Creed pt 3 – We Believe in Jesus
We are continuing 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 everyone gets to go to heaven
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
A great example of this is women in ministry
There are several Christian denominations that do not believe it is okay for women to be pastors, teach men, or even be in any type of church leadership
There are other Christian denominations that have absolutely no issue with women in ministry
Thankfully, the Assemblies of God has always been fine with women as preachers, teachers, and leaders.
In fact, some of the best preachers and teachers I have ever heard were women, and 2 out of our 3 deacons at Harvest Family Fellowship are women
This is an area where I can completely believe that those who feel women cannot be in ministry are wrong, yet still consider those people Christians
There are many areas in which we as Christians can see things differently
That is why we have so many denominations
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
Specifically to the Nicene Creed, which is what this series is based on
In my opinion the Nicene Creed covers the foundational beliefs, the non-negotiables, of the Christian faith very well
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.
Last week we looked at the very first part of the Creed – I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth
Today I want to begin to take a look at the second part of the Creed, which deals with Jesus
In fact, there are many things said about Jesus
Way too much for us to delve into tonight
So I just want to take a look at this one section
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.
In looking at this section tonight I want to look at three questions:
1) Did Jesus really exist?
2) Is Jesus God?
3) Is Jesus a created being?
So, let’s jump right into it with our first question
Did Jesus really exist?
And the answer to that is Yes!
Next question …
Seriously though, I know that it will be no surprise to any of you that I believe that Jesus really existed
Although there is a small group of people who have questioned whether or not Jesus was a real person the overwhelming majority of the academic world agrees that Jesus did exist
Here is what we know for a fact from non-biblical historical sources:
There was a man named Jesus that lived during the time of the Biblical Jesus (7-2BC – 30-33AD)
Jesus was an itinerant Rabbi with disciples (followers)
Jesus was from Galilee
Jesus preached His message orally
His ministry was associated with signs and wonders/sorcery
He was crucified in Jerusalem on orders from Pontius Pilate
People can argue whether or not the historical Jesus agrees with the Biblical Jesus, but to deny that Jesus existed is preposterous
This brings us to our second question
Is Jesus God?
The Creed tells us that Jesus is the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
One of the core aspects of the Christian faith is that Jesus is God
Some would disagree with that statement – is there any way we can know?
I do not have definitive, unarguable evidence
As with the existence of God question, all we can do is look at the available evidence and make a decision
There are those who say that they believe Jesus existed, but that He was certainly not God
We’ve all heard people say that they believe Jesus was a great teacher, a great man, and maybe even a prophet – but that He certainly was not God
You’ve heard me say many times that I tend to be skeptical
I need to check things out for myself
In looking at all the evidence I believe unequivocally that Jesus is God
One of the things that helped me in this decision is a statement from C.S. Lewis
Scripture states several times that Jesus is God
John 8:58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.” 31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" 33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."
Hebrews 1:5-6 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."
In looking at Jesus’ claims of divinity C.S. Lewis says we are left with only 3 choices
Jesus was either a
Why did C.S. Lewis say this?
Think about it for a moment, what other choices are there?
If Jesus was not God then He either He thought He was God – e.g. He was crazy – or He knew He was not, but said He was – e.g. He was a liar
Let’s take a few moments and look at these claims
Was Jesus a lunatic?
That’s a fair question
All throughout history there have been people that have claimed to be God
Just because someone claims to be God does not make them God
In fact, if someone came to you and said “I am God” your first response would probably be to say “prove it!”
Did Jesus do anything to prove He was God?
Healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, walked on water, calmed storms, turned water into wine, fed thousands of people with 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread and ultimately came back to life after His own death
I would say that’s pretty good proof!
Let’s set this evidence aside for a moment and look at the other possibility
Was Jesus a liar?
Again this is a fair question
Over the years there have been many people that have made false claims, knowing that they were false
But if Jesus was a liar then He was one of the worst kinds of liars
In fact, if Jesus was a liar He was one of the most evil men that has ever lived
Because Jesus said
John 14:6 I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
He claimed to be the only way to get right with God
If Jesus knew this was not true then He knowingly condemned people to hell
You cannot get much more evil than that
By the way – the whole “Jesus was just a good teacher” argument falls apart with this verse
A “good teacher” would never make a claim like this if all they were was a good teacher
When you read the Gospels you will see that Jesus’ teachings were the exact opposite of what you would expect from a liar
Jesus not only taught, but lived, the model of humility and servant leadership
Of putting others before yourself and meeting the needs of the poor and needy
The thing about liars is that they can fool you for a little while, but soon enough the truth comes to the surface
Someone who taught as Jesus taught and lived as Jesus lived could not be a liar
So that leaves us with one choice
Jesus is God
To me this is the only logical choice
This brings us to our final question tonight
Is Jesus a Created being?
Did God the Father create Jesus like He did the angels and humans?
This question was the basis for the council of Nicaea which gave us the Nicene Creed
There were those at the time that believed that Jesus was God, but that He was also a created being
That God the Father created Jesus before He created everything else
Therefore, the divinity of Christ was similar to the divinity of God, but not of the same essence.
This matter was the cause of much discussion, and in the end the agreement was that Scripture shows that Jesus is not a created being, but is of one Being with the Father
That is why this phrase was added to the creed
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.
“Begotten not made” means that Jesus was not created by the Father, but is of one essence with the Father
This sounds confusing, I know
But it is the basis of the doctrine of the Trinity – within the nature of the One God there are three eternally existent beings: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
They are all different, yet are all the same
I’ll admit that I do not totally understand this concept
But then again, I do not think I could worship a God that I could totally understand!
So, Jesus is God
What does that mean to you?
Matthew 16:13-15 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Jesus is asking you that question “Who do you say that I am?”
Who is Jesus to you?
Is He a myth?
Is He just a good teacher?
Is He God?
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
If you believe that Jesus is God, then prove it
Do what Jesus said to do
And what was that?
Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
If you believe Jesus is God then you are commanded to love
To love God and to love others
Let’s get busy!