We will finish today the first Leg of the Believe Series!
Chapters 1-10 Scripture Selections BELIEFS – What do I believe? How Do I Think?
THE FIRST SECTION TEACHES ABOUT HOW TO LOVE GOD
1 – God
Key Idea: “I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV) 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 – Personal God
Key Idea: “I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life.”
Key Verse: Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 – Salvation
Key Idea: “I believe a person comes into a right relationship w/ God by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Key Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
4 – Bible
Key Idea: “I believe the Bible is the Word of God and has the right to command my belief and action.”
Key Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
5 – Identity in Christ
Key Idea: “I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.”
Key Verse: John 1:12 (NIV) 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
THE NEXT SECTION TEACHES US HOW TO LOVE OTHERS
6 – Church
Key Idea: “I believe the church is God’s primary way to accomplish his purposes on earth.”
Key Verse: Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
7 – Humanity
Key Idea: “I believe all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their Savior.”
Key Verse: John 3:16 (NIV) 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
8 – Compassion
Key Idea: “I believe God calls all Christians to show compassion to people in need.”
Key Verse: Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV) 3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
9 – Stewardship
Key Idea: “I believe everything I am and everything I own belongs to God.”
Key Verse: Psalm 24:1-2 (NIV) 1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
10 – Eternity
Key Idea: “I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.”
Key Verse: John 14:1-2 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Truths we have learned along the way:
· Not to debate theology, but to live Truth;
· Not to defend God, but to express faith in the way we live;
· Not to win an argument, but to save a soul!
· Not to be frustrated with our failures, but to be freed from our frustrations!
A pastor visited an older man. The Pastor said, “At your age you should be thinking about the hereafter.” The older man replied, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am - in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement - I ask myself, ‘What am I here after?’”
Christian author Phillip Yancey wrote, “Although [most] of us believe in an afterlife, no one much talks about it. Christians believe we will spend eternity in a splendid place called heaven . . isn’t it a little bizarre that we simply ignore heaven acting as if it doesn’t matter?”
Does heaven matter?
I remember as a child and laying in bed and tried to think about what eternity meant - that God has always been and always will.
I remember also trying to think about what heaven is like and what it will be like.
Jesus knew this was important so He left us these encouraging and hope filled words:
John 14:1-2 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
I read something interesting the other day about the Actor Steve McQueen...
Steve McQueen was a top billing actor who led a life as tough as the ones he portrayed on the screen. Success filled his life until alcohol and a failed marriage left him empty. In his despair he attended a crusade led by one of Billy Graham’s associates. McQueen made a profession of faith and requested an opportunity to speak with Billy Graham. A connecting flight in Los Angeles allowed Dr. Graham to spend a couple of hours with Mr. McQueen in the actor’s limousine. Dr Graham shared numerous scriptures in his quest to give spiritual hope and assurance. Steve McQueen struggled with the thought of God giving eternal life to a man who had such a checkered past.
In Titus 1:2, however, Billy Graham found a promise that spoke to him - "the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago"
He requested something to write down the verse, but Billy Graham gave McQueen his Bible instead.
Later, Steve McQueen died in Mexico while seeking experimental treatment for his terminal cancer. He passed into eternity with his Bible opened to Titus 1 and his finger resting on verse 2.
Regardless of our past, we have the assurance of our eternal salvation because of God’s Word.
In light of Christ’s forgiveness of us and his provision of all his resources and qualities to us in the present, what should we then believe about the days to come?
KEY QUESTION: What is going to happen in the future? It is often our thoughts about this question –
Key Truth #10 - Eternity, that leads us to think about KEY Truth #1 - GOD!
Blaise Pascal was an inventor, mathematician, physicist, and theological writer in the 1600s. In the mid-1650s, he wrote the Pénsees. Contained in this writing, which ironically wasn’t formally published until after his death, was an apologetic argument that became known as “Pascal’s Wager.” The basis of this thought had to do with a human gamble regarding eternity.
(Put on screen)“God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos, which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up . . . Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose . . . But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is . . . If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.1
As science and theology collided in his heart, Pascal concluded that belief in a God who says he has provided life for eternity makes for a potentially happier life than not believing. The consequences for not believing far outweigh those for believing.
He also states each person who lives must make this wager, which will affect how they live and what they decide.
Jeremy Taylor (a cleric in the church of England)said, "God hath given man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends!"
Every human being has but a short time to figure out what is important in life.
KEY IDEA: I believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.
The central belief about our future and eternity is that when we die, our bodies return to the earth, but our spirits live on. Those spirits go to one of two places — heaven or hell.
Even though I’m a pastor, to be honest - I honestly don’t like the part about hell. I never have, and I never will. My job, and even the way others perceive us pastors, would be easier if it were not a part of the gospel message.
But as we previously discussed about the Bible, we have to take God’s truth as a total work and even accept the areas we don’t like or wish were not there.
Of course, those who have received Christ’s offer of salvation by grace no longer need to be concerned about this matter anyway, because he has removed this fear from our future.
Let me emphasize an important point here: When we die and go into eternity, this moment is not the end, as many tend to believe.
Jesus Christ is going to return to the earth, and his first order of business will be to judge mankind.
When Jesus returns, he’ll make all things right, and everything will come under the authority of his justice.
He will throw Satan and his followers, along with sin and death, into the lake of fire.
Christ’s followers will then receive an imperishable, resurrected body, just as Christ now has. Jesus and his people will then reside on a new earth surrounded by a new heaven.
For the Christian, this is the future. When we say, “The best is yet to come,” we can confidently mean what we say!
On this great day, God himself will live among us and the original garden of three will expand into a great city of millions.
Psalm 93:1-2 (ESV) 1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.
Revelation 5:11-13 (ESV) 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
How should we live now in the light of what we know about the future? What we need to realize is that, what we think about Heaven determines what we think about the present.
C.S. Lewis said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
It is easy to get so swamped with things here on earth, as we get squeezed by our jobs, the finances are tight, and our relationships are going sour. When those kinds of things are happening it is not easy to meditate on the glories of heaven.
Everyone of us wants to make a good investment, get the "biggest bang for our buck." The best investment are those that are safe and permanent; if we are wise, we will spend our time preparing for that which lasts forever.
What is life but preparation for eternity!
If we truly believe God has prepared an eternal home for us — a house with many rooms, as Jesus explained in John 14 — then we can and will do. . . 3 Things!
• Live with hope every day, regardless of the circumstances around us; life may or may not get better here, but we can know that God’s home awaits us.
• Love people with freedom and boldness, because our future is secure in him.
• Lead more people into a relationship with Christ, because we want to share this great hope with others.
I ask you to prayerfully take a moment to do an inventory of your relationships. How many non-Christians are currently in your circle of influence? (What we talked about last week)
And of these non-Christians in your circle, how many are you actively sharing God’s love with? On the lines below, write their names. If you need more space, write in the margins.
______________________ ______________________ ______________________
It is important to express here that, even if you cannot write down a name, this exercise is not intended to create any condemnation or blame.
But the absence of a name should produce conviction in a Christ follower’s life. If you have none, or maybe just one, then the motivation here is to gain a hunger and a drive to see others come to faith in Christ.
There is no condemnation for what has not happened, but conviction toward obedience to see what can happen. If you have no names, don’t wallow and waste any more time; simply rise up and get on a mission.
If, however, you wrote down several names, be encouraged that God is working on your behalf to use your every word and action to bring these people to him.
Keep praying, be inspired, and never give up. Imagine one day each person giving a testimony of how you introduced him or her to freedom into eternity.
Also, know you are simply a part of the salvation process in these lives, and God will most definitely use you as you submit to and serve him.
Paul described well to the church in Corinth his partnership approach of working with Apollos to reach people, while the work of salvation is up to God, the Gardener.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (ESV) 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Conclusion “Imagine someone takes you to a party. You see a few friends there, enjoy a couple of good conversations, a little laughter, and some decent appetizers. The party’s all right, but you keep hoping it will get better. Give it another hour, and maybe it will. Suddenly your friend says, ‘I need to take you home.’
What Now? You’re disappointed – nobody wants to leave a party early – but you leave, and your friend drops you off at your house. As you approach the door, you’re feeling all alone and sorry for yourself. As you open the door and reach for the light switch, you sense someone’s there. You’re heart’s in your throat. You flip on the light.
Surprise!! Your house is full of smiling people, familiar faces. It’s a party – for you. You smell your favorites – barbecued ribs and pecan pie right out of the oven. The tables are full. It’s a feast. You recognize the guests, people you have not seen for a long time. Then, one by one, the people you most enjoyed at the other party show up at your house, grinning. This turns out to be the real party. You realize that if you’d stayed longer at the other party, as you wanted, you wouldn’t be at the real party – you’d be away from it.
Christian’s faced with a terminal illness or imminent death, often feel they’re leaving the party before it is over.
They have to go home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all they’ll miss when they leave. But the truth is, the real party is underway at home – precisely where they’re going. They’re not the one’s missing the party; those of us left behind are.” [Randy Alcorn. p.441]
The ultimate question is: “Where will you be one minute after you die?”
Jesus said there are two roads in life. Notice what He says in...
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The broad road leads to judgment, destruction, and hell. On that road people seem to be having a wonderful time. It’s a party atmosphere. But there is emptiness, loneliness, and insecurity.
The narrow road, on the other hand, leads to Heaven. Traveling on that road is difficult because it goes against the grain of society, the tide of all pleasures and the sins of this world. On this road there is fun and laughter too. But there is a sense of destiny, a distinction of hope, an assurance of something better to follow this earthly existence. Our motto is “The best is yet to come.” (Tell story of woman, pastor, Bible and fork)
Which road are you on? What will be your final destination? “Where will you be one minute after you die?”
Let’s give Jesus’ brother, Jude, the last word as we wait for Jesus to return:
Jude 1:20-21 (ESV) 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.