Summary: With so much negativity aimed at our Christian Faith, we need to reaffirm our basic beliefs - for ourselves individually and for the sake of those among us who may be tottering on the brink of uncertainty.
INTRODUCTION TO AFFIRMATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
As time marches on and the aging process begins to cast a shadow on my short-term memory, my mind seems sharper now than ever regarding long-term memory. It is interesting to me that, at 85 years of age, I am still recalling interpretations of Christian beliefs that have been hallmarks of my ministry for three score and more years.
After all, I have sat under the preaching, on a right regular basis, of no fewer than a dozen inimitable pastors with whom I was associated in my role as Church Consultant, Christian Educator and Community Counselor. In my associations, and during those years of Christian service, each of my pastors involved me in the ministries of preaching and teaching the Word.
Living in the latter days of my life on this earth, with the 21st century well under way, I find myself “up against it” regarding a lot that I read today, and hear, about endeavors by more than a few Christian ministers to re-define basic Christian doctrines – beliefs that, for me, were and still are “pillars” upon which to build one’s Christian life.
In our world of instant communication, we pick up on much negativism as to the validity of our Christian Faith - for instance, the brazenness with which professing Christians embrace ways other than Jesus Christ for being saved – even by folks who know that Jesus proved what He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life . . . No one comes to the Father except by me.”
An illustration of how some folks are thinking occurred at one of my favorite places for fellowship with friends - The Waffle House: One morning while sitting at one end of the coffee shop, I and everyone else could hear a guy at the other end waxing eloquent about religious issues. Although I for the most part had tuned him out, my ears perked up when he started talking about how one goes to heaven. Don’t know how the subject came up, but what I heard this guy say was: “All people of all religions will go to heaven if they’re good.”
Now folks, I’m in favor of everyone being good; and I’m in favor of everyone going to heaven; but it doesn’t matter what I am in favor of, or what the Waffle House customer’s view was; the fact is that the Bible tells us who will and will not go to heaven; and nowhere in the Bible does it say that “all people from all religions will go to heaven if they are good.”
Later in this series, I share my understanding of a Christian view of “how to go to heaven”. The “who and how” of receiving, by grace through faith, God’s gift of eternal life ought to be a major objective of all Christian preaching and teaching.
Pursuing an evangelistic objective, however, in no way diminishes but enhances the importance of affirming and acting upon all other major Christian doctrines – the necessity of which motivated me to reaffirm my Christian beliefs.
There were basically ten tenets which I felt the need to reexamine and work through in my own mind until I could say, “This I believe.”
Yes, reflected in my statements of belief are numerous interpretations and perspectives gained from a lifetime of intensive Bible study, as well as listening with an attentive ear to good teachers and preachers, not to mention all the research done through the years in preparation for teaching teachers – probably the most rewarding aspect of my ministry. Amen.
AFFIRMATIONS – SERMON I: BELIEF IN GOD OUR CREATOR, SUSTAINER, REDEEMER
The Bible teaches that the world and everything in the world came into being because of Almighty God; many times, you and I have read the Psalmist’s declarations of God as Creator: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handy-work . . . What is man, that you are mindful of him? . . . You have made him a little lower than the angels.”
The Bible teaches that the world, and all that is in it, has been sustained throughout the eons of our planet’s existence by the One referred to in the Book of Isaiah as Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Many times, we have felt reassured by Isaiah’s declaration of God as Sustainer: “Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary . . . Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”
The Bible teaches that the world and all people who inhabit the earth are objects of God’s love. Many times, we have been reminded . . . Many times, we have remembered . . . Many times, we have rejoiced – simply to hear the good news of God as Redeemer. I would venture to say that no one’s situation has ever been worse than Job’s; yet, after all that Job went through, he made it known that he still trusted in God as his redeemer: