Summary: The Apostles Creed - I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Well, lots of people today believe in God. Lot’s of people today believe that we are all God’s children. But these types of beliefs are very different to belief in God as the Father Almighty. Here’s what some famous people have said about belief in God:
George Clooney says "I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I don’t know if I believe in God."
Poet, Emily Dickinson said, "They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of him as somewhat of a recluse."
Albert Einstein wrote, "I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals…"
God to these people is either non-existent or impersonal & distant.
Then there’s those who want to set their own agenda with God or make up their own gods:
Napoleon says: "If I had to choose my religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god."
& Ralph Waldo Emerson said "The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, of the merchants a merchant."
Imelda Marcos says, "God is love. I have loved. Therefore, I will go to heaven." – perhaps what she’s really saying is, "God is love, I have loved. Therefore, I am God."
And where would a discussion about God be without the atheist? We have Nietzsche’s famous quote: "God is dead." And of course now, as the university student says - so is Nietzsche.
And a great line from Woody Allen goes, "How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?"
Here we have some confused & strange ideas about who God is & how He relates to us. Is God impersonal, far off, mysterious & distant, so that we may never really know him? [pause] Well no, the first line of the Apostles’ Creed reads "I Believe in God, the Father Almighty." Christians don’t just believe in God, whoever that may be, but we affirm that we believe in God, the Father Almighty.
So this is my first point this morning:
Point 1: Belief in God is not the same as belief in God the Father Almighty.
Belief in God as Father means having a personal relationship with God.
Being a child of God is not something that happens automatically, being a child of God is not a birthright. Despite what many in our society think, no-one is born a Christian.
[Jn 8:41-43] Jesus tells this to the Jews, who thought that God was their father as a birthright, They said to Jesus, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself." Jesus replies to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here."
Jesus clearly denies that God is the Father of all and he says that God is only the Father of those who love Jesus.
So this is my second point:
Point 2: Knowing God as the Father, comes through having a relationship with Jesus
Having God as Father is not an automatic privilege, status or birthright. The Bible’s says we’re created in God’s image, but it doesn’t say we’re all God’s children.
So we must be clear that we’re not born the children of God, we’re not born as Christians, rather we must become Christians, we must become God’s children. The Bible gives us a clear distinction between the "children of light" and the "children of darkness".
So we become a child of God, not by biological birth or genetics, but by faith in Jesus Christ. [repeat/pause]
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we were "by nature children of wrath." This is in the sense that our natural state is as children of sin. This sin will meet God’s wrath and judgment, leading to spiritual and physical death and this is what it means to be children of wrath. [pause]
In the Ephesians passage we read, Paul says: [Eph 2:1-10]
You were dead through the sins in which you once lived…following the ways of the world and the devil. All of us once lived like this in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
But now says Paul, a transfer takes place:
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ— For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
So Paul tells us that for Christians a transfer from the realm of sin and death to the realm of God’s grace has taken place. This transfer comes through having a relationship with Jesus and believing that his death on the cross paid the cost for your sin, so that the transfer from death to life could take place.