The Church is United with the Same Holy Spirit

This is my final sermon focusing on the unity of the church. I have been focusing on core beliefs that unite us as followers of Christ. Christians are united at the core. The Nicene Creed says:

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.[1] 

The Church has always been united in the belief that the Holy Spirit is God.

We believe:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.[2]

We believe in “one what, three who’s.”

We could say that God the Father is fully God, but not all there is to God. God the Son, Jesus, is fully God, but not all there is to God. God the Holy Spirit is fully God, but not all there is to God.”

God the Father planned and directed creation and redemption through the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Father and Son work together like a Father and Son on earth.

Let’s read Romans 8:9:

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

  1. Christians are not alone, we have the Holy Spirit.
    1. What I think is so cool about this is that all of the denominations and all of the Christian groups and every Christians on this planet has the same Holy Spirit.
    2. I have taught on the Holy Spirit before, so I am not preaching about the Holy Spirit much today, but more about unity in the Spirit.
    3. We are one in the Spirit and we are one with a common mission.
  2. Matthew 28:19-20: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
    1. We have the same mission.
    2. We have the same Holy Spirit.
    3. Jesus is with us.
    4. Jesus told us all, the Universal Church to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • Wrap it up:
    1. 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
    2. The Church is not about a denomination, it is about Jesus.
    3. The church is not about anyone local church, but the church is universal made up of all the churches across the world.
    4. The church is about a movement and you are part of the movement. The movement is to the great commission. We are united in this movement. There were 96 denominations represented in the seminary I attended, I think that is great. Let’s work together.
    5. I am sure there are many denominations that support the Gideons and the Gideons continue the mission of the church. I have attended dinners for the Gideons and I have seen Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Mennonites, evangelical Friends among other denominations represented.
    6. I led youth mission trips with a group called: “AIM” which stand for “Adventures in Missions” and you know it was not about a denomination, but about a mission. I led a youth mission trip through a group called “Praying Pelican” as well as “Team Effort” and it was not about a denomination, but about a mission. Our own denomination, the American Baptist Churches of Ohio has endorsed Dare2Share as a youth retreat. It is an amazing youth retreat, but many denominations and non-denominational churches support it.
    7. Alliance Mission Encounter is another time churches come together for the mission. We have workers from the Baptist, the Evangelical Friends, the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Christian Church, the non-denominational churches and others.
    8. Habitat for humanity is another ministry supported by many denominations.
    9. Church Women United has involvement from many churches and denominations.
    10. Judson University is an American Baptist University and when their choir was here, I asked them some questions. You know that many of them were not from American Baptist Churches. That is fine. It is wonderful if they are from American Baptist Churches, but it is just as wonderful when they are not. We are united as a universal church.
    11. Listen, the non-believers of this world need to see the church as one. To the non-believers they do not want to be a part of us because they see us so divided. Let’s show them unity. Praise God that we are showing them unity with the Mission Encounter.
    12. When I served in Cincinnati a group of planned a 5k walk/run to raise money for an interfaith food and clothing shelter. I led an interfaith council which supported the food and clothing shelter. These are things that Christians can come together with non-Christian groups as well. If we can come together with non-Christian groups we can come together with Christians who have different convictions for sure.
    13. Let’s worship together with other Baptists, but also: Pentecostals, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Catholics.
    14. Let’s find where we can come together and come together.
    15. Can we all support the food pantry?
    16. Can we all serve in homeless shelters?
    17. Can we come together for Lenten lunches?
    18. Can we come together for special services?
    19. Can we pray together?
    20. Can we share the Gospel together?
    21. What if church women united formed a support group to help with funeral dinners at different churches? How better to show our oneness then when someone is dealing with a loss?
    22. Over the last several weeks I have shown core beliefs we agree upon: We agree that the Bible is the Word of God, we agree the that the universal church is important, we agree the Jesus is the only way to Heaven, we agree in the Holy Trinity. What binds us together is stronger than what drives us apart.

Close:

Jesus prayed that we will be one: John 17:20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

 Let’s be one where we can.

Someone said:

In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.

 Let’s be one.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1]  Elliot Ritzema, “Nicene Creed,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[2]  Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 239.

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Christians believe in Jesus

Sermon:

Jesus and Moses are playing golf and they”re on the tenth hole. Moses hits the ball and it heads straight for a pond. Just before the ball hits the water, the pond parts and the ball rolls up onto the green.

Jesus winds up and hits one about to the same spot. Jesus’ ball hits the water and skips across. All of a sudden, lightning flashes and a ball drops from the sky. A fish swallows it, a bird picks up the fish and drops the ball onto a turtle, that walks over to the hole and drops it in.

Moses turns to Jesus and says, ”I hate it when your dad plays!”[1]

I am preaching a sermon series on beliefs which Christians have always held in common. From the days of the early church Christians have held strong to the belief in the Trinity. We have believed:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.[2]
    1. God the Father planned and directed creation and redemption through the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    2. The Father and Son work together like a Father and Son on earth.

Last week we focused on God, the Father.

Today we focus on Jesus.

The Nicene Creed was written in order to codify certain beliefs in the Trinity. This is what they wrote about Jesus:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

There is a lot here, but what I want you to know is that Christians have always believed Jesus is one with God the Father. We have always believed in the Trinity. What binds Christians together is greater than what drives us apart. This Nicene Creed was written in AD 325 and we have held firm on the truths since before then and ever since.

We are united with the Lutherans in the belief in Jesus as God. We are united with the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Christian Church, the Nazarenes, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Episcopalians, the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptist and other Baptists groups, the Pentecostals and even the Catholics. We hold this belief in common.

We are united, we believe Jesus is Lord.

My Theme today: Christians believe in Jesus, born fully God and fully man, born of a virgin, crucified for us and resurrected.

Application: Be encouraged by our unity and be encouraged Jesus is our Savior and He is our powerful and mighty God.

Let’s read Hebrews 1:1-4:

 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

  1. Our Creator is also our Redeemer (1-4)
    1. God spoke long ago through the prophets. He now speaks through Jesus Christ His Son.
    2. This book was written to Jewish believers.
    3. In Colossians chapter 1 the Bible talks about this as well. Christ is the creator and sustainer of all things. Christ is heir of all things. He is the visible image of the invisible God.
    4. I love this passage, I love the passage in Col. 1 because they talk about how awesome Christ is. Christ is the awesome Lord.
    5. Verse 3 radiance in Greek to emit light or spender. Christ emits light. When Paul saw Him on the Damascus road he saw a bright light. Christ is the radiance of God’s glory. Christ is the exact representation of the Father. The Bible says that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.
    6. Christ holds everything together by the Word of His Power. Verse 3 the Greek word for power means: the ability. Inherent power. (Dunamis) Christ has the power.
    7. Christ died for our sins and then sat down at the right hand of God.
    8. If we were to keep reading we would see that the author of Hebrews starts making the case that Jesus is greater than angels. The rest of Hebrews the author makes the case that Jesus is greater than Moses. In Hebrews the Author is preaching a sermon in letter form to show that Jesus is our great High Priest, our only Savior.
  2. Colossians 1:17 says: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    1. If you notice, the Nicene Creed which I read earlier has allussions to several passages. One is Colossians 1:15-20, another is John 1:1-14.
    2. Now, verse 17 even says that all things hold together by Jesus. Think about that for a second. If Jesus stopped being in control, creation would fall apart. I tried to imagine that and the best image that I could get is this:
    3. This is a glass of water [show the water in the glass]. Currently the water is held together by the glass. But if I pour it out, [pour the water into a bowl] the water is no longer held together by the glass. Now, all analogies fail in one way or another and this one does as well because the water may be held together again, in this case by this other container. But you get the point.
    4. Jesus holds all creation together.
    5. Now, look at Colossians 1, verse 18: And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the first born from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
    6. Jesus is the head of the church. This means that we are His church, we are not my church or anyone’s church but Jesus’ church. We must be following His lead. We seek His lead through prayer and correct understanding of His Word.
    7. When we talk about Christian unity, think about this, we all have the same Lord. Every church, every denomination falls under Jesus’ headship. Jesus is our Lord.
    8. Every church worships Jesus. Every church has Jesus’ presence.
  3. Now, let’s look at Hebrews 1:8 and see a clear verse about Jesus reigning.

8 But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

Beginning of close:

Outside the Bible, there are several secular writers who make mention of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 Tacitus—in Book XV, Ch. 44—writing in A.D. 114, tells us that the founder of the Christian religion, Jesus Christ, was put to death by Pontius Pilate in the reign of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius.

 Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan on the subject of Christ and Christians (Book X—96).

 Josephus, the Jewish historian, in A. D. 90, has a short biographical note on Jesus Who is called Christ in his Antiquities —Book XVIII, Ch. III, Section 3 .

 The Babylonian Talmud makes mention of Jesus Christ.

—A. Naismith[3]

2683 A Letter To Roman Senate

 The following is a translation of a letter sent by Publius Lentulus to the Roman Senate during the Roman empire period.

 “There appeared in these days a man of great virtue, named Jesus Christ, who is yet among us; of the Gentiles accepted for a prophet of truth; but his disciples call him the Son of God. He raiseth the dead, and cureth all manner of disease. A man of stature somewhat tall and comely, with a very reverend countenance, such as the beholder must both love and fear.

 “His hair the color of a chestnut full ripe, plain to the ears, whence, downward, it is more orient, curling and waving about his shoulders. In the midst of his forehead is a stream or partition of his hair, after the manner of the Nazarites; forehead plain and very delicate; his face without spot or wrinkle, beautiful, with a lovely red; his nose and mouth so forked as nothing can be represented; his beard thick, in color like his hair, not over long; his look innocent and mature; his eyes gray, quick, and clear.

 “In reproving, he is terrible; in admonishing, courteous and fair-spoken; pleasant in conversation, mixed with gravity. It cannot be remembered that any have seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep; in proportion of body most excellent; his hands and arms delectable to behold; in speaking, very temperate, modest and wise; a man of singular beauty, surpassing the children of men.”

—Foster[4]

Close:

How can you be encouraged today?

We see enough in Scripture to know that Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus is Lord. I like what Charles R. Swindoll said: “The storm will come, and if you haven’t a rock to stand on, you will plunge. Jesus is that rock.”

Let Jesus be your rock this week. You can trust Him as your Savior and protector.

Helen Mallicoat made a real contribution to your life and mine when she wrote: I was regretting the past And fearing the future . . . Suddenly my Lord was speaking: “MY NAME IS I AM.” He paused. I waited. He continued, “WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE PAST, WITH ITS MISTAKES AND REGRETS, IT IS HARD. I AM NOT THERE. MY NAME IS NOT I WAS. “WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE FUTURE, WITH ITS PROBLEMS AND FEARS, IT IS HARD. I AM NOT THERE. MY NAME IS NOT I WILL BE. “WHEN YOU LIVE IN THIS MOMENT, IT IS NOT HARD. I AM HERE. MY NAME IS I AM.” 4″

Start reading it for free: http://a.co/bhrWzln

 

Let Jesus be your Rock, He is with us now.

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] http://jokes.cc.com/funny-god/b1ej8z/jesus-and-moses-play-golf

[2]  Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 239.

[3] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[4] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

Our Triune God, Part I

Opening:

The Nicene Creed begins:

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible
.

I am preaching a sermon series on beliefs which Christians have always held in common. From the days of the early church Christians have held strong to the belief in the Trinity. We have believed:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is one God.[1]

Today, protestants and Catholics together believe in the Trinity.

Today, I wish to begin a three week series on the Triune God. Today, I will talk about God, the Father, but I will also introduce the idea of the Trinity.

My Theme:

The church has always believed in the Trinity. God the Father is fully God, but not all there is to God. God is three persons, each person is fully God, God is one.

Application:

when we have unity in diversity we are reflecting the Trinity. Let’s have unity in diversity in the church, our families and society.

Applications:

Apply the idea of unity, diversity, harmony, love, submissiveness

I usually like to introduce a topic, but this is tough. Let me jump in talking about some significant takeaways regarding the Trinity:

Think with me about unity in diversity, are we very good at it?

Can a football team win if they are not united?

Can society be united with different cultures blended together?

I don’t think our society has been too successful at this lately. It seems like people naturally segregate themselves, but that is not how it needs to be. I don’t know that it is always wrong as long as it is not done with hate. If we can still come together in love for a common purpose then that is wonderful. That is exactly what happens in family. When a family is successful there is unity in diversity. Actually, in marriage there is unity in diversity. Male and female come together and they are now a family. There can be, and should be, mutual submission in family. There should be self sacrifice in family. Marriages fail for many reasons, but a major reason is that there is diversity, but the unity does not last.

So, with society we can have unity in diversity. I have one example now and another at the end of the sermon.

The first is WWII:

I was the youngest of three children born to parents whose lives had been shaped mainly by work. Hard, honest labor. They met and married during a difficult time in the United States, on the heels of the Great Depression. As giant walls of dust rolled over Texas, blown east from the Dust Bowl, fear of unemployment haunted every hardworking person in America. In 1934, one out of every four people couldn’t find work, crops withered, banks failed, and families in every neighborhood risked foreclosure and homelessness. That’s when I came along. Actually, I was a “mistake.” I know this because my parents told me. My father escaped unemployment, and, as the nation recovered, he thrived in the insurance business—business— in no small way due to his strong work ethic and positive mental attitude. Then, while he was driving to enjoy a few pre-Christmas days of vacation at my grandfather’s bay cottage near Palacios, Texas, a startling announcement came over the radio in our new 1941 Ford. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor; the United States had declared war on Japan; and on top of all that, it was announced that we would also enter the fight against Hitler in the carnage of Europe. My father immediately turned the car around and headed for home. “This is no time for a vacation,” he said quietly as my mother began to weep. A short time afterward, he resigned his job selling insurance, and we moved from my sleepy little hometown of El Campo to Houston, where he began work in a defense factory in support of the war effort. Too old for military service, this was my dad’s way of serving his country. He said it was the least he could do. He supplemented the lost income by working double shifts.[2]

I was not alive during World War II, I don’t know if you know that. I know I look much older than I am. What I have learned and been taught is that America came together. We were diverse, but we were united. Everybody came together for the common cause of defeating the axis powers.

  1. God the Father is fully God
    1. Genesis 1:1 opens with: “in the beginning God created.
    2. We see God the Father all the way through the Old Testament.
    3. The Son and Holy Spirit are obedient to the Father’s will.
    4. God is Spirit (John 4:24).
    5. Jesus was submissive to the Father: Luke 2:49; 22:42; John 6:40: For my Father’s willis that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
    6. I like what one theologian writes: Thus, while the persons of the Trinity are equal in all their attributes, they nonetheless differ in their relationships to the creation. The Son and Holy Spirit are equal in deity to God the Father, but they are subordinate in their roles. Moreover, these differences in role are not temporary but will last forever: Paul tells us that even after the final judgment, when the “last enemy,” that is, death, is destroyed and when all things are put under Christ’s feet, “then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one” (1 Cor. 15:28).[3]
    7. God the Father planned and directed creation and redemption through the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    8. The Father and Son work together like a Father and Son on earth.
  2. God the Father is not all there is to God.
    1. God is three persons.
    2. We see evidences of the Trinity in the Old Testament as well.
    3. Would anyone like to name one?
    4. The spirit moved along the waters… (Gen. 1:2)
    5. Genesis 1:26: “Let ‘us’ make man…” God uses a plural pronoun.
    6. There are many other places in the Old Testament, but I just wanted to share a few.
    7. God is Spirit and the New Testament teaches that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15) So, some believe that when God appears in the Old Testament that is really Jesus.
    8. So, God is 3 persons.
    9. Each person is fully God.
    10. God is one.
    11. I heard it said, “one what, three who’s. I like that.
  • The church has always believed this.
    1. I quoted the Nicene Creed about this in the beginning: We believe in one God,
      the Father almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth,
      of all things visible and invisible
      .
    2. That was in 325 AD
    3. Luther, for instance, affirmed the Apostles Creed as well as the Chalcedonian and Nicene formulations, and defended the use of terms like Trinity andhomoousios against Martin Bucer who protested that we must use strictly biblical language. Writing to distinguish his cause from the Anabaptists, Luther even went so far as to declare:
      1. “We do not reject everything that is under the dominion of the Pope. For in that event we should also reject the Christian church. Much Christian good is to be found in the papacy and from there it descended to us” (quoted in Timothy George,Theology of the Reformers, 81-82).
    4. Applications
      1. In the Trinity we have unity, diversity, harmony, love and submissiveness.
      2. Since there is unity in diversity in the Godhead, that means that we can have unity in diversity in the church.
      3. We must be united with the church as much as we can.
      4. We must seek out diversity in gifts, talents, cultures in the church. (Gal. 3:28)
      5. We can have unity in diversity in marriage.
      6. We must try to be united as families.
      7. We can have unity and diversity in family.
      8. God is perfect and God is love. There is absolute love in the Triunity of the Godhead. This is encouraging.
      9. We must pray to the Father through the Spirit in the name of Jesus. John Piper says: So my conclusion is: Let your normal, regular praying be prayer to the Father through the Spirit in the name of Jesus, but realize that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are persons and to speak to them as a saved sinner would, cannot be unnatural.
      10. Jesus modeled obedience to the Father, even though the Father is not greater than the Son. We can be submissive and obedient to authorities. We can be submissive and obedient to loved ones.
      11. When our family, or church exhibits faithfulness, love and harmony we are reflecting the Trinity. That is amazing.
      12. So, how are you doing with unity? Do you need to heal a relationship?
      13. How are you doing with racism? You know those thoughts that come to mind about certain groups? We can be united in diversity.
      14. How are you doing with humble submission and service? Jesus was humbly submissive to the Father.
      15. Serve someone this week in honor of Jesus.
      16. Heal a relationship this week in honor of the Trinity.
      17. If you use social media, don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Love people.

Close:

The trinity is difficult to understand:

As C.S. Lewis put it:

“If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”

My Theme:

The church has always believed in the Trinity. God the Father is fully God, but not all there is to God. God is three persons, each person is fully God, God is one.

Applications today:

When we are united in diversity with harmony, love and submissiveness we are most reflecting the Godhead.

John 17:20-21:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Let’s be One as a church, but let’s go further and be one with other churches.

September 11, God bless America

After September 11 our country came together like I have never seen it. The day after our congress came to the front steps and sang “God Bless America.”

A video such as:

 John 20:21:

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

 

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1]  Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 239.

[2] Swindoll, Charles R. (2012-02-02). Saying It Well: Touching Others with Your Words (p. 143). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[3]  Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 249.

Christians agree that our salvation is through Jesus

Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Christians have always believed that salvation is only by Jesus. I am preaching a series about beliefs which Christians have always agreed. Today, at their foundation most denominations claim Jesus as the only way to Heaven. This is true of the American Baptist. In the American Baptist material it says:

10 facts about American Baptist:[1]

American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God that serves as the final written authority for living out the Christian faith. American Baptists celebrate the fact that belief in Jesus Christ assures salvation and eternal fellowship with a loving God. The events of the first Easter week are the cornerstones of our faith: the death of Christ, in which He took upon Himself the sin of the world, and the Resurrection, which gave proof of His triumph over sin and death. Holy Scripture always has been for American Baptists the authoritative and trustworthy guide for knowing and serving the God who is revealed as Creator, Savior and Advocate.

I heard about a missionary who was giving out New Testaments in another country.  The missionary was talking to one man, who was not a Christian, and the man said, “These pages have perfectly thin paper and they would be perfect for rolling cigarettes.” The missionary said, “I’ll give you this New Testament if you promise to read each page before you roll the cigarette. The man agreed. A few weeks later the missionary saw him and they talked. The missionary asked how things were going. The man said, “Well, I read and smoked through Matthew. I read and smoked through Mark and Luke, then I got to John 3:16 and I stopped. I believed in Jesus.” That man is now studying for the ministry. John 3:16 is amazing. God loves us.

In talking about Jesus being the only way to Heaven let’s be thankful that there is a way to God. God loves us and He desires a relationship with us. God loves us.

So, in the early church they penned the Nicene Creed in 325 AD and it says:

The Nicene Creed says:

“…Through him [Jesus] all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven…”

Jesus came for our salvation. In the last two weeks I have read quotes by Augustine and others regarding this central belief.

Let’s read Matthew 7:13-14:

Jesus says: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

In races we are to wear bibs which are fastened to our shirts and they have our number on them. They also have a computer chip in them records our time. In my first marathon my bib said “First time” or something like that. This meant that this was my first marathon. Well, before the race I was waiting for it to start and a woman started talking with me. She said congrats or something and as we talked she learned I was a pastor. She said there is a good analogy to the wide path and narrow path in the race. There is a section when those running the full marathon and those running the half marathon split. You see the 26.2 mile marathon and the 13.1 mile half marathon runners start together and at about 9 miles we split. So, you see all these people going left and a much smaller group going the other way. She was right. At a certain point we split and then we realized how much longer we had. Then it got tough.

The Christian life is the narrow path.

My theme today: Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

My applications for you are three:

  1. Trust in Jesus alone for salvation,
  2. pray for people to come to know Him, fast and take this seriously
  3. share Jesus with others.
  4. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The New Testament teaches this:
    1. We read the passage from Matthew 7:13-14 a minute ago. In Matthew 7:12 the Sermon on the Mount ends. I believe that sermon is all about people being pointed to Jesus. I think Jesus is saying that they need a Savior. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It could be better translated “be holy,” but the application is the same. How are we to be holy? We can only be holy by inheriting Jesus’ holiness in salvation. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and scribes did everything right, at least on the outside. They followed the whole law. I think the common people might have been laughing when Jesus said that these people were not good enough. But if they aren’t good enough, who is? Jesus is good enough. Only Jesus.
    2. After the sermon on the mount ends in Matthew 7:12 we have a few illustrations. The first is in verses 13-14 about taking the narrow path. The second is a tree and its fruit. We know Christians by the fruit of repentance and trust in Him. The third is the two foundations in verses 24-27.
    3. Jesus is saying that He is the only way to Heaven.
    4. The path is not easy, but we are to take the narrow road. We are to follow Jesus. Jesus calls for us to believe in Him, repent of our sins, commit to Him and trust in Him.
    5. Other Bible passages affirm this:
    6. In John 10:9: Jesus says “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
    7. In John 14:6: Jesus answered,“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    8. Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
    9. There’s a West Indian who had chosen Islam over Christianity. And when asked why, he said this, quote: “Islam is a noble broad path, there’s room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is far too narrow.” He’s right.
    10. There was a newspaper article many years ago in Melbourne, Australia from someone who had heard Billy Graham preach. This is what he wrote in to the newspaper. “After hearing Dr. Billy Graham on the air, viewing him on television, and reading reports and letters concerning him and his mission, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul needs saving…whatever that means. I have never felt that I was lost, nor do I feel that I daily wallow in the mire of sin, although repetitive preaching insists that I do. Give me a practical religion that teaches gentleness and tolerance, that acknowledges no barriers of color or creed, that remembers the aged and teaches children of goodness and not sin. If in order to save my soul I must accept such a philosophy as I have recently heard preached, I prefer to remain forever damned, thank you.”
    11. But Christianity teaches those things secondarily. First it teaches we need salvation. The reason people aren’t gently, the reason people aren’t tolerant, the reason people aren’t love, or kind, or you fill in the blank is because they need saved. Once we ae truly saved the rest should follow, it doesn’t always because people aren’t always truly saved. True salvation includes repentance. True salvation means that our inclination is to serve Christ and not sin. Our desires change. This is called “sanctification.”
  5. The church has always affirmed this.[2]
    1. Clement of Rome: We should clothe ourselves with concord, being humble, self-controlled, far removed from all gossiping and slandering, and justified by our deeds, not by words (ch. 30:3).
    2. Polycarp of Smyrna was an Eastern Father acquainted with Ignatius and well versed in Paul’s Epistles. In Polycarp’sLetter to the Philippians, he says: “…knowing that ‘you are saved by grace, not because of works’ (Eph. 2:5,9,9), namely, by the will of God through Jesus Christ” (ch. 1:3).
    3. Irenaeus believed that conversion was dependent upon Christ’s grace, and apart from that grace, man has no power to procure salvation. The more we receive that grace, the more we are obligated to love Christ: No one, indeed while placed out of reach of our Lord’s benefits, has power to procure for himself the means of salvation. So the more we receive His grace, the more we should love Him (Against Heresies,  IV, ch. XIII).
    4. I already quoted the Nicene Creed.
    5. The reformation believed that we are only saved through faith alone in Christ alone.
    6. There is a belief called “Universalism” which would believe everyone goes to Heaven. This is a more recent view.
    7. Please know: at their core belief system, every religions would be exclusive. Every religion believes they are the only way.
  • My concerns as we apply:
    1. I believe there are three types of people who claim Christ.
      1. There are those who claim Jesus as the only way and really believe it.
        1. These people really act on this belief.
        2. They share Jesus with others.
        3. They pray for others to come to know Jesus.
        4. It really hurts them if their children or loved ones do not know Jesus.
        5. They will pray and fast for their children’s salvation.
      2. There are those that make a quiet claim and quiet belief that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
        1. They say they believe this, but they really do not share Jesus with others. They are happy letting people go comfortably to hell.
        2. If you get them alone and talk about hell it bothers them because they really do not believe in hell, or hell is only for people like Hitler.
      3. There are people who claim Christ but outright believe that everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus.
    2. What I wish for you to know today is that the Bible teaches Jesus as the only way to Heaven and praise God that He loves and there is a way. And the Church has always affirmed salvation by Jesus alone.

Close:

Watch this short clip of how Ravi Zaccherius addresses this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFpumlcvbFA

I am very much for interfaith relations. When I was in Cincinnati I served on and was the director of an interfaith council which supported an interfaith food and clothing shelter. I participated and coordinated interfaith thanksgiving services. However, Christianity is inclusive in that Jesus invited everyone, but He does call us to take the narrow road. The Christian doctrine is exclusive. Truth in itself is exclusive. The doctrine of Islam is exclusive and so is any other religious doctrine.

Throughout church history Christians have recognized Jesus as the only way to Heaven. Otherwise, the cross Jesus died for no reason.

My theme today: Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

My applications for you are three:

  1. Trust in Jesus alone for salvation,
  2. pray for people to come to know Him, fast and take this seriously
  3. share Jesus with others.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://www.abc-usa.org/10facts/

[2] http://chnetwork.org/2010/03/salvation-from-the-perspective-of-the-early-church-fathers/