BELIEVE! Living the Bible to Become More Like Jesus!
WHAT DO I BELIEVE — About GOD?
This morning we’re going to focus on what we believe about God? Earlier this summer – we focused on reasons for believing in God. Things from the huge scale – a universe that is over 13.5 billion light years in diameter and still expanding, to the micro level – over 30 Trillion cells in our bodies, and each of those cells has a genetic code that could fill over 4,000 books. So we’re not going to focus on reasons for believing in God today. Instead, we are going to focus on Who is God? Why does the Bible teach us that the best way to know God – is to understand that God is Three Personalities in One Person – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Beliefs Have The Power of LIFE and DEATH
How powerful are your beliefs? How would your life be different – if you believed that you could go flying in a Lawn Chair?
Some of you might remember a guy nicknamed Lawn Chair Larry. Way back in July of 1982, Lawrence Walters got the idea in his head that he could fly in a lawn chair. He went to an Army Surplus store and bought 45 military grade weather observation balloons. Then he went to a toy supply store with forged requisition forms from his employer FilmFair Studios and bought helium tanks.
On the big day of July 2 – Larry had his friends anchor his lawn chair, he put on a parachute, then he sat down with a 6 pack of beer, a few sandwiches, and a pellet gun. Larry believed that his lawn chair would gently float over the Mojave desert – and then he would shoot out the balloons and make a nice smooth landing.
What really happened was – that as soon as they cut the ropes holding Larry’s chair down – Larry and his lawn chair shot up like a rocket to 16,000 feet. And instead of drifting over to the Mojave desert – Larry and his lawn chair quickly drifted into the restricted airspace of Long Beach Airport. Two pilots saw Larry in his lawn chair and informed the Control Tower. Larry also radioed into the Control Tower with a CB radio he had on board.
It took Larry 45 minutes to work up the courage to shoot any of his balloons. After he shot out a few balloons – he got so scared that he dropped his pellet gun. Fortunately, he had shot enough balloons for his lawn chair to descend back to earth. Unfortunately, the lines to his Lawn Chair flying menace got entangled in some high power electric lines and shut down power to all of Long Beach for several hours.
Our beliefs have a lot of power. Larry was fortunate – that his crazy beliefs about flying in a lawn chair got him in a little trouble – but didn’t get him killed. The Bible shows us that our beliefs about God are a lot more important than our beliefs about flying in a Lawn Chair – because our beliefs about God – do have the power of life or death, for ourselves and for future generations who are depending on us for guidance.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT) I give you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. …Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life!
This morning – God is eager to help you to grow in believing the right things – so that you can grow in God’s awesome gift of life in this world and for all eternity – and so that you can pass God’s gift of life on to future generations.
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NLT) May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God [our Father], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
As we start this new series – BELIEVE – I want to encourage you to consider carefully – what do I believe about God? Why do I believe it? How is it going to impact my life? How will it impact the lives of my children, grandchildren, and future generations?
Today – we are focusing on what it means to believe that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. People have tried for two thousand years to explain the mystery of the Trinity. You can find a whole library’s worth of books that offer explanations of the Trinity. I’m not going to even try to explain the mystery. What I will do – is invite you to consider the significance of the three dimensions of God’s personality. How does it impact your life – to grow in your belief that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Let’s start with the power of growing in your belief that God is your Father – Who loves you and wants to help you to grow in trusting Him.
Confidence In God the Heavenly Father WHO LOVES You
There are over 30,000 different religions in the world. A few of them teach that God is Father. Yet there is only one religion that dares to emphasize a personal relationship with God as a loving Father. Christianity.
The Old Testament teaches the concept of God as a Father.
Psalm 68:5 (TLB) God is a Father to the fatherless; He gives justice to the widows, for He is holy.
In the New Testament – Jesus takes the concept much further and transforms our understanding of God as our Father – by teaching us that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.
Matthew 6:9 (MSG/NLT) Jesus said, Knowing that God loves you, you can pray very simply. ‘Our Father in heaven, we honor Your holy name.
When Jesus teaches us to call God our Father – He uses the Aramaic term Abba. Once again, as with almost any issue in theology, there are lots of different opinions about the meaning of Abba. The majority of scholars emphasize that Abba is a term of personal endearment – like Daddy or Papa.
Whether Abba means the more formal, Father, or the more informal, Daddy, one thing that is clear is that Jesus launched a revolution by teaching the apostles and you and me to believe that we could have the privilege of daring to call God – my Father, my Dad.
Think about what it means to know that you can call God your Father, your Daddy? Picture it for a moment. I can’t just walk up to any man – and call them father, can I? Anyone who isn’t my father would probably be a little upset with me. Who the hell are you? Get away from me before I have to call the police!
But when I walk up to my biological father and call him Dad – it opens up a wonderful and powerful world for me. The Bible wants to help you to keep growing in the confidence and joy of believing that you have the amazing privilege of calling God – your Father.
1 John 3:1 (TLB) See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children—think of it! And that is what we really are!
Believing that God is your Father in heaven – Who loves you perfectly and is eager to welcome you as His child – empowers us. Instead of living in hopelessness and despair – No one cares about me. I’m on my own. We can have confidence. God knows my name. Actually, God not only knows my name, God knows a lot more about me than I know myself. God even knows the number of hairs on my head.
God wants to help you to grow in your belief that you have a Father in Heaven Who loves you and is eager to guide you on the path of life. And God wants to help you to grow in your belief – that He became human in Jesus Christ – the Son of God to offer you complete forgiveness from all of your sins and mistakes.
COMPLETE FORGIVENESS From God the Son
A big question that people have been asking about God is – How can we reach God? When I was a teenager, the band Led Zepplin wrote a classic song about trying to reach God by building a Stairway to Heaven. Interesting idea – but it’s a lot more impractical than Larry’s idea of flying in a Lawn Chair. We can’t build a stairway to heaven. The good news is that we don’t have to. We can’t build a stairway up to God – so God built a stairway down to us.
God wants to help you to see and believe that God came down to our level – by becoming human in Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to believe that God was willing to come down to you? That God wanted to reveal Himself to you. That God was willing to become vulnerable – and experience all of the aches and pains in living in a body. And God was willing to take the burden of all of our sins and struggles on His shoulders and carry them to the Cross.
John 1:14, 18 (TLB) Jesus Christ – The Word – became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. …No one has ever seen God. But Jesus the only begotten Son is Himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. Jesus has revealed God to us.
The Bible teaches us that you can believe that God became human in Jesus to build a stairway to reach you. Of course we all know that it is one thing to say God became human in Jesus. It is quite another thing to have good reasons for believing that Jesus really was fully God and fully human. Jesus taught us that we can believe that He is fully God – by looking at everything He taught and did – especially His miracles.
John 10:37 (NLT) Jesus said, Don’t believe I am the Son of God, unless I carry out My Father’s work. But if I do the Father’s work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done…
The Bible gives us good reasons for believing that Jesus is God – Who became human to connect with us. And the Bible shares the ultimate reason God became human in Jesus – was to restore our world. To overcome damage of sin – by offering forgiveness and chance for a fresh start.
2 Corinthians 5:19 (MSG/TLB) God was in Christ, restoring the world. Jesus gave our world a fresh start by offering complete forgiveness of sins. This is the wonderful message God has given us to tell others.
God wants to give you good reasons for believing that God is your Father in heaven, that God built a stairway from heaven to earth to reach you through Jesus God the Son, to show you how much you are loved, to forgive you completely. And God wants to help you to grow in your belief that God is with you in every second of your journey – to give you Life Power – through God the Holy Spirit.
LIFE POWER From God the Holy Spirit!
As I said in the beginning of this sermon, the Trinity is a mystery that can never be fully explained. So we are concentrating our study on looking at what the Bible focuses on to help us grow in our belief in God. God – is a loving Father. God became human – to reach us and forgive us. And God didn’t just go back up to heaven after Jesus died on the Cross and was raised up to new life. After Jesus died and rose again – God came to be with us and remain with us – through the Holy Spirit.
Believing in God the Holy Spirit is probably the hardest thing of all for us to get our brains around. God the Father makes sense – because we have experience with earthly fathers. God the Son makes sense – because Jesus was visible and practical in explaining God’s love for us and showing us the depth of God’s love by going to the Cross to forgive us completely. But understanding God the Holy Spirit is a lot tougher.
How can you grasp the meaning of Spirit? The Bible gives us some help – by teaching us that the Holy Spirit is the breath of life, the Holy Spirit is a fire that burns in our souls, the Holy Spirit is as gentle as a dove. Jesus helps us to understand Who the Holy Spirit is – by adding the pictures that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Advocate, and our Guide.
The apostles were scared out of their minds when Jesus told them to get ready – because He was going to be going back up into heaven. What do you mean? You can’t leave us. We need help. Jesus taught – it’s actually better for you and everyone else that I go back to heaven. While I am here in this body – I am confined to one place at a time. But when I go back up to heaven – God the Holy Spirit will come and continue My work – and the Holy Spirit will be able to provide comfort to billions of people all at the same time.
John 14:16 (TLB) Jesus said, I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and He will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit Who leads into all truth.
The Holy Spirit is our breath of life. The Holy Spirit is the fire burning in our souls. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Guide, our Advocate. Then there is the ultimate explanation of Who the Holy Spirit is – the One Who gives the Power of Eternal Life through the Resurrection.
Romans 8:11 (NLT) The Holy Spirit of God, Who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Holy Spirit living within you.
Beliefs have power. What we believe about God has the power of life and death – for you and for your future generations.