Creed pt 1 – We Believe in God
Today we are beginning a new series that I’ve entitled Creed
In this series I want to take a look at the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith
If you were to ask 10 different people what it meant to be a Christian you would likely get 10 different answers
For some, unless you believe exactly like they do, read the same translation of the Bible as they do, vote like they do, talk like they do, and dress like they do then you are going straight to hell
That’s kind of sad
I want to make it clear, though, that not all beliefs are equal
There are some that are flat out wrong
There are others that are just different
The Bible gives us a lot of “wiggle room” in some areas
I’ve seen many times in which two people can read the exact same passage of Scripture and get two totally different things out of it
There are areas in which we as Christians can see things differently
That is why we have so many denominations – at the last count there were over 40,000 distinct Christian denominations in the world
Many of these differences are over theological beliefs
Let me give you a good example
Let’s look at the issue of Baptism
Once or three times
Name of Jesus/Name of Father, Son, & Holy Spirit
Infant/Age of reason
This is one of those areas in which we can have differing opinions, and still be Christians
But what are the non-negotiables?
What does someone have to believe in order to be a Christian?
That is what this series is all about
When thinking about the non-negotiables of the Christian faith I was drawn to the creeds
What is a creed?
A creed is simply a statement of belief
There are several creeds within the church, and this series is based on the Nicene creed
Why the Nicene creed?
In my opinion – and remember this is just my opinion – the Nicene Creed gives the best overall statement of Christian beliefs
It is also the oldest of the creeds – at least in the form we have it in today
The Apostles Creed and Chalcedonian creeds are great, but focus primarily is on Jesus
The Athanasian Creed is also great, but it is really long and focuses primarily on the Holy Spirit and the trinity
So I chose the Nicene creed.
What is the purpose of the Nicene creed?
To understand that I need to do a brief history lesson
Don’t worry, I’ll keep it very brief!
Up until the year 312AD Christianity was illegal
In 312 Constantine gained control of the Roman Empire at the battle of the Milvian Bridge
As the story goes, Constantine claims that he won the battle through a divine intervention from Jesus
Constantine supposedly then converts to Christianity and becomes the first Christian emperor of Rome
"One God, one Lord, one faith, one church, one empire, one emperor" became his motto
That sounds all nice and good, but the “one faith” thing was giving them some problems
The Church had been around for 300 years, but there were some very different beliefs, or heresies, that were prevalent in the day
Specifically surrounding the divinity of Jesus
Virtually everyone agreed that Jesus was God, but there was some question as to whether Jesus was a created being, or if He had always existed along with God the Father
This became such a divisive issue that Emperor Constantine called together a council of church leaders to settle the issue
The council was convened in the year 325AD in the city of Nicaea, which came up with the fundamental statement of Christian beliefs that we know as the Nicene Creed
So the Nicene Creed was developed to stop heresy and to determine what beliefs were necessary to be a Christian
Let’s read the Nicene creed together
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
[give brief explanation on what “one holy catholic & apostolic Church” means]
Today I want to take a look at the first part of the Nicene Creed
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”
I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that all of us here today probably believe in God
But at the same time, we all probably know people who do not
So, how do I know that God really exists?
Is there any solid evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real?
It may surprise you to hear me say no
I cannot undeniably prove the existence of God
But at the same time, no one can disprove the existence of God either
All we can do is look at the available evidence and come to our own conclusion
It is just as much of a statement of faith to say God does not exist as it is to say God does exist
As I am sure you realize, I believe in God
At the same time I will admit to being a skeptic by nature
I am one who has to examine the evidence before I will totally accept what I am told
I have thoroughly examined the evidence and found that I have no choice but to believe in God
Nothing else makes sense to me
What I want to do today is briefly look at the evidence that convinced me God exists
I do not have time to look at everything, but I thought I would pull out the top three things that convince me God is real
1 - Humans are innately spiritual
I am not aware of any society in the history of our planet that was atheistic
Every society that I am aware of was, at least at one time, spiritual
God created us as spiritual beings – He created us with the desire, I’ll even go so far as to say need, to worship
We as humans will find something to worship
Whether it be God, an idol, money, fame, knowledge, whatever
2 - Complexity of creation
The big question that comes into play when we talk about the existence of God is how we all got here
Where did the universe, and everything in it, originate?
Atheists - Those who do not believe in God - state that it was through an event that happened about 14 billion years ago called the Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is this – about 14 billion years ago there was a super concentrated ball of matter that for whatever reason suddenly exploded
From this ball of matter came everything in the known universe, including humans
In a nutshell, Atheists believe that life and the universe are nothing more than pure chance that is the result of a freak accident billions of years ago
I do not want to make these Atheists sound dumb – many of them are far more intelligent than me
But I have a few issues with their beliefs
I really do not have an issue with the big bang
Most scientific evidence today supports the fact that something like the big bang really did happen
God could have very easily used a big bang like event to bring in the creation of the universe
Whether or not it happened when and how the atheists claim it happened is something I am not qualified to answer
But one thing I do know is that the universe is far too complex to have come about by pure chance
Have you ever really thought about the complexity of life (elaborate)
The odds of the universe coming into existence purely by random chance are astronomical
Beyond the realm of probability
It is obvious that the universe was designed – and where you have a design you must have a designer!
Psalms 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
3 - Answered prayers
This is the biggie for me – this is the one that seals the deal
I have had so many prayers answered over the years I could not even begin to count them all
I know that some people might say that it was pure chance, but some of these answered prayers go way beyond the probability of mere chance
Let me give you a couple of examples
Did a quick “it would be nice to have a new motorcycle” prayer in May of 2012. Within 2 weeks I was GIVEN my dream bike that had EVERY SINGLE OPTION I wanted on a bike, right down to the carburetor type
Many times my wife and I prayed for some financial problems, only to have money – sometimes the exact amount – arrive in the mail
Thanksgiving meal on porch
I could literally spend the rest of the day going over answered prayers
This fact alone convinces me that God is real
Bethel prophetic word
Here’s the thing - The devil would love to shake your faith
He would love to get you to question whether or not God exists
If you’re not sure, ask God!
He is big enough to prove Himself to you!
So, in our quest to explore the basics of the faith as expressed in the Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen