Summary: This is the third in a 7-part series on The Apostles Creed. I used this as a way to give folks in my new churches an understanding of my beliefs and our common ground as Believers.
Sermon Series “Belief and Faith Coming Together”
Week Three – “Start Big…Finish Small”
Pastor John Bright – delivered 7/28/19
John 1:14-18 “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
My sermon title today is the opposite of conventional wisdom – “Start small and finish big.” Last week you heard about God the Father as the creator and ruler of everything – “Elohim.”
At the start today, let’s consider the size of God’s creation.
We are located in a solar system with a sun at the center. Our sun is one of 100 Billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. We are traveling around the sun at an average speed of 67,000 mph and our galaxy is moving through space at an astounding 1.3 million miles per hour.
God has created a universe with billions of galaxies. That’s good news and bad news for us. Good news – God must be REALLY big to do all that! Bad news - God must be REALLY big to do all that!
The next section of the Creed reveals God’s plan to show how much He loves and cares for us. Did you memorize John 3:16 as a kid? Say it with me.
God sent His Son – HOW? “And the Word became flesh” John 1:14
The Apostles’ Creed continues - “Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary” The birth of Jesus is hard to understand/know because it is a MIRACLE. Most folks don’t want to “have to” believe in miracles… “prove it”…. “show me.” Last week I talked to you about being gullible. We know it and we don’t’ want to be fooled again.
The Early Church struggled to clarify the Orthodox Beliefs around Jesus’ life and death. In the 1st c. church the Jews focused on Jesus as the Messiah. In the 2nd c. church the Gentiles focused more on Jesus as God. Then there arose an idea that Jesus only appeared to be human. They struggled with the cross – could God suffer and die? There were two sides in the debate – “appearance” vs “substance”(Father and Son of the same substance). The substance side won, because Jesus had to suffer and die or there is no salvation.
So how did the substance get there in Jesus? “Conceived by the Holy Spirit” This miracle was done with no physical contact. After two centuries of struggle – the Church came to a shared belief that we still hold today - that Jesus was “fully divine” and “fully human” – the fullness of two natures that were never mixed. The danger in mixing is that the divine nature would be diluted. (analogy of oil and water)
This is what it looks like when divinity puts on humanity:
TRUTH – Born in a Bethlehem barn… miracle
TRUTH – Walked on the Sea of Galilee… miracle
TRUTH – Hung on a cross for our redemption… miracle
This leads us to the next part of the Creed – “was crucified, dead and buried” And now the Creed points us to the miracle of redemption. You know about redemption than you think! Ever use a coupon? I heard about a woman who had a family of five and used so many coupons she only spent $1.37 a week on groceries. Who wants to check out behind her? Not me! They call this Extreme Couponing. I personally have a max number at 3 coupons I’m willing to use at the store – after that if feels like work. Extreme Couponing became so popular that most stores stopped doubling coupons and manufactures started limiting the number of their coupons that could be used at any one time.
I used to help Grandma Bright fill up her S&H Green Stamp books. She would REDEEM them for something she needed for the house. She used them IN PLACE OF money. That’s the simple definition of redemption – IN PLACE OF. Ever since Adam and Ever took “The Big Bite” – there was a need for redemption – to pay the price for our sin.
We still try to earn our salvation:
• Baptismal certificate
• Perfect Sunday School attendance pins