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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jesus Christ and the Apostles' Creed

Jesus Christ and the Apostles’ Creed
For Christians, the beliefs expressed in the Apostles’ Creed are basic to the Christian faith. When we choose to believe the tenets expressed in the Apostles’ Creed, our lives are changed.  Here below is part of the Apostles’ Creed – the part that proclaims our beliefs about Jesus Christ:
I believe in Jesus Christ, Gods’ only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried:
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again:
He ascended into heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And will come again to judge the living and the dead.
And I believe in the forgiveness of sins.  
What sets Christianity apart from all the other faiths is its’ specific beliefs about Jesus Christ.   But the most amazing thing is that the Christian faith is not just a set of beliefs or traditions, like other faiths. But the Christian faith is a “living” faith.  The “Word” which is a name for Christ is “alive.” (Hebrews 4:12) (John 1:1-4)
 Jesus Christ isn’t just a great Teacher and Savior who lived long ago, but He is Son of God who lives and walks right here in our world today. The Spirit of Christ “lives” in our hearts today when we believe.   Like a favorite Christian hymn goes, “And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”  And He brings us His peace and joy.
The early Christians set out their beliefs in The Apostles’ Creed not only because they wanted to pass down the true faith – originally given to them, but also because so many false teachers were attacking the true Christian faith by spreading heresie.  So many false Christs!  Most of the heresies and apostasies were leveled at Jesus Christ and who He is!  If Satan can keep people from believing in the real Jesus, and get them to believe in another Jesus, he will have done his job, since the real Jesus is the only One who redeems and saves us.    So, who is the real Jesus?  And why is it so important for us to know Him?   
These popular heresies all strike at Jesus Christ, trying to make Him appear to be so much less than who He is.  They create false pictures of Christ, and this keeps people from knowing the real Jesus Christ. One blasphemous and terrible heresy that is out there is that Jesus did not save us from our sins but instead He was just a great example of love.  That he died on the cross for no reason but just to show his beautiful love.  That there is no sin and no judgment – just love. God forgives us without Jesus paying the price for our sins because God can’t love and judge at the same time, so the lie goes. God would be mean to allow Jesus to go through such a terrible death on the cross.  And these unbelieving scoffers rave that anyone who is a believer “is not intelligent.”
This apostasy and several others like it are believed by many. These horrible lies take away the real Jesus and put a false Jesus in his place.  A fake Jesus who didn’t shed his precious blood for our sins and who isn’t really our Savior and Redeemer.  A fake Jesus who isn’t God, just a wise man or a super star! The Scriptures warn us to beware, that there will be these false teachers and poisonous heresies – aimed at taking our precious faith away.  We are in a spiritual war and we must put on our armor and hold fast to our Christian faith!  
In both Matthew and Luke, the Bible records the birth of Jesus with the details that Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit” when Mary was a virgin.  Is it difficult to believe that God could bring Jesus into the world any way He wanted?  God created the rules of nature and He can by- pass or transcend them. Jesus was not like any other person ever born on earth. He was not born in sin like all humans are.  If He were sinful like us He couldn’t forgive our sins. Jesus is God and He is also human.  So, His birth was different from ours because Jesus is different from all of us.  
There is a story in Scripture about some good people carrying a paralyzed man on a bed to Jesus to be healed.  (Matthew 9:2-8)   Jesus spoke to the paralyzed man with these words: “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.”  A crowd had gathered and some of the religious leaders were there watching, and they thought that Jesus was blaspheming.  The Old Testament Scriptures teach that only God can forgive sins.  So, it would be blasphemy for a human to say that he could do what only God can do.  Scripture says that Jesus knew their thoughts. 
So, Jesus asked the religious leaders: “Is it easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ Or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?  But so you will know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said: ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’.”  And the paralyzed man was healed and jumped up and walked away to his house.  Now all the of crowds seeing this marveled and they all glorified God.”  (Matthew 9:2-9) 
On another occasion Jesus was in a crowd healing and teaching, and there were religious leaders in the crowd criticizing Him as they so often did.  Jesus told the crowd: “If anyone keeps My word he/she shall never taste eternal death.” (John 8:52) The religious leaders immediately got upset and shouted back at Jesus these words: “Do you think you are greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?  And the prophets are all dead.  Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 
Jesus answered that Abraham rejoiced to see Him, the promised Messiah. And the religious leaders answered back: “You are not yet fifty years old, so how could You have seen Abraham?”  And Jesus answered them: “Most surely, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.”  (John 8:58) Jesus was saying that before Abraham lived, He was there – eternal and timeless. That He is the “I Am” – the Jewish name for God. 
When the religious leaders heard that they picked up stones to throw at Jesus because they understood that Jesus was saying that He is the “I Am” – or that He is God the Son, and if that wasn’t true then it would have been blasphemy.  Several thousand years earlier Moses had asked God what the Jewish people should call Him, or what was God’s Name.  And God answered that His Name was “I Am”.  (Exodus 3:14) All of the Jewish people knew this.
Jesus is saying here in John 8:58 that He is eternal or timeless and that He is divine or is Son of God.  Skeptics will say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  But this passage, along with many others in the Bible say otherwise.  When we put our trust in the real Jesus, the “I Am”, we are in good Hands because He can and will forgive our sins.  He couldn’t do that if He was just a wise man.  But He is the true Son of God -  the “I Am”.    

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