Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Apostle's Creed (2)

 THE APOSTLE'S CREED (updated language)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.  He 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.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  AMEN

The Apostle's Creed - an ancient statement of faith (Christian/1500+ years) and a brief summary of the essentials of the faith.

Opening Line: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth."

Most Americans agree: 92% believe in God or a universal spirit.
82% say they are "Christian". 4% - "atheist or agnostic". (Gallup poll shows 80%/12%)
78% believe "God created man" (as is or by guided evolution)
and most would agree with "Father" and "Almighty"

BUT.... that's superficial faith.... let's dig a little deeper. - God - Creator - Almighty - Father

"I believe in" -
I. God --- but what God? which God? tagging a name on doesn't make it the same.
Objection: we all worship the same God.
Answer: description sure is different!
Example: Molech - this god demanded the sacrifice of infant children by fire. Vastly different from the God of the Bible.
Compare the God of the Mormons, Muslims?? Vast differences.

The Authors of the Creed would say:
1) "The God of the Bible" - revealed by the Scriptures and by Jesus Christ
(Not must as portrayed in the Bible.... but 2) as revealed in the Bible.
Portrait of God vastly different from the revelation of God - God telling us what He's like.

God is revealed in and through....
A) creation, conscience, reason, personal experience, deeds (miracles)
B) more specifically - through the prophets
C) especially through His Son - John 1:18

So... A) He has revealed Himself and B) we have a record of the revelations - (the printed Word - the Bible) - 1 John 1:1

So, the creed would be: "I believe in the One True God ... as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

I believe in God... the Creator:

II. Creator (Maker) of heaven and earth.
Most people agree with Gen. 1:1
BUT.. the title grows as knowledge of creation grows! There is so much more to praise Him for now in the 21st. century.
For creation's size; complexity; plus variety, harmony, beauty, etc, etc.

The point being this God....A) created it, B) out of nothing (ex nihilo) C) by speaking!!! Gen. 1:3

So, the creed = "I believe in one true God, as revealed in Scripture ... who created all this .... ex nihilo!"

III. Almighty - Heb. is difficult - English is easy - "All-mighty"
"omnis" - attributed to God - Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent
Add them up = All mighty!!! The word Almighty is used 345 times in the Scripture and always in reference to God.
Most often used in conjunction with His Word, speaking, message!!!
Examples: Jer. 5:14, 6:6, 7:21, 8:3 Lord God Almighty says.......

So the creed - "I believe in the one true God as revealed in Scripture, and WHEN HE SPEAKS WE'D BEST LISTEN BECAUSE HIS IS ALL-MIGHTY GOD!!!

This paints an Awesome picture - "God - Creator - Almighty".

NOW the Creed adds an incredible touch to an already awesome portrait.......

IV. FATHER - a personal term, relational, parental. Carries the idea of.... loving, caring, providing, protecting, intimacy, interaction

Concept found in the Old Testament, BUT Jesus took it to a new level.
Matt. 6:9 Matt. 6:32 John 20:17 (My Father and your Father) Luke 15:17-24

Which means that this awesome, incredible God, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth loves you and wants you and so calls you and woos you... and asks you to come to Him, receive Him, know Him and so trust Him...... and call Him "Abba, Father"

So John says, 1 John 3:1 (a) - "children of God"

Possible???? Yes!!! How??? Through Christ. For now.... John 1:10-13

So, line one of the Apostle's Creed - "I believe........"

Question: Do you believe?? Have you received??? Have you confessed??? (public confession/baptism) Are you developing the relationship??

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Apostle's Creed

 THE APOSTLE'S CREED (updated language)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.  He 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.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  AMEN

I. Definition
Creed - a brief, authoritative formula of religious beliefs
The Apostle's Creed - is a very old, well known, commonly used summary of Christian beliefs. (of THE FAITH)

II. The Origin of the Creed
The earliest Christian creed (statement of faith) was Jesus is Lord. BUT, the need developed to be more exact without being lengthy.

So, asked "what is essential to the faith?" This led to the Apostle's Creed.
The earliest forms called the Roman Creed.
The term "Apostle's Creed" 1st. found in 390 AD
The current form solidified by the mid 5th. century. It's at least 1500+ years old.

With some variations - languages, words (Maker/Creator)/ sentence structure (I believe...and...in...) even phrases "descended to hell/dead"

The Creed used by the Danish National Church was prefaced by "We renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways."

III. The Name of the Creed.
A. Creed is from the Latin word Credo - "to believe"
B. Apostle's creed - not because written by the Apostles, but because it was a statement of the beliefs of the Apostles
NOT primarily beliefs of early church/Christians OR later church/Christians...
But of the Apostles!! - Who got it firsthand!! 1 John 1:1
This is real stuff. Not just a religious dissertation.

IV. The Purpose of the Creed. (then/originally)
#1. to define the Faith - not all about the faith, but it does state the essentials of the faith.

#2. To weigh, measure, test other declarations of faith. (to identify error/perversion/heresy)
(Therefore, it's often used as baptismal formula)
Example: the Gnostic Creed - "We believe, that Christ descended from the Power above, from the Good, and that HE is the Son of the Good; that He was not born of a virgin, and that when He did appear He was not devoid of flesh. That He formed His Body by taking portions of it from the substance of the universe, i.e. hot and cold, most and dry; That He received cosmical powers in the Bod, and lived for the time He did in the world; That he was crucified by the Jews and died; That being raised again after three days He appeared to His disciples; That He showed them the prints of the nails and (the would) in His side, being desirous of persuading them that HE was no phantom, but was present in the flesh; That after HE had shown them His flesh He restored it to the earth; That after He had once more loosed the chains of His Body He gave back heat to what is hot, cold to what is cold, moisture to what is moist, and dryness to what is dry; That in this condition He departed to the Good Father, leaving the Seed of Life in the world for those who through His disciples should believe in Him."

When this compared to the Apostle's Creed, it was apparent that this was not a Christian creed.

#3. To teach the fundamentals of the Faith. (Catechism) - for people of all ages who wanted to become part of the Christian faith.

All of the above done briefly but sufficiently. Therefore it could be easily memorized!! (Scrolls were very expensive and few in number) (many people were illiterate) Therefore, memorization was the easiest and most practical way to "have the statement of faith"

#4. for use in public worship (liturgy) - it could be quoted together, similar to the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd. Psalm. It became a corporate confession of faith, as well as a personal confession.

#5. to keep Christians rooted (anchored) in the Apostolic teaching(s) - (tradition)
An objection: we follow Jesus, not the Apostles.
Answer: Yes, but, what Jesus said, did is handed down to us by the Apostles - who were there with Him. Therefore, Apostalic tradition is so important.

V. The Content of the Creed - primarily about Christ.
Because, it's not a general creed of religious faith(s)
It is the Apostles Creed - A Specifically Christian creed.

What we believe about Christ makes us distinctly Christian and distinctly Not Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, etc.

The Purpose in the Apostles Creed is no different today than it was 2000 years ago.

The Apostles' Creed is not valid if it's not true. Unless it is true, then all creeds are valid - agnostics, atheists, etc.

It cannot be accepted as a congregation, but must be accepted personally. (Embraced, practiced)

Do we accept the Person behind the Creed?
Do we practice it?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, KJV

Question: What translations are in the congregation today?
If had asked, 30 years ago? What would have been the answer?
" " " 60 years ago? Probably almost 100% King James Version

The Bible is the most printed and distributed book in history.
The King James Version is the most printed and distributed Bible in history. (may be the most printed book)

May 5, 1611 - the first King James Version Bible came off the press. There are about 200 complete first edition KJV Bibles still remaining - in good condition for $125, to $400,000.00 each.


In March, 1603, Queen Elizabeth I of England died. Her nephew James VI of Scotland was named the new English ruler and became James I of England.

He inherited a divided kingdom. 770 years earlier, Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church (1534) and formed the Church of England (Anglican). So, there were three distinct religious groups in England. Many devout Catholics were upset because they'd been ousted by the formation of the new Anglican church and they were no longer in control. There were the Anglicans and also the Puritans - who wanted further reform than what King James had already enacted.

All three camps had their own scripture translation. The Geneva Bible - printed in 1568 - the Bible of the Puritans as well as Shakespeare. This was the first translation to have chapter and verse divisions.
Then there was the Bishops Bible - 1568 - which was the Anglican Church translation.
And finally the Douay Rheims - 1582 - which was the Catholic Bible.

This was more than religious division. In that day there was no separation of church and state. Therefore, identify your denomination equaled identify your political persuasion!!

King James wants a unified England, so decides a new translation will help:
1) provide a single scripture for public reading (church, state, university, etc.) - the Bible of England.
2) be a symbol of unity in his (new) kingdom. (Compare it to our modern day US flag)
3) edify his subjects (Bible reading is a good thing)
4) displace the (popular) Geneva Bible!! (James appreciated its scholarship but despised its politics) He believed it was anti-king, seditious.
5) Pacify the Puritans - who wanted more reform.

In 1604 King James gathered the best Bible scholars in England and then authorized, organized, funded a NEW translation. (No Catholics were included in this group of scholars)

His Rules (there were 12 - been condensed to 5 here).

He insisted on:
1. Cooperation. There were 6 groups of scholars - each with a Bible section, compared within the companies. Then all companies gathered and READ ALOUD, argued, amended, etc.

From conception to publish took 7 years.

2. Accuracy BEST scholars - (lists = 47 to 54) The general editor was Lancelot Andrews - spoke 15 modern and 6 ancient languages, photographic memory, began each day with 5 hours of prayer, still set aside time each day to receive "any Londoner in need of solace or advice".

3. Readability
On one hand, the KJV was not written in the vernacular of the day (it was formal, majestic, musical)
But, it was the vocabulary of the day, therefore, readable, and comprehensible...
Preface to the 1611 version: "we desire that the Scripture may speak like it selfe, that it may bee understood even of the most vulgar." (vulgar meaning common)

He also insisted it be........
4. Anglican (conservative, traditional, Church of England)
Therefore the Greek word Ecclesea was translated "church" not "congregation" (as per the Puritans)
And the Greek word Baptiso was translated "baptize" not "immerse" - as the Anglican church sprinkled, and he didn't want the word immerse in this translation.

5. Without Commentary - except to explain the Hebrew or Greek)

The result was the 1611 King James Version.

#1. This is not the King James Bible that you own, carry - there have been many modifications, revisions, etc.
A) the Appocrapha - till the mid 19th. Century most KJV's contained 80 books vs. the 66 in it now.
B) Word changes - more than 300 words no longer mean the same thing they did back in the 1600s. Example: KJV - Heb. 4:12 - "quick" (Compare the word "gay" - it's meaning 50 years ago and it's meaning today.)
C) Spelling, punctuation, italics, etc. - approximately 25,000 changes in the KJ New Testament since 1611. None affects any major doctrine.

#2. This is NOT the Bible Jesus Carried (or Paul)
#3. This is NOT the 1st. English translation - translations go all the way back to the 7th century.
#4. This is NOT an infallible translation
Examples: Printer's Errors
a. Judas Bible 1611 - Matt. 26:36 - "then cometh Judas..." -(then cometh Jesus)
b. Printer's Bible 1612 - "Psalm 119:161 - "printers have persecuted me..." (Princes have persecuted me)
c. Wicked Bible 1631 - Ex. 20:14 - thou shalt commit..." (thou shalt not commit adultery)
d. Sin On Bible 1716 - John 8:11 "go and sin on more" (go and sin no more)
e. Vinegar Bible 1717 - Chapter Heading - Luke 20 - "parable of the Vinegar" (Parable of the vineyard)
f. Fools Bible 1763 - Psalm 14:1 - "There is a God" - (there is no God)
g. Lions Bible 1804 - 1 Kings 8:19 "out of thy lions" - (out of thy loins)
h. Owl Bible 1944 - 1 Pet. 3:5 - "in subjection to thine owl husband" (in subjection to thine own husband)

#5. It DID become the most popular translation.
The Geneva Bible was user friendly - common language, margional notes, chapter and verse division. Affordable - week's wages for a common laborer.
BUT, it became illegal to print, then to import, and then to own!!!!

#6. The KJV became the most influential English Bible in history.
For many,
#7. it became THE Bible. "but, ..... the Bible says....." (King James Version trumped the original manuscripts)


King James Bible has had (still has) tremendous impact on society, not primarily because it's the King James Version but because it's the Word of God!!
"What if the Geneva Bible had not been banned???" The power is not in the translation, but in God's Word.
Isa. 55:10-11 - (KJV) 10For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

2 Tim. 3:16 - (KJV) 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

So, Should I use the KJV?

Answer: it's your choice... is the message clear? Is it your preference? BUT..... don't declare it "the ONLY valid, true expression of God's Word".

And remember - the point, purpose of any translation is to present the Word as clearly as possible without compromising the message.

AND, whatever translation you choose, USE IT!!!!
Because in scripture we learn about God and Christ.
In the scripture we encounter God and Christ

And (finally) whatever you choose/use, whatever you learn about God, whatever you experience with God, neither your translation, your knowledge, your experience commends you to God. For that only comes through His grace expressed in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 9, 2012

7 Tools to Make A Difference

Eph. 4:1
The term "Christian calling" covers a lot of ground.

He calls you.... to come (woos you)
........................ to accept (receive, embrace)
........................ to learn (grow, disciple)
....................... t0 go!! Example: Matt: 4:19
More fully: Matt. 28:18-20

Christian calling has NOT changed!

Mostly we as Christians feel inadequate to "go". (mostly we ARE!!)
BUT, know this ...... when called also:
A. commissioned (His authority passed on)
B. Equipped (given tools for the task)
C. Empowered (enabled) - may not feel empowered, or sense being empowered, but ARE!
**NOTE: the power is not in you or the tool.
BUT... He works through you and through the tools He's given you.

So........ 7 Tools to Make A Difference, or, 7 (Powerful) Tools to Make An (Eternal) Difference

Tools' List:
prayer - interceding for others
proclamation - telling THE story
personal testimony - telling your story
example - living the story (modeling)
truth - that which is in accord with reality, fact
love - Agape (love of God)
solidarity - unity that works (does something)

These tools are:
1. Biblical
2. traditional
3. Universal - can be used on people regardless of education, race, culture, age, etc.
4. Powerful (authored by God, empowered by God)
5. effective - will not accomplish what you desire but what God purposes.

#1. Prayer - asking (interceding on behalf of) for others - James 5:16 (b) - 18 - most of us make far too little use of this powerful tool because we don't see the immediate results
1 John 5:14-15 - based on example - Mark 11:24 - prayer has great power

#2. Proclamation - telling the story. 1 John 1:1
simple and practical - Rom. 10:14
So "through the foolishness of preaching..." - (preaching = telling the story)

#3. Personal testimony - telling your story. Mark 5:18-20 - Legion
Paul - 2 parts - #1. - I know/ #2 - I believe.
Your story is not THE story, but parallels THE story.
Power??? - Rev. 12:10-11 (a) - "...testimony" - THE story and their story

#4. Example - living the story/modeling the story. This is the twin brother to Personal Testimony. Personal testimony is not much good if it's not lived out.
1 Pet. 2:12, 15 which leads to Matt. 5:16
On one hand, not all are watching, BUT some are!

#5. Truth - that which is in accordance with reality and fact.
Truth leads to right/non-truth leads to wrong!!
Which way to the Father?? John 14:6 - right direction

#6. Love - Agape.... as defined by God.... ACTIVE (John 3:16) Rom. 5:8
1 Cor. 13:1-3, 12:31 (b)
Acting according to what is right and good regardless of feelings.

#7. Solidarity - (MRP definition) - unity that works (more than harmony that fellowships)
Solidarity - we have if we'll use it. Does something to advance the Kingdom of God.
Eph. 4:4-6
Example: community churches should do more than "fellowship".

Since these tools are: Biblical, traditional, universal, powerful, therefore, they are effective.

Also - 1) Simple
2) Available - easy to use.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christian Confidence for a New Year

The trend/mood - 100 years ago - optimism incredibly high. Today - pessimism.

So......, will things get better??? Get worse??? Continue to roller coaster????

Answer: no one knows!!! The future is always uncertain and can't be predicted by opinion polls.

BUT, Christians needn't be alarmed/upset... concerned, yes, but not alarmed... in uncertain times (which is all times).
Christians can be certain (confident/calm) because..... we know:

#1. God is still God. (if He ever was, He still is)
Mal. 3:6 (a)
Therefore, we can conclude: A. He's in control - "God is greater than __________" (you fill in the blank)
B. He's still faithful - to His purpose, promise, people. This does not mean that He'll do what we want Him to do.
C. We're not abandoned (as individuals, as a group, as a nation, etc)
Dan. 3:16-18 Mark 13:5-8 Rom. 8:31

#2. Christ is still on THE throne. (if He ever was Lord...)
Illustration: in the first century, Christians faced uncertainty, government sponsored persecution, and in the midst, John receives "the Revelation".
Which ...."in spite of appearances" ..... I'm still on the throne" - so..... Rev. 1:19 - "you can write this down"
John 14:1 (for the disciples before the resurrection, for us until His return) - trust Him - Christ specifically

#3. The Kingdom is still being advanced. Because people are still being saved.
Question: is the Kingdom gaining ground? Example: world stats vs. social condition???

BUT, either way... a soul saved means the Kingdom is advanced.

#4. (ultimately and finally) All Will Be Well. Rev. 21:3-5

So, we know of this we can be certain:
1. God is still at work.
2. There is still work to be done. John 4:35 - talking about people
3. our calling remains (unchanged/unaltered) - which in part means pursue righteousness, promote the Kingdom, etc.
Matt. 28:18-20 - make disciples
Matt. 5:13-16 - make a difference (MAD)

In closing:

A. a call to confidence in Him - regardless of what we see in the future.
B. A call to commitment as well.