We Believe in God

Many look at the church today and see a church fractured along denominational lines. We have the Baptists, the Wesleyans, the United Methodists, the Church of the Nazarenes, the Free Methodists, the Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Disciples of Christ and I could go on. We often distinguish ourselves by what we believe differently. However, for the next seven weeks we are going to take a look at an ancient creed, The Apostles Creed. If there is one universal declaration of the Christian faith, it is this one. Whether you are from the Reformed/Calvinist tradition or from the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition, we can embrace the statements of this creed and recognize it as containing the heart of Christianity. On our website, we have a page that describes who the Wesleyans are. As part of that page, I’ve placed two universal Christian creeds to help people understand that the Wesleyan Church is part of the larger catholic (universal) church of Christ (or body of Christ). We are part of orthodox Christianity. The Apostle’s creed did not take its current form until the eighth century. It came by this name as early as 390 AD. These creeds were put in place by the early church to combat heresy. It defines in precise terms the Church’s belief about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a clear construction of the Church’s belief on the great essentials of the faith. For the next seven weeks we are going to concentrate on those basic foundations, so that we have A Place to Stand.

The first declaration in the creed is, “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” When individuals declare that they believe in God, they assume a certain understanding of Him and what He’s like. The description that the early church fathers used to describe God is as a Father. John the Evangelist writes, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

The same God who created the heavens and the earth is also, my Father. Let’s take a look at this marvelous thought. This is a radical concept of God especially when we consider the Old Testament. The children of Israel thought of God as the Father of a nation. Deuteronomy 32:6 gives us a hint of this. “Is this the way you repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Or perhaps Jeremiah 31:9 – “They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back, I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.” In either case, the children of Israel thought of God as the Father of creation or the Father of Israel or a nation, but their concept did not include being a Father of an individual.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He prayed a radical prayer, “Our Father, in heaven…” In this chapter, Jesus refers to God as Father ten times. That’s more than the rest of entire New Testament.

However because of our culture, we also have difficulty with the concept of God as Father. For some, father is not a positive term. Fathers are not usually portrayed in a positive light on television or in the movies. The word father stirs up memories of an unhappy childhood. Perhaps it arouses fear, anger, guilt, and frustration, because some fathers make life very difficult. Maybe you’re one of those who didn’t have a positive role model in your earthly father. As we’ve seen Jesus’ model prayer for the disciples began, “Our Father, in heaven…” Jesus wants us to know that in heaven things are perfect, just as God is perfect. We know all too well that things are not perfect here on planet earth. Your earthly father will be imperfect no matter how good he may be. Your heavenly Father is a perfect father.

God is a caring Father. All children need to know that they are loved. Even adults need to know that they are loved. David writes in Psalm 103, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” God knows who we are and he cares for us.

Does God care about your house payment? Does God care about your family situation? Does God care about whether I’m a success in life or not? Does God care about my employment situation? Does God care how I feel this morning? In 1 Peter, we are told to “cast all our cares on Him.” Why? Because he cares for us. God says, “You bet I care. I’m a caring Father and you matter to me!”

As if we needed one more reminder, let’s go back to chapter 6 of Matthew. Jesus tells us, “don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans, who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs and He will give you all you need from day to day (IF) you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” I know it sounds incredible, but there’s nothing about you that doesn’t concern God.

God is also a consistent Father. We can count on Him. He is dependable. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. Some fathers are unpredictable. You never know what might set them off. God is consistent. He never has a bad day. 2 Timothy 2:13 reads, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for he cannot disown Himself.” Even if we don’t believe in Him and doubt his love, God will remain faithful. Not many earthly fathers have that to their credit. God loves us no matter how we feel about Him.

God is also a close father. Paul, who suffered many things for the cause of God, writes to the people of Athens that God doesn’t live in a man-made temple but that he lives everywhere. In Acts 17:27 Paul writes, “God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Here are three things to remember about this close God.

One, God is never too busy for me. How many of us as fathers have told our children, “I’m too busy right now to help you.” No wonder we have this image of our heavenly Father. God never says that to his children.

Two, God wants to meet my need. Jesus tells us how God answers prayer in Matthew chapter 6. He says, “Which one of you fathers would give your child a snake instead of a fish? Or a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If earthly fathers, who are evil, can give good things to their children, how much more will your Father in heaven, who is good, give good things to you? Can you imagine if praying to God was like calling some companies? Thank you for calling heaven. Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold for the next available God representative. God is never too busy. He’s never moody and he’s never annoyed at your request.

Most of you would know the name of Madeline Murray O’Hare. She was a famous atheist who disappeared a few years ago. While someone was going through her diaries they found these words several times: “Somebody, somewhere love me.” The truth is somebody, somewhere did love her and yet she refused to acknowledge God.

Third, God is sympathetic to our hurts. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

When you hurt, God hurts. When you grieve, God grieves. You are never closer to God than when you are in pain. He cares and wants to meet your needs.

So God is a caring, consistent, close Father. What else? Our God is a capable father. Luke tells us “nothing is impossible with God.” Jeremiah the prophet writes, “I am the Lord, the God of all man kind. Is anything too hard for me?” It’s almost as if God is laying down a challenge. I dare you. I dare you to think up a problem that I can’t handle.

We fathers, when we are in a good mood, like to try to fix things for our children. Sometimes we’re mechanical and we can fix broken toys or broken bikes or other broken objects our children bring to us. Sometimes they like to ask for our advice. Sometimes they want us to fix things at school and relationships. However, I am still an imperfect father and I don’t always help in these matters as well as I should. But God says, “I’m a heavenly Father, and I’m capable of meeting your needs. Paul writes in Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Can you imagine, God can meet all your needs. God is unlimited in his resources.

All of this brings us to a very important question. Jesus says, “Our Father who is in heaven.” There’s a certain ring to that phrase. But here is the question. Is everyone a child of God? Is God everybody’s Father? Scripture tells us that God is the creator of all. However, that does not make us children of the heavenly Father, or children of the Kingdom of God. Jesus replied to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” We can only be children of the heavenly father if we are born again. What does that mean? A little further in the passage, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “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.” God desires for us to be his children, but we can only be his children if we receive and believe Jesus. Only those who are in Christ are truly the children of God. Again in Romans 8 Paul writes, “And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Only those in Christ stand in intimate relationship with God. If you don’t know Christ you are outside this relationship. They remain dead in their sins and have none of the privileges of son ship. All of us once were. Here is the amazing thing; “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” Through the blood of Jesus he has made us part of his family.

How do we get into a relationship like this? Through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus reminds us, “Whoever believes in Him, will not perish…” You can’t be born physically into God’s family. You must be born spiritually into his family. God adopts all those who believe in Jesus and place their faith in him. This adoption gives us full rights to become children of God. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” That is an awesome thought. Not only must we believe, but we must receive him. That’s when we become a part of God’s family and He becomes our heavenly Father.

Do you feel close enough to God to call him your heavenly Father? Have you established a personal relationship with God? I encourage you right here and right now to begin a new walk with God this morning. Wednesday night many of our children had a similar opportunity. I want to give you that opportunity this morning.

Perhaps you already are a child of God, but you’ve never really thought about this God as Father, because you own childhood was painful. This morning I want to encourage you to trust in God more fully. Maybe you need to sense his love more. I invite you to pray this prayer with me. Father, help me to realize that You are consistent and to thank You for loving me just as much on the days when I don’t feel close to You as on the days when I do. Lord, I thank You that You are close. Help me this week to sense that You are with me and in me. Thank you that You are capable. There is no situation in my life now or in the future that You cannot handle. I turn my life over to You. I say yes to You, Father, Abba Father.”

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