“Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord” by Pastor Andy

Just over one week ago, the Supreme Court in Brazil ruled favorably for a movie that portrays Jesus a gay character. (1)

A lower court had called for a suspension of the film while the legal process took place, but despite the heavy Christian, albeit largely Catholic population, the courts allowed the show to air. (As of the 2010 Census, approximately 88% of the country is considered Christian, with approximately 2/3 of the country being Catholic.) (2)

Frankly, I hope you are offended by the fact anyone would portray Jesus as homosexual. But the problem is that you and I are just as guilty – only in a different way. See, the challenge with the people who created the movie is that they do not have the belief that Jesus is Lord. Well, frankly, you and I have to ask ourselves, “How often do we not allow Jesus to be Lord?”

I am not questioning belief. I am questioning obedience. That was the issue in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve, who certainly believed in God, did not follow His command. And the same is true for us. We may call Jesus, “Lord” but do we always, and fully, treat Him as Lord?

The problem is truly one of humility. In the passage today, we see that Jesus was truly obedient because He was humble. Read Philippians 2.7-8.

As we talk about the need for a constant in the midst of change, we have to realize that Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible says, is the same yesterday, today, and, forever (Hebrews 13.8) actually underwent a change from being in the heavenly realms as the Son of God to the earthy realms as the Son of Man.

Why did Jesus undergo this change? Because He was humble. And thus, God exalted Him (Philippians 2.9), gave Jesus all authority (Matthew 28.18) and made Him Lord over all (Philippians 2.11).

So, the question for all of us is:  Do I make Jesus Lord? How can I know?

Philippians 2 is a great passage on unity, service, and humility. The most well-known portion of the chapter is verses 5-11 which was possibly a hymn of the early church. The chapter begins with Paul’s appeal for the church at Philippi to bring him joy (a major theme in the book) by being united in mind and caring for one another. Verse 4 says to consider others as we consider ourselves. Then, Paul shows an example of that by sharing what Jesus did. Read Philippians 2.5-11.

Later in the chapter, he shows similar characteristics in Timothy and Epaphroditus, and then in Chapter 3, he shares his own testimony of humility.

But what can we find to be true about our need for humility? Before I answer that question, let us see the humility of Christ from this passage. To do that, let me share five statements from Paul about Jesus and humility and then what that humility brought.

      • Jesus was in the form of God, but was humble. (v. 6)
      • Jesus was equal with God, but was humble. (v. 6)
      • Jesus became a servant to God because He was humble. (v. 7)
      • Jesus became a servant for man because He was humble. (v. 7-8)
      • Jesus was killed by mankind, for mankind, because He was humble. (v. 8)

Notice what these ideas say about Jesus.

    1. Jesus looked not only to His own interest, but also to the interest of others.

That statement is exactly what Paul wrote in the verse before this section (v. 4).

Jesus did not negate who He was. He did not forget His role and His importance. Indeed, in John 10.30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” While Jesus was in human form, He did limit Himself in certain ways, but He was still fully God, and He knew that! So, humility is not to forgo who you are. Being humble is not about rolling over and letting others take advantage of you. But humility does require looking out for others even as you look out for yourself. Jesus was obviously perfect, but one thing Jesus did better than anyone else could do is give Himself to others. But that does not mean that He did not care for Himself. In fact, the reason He did give of Himself was because He did take of Himself.

    1. Jesus made Himself nothing for the purposes of God.

I do not believe I would use the word, “nothing,” on my own authority. But I am simply quoting Scripture. Verse 7 says that, “He made Himself nothing.” Now, we must understand that Jesus did not cease to exist, but the Son came to live as earth giving up being worshipped by angels to likely getting splinters in His hand as a carpenter. Perhaps the best reference we have for this in modern times is the show Undercover Boss. In that show, the CEO or executive would go work with the “grunts” to gain a different perspective on their company. That’s what Jesus did in a sense. He came to live with us, to teach us, to show us how to live, and ultimately to die for us. And compared to living outside of time and beyond our world, He became nothing to enter into the world and allow us to know Him, and ultimately to know the Father (John 14.6).

So, what happened? Well, let me add a few more points to Paul’s list from this passage.

      • Jesus was exalted because He was humble before God. (v. 9)
      • Jesus was given a name that is above all other names. (v. 9)
      • Jesus will be honored by everyone as they bow the knee one day. (v. 10)
      • Jesus will hear everyone honor Him as Lord one day. (v. 11)

Jesus was humbled, but He will be honored. He has already been honored by the Father. But one day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Even the people who cast Jesus as a homosexual in the show will one day bow and declare Him Lord.

Jesus was humble for a little while, but He will be exalted forever. But here is the shocking part. The same can be true for you. No, you will not have everyone call you Lord, but you get another benefit that you might think is only reserved for Jesus.

If you are humble for a little while, God will exalt you. GOD WILL exalt you. That is His promise in 1 Peter 5.6, which says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

Paul wrote that Jesus was exalted because He was humble before God (Philippians 2.9). And Peter writes that the same can be true for us because of what Jesus has now accomplished. (1 Peter 5.6). But it begins with us being humble.

It takes humility to yield our desires and to follow someone else. It takes humility to call someone else Lord. But that is who Jesus is. Nonetheless, we must humble ourselves to call Him that – not just to say the word, but to truly call Him Lord.

But too often, we act like we do not need a lord, let alone the Lord. Peter wrote that we should cast all of our anxieties on Jesus. Why? Because He cares for you. Yes, you. But too often, we try to manage our own anxieties and problems. Now, please understand that God gave us a brain and some of us he made as people who schedule and try to maintain a great deal of organization. But sometimes those areas are what brings anxiety.

Regardless, God cares for us. He will remove our anxiety. Isaiah 26.3 says that God will keep you in perfect peace if we stay focused on God because it shows we trust Him (paraphrased).

Change and anxiety, then perfect peace. That was likely the case for Noah as well. <A video was shown here.>

CONCLUSION

So, do you need a Lord? Or do you just call Him Lord? Are you like Adam and Eve – knowing God, and what He has said, but you like to do things your way? Well, I know that far too often, I make the wrong choice. I choose pride over humility and think of myself as lord rather than remaining humble and yielding to my true Lord. Again, we may think of some of what we do as less grievous to God than, say, showing Jesus to be homosexual, but sin is sin.

Allowing Jesus to be Lord is not just a one-time decision. As Rick preached last month, it is a daily decision to die, to take up our cross, to follow Him, and to call Him Lord once again. John the Baptist captured the very essence of that daily responsibility to choose humility towards Jesus, when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3.30).

So, how do you know if you make Jesus Lord? Are you decreasing or increasing? Are you being drawn to Jesus and His desires or to fulfill your own mind and heart? Do you find yourself seeking Jesus in both good times and bad or do you turn to Jesus only when you are at, or near, the end of your rope?

Jesus came because God sent Him. Without God we do not have Jesus. Without Jesus, we cannot find God. So, let us quote the first two lines of the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

JOURNEY

Our JOURNEY letter for today is JJESUS.

Acts 4.12 clearly states “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus is that name. And we must be humble enough to believe that name is not <insert your name here> or anyone else but Him. Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12.3). So, let us humble ourselves to not only say it, but to mean it.

NEXT STEPS

LIVE     Observance of the Lord’s Supper

(1) https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/10/americas/brazil-supreme-court-jesus-gay-comedy/index.html , accessed January 17, 2019.

(2) https://censo2010.ibge.gov.br/noticias-censo?id=3&idnoticia=2170&view=noticia; see Wikipedia for English details, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Brazil#cite_note-census2010-1) , accessed January 17, 2019.

“God – Father Almighty and Maker of Heaven and Earth” by Pastor Andy

We have experienced some weather over the past couple of days. I know some have changed their plans due to the weather. Winter weather can bring chaos. But chaos can come in all kinds of weather. <A video was shown here.>

Chaos. Our world can change in a minute.

We may not be able to relate to a tsunami, but we have seen the damage that water can do. Twice in eight years our region has been massively flooded. And whether we watch a video like the one I just shared, see the floodwaters around us, or we watch the ice and sleet make travel challenging, we are reminded that we are not in control.

The truth is that we never have been in control, but because of sin, we think we are more than we really are.

But four words provide a reminder that we are not the ones in control. These four words are the first four words of the Bible – “In the beginning, God…”

Thus, God is the only certainty. He is our constant. He is THE constant in a world that is constantly changing.

The problem is that, too often, we do not allow our faith in God to reflect our choices and our actions. We try to take ownership where it is not ours, because God is our maker. But more than that, God is our Father. He not only created the earth. He not only made us. He loves us.

But the question for us today is should we love God? And before we say, “Yes,” too quickly, we have to know who the real God is.

If I spent the rest of my life studying and teaching about God, I would just begin to scratch the surface of who God is. So, in the short span of time of a sermon, I cannot even begin to reveal the fullness of God.

Nonetheless, in today’s world, it is not enough to say that we believe in God. We must clarify which deity it is we say we believe. The Apostle’s Creed captures this idea – the apostles did not just believe in a god, they believe in the God whom Jesus called Father – the One who is truly Almighty. And the One who made the heavens and the earth.

The Bible tells us that it is the fool who says there is no God (Ps 14.1). Most people are not foolish in this sense, so they believe in a god. But do they believe in the God? Most believe in a god that may have created the world and wants us to feel good, but one that is not personal.

Some will describe their god as ordinary.

But the God of the apostles was anything but ordinary and thus we have the word Almighty.

“What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” – (1) (A.W. Tozer)

Do you believe in God? If yes, what do you believe about God? Do you believe in the God of the Bible or in a god you have created? The Apostles’ Creed provides the substance to what we believe. This creed was not written by the apostles’ but summarizes the faith Christ gave to them.

The truth is that we all believe in something. Each of us may believe in many things, but when it comes to matters of faith, when we come together to say “I believe,” in unison, we are proclaiming what we believe as a church.

But just because we say something in unison does not mean what we say is right. And that is where we look to the foundations of our belief. What we are stating in unison in this series is the Apostles’ Creed, but the foundation of this creed is not found in the apostles themselves; rather, the foundation is from the Word of God.

And because the foundation is the Word of God, we are able to continue to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Furthermore, lest we get tired of hearing something that should be well ingrained into our lives, let us remember that Peter wrote that he needed to stir up his readers by reminding them what had previously been taught (2 Peter 1.12-13).

So, it is right to focus on what should be believed about God. Of all the words that could be used to describe God, this creed chose three. It is those three words we will quickly review today. The words are Father, Almighty, and Maker.

God as Father

Of course, Jesus called God, “Father.” But this title did not come from Jesus alone. In Psalm 68.5, David wrote that God is the “Father of the fatherless and the protector of widows.” In Hosea 11.1-4, the imagery is one of a father caring for a child (in this case, Israel). Other references could be shared as well.

Many may argue that the term Father makes God a male. But the Bible never says that God is a male. In fact, John 4.24 says that God is spirit. God has no gender. Now, I understand that our limited minds equate the idea of father with being male and mothers with being female. That was God’s design, and that is what our human minds can comprehend. And despite what the culture around us may wish to change, God designed males and females the way He designed them for the purposes He gave. But calling God, “Father” is not promoting a gender. God is beyond gender. So, it is not sexist to believe in God as a Father, it is sexist to believe that He is not. This is what I mean by ensuring we are worshipping God for who He is, not who we think He should be.

Now, in a very real sense, God fulfilled the role of a human father through the Spirit in impregnating Mary. But calling God Father is meant to show that He is a personal God. Yes, in our fallen world, many fathers are not present or are abusive, and, therefore, many people have a hard time thinking of God as a father, let alone THE FATHER, because of that. However, the Bible provides evidence of what a true Father should be. And just because humans do not (and cannot fully) live up to the ideals in Scripture does not mean we should discount God as Father because of our personal experiences. Again, as Tozer said, what we think about God is the most important thing about us.

But, God is not just described as a Father, He is called Almighty.

God as Almighty

Of course, almighty is a combination of the words “all” and “mighty.” We can share some nice theological words to describe almighty. Three such words are:

      • Omniscient (all knowing)
      • Omnipresent (all present)
      • Omnipotent (all powerful).

We see God as Almighty in Genesis 1 where He simply speaks the cosmos into existence. And God reveals this truth to Moses when He says, “I Am that I Am” (Exodus 3.14). What God is saying is that I do not need anyone or anything for My own purposes. I AM. And, God always has been and always will be. God can exist with nothing else, but nothing else can exist without God.

And that brings us to the third point.

God as Maker

How did you get here? How did this world get here? Is everything just an accident or does life have meaning?

Many people will say this life does not have meaning. Others will say that this life is all that there is. If that is true and we have no ultimate purpose, then:

      • Why do we go to school when we are young and work when we are older?
      • Why do we eat? Why do we sleep? Why do we get up in the morning?
      • Why do we worry?
      • Why do we plan?
      • Why do we do anything? If we have no purpose, then nothing matters, so why do anything?

But, if life has a meaning…if life has a purpose, what is it? That purpose is to bring God glory. We are to glorify God (1 Cor 10.31) and help others do the same (Matthew 5.16).

We do that as part of His creation. Let me combine the last point of God as Almighty with this point, God as maker (and specifically as maker of heaven and earth).

How did God make? By saying. He simply spoke Creation into existence. He used words and specifically, as John 1.1-3 tells us, He used the Word. Notice in Genesis 1, the text says, God said (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). So, God is the Author, but Jesus, the Word, is the agent.

But then we can see God as Father. God made the heavens, the earth, the light, the dark, the sun, the moon, the plants, the animals, and everything but one thing by saying. But when it came time to create something in His own image, He did not say, He did. God formed man from the dust and breathed life into him (Genesis 2.7).

But then God did something else. First, He spoke everything into existence. Then he formed the man. But for man’s companion, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and then God did again (he made woman, see Gen 2.18, 21-22).

<A video was shown here about the changes that took place in the lives of Adam, then Adam and Eve.>

God is a maker. He made heaven and He made earth. And He made us too. The question is do we believe that? The apostles did. And we should. So, let us say together the first line from the Apostles’ Creed together – not because they are words, but because we choose to believe them as truth.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…

CONCLUSION

Is God real or make-believe?

You may get different answers depending upon whom you ask, but if we are to believe anything about the Bible, then we need to first believe that God is real.

But believing in God is not enough. We need to believe the right things about God. Again, no one (NO ONE) except Jesus can truly claim to know all the right things about God. But that does not excuse us from seeking to know Him.

Our new vision is to know Christ and to make Him known. But we cannot truly know Christ unless we know what that word means (next week) and why Jesus is the Christ. And that knowledge begins with the fact that our God is personal like a Father. He has purpose (to bring glory to Himself through Creation as the Maker), and He has the ability and authority to fulfill that purpose (He is Almighty).

JOURNEY:  Our JOURNEY letter this week is RREVERE. God has given us plenty of opportunity to know about Him as we read the Bible. But more than that, God has given us the opportunity to truly know Him because of Jesus (John 14.6) So, we must take time to learn about Him, but if we take time to truly live, we will truly begin to know Him. And once we know Him, we will love Him, and that will make us want to worship (Revere) Him, and then lead others to do the same.

NEXT STEP(S)LOVE – Take time to share your love of God with Him this week. To love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength requires us to worship and serve Him. And to worship and serve correctly, we must do so in love.

(1) A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper One, 1961), 1.

“The Need for a Creed” by Pastor Andy Braams

Last Sunday, for the second time in 25 months, a shooting occurred during a church service in Texas. For many, this thought is unthinkable. One metaphor for the church is a hospital. It is a place to come to be healed from the week, to be healed from the effects of living life in the world, not a place for chaos and for killing.

The very room we are in – the sanctuary – may have different names in different churches. Some will the primary gathering place the worship center or something similar, but historically it is called sanctuary. Sanctuary is not necessarily a place of worship; it is a place of refuge. Historically, it is the last place that someone would shoot someone else. This idea is not just true of more modern times, it has root in the Bible where God designated certain cities a sanctuary cities (or cities of refuge, cf. Deuteronomy 4.41-43). If a person killed someone by accident, they could flee to a city of refuge, and if they reached the city, they were given asylum until the high priest died, at which point, a kind of atonement had been made and the person was free to leave without fear of retribution.

But, today is quite different. The world has changed. We can no longer find refuge. And the world has not only changed, it is still changing. It is changing fast. We just changed to a new year, some will say a new decade. But most of us can still vividly remember the change of the century just 20 years ago.

So much has changed in that 20 years. We have known of terrorism for decades, but now that terror is not only in other countries, it is in our churches, it is in our schools.

We live I a world where love is preached, but the practice is hostility because hatred and confusion are everywhere. We live in a world where values are changing, where principles are forgotten, where truth is ignored.

But the change is gradual and so we do not take notice as much as we could. Of course, media, and specifically television, has made change so much easier. As Rick has mentioned in the past, Ricky and Lucy could not sleep in the same bed together, and when Lucy got pregnant, she was said to be “with child.” Shortly afterward, Rob and Laura Petry were prominent and still slept in different beds, but Laura wore pants sometimes. Yes, she was married and a homemaker, but she did wear pants. On the other hand, Sally was single and working, and always wore a dress. Little changes. But big changes. Not all change is the same, however. Change can actually be divided into two major types – continuous and discontinuous.

Continuous change is what develops from what has already been. We call this a natural progression. The change can be anticipated. It is often managed and is under control. An example could be the modern telephone. The telegraph allowed communication to happen quickly, eventually leading to the ability to communicate by voice, then to do so without wires on a cordless phone, and now we carry our phones with us so we can communicate (often by text, i.e. telegraph) wherever we are.

On the other hand, discontinuous change is disruptive. It is hard to determine what will happen next. Thoughts and assumptions are challenged and the results are consequential, whether for the good or the bad. Again, let us consider the telephone. While much of the change was incremental, when the iPhone was released, things changed considerably. We now have not only a phone but a camera in our pocket. We not only have the ability to talk but to watch videos and play games and listen to music on what was once a device that required not only wires, but knowing that anything you said could be overheard at the switchboard.

So, change is constant. Change will happen. Therefore, we, as people, must change. The question is: How will we transition with the changes around us?

Well, as Christians, we must also change, but we do so with a constant in our lives. One constant exists. And that constant is not merely in the universe, He created the universe. That constant is God.

He is our constant in a world of change.

But we have a problem – we do not believe. At least, we do not believe as we say we believe. A quote that is attributed to DL Moody is, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” While he may not have said it, the words ring true. (1)

Why are the words true? Because we do not believe as we say we truly believe. If we truly believed, you would have no worries. If you truly believed, you would have no doubts. If we truly believed, we may not be sitting here right now, or more people might be sitting here.

But the problem is not that we don’t believe. The problem is that we don’t believe enough. Or more specifically, we believe much like the father in Mark 9.24. Read Mark 9.23-24.

The father knew he needed to believe. But he knew his belief was not strong enough. Perhaps he did not believe correctly. This series is to help us not only believe correctly, but also to put our belief into practice.

Mark 9.23 tells us that Jesus said belief makes all things possible.

If belief makes all things possible, then why do we face the challenges we do?

Well, faith requires action and our actions are based upon what we truly believe.

Why Do We Need A Creed?

So, what do we believe? Well, a true Christian will believe the ideas presented in the Apostles’ Creed.  As Albert Mohler says, “All Christians believe more than is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but none can believe less.” (2)

A CREED ALLOWS US TO HOLD ONTO SOMETHING

As humans, we can be overly sentimental and hold onto items that are otherwise worthless. We have items from when our kids were in elementary school, and clothes from when they were young. Susan and I have our letter jackets. All of these items are worthless to most people, but they have a sentimental value to us.

But in the midst of all of the changes around us, most people look for some sort of stability – something unchanging, something in which to believe. A creed can provide that. Certainly, creeds can be abandoned (or even altered), but a creed that is built on the Bible, and a creed that has stood for centuries, can provide what many people desire.

A CREED ALLOWS US TO HOLD ONTO SOMETHING

It is one thing to have a belief; it is another to share it with others. When many people hold the same belief as you, a bond can form. This bond may not make sense at all. You may recall the championship parade in KC after the Royals won the World Series in 2015 (yes, that really did happen!), people (as many as 800k) who did not know one another were squeezed together for hours by one bond. The bond was simple. In the grand scheme of history, the bond meant nothing. And I doubt most of the people talked to one another again after that day. But for one day, a shared belief created a tight bond.

So, consider the impact of a belief that does have meaning, or, at least, should have meaning. We know people down the road, across the town, in another city, and around the world that share the same basic beliefs. And we have examples of people throughout history who have shared these same beliefs. That provides comfort. It should provide assurance – if, what we believe is true. The truth of the creed will wait for another message – for now, we must understand that a creed allows for common perspective.

Now, the fact is that a creed can be mis-guided. But that does not make creeds wrong. For instance, non-believers will say that the Apostles’ Creed is wrong. But having a creed can help prevent erroneous belief. For instance, Fairfax Baptist Church requires members to be baptized. That requirement may not be an official creed, but it is similar.

Traditionally, Baptists have not endorsed creeds. But we have always endorsed confessions. The Baptist Faith and Message is a confession of our beliefs. The first Baptist confession was developed by one of the first two Baptists, Thomas Helwys, in 1611, the same year the King James Bible was first published. (BTW, Helwys thought King James was the antichrist. After making that claim, he was jailed and never heard from again). Another important confession was the 2nd London Confession (1789). The Baptist Faith and Message was first adopted in 1925 (largely to refute evolution and an anti-supernatural movement), revised in 1963 (to uphold the divine inspiration and credibility of the Bible) and then in 1998/2000 to reflect changes related to the sexual revolution.

Biblical creeds, themselves, go back centuries. Beyond the Apostles’ Creed, which likely developed in the 2nd or 3rd century, the next oldest, and well-known, creed is Nicene Creed from the 4th Century. Early creeds, like confessional statements today, were to help prevent heresy from entering the church. The early church had to determine how to understand if Jesus was separate from the Father or the same as God, the Father. Later, a similar argument was made about the Holy Spirit. These councils and the subsequent confessions (creeds) helped to define orthodoxy in the church for the last 1700 years.

So, creeds have a place. And that is why, in the midst of all of the chaos and change around us, we are doing this series – to remember the constant in the midst of the changes around us. I know I have not spoken about Mark 9 yet, but I will do so quickly in just a moment. Before I do, I want to bring your attention the Apostles’ Creed itself. I want us to take time to memorize it over these coming months. Today, we will simply recite it, but in the coming weeks, as we examine each phrase, we will work to memorize it.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,

Born of the virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

Whence He shall come to judge the quick 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 life everlasting.

Amen.

Again, as Mohler said, a Christian should believe more than that, but not less. But beyond simply believing, we must understand that belief alone is not enough. Let us briefly consider the story in Mark 9.

First, we must understand the overall context of Mark 9. The story here falls directly in between the disciples starting to believe in Mark 8 and the faith exhibited by Bartimaeus at the end of Mark 10. Specifically, we can look at Mark 8.27-31 where Peter makes The Great Confession about Jesus as the Christ, and then the next verses where Peter rebukes Jesus for what He says.

This example shows Peter believed, but not really. Then, in Mark 9, we have Peter, James, and John on the mountain with Jesus where they see something unbelievable. They believe what happened, but cannot fully process it. When they come down the mountain, the complaint is made by this father that the he brought his son to be healed but the disciples at the foot of the mountain could not do it. Thus, Jesus does it, eventually.

Then, Jesus makes another statement about his death AND resurrection and the disciples, who have faith, argue about which of them is greater. Hello! Jesus just said that He would rise from the dead and you are worrying about how great you are!

But finally, if we jump to the end of Chapter 10, we see someone who is blind who not only has faith, but exhibits that faith in what he says (crying out Son of David) and does (leaving his cloak, which likely had money in it) to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, where with his new eyesight, he might have watched him die just a few days later. But then, three days after that, if he was still around, and I presume he probably was because he recognized Jesus as the Son of David, he got to SEE Jesus alive!

Given that overview of Mark 8-10, let me go back to the father in Mark 9. We cannot dismiss this man as a man of simple faith – oh, if I believe, everything will be fine. No, this man was a man of faith and action, but he knew he needed more.

This man cared for this son since these demonic attacks started in childhood. He would have had to care for the boy physically (the burns), emotionally (perhaps the boy developed a fear of drowning from being thrown into the water). It was the man’s responsibility to earn a living for the family, but this man was there for his son – day in and day out.

So, he heard about a man named Jesus who might be able to heal his son. He travelled to see Jesus. He was not there, but his faith (maybe just hope) said something like, “Well, these men have been around Jesus, so they can probably do it.” But they couldn’t. Yet the man stayed. He waited. He had to wonder how long he would have to wait. He had to be embarrassed by the situation. He had to be more than a little disappointed. Certainly, he was still concerned for his son. But he waited.

And then, when the opportunity presented itself, he seized it. He had a moment with Jesus. And it changed his life. And it changed his son’s life. Why? Because he believed, and yet he acknowledged that he needed more faith.

The same is true for probably every one of us today. We may believe, but is our faith complete? Paul would answer no. In 1 Corinthians 13.13, we are told that love will remain, but faith will one day disappear. Why will it disappear, because it will not longer be needed when we reach the other side of eternity. But until then, it needs to develop. We need to grow in our faith and allow our faith to move us into action.

CONCLUSION

And active is what we must be. It is said that a person does what they truly believe. Many people made resolutions to get healthy this year, but they will sit in front of the television instead of exercise. Their actions show they believe the television is more important than their need to be healthy. If we say, we are followers of Jesus, we need to be following – we need to be moving.

In last month’s business meeting we adopted a new vision: To Know Christ and to Make Him Known. A part of me believes that is more of a mission statement, but as I have thought about it, it can be a powerful vision statement. So, this year we begin this sermon series with a focus on knowing Christ better. But the goal isn’t just for our knowledge, it is so that we will be prepared (equipped) to make Him known.

We may believe, but if we truly believe in the God of the Bible, that belief will change how we do everything. That belief may not always change what we do, but it should change how and why we do what we do.

So, as we contemplate all of the changes around us, it is important know that God is real, that Christ’s life and death and resurrection matter. It is important for us to find assurance in our beliefs that are based upon the Bible. That is why we will be reviewing the Apostles’ Creed. The Creed does not replace the Bible, rather, it summarizes the essence of authentic belief, a belief that must be expressed and active by the church Jesus promised to believe.

JOURNEY

Our JOURNEY letter this week is J – Jesus. As we start the year, let us make a point of knowing Him in order that we can make Him known.

NEXT STEP(S)

LEARN – Take time to read through the Apostles’ Creed this week. Begin to memorize it if you wish.

(1) https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-25/world-has-yet-to-see.html

(2)  Albert Mohler, The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity In An Age Of Counterfeits, Nashville: Nelson Books, 2019, xvi.