Summary: Part one of series on the doctrinal, theological and practical distinctives of Cedar Lodge Baptist Church. Required for membership.
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of faith, family and friendships
May 25, 2003
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
Ephesians 6.10 (KJV)
Today is special in a number of ways. On Memorial Day Sunday we remember those who gave the last full measure of sacrifice on battlefields. These are the heroes who stand alone in our minds and hearts as champions of freedom.
We also honor our graduating seniors, and in so doing we recognize another kind of battlefield, one on which these young people will help shape the future of our nation and world. It is the battlefield of culture and society. In the big picture it is the battlefield for how men will view each other in this new millennium, and how, ultimately God will view the state of mankind.
Young graduates, never forget that we are not defined by what culture and popular opinion polls say about us; rather we are defined by our actions before the only audience Who really matters. With our actions, and as God watches, we define our future and our eternity. We should remember that He watches not from a far distance, and not without interest. The apostle Paul reminds us that it is the Lord Jesus who is judge, and we will be accountable to Him in the end (2 Ti 4.1).
It is most appropriate on this day to begin a series of messages on what we believe. Those who died on battlefields to secure and maintain our freedom, and freedom for others in the world, died for that which they believed. Our young graduates have been forming in the inner self beliefs that will govern their behavior for a lifetime. Our beliefs determine our behavior and ultimately define the actions of who we really are, for better or worse. This is that upon which God will see and judge!
More than two years ago our church adopted an agreement that all who choose to join in our service to the Lord here at Cedar Lodge would attend an orientation prior to becoming full members. This orientation explores our core beliefs and practices. We have long had a document that describes some of those beliefs , but documents tend to get stuffed in drawers and under cabinets. Our strongly-held core beliefs are too important to hide under a bushel basket.
So, over the next five weeks we will cover these basics to Christianity and church life and service. It’s all about Growing Strong, the commitment to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
The first part of our core beliefs deals with the New Birth or salvation. A person who has experienced this, received forgiveness from God through faith in Jesus Christ, and is said to be a “new man” in Christ.
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
The understanding of the new person starts with understanding the old person. To begin this understanding we go back to the beginning:
GOD’S GIFTS TO THE HUMAN RACE
We are created in His image
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: Genesis 1:26a (KJV)
Now the fact that God made beings like Himself indicates that He intends to not be alone. It tells us in Genesis 2 that God made Eve for Adam because it is not good for him to be alone.
We are created for fellowship with God.
5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. John 15.5, 8
The creation account shows us that God’s intention was to be close to mankind, and to enjoy that fellowship. A problem arose because, unlike the animals, insects, birds or plant life, God gave man a free will – the right to make choices independent of right or wrong or other people’s will. He did this because He made us in His image, with a will.
However, ever since the first time man chose against the will of God everyone has followed that path. That choice against God causes a separation between God and man. This made a whole new paradigm, new conditions; a need for redemption.
SALVATION -- WHY AND HOW
Why a person must be saved
We have all sinned 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23 (KJV)
The name for this separation between God and man is sin. It has been part of our human makeup, our human nature, ever since the fall of Adam. It is passed along by birth. It is our heritage. Everyone sins.