostles’ Creed not only because they wanted to pass down the true faith – originally given to them, but also because so many false teachers were attacking the true Christian faith by spreading heresie.  So many false Christs!  Most of the heresies and apostasies were leveled at Jesus Christ and who He is!  If Satan can keep people from believing in the real Jesus, and get them to believe in another Jesus, he will have done his job, since the real Jesus is the only One who redeems and saves us.    So, who is the real Jesus?  And why is it so important for us to know Him?   
 
These popular heresies all strike at Jesus Christ, trying to make Him appear to be so much less than who He is.  They create false pictures of Christ, and this keeps people from knowing the real Jesus Christ. One blasphemous and terrible heresy that is out there is that Jesus did not save us from our sins but instead He was just a great example of love.  That he died on the cross for no reason but just to show his beautiful love.  That there is no sin and no judgment – just love. God forgives us without Jesus paying the price for our sins because God can’t love and judge at the same time, so the lie goes. God would be mean to allow Jesus to go through such a terrible death on the cross.  And these unbelieving scoffers rave that anyone who is a believer “is not intelligent.”
  
This apostasy and several others like it are believed by many. These horrible lies take away the real Jesus and put a false Jesus in his place.  A fake Jesus who didn’t shed his precious blood for our sins and who isn’t really our Savior and Redeemer.  A fake Jesus who isn’t God, just a wise man or a super star! The Scriptures warn us to beware, that there will be these false teachers and poisonous heresies – aimed at taking our precious faith away.  We are in a spiritual war and we must put on our armor and hold fast to our Christian faith!  
 
In both Matthew and Luke, the Bible records the birth of Jesus with the details that Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit” when Mary was a virgin.  Is it difficult to believe that God could bring Jesus into the world any way He wanted?  God created the rules of nature and He can by- pass or transcend them. Jesus was not like any other person ever born on earth. He was not born in sin like all humans are.  If He were sinful like us He couldn’t forgive our sins. Jesus is God and He is also human.  So, His birth was different from ours because Jesus is different from all of us.  
 
There is a story in Scripture about some good people carrying a paralyzed man on a bed to Jesus to be healed.  (Matthew 9:2-8)   Jesus spoke to the paralyzed man with these words: “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.”  A crowd had gathered and some of the religious leaders were there watching, and they thought that Jesus was blaspheming.  The Old Testament Scriptures teach that only God can forgive sins.  So, it would be blasphemy for a human to say that he could do what only God can do.  Scripture says that Jesus knew their thoughts. 
 
So, Jesus asked the religious leaders: “Is it easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ Or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But so you will know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said: ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’.”  And the paralyzed man was healed and jumped up and walked away to his house.  Now all the of crowds seeing this marveled and they all glorified God.”  (Matthew 9:2-9) 
 
On another occasion Jesus was in a crowd healing and teaching, and there were religious leaders in the crowd criticizing Him as they so often did.  Jesus told the crowd: “If anyone keeps My word he/she shall never taste eternal death.” (John 8:52) The religious leaders immediately got upset and shouted back at Jesus these words: “Do you think you are greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?  And the prophets are all dead.  Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 
 
Jesus answered that Abraham rejoiced to see Him, the promised Messiah. And the religious leaders answered back: “You are not yet fifty years old, so how could You have seen Abraham?”  And Jesus answered them: “Most surely, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.”  (John 8:58) Jesus was saying that before Abraham lived, He was there – eternal and timeless. That He is the “I Am” – the Jewish name for God. 
 
When the religious leaders heard that they picked up stones to throw at Jesus because they understood that Jesus was saying that He is the “I Am” – or that He is God the Son, and if that wasn’t true then it would have been blasphemy.  Several thousand years earlier Moses had asked God what the Jewish people should call Him, or what was God’s Name.  And God answered that His Name was “I Am”.  (Exodus 3:14) All of the Jewish people knew this.
 
Jesus is saying here in John 8:58 that He is eternal or timeless and that He is divine or is Son of God.  Skeptics will say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  But this passage, along with many others in the Bible say otherwise.  When we put our trust in the real Jesus, the “I Am”, we are in good Hands because He can and will forgive our sins.  He couldn’t do that if He was just a wise man.  But He is the true Son of God -  the “I Am”.    
 



 




  
    
 
 



 

 
 
 
 





































Jesus Christ and the Apostles' Creed



Jesus Christ and the Apostles’ Creed
 
For Christians, the beliefs expressed in the Apostles’ Creed are basic to the Christian faith. When we choose to believe the tenets expressed in the Apostles’ Creed, our lives are changed.  Here below is part of the Apostles’ Creed – the part that proclaims our beliefs about Jesus Christ:
I believe in Jesus Christ, Gods’ only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried:
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again:
He ascended into heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And will come again to judge the living and the dead.
And I believe in the forgiveness of sins.  
 
What sets Christianity apart from all the other faiths is its’ specific beliefs about Jesus Christ.   But the most amazing thing is that the Christian faith is not just a set of beliefs or traditions, like other faiths. But the Christian faith is a “living” faith.  The “Word” which is a name for Christ is “alive.” (Hebrews 4:12) (John 1:1-4)
 
 Jesus Christ isn’t just a great Teacher and Savior who lived long ago, but He is Son of God who lives and walks right here in our world today. The Spirit of Christ “lives” in our hearts today when we believe.   Like a favorite Christian hymn goes, “And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”  And He brings us His peace and joy.
 
The early Christians set out their beliefs in The Apostles’ Creed not only because they wanted to pass down the true faith – originally given to them, but also because so many false teachers were attacking the true Christian faith by spreading heresie.  So many false Christs!  Most of the heresies and apostasies were leveled at Jesus Christ and who He is!  If Satan can keep people from believing in the real Jesus, and get them to believe in another Jesus, he will have done his job, since the real Jesus is the only One who redeems and saves us.    So, who is the real Jesus?  And why is it so important for us to know Him?   
 
These popular heresies all strike at Jesus Christ, trying to make Him appear to be so much less than who He is.  They create false pictures of Christ, and this keeps people from knowing the real Jesus Christ. One blasphemous and terrible heresy that is out there is that Jesus did not save us from our sins but instead He was just a great example of love.  That he died on the cross for no reason but just to show his beautiful love.  That there is no sin and no judgment – just love. God forgives us without Jesus paying the price for our sins because God can’t love and judge at the same time, so the lie goes. God would be mean to allow Jesus to go through such a terrible death on the cross.  And these unbelieving scoffers rave that anyone who is a believer “is not intelligent.”
  
This apostasy and several others like it are believed by many. These horrible lies take away the real Jesus and put a false Jesus in his place.  A fake Jesus who didn’t shed his precious blood for our sins and who isn’t really our Savior and Redeemer.  A fake Jesus who isn’t God, just a wise man or a super star! The Scriptures warn us to beware, that there will be these false teachers and poisonous heresies – aimed at taking our precious faith away.  We are in a spiritual war and we must put on our armor and hold fast to our Christian faith!  
 
In both Matthew and Luke, the Bible records the birth of Jesus with the details that Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit” when Mary was a virgin.  Is it difficult to believe that God could bring Jesus into the world any way He wanted?  God created the rules of nature and He can by- pass or transcend them. Jesus was not like any other person ever born on earth. He was not born in sin like all humans are.  If He were sinful like us He couldn’t forgive our sins. Jesus is God and He is also human.  So, His birth was different from ours because Jesus is different from all of us.  
 
There is a story in Scripture about some good people carrying a paralyzed man on a bed to Jesus to be healed.  (Matthew 9:2-8)   Jesus spoke to the paralyzed man with these words: “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.”  A crowd had gathered and some of the religious leaders were there watching, and they thought that Jesus was blaspheming.  The Old Testament Scriptures teach that only God can forgive sins.  So, it would be blasphemy for a human to say that he could do what only God can do.  Scripture says that Jesus knew their thoughts. 
 
So, Jesus asked the religious leaders: “Is it easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ Or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But so you will know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said: ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’.”  And the paralyzed man was healed and jumped up and walked away to his house.  Now all the of crowds seeing this marveled and they all glorified God.”  (Matthew 9:2-9) 
 
On another occasion Jesus was in a crowd healing and teaching, and there were religious leaders in the crowd criticizing Him as they so often did.  Jesus told the crowd: “If anyone keeps My word he/she shall never taste eternal death.” (John 8:52) The religious leaders immediately got upset and shouted back at Jesus these words: “Do you think you are greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?  And the prophets are all dead.  Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 
 
Jesus answered that Abraham rejoiced to see Him, the promised Messiah. And the religious leaders answered back: “You are not yet fifty years old, so how could You have seen Abraham?”  And Jesus answered them: “Most surely, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.”  (John 8:58) Jesus was saying that before Abraham lived, He was there – eternal and timeless. That He is the “I Am” – the Jewish name for God. 
 
When the religious leaders heard that they picked up stones to throw at Jesus because they understood that Jesus was saying that He is the “I Am” – or that He is God the Son, and if that wasn’t true then it would have been blasphemy.  Several thousand years earlier Moses had asked God what the Jewish people should call Him, or what was God’s Name.  And God answered that His Name was “I Am”.  (Exodus 3:14) All of the Jewish people knew this.
 
Jesus is saying here in John 8:58 that He is eternal or timeless and that He is divine or is Son of God.  Skeptics will say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  But this passage, along with many others in the Bible say otherwise.  When we put our trust in the real Jesus, the “I Am”, we are in good Hands because He can and will forgive our sins.  He couldn’t do that if He was just a wise man.  But He is the true Son of God -  the “I Am”.    
 
 
 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Apostles' Creed


 
The Apostles’ Creed
 
Many Christian throughout the world recite either the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed regularly in their church services.  These creeds have been a standard of belief for most all of the Christian churches down through the ages and have been passed down to us by our Christian forefathers. 
 
It is believed that the Apostles’ Creed was originally developed by the early Christians in the first or second century and was influenced later by the Nicene Creed.  The earliest historical evidence of the Apostles’ Creed’s existence is in a letter written by the Council of Milan in 390 A.D.  Below is a copy of the Apostles’ Creed (English Language Liturgical Consultation). 
 
Apostles’ Creed
 
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried:
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again:
He ascended into heaven.
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen
 
Let’s talk about what Christians believe, and why it matters. What difference does our Christian faith have in our lives?  The Apostles’ Creed begins with who Christians believe that God is.  We will discuss the other beliefs in the Apostles’ Creed in future blogs. But today we will discuss what the Apostle’s Creed says about our Father in heaven. “We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”   We believe that God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1) And He created you and me. Our God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is a creating God and He calls us through His Son to work with Him.  
 
There are taught popular scientific theories teaching that the earth started out with a big bang and the stuff or matter that eventually evolved into humans, animals, birds, and plants came out of the big bang.  After that we humans evolved gradually over billions of years into what we are today!  Amoebas first then fish, then apes or monkeys and humans on all fours and finally humans the way we are today.   
 
What are the mathematical odds of all of us starting from nothing but a big bang?  Could our world and all that is in it have just put itself together without a Creator?  If life forms did gradually evolve, wouldn’t it make sense that an intelligent powerful Being was behind it all?  When we view a beautiful painting, we know that an artist painted it.  So, when we view our world and all that is in it, why can’t we recognize that Someone had to be responsible for it?
 
Do we ever think that a house could have just evolved, without any person planning it or working to build it?  The lumber and the glass window panes and the roofing and sheet rock and nails and cement foundation just all mystically coming together by themselves without a truck driver in his big rig bringing the supplies.  The house building itself without an architect designing it!  Or carpenters and masons building it, and roofers and foundation contractors doing their part. 
 
We know that behind every house, whether large or small, someone worked and planned and saved money to build it and make it happen.  It is easy to believe that the house was built by a real person or persons. So why is it not easy to believe that our world and all that is part of it, ourselves included -   came together with an intelligent powerful Being or Creator behind it all?   
 
Our holy Scriptures tell us that “In the “beginning”, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 could have been trillions and trillions of years ago! The first chapter of Genesis tells the story of creation and of how each “day” for six “days” God put together the heavens and the earth.  A “day” in the Bible wasn’t necessarily the twenty-four hour period that we are thinking of.   Scripture says that a day can be a thousand years – or longer.  A “day” in Scripture means “a period of time”.    
 
Many consider “God” to be a creative and powerful force.  But Christians believe He is much more than that.  Most Christians believe in the God of the Bible, a God who is personal, all powerful, all knowing, holy, pure, sinless, loving, just, merciful, good and much more. A God who loves us, is with us everywhere we go, talks to us through His Spirit, strengthens us and leads and guides us if we will allow Him! ( 1 John 4:8, Isaiah 41:10, John 3:16)   A heavenly Father who created us, His children in His likeness.(Genesis 1:27)
 
God our heavenly Father answers our prayers, promises to go with us throughout our lives, watches over us and helps and keeps us. God our Father gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who died for our sins. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And God, our heavenly Father draws us to Himself, but He allows us to reject Him, if we choose.   
 
Why does it matter that we believe that God is the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth?  Believing in God as both Creator and Father adds an additional layer of meaning and freedom to our lives. God the Father Almighty becomes our “dwelling place” and our “comfort”.  (Psalm 90, 2 Corinthians 6:16, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5) We can rest in our Father’s arms. celebrate His love and rejoice in His goodness and mercy. (Psalm 23) Have peace about the struggles in our lives.  Cast all our cares on Him.  (1 Peter 5:7) Ask Him for anything that is good. (Matthew 7:7) Trust that He knows the way and is leading us. (Psalm 23)
 
When we walk through the entrance gate of believing in God as Father Almighty and Creator, a new door is opened to us.  We experience highs we never knew before.  And as we humbly walk along that straight and narrow path of believing, we find that our faith has caught the joyful sound. (Matthew 7:14, Phil. 4:4)   We receive grace when we believe.  Peace when we submit to His will.  Believing in our Christian faith changes us and makes us new persons in Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is power in believing.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 




Saturday, May 5, 2018

Have Faith in the Beliefs of Christianity



Have Faith in the Basic Beliefs of Christianity
 
Recently a fellow church member told me that all a person needs is faith.  “Faith in what?”  I asked.  “Faith in whatever you feel.” She answered. “It doesn’t matter what we believe, as long as we believe.”  She added. This lady believes that Jesus was a good teacher who taught love but would never judge. And she doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  This conversation got me to thinking about how important it is for Christians to learn the basic beliefs of our holy Faith.   
 
When the Scriptures talk about the importance of having faith in Jesus, it doesn’t mean faith in any Jesus, but faith in the Jesus of the Bible.  There are many counterfeits out there.  God calls for us to get to know the core beliefs of our Christian faith and to hold onto them.  To contend for our faith. And to run from the many false doctrines that clamor to tear apart that faith
 
The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized here.  This is a short imperfect list.  But it is a start. The Christian Church down through the ages has had to contend for the Faith.  And one of the most central beliefs of our faith is who Jesus is. 
Core Beliefs about Who Jesus Is: Scripture says that Jesus Christ is God.  (John 1;1,14,10:30-33 and 20:28.  Colossians 2;9: Philippians 2:5-8 and Hebrews 1:8.)Jesus was born of a virgin – the Virgin Mary.  (Matthew 1:18: Luke 1:26-35) Jesus is fully God and fully man. (Colossians 2:9: 1 Timothy 2:5: Hebrews 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus is perfect and sinless: (1 Peter 2:22: and Hebrews 4:15) And Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22) False teachers always try to attack who Jesus is, especially that He is the Son of God.  Jesus could not save us if He were not the Son of God. Jesus rose from the dead in physical form: (John 2:19-21)
 
Core Beliefs about God’s Plan of Salvation:  Humans were created by God in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) All people have sinned. (Romans 3:23, 5:12) Death came into the world through Adam’s sin.  (Romans 5:12-15) Sin separates us from God. (Isaiah 59:2) Jesus died for the sins of each and every person in the world. (1 John 2:2: 2 Corinthians 5:14, 1 Peter 2:24)  Jesus’ death was a substitutionary sacrifice.  He died and paid the price for our sins so that we might live forever with Him. (1 Peter 2:2w4: Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45) 
 
Core Beliefs about God the Father:  There is only one God. (Isaiah 43:10: 44:6,8: John 17:3: 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: Galatians 4:8-9).  God is omniscient or “knows all things” (Acts 15:18: 1 John 3:20) God is omnipotent or “all powerful” (Psalm 115:3: Revelation 19:6) God is omnipresent or “present everywhere” (Jeremiah 23:23,24: Psalm 139). God is sovereign. (Zechariah 9:14: 1 timothy 6:15-16) God is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) God is just and righteous. (Psalm 19:9, 116:5,145:17: Jeremiah 12:1)  God is love. (1 John 4:8) God is true. (Romans 3:4: John 14:6)  God is the Creator of everything that exists. (Genesis 1:1: Isaiah 44:24) God is infinite and eternal.  He has always been and will ever be God. (Psalm 90:2: Genesis 21:33: Acts 17:24) God does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  (James 1:17: Malachi 3:6: Isaiah 46:9-10) God promises to be with those who love Him (Isaiah 41:10)
 
Core Beliefs about the Holy Spirit and about the Word of God:  God is Spirit (John 4:24. And the Holy Spirit is God. (Acts 5:3-4: 1 Corinthians 2:11-12: 2 Corinthians 13:14) The Bible is the “inspired” or “God breathed” Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16: 2 Peter 1:21). 
 
Core Beliefs regarding Our Part in Receiving Salvation: We do not work to gain salvation.  It is God’s free gift to us.  All we do is believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord and accept the gift of salvation that He is offering.   “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any person should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9) We simply believe or have faith in Christ to save us from our sins.  Scripture says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16) “Therefore a person is justified by faith without doing the works of the law. ((Romans 3:28) “If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) 
 
Core Beliefs Regarding Baptism and Taking Holy Communion or Eucharist:  Jesus asked the disciples and all of His followers to remember Him and His death by eating the bread which is His body broken for us and by drinking the wine which is His blood shed for us.  Jesus gave his disciples bread and told them: “This is My body given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.”  And then Jesus took the cup of wine and said: “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-22) Scripture also teaches us to be baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 28:18) We are proclaiming to the world our union with Christ when we are baptized. We are “buried” with Him in baptism – giving up our life and taking on His. “For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we are all given the one Spirit to drink.”  (1 Corinthians 12:13) There is indwelling grace that is bestowed upon the partaker when he or she enters into the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of  the Eucharist or Holy Communion.
 
Core Beliefs About the Trinity:  God is Three Persons in One.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19., John 14:16-17, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Acts 2:32-33, John 10:30, 17:11 and 1 Peter 1:2) The Trinity is a mystery.  Our faith is a mystery and we accept it with faith.
 
Core Beliefs About Hell and Judgment Day:   Hell is real.  It is a place of punishment.  (Matthew 25:41-46, Revelation 19:20) Hell is eternal (Matthew 25:46) There will be a Judgment Day (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8) 
 
Core Beliefs About the End Times:  There will be a rapture of the Church.  (Matthew 24:30-36, 40-41, John 14:1 and 3:1) Jesus will return to the earth (Acts 1:11) Christians will be raised from the dead when He returns.  (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) There will be a Final Judgment. (Hebrews 9:27 and 2 Peter 3:7) Satan will be thrown in to the Lake of Fire (Revelations 20:10) God will create a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13 and Revelations 21:1) 
 
Core Beliefs About How We as Christians Are to Live:  When Jesus was asked what commandments God’s people were to follow, He answered this way: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all of your heart, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:36-40) Also, we are commanded in Scripture to forgive those who have sinned against us.  (Matthew 6:12) We are to obey the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17)  Give to the poor and needy. Live humble lives. (1 Thessalonians 4:11) We are to pray to our heavenly Father every day, read and study God’s Word and meet with other believers regularly. (Hebrews 10:25 and 1 Timothy 2:15) And most of all we are to believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior and give our lives to Him. (John 3:16) The Holy Spirit will guide us in these things.
 
Our God given faith has been faithfully passed down to us by our spiritual fore fathers.  We have a wonderful, joyful, living faith, not a dead stagnant legalistic tradition.  We will be persecuted and ridiculed for our faith and we will need to contend for our faith. These core beliefs are just the bare basics.  There is so much more.  But we as Christians need to know what we believe.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Live by Faith, Not by Sight


Live by Faith, Not by Sight
Hebrews 11
 
The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Bible is all about faith - faith in God.  The very first verse in Chapter 11 gives us a definition of what “faith in God” is. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (King James Version) Or in a more modern version of the Bible, it reads: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for in Christ and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) (New International Version)
 
 You may be wondering how we can “be sure of something we hope for in Christ or certain of something we do not see” as this first verse in Hebrews is saying? Or how is faith in God’s promises the “substance” of things hoped for or the “evidence of things not seen”? The Greek word translated “substance” literally means “a standing under,” and it was like a “title deed.”  The root idea is that of standing under the claim to a property to support its validity.  This faith in Christ is like the “title deed” of things hoped for.  And the assurance of our faith rests on God’s promises.  We “stand” under or hold on to these promises. Just as you would know that you owned a house because you hold on to the title deed.  Faith in God is our title deed to eternal life according to the Holy Scriptures.  This faith is very precious.
 
 Jesus speaks of how blessed those who believe in Him are when they have not yet actually seen Him but still believe. Thomas, Jesus’ disciple, said that he would not believe that Jesus rose from the dead unless he could feel the nail holes in His hands and put his hand in the sword wound on Jesus’ side. Jesus came to Thomas and let him touch his wounds and then He said to Thomas: “Because you have seen Me, you have believed: but blessed are those who have not seen Me and still have believed.”  (John 20:29)  We who believe are blessed. 
 
Our faith is all important to God, so, it should be all important to us.  The Bible says: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) Since our faith in God is so very precious, we should try to protect it from those who would work to undermine it. And we can also try to strengthen our faith.  Scripture says that “Faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) We can build up our precious faith by studying the Bible and by fellowshipping with other Christians.  We can live humble lives and ask God to lead us and give us more faith in Him.  When we believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord, Scripture says that we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives.  And that Holy Spirit is proof (or a deposit) of our eternal life in Christ. This Holy Spirit guides us through life and teaches and comforts us. 
And when we look back we can see that the Holy Spirit has been with us.  It becomes easier to believe God’s promises of salvation and answered prayers when we walk through life listening for His guidance and experiencing His help.  Our wonderful faith in Christ is offered to us when we hear the gospel.  It is our gift, but we must have the faith to accept it. Scripture says: “Anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6b)
 
Scripture says: “You also were included in Christ when you heard the Word of Truth, the gospel or the good news of your salvation.  Having believed in Christ, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory.”  (Ephesians 1:13-14) Do you notice that believers have been marked by God with a “seal” which is the Holy Spirit?    
 
This “faith” chapter in Hebrews goes on to give examples of what people of “faith” did in their lives and how their faith changed them. Hebrews chapter 11 gives us a whole list or “Gallery of Heroes and Heroines of the Faith!” Most of these people of “faith” believed they had heard God’s call on their lives. And with faith they answered God’s call! 
 
One of the “heroes” of faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 is Abraham.  Scripture says: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a promised land, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8) Do we, like Abraham, follow God even when we don’t know where we were going?  God promised Abraham that the land where he was going would be his inheritance.  And that his children would become a nation that God would specially bless.  Abraham believed God even though he never saw all of God’s promises fulfilled during his lifetime. 
 
Scripture says that when Abraham and Sarah got to the promised land: “he lived, by faith in the land as in a foreign country, living in tents…for he (Abraham) waited for the city (heaven) which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”  (Hebrews 11:9,10) Abraham’s call is our call too – to be strangers and pilgrims on this earth.  (1 Peter 2:11) Our citizenship is in heaven, as was Abraham’s. 
 
God promised children to Abraham and his wife, Sarah, but they had to wait many long years for that promise to be fulfilled.  Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 before their son Isaac was born. 
 
In our faith chapter, Hebrews 11, Sarah is also given honorable mention.  “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age for bearing children, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)
 
As Sarah grew into old age she began questioning God’s promise of a child and had laughed at the angel who had said that she would give birth.  Her unbelief is pardoned and forgotten, because her faith in God’s promise won out and is recorded!
 
 This is encouraging to us who sometimes have difficulties with our own faith!  Encouraging when we doubt if we can receive answers to prayers which seem physically impossible to answer, even when we know our requests are in God’s will.  Our God can make possible the impossible. If Sarah’s unbelief can be pardoned, ours can too.  Also, God can make our barrenness fruitful just as He did Sarah’s.  Jesus promises us: “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22) His promises are for us if we only believe.
 
We have only mentioned the faith of Abraham and Sarah today, but next time we will cover some of the other champions of faith written about in Hebrews 11.  Our “faith” chapter continues with: “these persons of faith all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off they were assured of them, embraced them and confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) It seem that the persons of faith in Scripture embraced God’s promises or counted on them. Confessed them and continued praying for them. And their faith looked out far beyond their present earthly scene to the Day when they would be in their eternal home and all their prayers would be answered.