Summary: This sermons starts a Lenten sermon series based on Ron Lavin’s book "I Believe, Help My Unbelief." This particular sermon shows that confessing the Apostle’s Creed is a valuable way to show our Christian belief and sustain us in our moments of doubt.
“Confessing the Creed” – I Believe, Help My Unbelief Series
March 9, 2003
Purpose: Confessing the Apostle’s Creed is a valuable way to show our Christian belief and sustain us in our doubts.
How many of us have our faith down perfectly? You know it all, do it all, be it all…you are the perfect living example of Christianity? Any takers? No? hmmm…
Maybe I should ask this question instead….how many of us have ever doubted our faith?
I believe that there is both faith and the lack of faith in all of us.
Look at our gospel story this morning…(recap Mark 9:14-32)
Jesus had just come down from the mountain of his transfiguration. He had stood with Elijah. He had stood with Moses, and Peter, James, and John saw it all happen. Jesus had just come down from that mountaintop experience to face yet another problem.
Both teaching and healing were a part of this moment as Jesus often did. The author of the book we’re using for this series Ron Lavin said, “He went from the sublime to the ugly.” The disciples had failed in their attempt to heal, and now Jesus was left to pick up the pieces. Only to hear the words of the boy’s father, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
For the next 7-8 weeks we’re going to use this story as the foundation for rediscovering the Apostle’s Creed. How many remember it being done each Sunday? How many still think they have it memorized?
Well, I will give you this guarantee. If you show up for the next eight weeks, you’ll not only have the Apostle’s Creed memorized, but you will find it speaking to you in many different ways as we live out our lives in Christ.
E. Stanley Jones put it this way: “What gets your attention, gets you.” Over the next eight weeks, I hope that God’s message through me to you, will get your attention.
It is my hope and prayer that unlike the unbeliever who focuses only on their doubts, even though they also have some faith, we as the believers of this congregation, will put our doubts in the hands of our Lord, and focus on our beliefs in a gracious and loving God.
This is where the words of that boy’s father become so helpful. When we say “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” we’re recognizing that our relationship grows with God when we put our faith and trust in Him, instead of our doubts and fears.
How easy it is to focus on everything that is happening around us and become doubtful. Amen?
How easy it would be for us to doubt and fear and worry….
The Pslamist felt that way when he wrote the 73rd Psalm. Lavin says, “In the first verses we see the pslamist as person walking along the edge of a cliff, not looking at where he was going, yet at any moment about to descend to his destruction in the bottomless pit of envy and anger.”
But then, in the midst of worship, in the midst of recognizing who he was, and who God was, the psalmist had a revelation…recorded in Psalm 73:21-24 which reads, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet, I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.”
This is the heart of the Apostle’s Creed. In the face of the world’s injustices, as well as getting bogged down with the world’s considerations, the Apostle’s creed, unashamably politically incorrect, gives us the bigger picture of what we’re here for.
Levin says, “Confessing the faith of those who have gone before us can be a helpful way to give our attention to God. The words of the Apostle’s Creed have been hammered out in the persecutions of the early Christians, the battles for truth in the first centuries of Christianity, and the crises of the early church. These words are time tested.”
But why take a whole eight weeks, the time and energy, to rediscover these words?
This is where Paul’s words to Timothy speak to us, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching….” Why? supposedly asks Timothy, Paul responds… “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away form the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
Is that not where we are at today? Don’t so-called prophets and preachers claim new revelations? Don’t the TV evangelist and the popular book writer try to “itch” people’s ears for their livelihood?