Sunday, January 23, 2005

Statement of Belief

Statement of Belief

1) Jesus is God.

A. He said He was.
John 8:58 Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.
John 6:35 I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the light.

*CS Lewis aptly says that anyone making this assertion is a liar, lunatic or Lord: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

B. He proved it through His works on earth. Jesus performed 35 miracles of which we know, many of which involved raising the dead and healing paralytics. He often accomplished these miracles at a distance, outside His physical presence. Only God has this power.

C. He proved it by foretelling His death and resurrection and then accomplishing the resurrection exactly as He predicted.

Mark 8:31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.

Luke 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.

2. As God, Jesus commands us to do one thing, believe in Him as God.

A. Belief saves.
John 3:15 That everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

B. Belief alone in Christ as God is sufficient to be saved.
Jesus made this clear to the Centurion, the woman who touched His garment, the woman He called a dog, and to the Thief on the Cross.

3. Once we believe, Jesus wants us to live as he lived.
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

He then gives some specific guidance on how to accomplish this using His own life as the template.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Do this in the following ways:
A. Get baptized.
B. Obey the law, which he summarizes in Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
C. Forgo all earthly possessions.
D. Make Christ the love of your life, and forsake all others.
-These actions however do not entitle us to forgiveness of sins, they merely mark us as followers of Christ. As I will discuss below, once we believe, which is sufficient, we are saved.

4. He knows we will fail in these injunctions. Even when Jesus’ death approached, and he asked his best friend, Peter, only to stay awake, Peter failed Him. Jesus loves Peter anyway. From that, we realize that Jesus knows full well that in more mundane circumstances, in more trivial ways, we will disregard His instructions. However, He loves us anyway. He promises to shield us from what our human mind perceives to be the irrational wrath of the Father.
-Nonetheless, being a follower of Jesus is neither easy nor fun.

A. He promises nothing in this world, and wants us to forsake earthly pleasure for him. Matthew 10:21: Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

B. He wants us to turn our back on our families and turn our face only to him: Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother...he cannot be my disciple."

5. Our ongoing belief entitles us to grace from God and absolute forgiveness of sins. This is God’s gift to us. It is our ONLY gift but it is sufficient and overly generous to our wretched selves.

6. God is indifferent to our earthly existence. Jesus says that we will be provided for as are the lilies and the sparrows. Beyond that, trust in the Lord to provide, but expect not excess or earthly joy. Our joy, like our kingdom, is not of this world. Once we believe, we are in our eternal lives, and our joy is eternal. The Holy Spirit is our comfort.

7. Prayer is answered to further the will of God in the world. Prayers are answered to show the power of God to work his will in the world, and to impress non-believers or waverers of God’s power and his worthiness to be worshipped. He wants us to believe, so He does miracles to inspire belief, just as when He bodily walked the earth.

A. The flip side to this is that God specifically DOES NOT answer the corporal prayers of the faithful. The faithful are His, He has no need to assuage their earthly existences. In fact, to do so would be counter to His admonishment to put aside earthly things, and follow Him.

B. The suffering of God’s people, of Christians, and His failure to answer prayer actually bolsters the Universal Church. True believers continue to believe, and their example of belief in the face of adversity draws the curious. This God must be the true God, that even in the face of setbacks, His people continue to believe.

C. Jesus does not care about inequality on earth; He specifically told Peter who had questioned Jesus about something another would receive: “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” Essentially, Jesus told him to shut up and believe, and you will get yours in the end.