“God the Father”
Part 1 of “This We Believe” Series
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Pentecost Sunday – BOTH Services
Genesis 1:1-2; Isaiah 44:6; John 1:1-3
I realize that today is Pentecost Sunday…It is the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of the Church…We usually hear sermons about rushing winds and tongues of fire…It seems like an odd Sunday to begin a lengthy sermon series on a particular topic. However, the series we begin today really is all about The Church…It is called: “This We Believe” and it is inspired by a book written by Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Tennent of Asbury Theological Seminary. Dr. Tennent has written twelve meditations dealing with the twelve affirmations found in The Apostles’ Creed. My intent in this series is to explore each of these twelve affirmations and help us to better understand what we profess to believe as Christians in the apostolic tradition…It occurs to me that we are so accustomed to reciting The Apostles’ Creed that we may have become complacent about its declarations. There are also many who question some of the wording of the Creed and have a difficult time understanding why we say certain things. Over the next twelve weeks I hope we can resolve these issues and begin to look at this ancient prayer through freshly reverent eyes.
First, let’s talk about why a creed of any kind is important to us and how this particular creed developed…For centuries the Church has looked for ways to teach the basics of the Christian faith…The Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Apostles’ Creed are some examples of summary statements that are easy to learn and understand…Throughout church history Christians have recognized the Apostles’ Creed as a basic guide to instruct new believers…Parents and grandparents have long used memorization of the Creed as a tool for instructing children.
A creed is simply an historic statement of faith…The purpose of a creed is to give a brief, clear summary of the faith…There are two creeds in the history of the Church that have been accepted by nearly all Christians everywhere…The Apostles’ Creed and The Nicene Creed.
The Apostles’ Creed dates back to the 2nd Century and reflects the faith of the Apostles, organized into 12 affirmations of our historic faith. One of the best things about the Apostles’ Creed is that it only uses language taken directly from Scripture…As we look at each of the 12 parts of the Creed, we will be able to see where each affirmation originated in the Bible.
So let’s begin with the most basic affirmation of our faith…“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
It is important that we notice the basic structure of the Apostles’ Creed and how that structure guides our belief system…There are three major sections…
1. I believe in God the Father;
2. I believe in Jesus Christ;
3. I believe in the Holy Spirit
Each section begins by naming a person in the Trinity and then goes on to affirm what God is this Trinitarian nature has done for us. Obviously, the Creed was written to support and teach about a church that believes in the nature of God as being three unique persons within one God. What is interesting to me about this first affirmation is that it leads us into the Trinitarian understanding even before we read any further…If the Creed said, “I believe in God, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,” this Creed could be Islamic or Jewish…Any Muslim or Jew can agree that Almighty God created everything. What is unique and powerful about this statement is, “I believe in God the Father…” Not only do we affirm God’s absolute power, we also acknowledge God as Father – everyone’s father…This is very important to our faith – since God is “father,” he can only be understood in terms of the various relationships in which he participates…This is not some singular, loner god somewhere out there in the cosmos – this God exists within and for relationships…These relationships begin within himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…This intimacy extends to all of Creation as God is our father, our brother, and our friend…We are called “children of God” and here, in this most basic affirmation of our faith we begin by calling God our Father. The affirmation that God is our Father means that God is a person…Our God is not some abstract, vague, or mystical force in the outer reaches of the galaxy…God is not what Aristotle called the “Unmovable Mover” or some generic god of philosophy…Our God is personal; a Being in relationship with us; the embodiment of holiness, love, grace, and justice.
We also need to think about this word, “Almighty”…God is absolute; He holds all the cards…There is something beautiful and comforting in this concept; it is an image of perfect balance…Not only does God have all the power, but he uses his power in ways that reveal his love for us. Our human experience often sees great power in the hands of people who abuse it for their own gain…We frequently see love dissolve into sappy sentimentality that becomes more self-serving than truly loving…That is why this first affirmation is so critical for us…It shows us that God’s awesome and absolute power is never abused and God’s love is always life–giving.
This is the perfect place to begin a journey of faith…The first step is to accept by faith the God created. Remember the words of Hebrews 11:3 – “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Everything we see, use, and enjoy…Every part of this world in which we live…All of this had a beginning and that beginning was God who spoke it all into existence.
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen