Sunday, September 9, 2012
I believe in God私は神を信じ, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven & earth.
We are in the second of a series on WHAT WE BELIEVE. Creeds or Deeds. They are both important yet following the Scriptures is more important than anything we say. Action is a stronger testimony than just saying the right things. So, I Believe IS a Matter of Faith.
The Creed was once said in Latin. Few here know it this way. Please stand and proclaim WHAT you believe!
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and all that is, seen and unseen. It is a matter of believing in a teaching called Trinitarian Theology: the believe in a Tri-union God Head. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today, we will be concerned with THE FATHER.
To start, let’s frame what we will say with three passages from Holy Script. Look to the meaning and central theme of each.
Psalm 119:2 Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart— Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
The Apostles’ Creed was based on the early Believer’s theological understanding of the Gospel Books, and that of the letters of Paul and others as well as with some understanding of the Old Testament. The basic creed itself was probably written by a church father named Ambrose in about 390 AD. He wrote: “Let them give credit to the Creed of the Apostles, which the … Church has always kept and preserved undefiled.” "使徒信条に信を置きなさい、それは教会が常に保持し、汚れなく保たれている。 "アンブローズ
As a young attender of a local church in Rhode Island, I remember hearing the creed repeated only a few times—just before or after communion. I later learned that the Creed was the cornerstone for belief for the Christian. It did not ‘cover’ some of the heresies that later came up against the Church, but it was a good basic coverage of what the Apostles taught during those early years of the growing Christian Church in Palestine and beyond.
We will not go into the heresies that groups like the Arians and Unitarians brought with them because we want to look at the Original item—not the fake. (When bankers are trained to spot fake money, they study the real thing—anything that looked NOT like the real would be fake.)
While the first CREED may not have looked just like the one we said today, it covered the main points of the Apostles teaching. (15) The emphasis being: What was taught by the 12 then is to be taught by us today. 12使徒の教え。
Belief in God is basic. 神への信仰は基本的なものです。 (The word “GOD” is used in well over 3995 verses in the Bible.) We know from Scripture that this is where it all starts and really ends. Gen 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 初めに、神は天地を創造されたHajime ni, kami wa ten to jio soozoo shita. In that Beginning, the Bible teaches, Creator GOD was there. He is the foundational character in the Bible and He is the original character in Faith. It is this Creator God we worship here this morning and is THE One we speak about in this creed.
Realize that just because we say these words and many of us believe in them, that alone does not make them true. Nonetheless, it is true. This Creator God, Who made the heavens and earth is real. We see His handy work all around us. The Scriptures speak of His Grander and splendid Power.
Jeremiah 32:17~19 17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and out-stretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You. 18 … Great and mighty God, whose Name is the Lord Almighty, 19 great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; You reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.
This passage tells us of the mighty deeds of this One we worship today. He is a living God who was very active in Human history. The author acknowledges God’s Great and might Power. His purposes are for His own Glory. [Does that sound self-seeking? Not really. This IS His world! He Did Make it! And creation longs for a major healing at the end of time!]
We read in the New Testament these words: John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Still, Psalm 19:1~4 points out that the universe itself is a wordless expression or message about God which anyone, whatever his language, can hear. 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
The Apostle Paul made this same point in Romans 1. Here, Paul uses Creation to speak to the one who does not believe. In his argument, Paul states that Man’s sinfulness is revealed in the human struggle to suppress the truth (the knowledge) of God, and that being available to all creation. Rom 1:20 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 彼らには弁解の余地がない。
This belief in a personal God who made creation to show His Handiwork really makes a difference. Consider this: Two lists. In one list, the words cold, dead, lifeless, uncaring. In the second list: warm, vital, loving, alive. If you would be living in a universe like list One, how will you feel about yourself, others, about your future, about what has value? Now, consider living in a universe under the second list: How will you feel about yourself? About your future? About what has value? How wonderful that God has revealed to us the true nature of His universe so that we might have comfort & hope.
I’d like to look at a few words that reveal who God is and what He is like. This is taken from Genesis one. The first word is differentiation. 分化。Or separation. In verse 4, God makes a distinction between light and darkness. Earth from sea…day from night—as God sets up a stable pattern for his World. It is not all the same thing. There is a separation.
Diversity. 多様性 or range. From the simple uniqueness of each snowflake to the complexity in the animal world, God finds delight in creative expression. 神は創造的な表現に喜びを見つける He is showing deep concern for the individual differences yet holds them apart. There is male and female. There is dark and light. There is a difference and it is OK. It is OK within His boundaries.
His Delight. 喜び Or Pleasure. God has taken pleasure in His Creation. We can hear His judgment call: “It is good.” “It is very good!” We can trust this One we call God as He finds delight in the things He has made. He is not cold to creation. He is actively evolved with them. He clearly cares about His creation. He is not changeable (変わりやすい) nor unpredictable (予測). He designed the world to be stable and orderly. The seasons, tides, etc. We find a God who values and in doing that, chooses ALWAYS to do that which is, in every way, good. So, in short, The Creator God is good.
Over time, certain teachings have affected the Christian doctrine of God that puts another spin on His character. You have heard it said that God is unchanging…unchangeable. But these teachers teach that process and change are essential aspects of genuine existence, and therefore God must be changing over time as well. Changing, just like everything else that exists. They teach that God is continually changing and adding to Himself as things change in the universe. For them, this comes from a deep need Mankind has to feel significant in the vast universe. They dislike the doctrine of God’s immutability or unchangeableness 不変性. Again, they teach that everything we do—in fact, everything that happens in the universe—has a real effect on God, because God can change. So, what difference do we make? How can we have any ultimate meaning? They teach that we have great influence on the very Being of God Himself! As we act, and as the universe changes, God is truly affected by those actions and the Being of God changes—God becomes something other than what He was. God grows up… In this way, Mankind can be significant.
The main teaching of Scripture is however, the other way around. Our ultimate significance comes not from being able to change the Being of God, but from the fact that God has created us for HIS glory and that HE counts us as significant!
He is unchangingness gives us lasting Hope. 私たちに希望を与えてくれる。If He would change, which quality would change? Would He change to be a little evil. Would the One we first knew when we trusted in Him be in fact the same God later in our Walk of Faith? Maybe His promises are now not valid because someone changed His Heart and Jesus really did not have to die for our sins…not really needed to be raise from the dead. That we might not have eternal life—because mankind changed God’s mind!
Is He God? IF God is changing, then the whole basis of our faith begins to fall apart, and our understanding of the universe begins to unravel. THE SCRIPTURES BECOME A LIE. This is because our faith and hope and knowledge all ultimately depends on a Person Who is infinitely worthy of trust—because He is absolutely and eternally unchanging in His Being. In His perfections, in His purposes and in His promises, they are absolutely solid. This is the One in whom I believe. この方こそ私が信じている方である。
^1 St. Ambrose of Milan. "St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 42:5". Tertullian.org. Archived from the original on June 05 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
^2 Apostles' Creed in Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), p. 90
^3 Wayne A Grudem, “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine” : Inter-Varsity Press, ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1994.