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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Basic Beliefs that All Christians hold in Common

Basic Beliefs that All Christians hold in Common
Last Sunday our Sunday School class had a special speaker, a respected retired Methodist minister, a kind sweet man who had taught our class in the past and had blessed us with his teaching. So we all relaxed and settled in looking forward to the lesson he had for us. 
Our Methodist minister first started out by mentioning that he was a changed man from when he had taught our class earlier. He told the class that he was more liberal now in his faith. And then without warning, he loudly began announcing to the class in a dramatic way while pounding on the lectern that Jesus did not die for our sins.  That He is not our Savior.  That logically such a notion didn’t make sense. That God gave Jesus to us as a great teacher, an example. That God would be a terrible father if He were to send his son to die for us.  I was shocked beyond belief.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. 
Before we could stop this man, he denounced the Bible as the Word of God and assured us all that we were all good enough on our own and didn’t need a Savior, insisting that God was too loving to be bothered with the sin problem.
 I felt like this minister’s forceful words hit me in the gut and for the rest of the day I felt physically ill. This minister did not preach the beliefs of his church.  The Methodist Church believes that Jesus died for our sins and that He is the Son of God and Savior. Methodists, as well as all other Christian churches regularly observe the Lord’s supper where we take the bread and drink the wine to remember that our Lord’s body was broken for us and His blood was shed for us.  On nearly every Christian church we see a cross, reminding us of the sacrifice our Savior has made for us. In fact, believing that Christ is our Savior and Lord is the cornerstone belief of our Christian faith.  Everything else is built on this Cornerstone. If we remove our faith in Christ as Savior, we are not Christian.       
We Christians may disagree on many minor issues.  Whether we have infant baptism or not.  Whether we believe in the primacy of the Pope or not?   Evolution or creation?   Should we have liturgical church services or an informal church services? Do we have a high view of Scripture or a low view? We don’t have to agree with our brothers and sisters in Christ on these or many other issues to still be One in Christ.  But there are several basic beliefs of the Faith that all Christians believe. And these issues are non-negotiable.
So what are the beliefs that define the Christian faith?  Down through the ages the Church has always had to contend and fight for the Faith. There have always been people like our minister on Sunday who have tried to change the Faith around to their liking. In the third century, the leaders or bishops from all the Christian churches came together and with much fasting and  prayer and God’s guidance, these bishops agreed on the basic beliefs of the Christian Faith.  Together they wrote down the basic Christian beliefs in a document which is named the Nicene Creed.  And now for nearly the last two thousand years all the Christians around the world have adhered to this Nicene Creed.
 The central belief in this creed is the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and that He died for our sins.  These are the churches or denominations of Christians around the world that hold to the beliefs spelled out in the Nicene Creed: the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, the Pentecostal Church and the Methodist Church.  Many smaller denominations and churches also adhere to the Nicene Creed.  The Mormon Church, the Jehovah’s Witness Church and the Unity and Unitarian Churches do not believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior and they do not adhere to the Nicene Creed so they are not part of the worldwide Christian Church. 
Here is a copy of the Nicene Creed:  We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.  We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father, through Him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and became truly human.  For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate: He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day, He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.  We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.  Who with the Father is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the Prophets.  We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.  Amen.    
Scripture is full of warnings about false teachings, false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing.  (Matthew 7:15) Our minister last Sunday insisted that the belief that Jesus died for us was not logical and didn’t make sense! 
Scripture says: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the Wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-25) 
We come to Jesus not through logical reasoning but through faith.  And only with faith are we able to see Him!  And when we believe that Jesus is our Savior a miracle occurs! The Holy Spirit comes into us and nothing is ever the same again!  We are born again! Jesus is ours!  What a foretaste of glory divine!   But there will always be those who come around and tell us that our Savior isn’t real.  Make sure you never listen to those folks.  

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