A message I preached on January 10, 2021.
Today we’re talking about elements of the Nicene Creed and what we believe as a church. Last week I told you that the Bible is not for information, its for transformation, and that only comes through application. But transformation happens when we apply the information. So you need information. This series will be informative.
Today we start with God. The Creed begins: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
But who is this God that we believe in? Why do we only believe in One God? Why don’t we worship many gods like they used to back in the day? The sun God or the god of love or the god of thunder or Dwayne the rock Johnson.
The truth is that One God is a hard concept to grasp. One almighty being created all that we see or hear or smell or touch or even feel.
Today I’m not going to give you a history lesson on God or where the concept sprung from. What I will do, is take you through Scripture and then as a result of what we experience there, help us understand who we are as humans and who God wants us to become in the process.
God. How does he reveal himself? How does he make himself known to the likes of us? Scripture is one way. Nature another. In psalms 19, the writer says, ““The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”
So nature is one way.
Another way God reveals himself is history. The history we have in the scriptures about Israel shows a clear picture about what God is like. We find out how much he loves his Children and what real love looks like. It’s not always easy to take, but there’s a lot to learn from a God who loves.
We can also know who God is through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God, therefore, the nature of God can be seen in the stories of the New Testament. In John 2, Jesus performs his first miracle, and verse 11 says through that miracle, he revealed his glory.
In John 14:2, Jesus talks about the Father’s care, and in verse 9 says, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
We can also know God by reading the Bible. We have to be careful here because we don’t want to worship the Bible, however, reading and digesting the Bible can help us grow closer to this God who we can’t see but who we know is there.
In John 5, Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!”
On top of all that, God has many characteristics in scripture. He is omnipotent (all powerful), holy, just, and love.He is true, free, omniscient, infinite and eternal. God never changes and he is sovereign. He also loves Chick Fil a.
Thats quite a list. And all of them can be found in the pages of Scripture. Except the chicken one.
But picture with me if you will, a man, in a world full of people who believe in many gods. This man lives in a tribe, and his father is quite influential within that tribe and within nearby tribes as well. But this man had an experience. The Bible doesn’t tell us how that experience started or why God spoke to Abraham, but they talk and God asks Abraham to leave his native country, which was a place called Haran. God says, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.”
And that conversation starts the close relationship between God and that nation.
Now here’s what I find interesting: Abraham never had the Scriptures to tell him what God was like or if there was only one true God. There was only him and his wife. He was 75 at the time and had no kids. Probably in this generation, this was a thing he and his wife Sarah were sad about. But somehow in all of that sadness, he had the faith to have a conversation with this one true God. “the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” And he never even went to Sunday School.
And then we come to the end of what Abraham’s kids wrote down as the law, and specifically to what Jesus referred to as the “Greatest commandment”. “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
That’s the big mystery isn’t it? Figuring out how to love God like that in the midst of all of our Gods.
Ok so here’s the question: How do we love God with everything we have in the midst of all of our gods? “God’s” you might ask. “We don’t have God’s”. We have a ton of God’s. I would say even Christians worship those gods. Before I go into those god’s though, I want you to put yourself in Abraham’s sandals.
Let’s no longer pretend we’re in a Christian society, because we’re not. Consider yourself as someone who is called to follow after God in the midst of people who follow after many gods. And they are busy worshiping. Somehow you have to figure out how to live in this world but not be of it, and attempt to connect with the one true God. Thankfully we have the Bible and its view of Jesus, but faith must be stronger than anything we can see.
And your faith must be intensely personal. You need to have time where you connect with God in your prayer closet, reading his word, praising Him with song, and follow after His leading. The important thing is that you’re hearing his voice and understanding His direction. Where he leads me, I will follow.
Now, then Abraham’s faith turns into the faith of His family, a nation. Your faith is also corporate. God wants us to live in community with those who follow after Him. The people of Israel were intensely protective of one another. They were family, and as such, they believed each of them were entitled to relationship with the Almighty.
Those outside of the family who did not follow after the ways of Adonai, or Jehovah, were closed off from full participation, and the nation of Israel took care fo one another. In some ways, our faith in God the Father, is one like the faith of Israel. We too, have a special relationship with God. Corporately we are uniquely bonded to one another. When we fight, it makes Him sad. He desires for his kids to be unified.
Eventually in the scripture, we find the New Testament. That’s when we hear about Jesus, but then, in Acts and beyond, we read about the early church. When the tight knit community begins to serve with their faith. Their faith is personal, yes, and it is also corporate, but now it is expansive.
The church loves and serves despite the fact that people might disagree with them. The church loves and serves the greater community, even when facing difficult circumstances and when people look at them and despise them for what they believe, they pour out their hearts and their hands and feet and hit the ground loving their neighbor just as they love themselves.
Now, lets get back to these gods, I brought up a few minutes ago. They are everywhere here in our culture. They come in the form of technology. Phones and iPads and hymnals and organs. Anything that might be a tool can become a god, when we bask in their comfort and become angry when they are taken from us. But sometimes they need to be taken away. Politics and entertainment and even food can be one of our gods that replace the one true God.
Sometimes we need to remember how God is indeed our creator and friend and at the same time, he is the almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in that God. We don’t see Him. We don’t understand Him. Like the nation of Israel, we might not even recognize him if he walked into this room as a person. But we can get to know His heart. And pattern our lives after that heart.
Listen to me, Christian. We must step in line with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who delivered Israel from the Philistines, despite a 4-5 foot height difference and a weapon of a small smooth stone. The God who saved Israel from being overrun by a Pharoah who couldn’t make up his mind and his army set to destroy them. The God who allowed his servants to be thrown in the fire or in a den of lions or in the belly of a great fish, only to have them come out with a renewed purpose to follow after Him. The God who walked the paths of Israel, speaking of loving your neighbor as yourself and your God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The God who gave himself up and sacrificed himself for a world who needed it. But now, that God, lives.
So now, I’m asking you, to make a decision once again, to believe this part of the creed like you have never believed it before. In a world that increasingly stands agnostic as a result of lack of belief, I want to challenge you to believe once again in the bigness of a God that we cannot see or understand, but we can believe in, and walk with through faith.
You see, faith is so important here. The problem with faith in our world is that it doesn’t seem tangible. We like things that we can sense. But God says believe in me. Have faith in me. I’m the Almighty. So believe. Not in a pastor. Not PASTOR MARTY. Not in a church, not Chaffin Church.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.