Summary: I believe that there is one God - and it's not me!
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” How many times in your life as a Christian have you spoken those words? Confessing the Apostles’ Creed is a regular part of our worship here. But how often have you really thought about what those words mean and why we bother confessing them? Today we start a new sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed - a statement of belief not written by the apostles (Jesus early disciples), but is a concise summary of what they taught as directed by Jesus and prompted by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul explained well the importance of holding to an accurate creed when he said to his pupil Timothy: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching... 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13, 14a).
That’s what we intend to do over the next couple of months together: work at guarding the good deposit of Christian teaching as we review the Apostles’ Creed. This teaching about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what we need to know and believe for entrance into heaven. Therefore it’s more precious than bars of gold stashed away in a safety deposit box. Today we contemplate the First Article of the Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” When we confess this we’re saying: “There’s only one God - and it’s not me…or you!”
That truth is highlighted very well on Paul’s First Missionary Journey. Our sermon text today described a stop Paul and his co-worker Barnabas made in the city of Lystra, located in present-day Turkey. Paul was in the middle of preaching when he noticed that a man who had been lame from birth was listening intently to him. Perceiving that this man had faith, Paul said to him in a loud voice: “Stand up on your feet!” At this the man didn’t struggle to his feet like you and I do when we’ve been sitting on the floor for some time; he leapt to his feet and started walking as if he had been doing that his whole life!
The crowd was amazed and cried out in their native dialect: “The gods have come down to us in human form!” When word reached the nearby temple dedicated to the Greek god Zeus, the priest brought bulls to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. When the two Christians figured out what was going on, they rushed into the crowd saying: “What do you think you’re doing! We’re not gods! We are men just like you, and we’re here to bring you the Message, to persuade you to abandon these silly god-superstitions and embrace God himself, the living God. We don’t make God; he makes us, and all of this—sky, earth, sea, and everything in them. In the generations before us, God let all the different nations go their own way. But even then he didn’t leave them without a clue, for he made a good creation, poured down rain and gave bumper crops. When your bellies were full and your hearts happy, there was evidence of good beyond your doing” (Acts 14:15-18 Message translation).