Our Beliefs: 3. Jesus Christ

Posted on 12/04/2016 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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JOYFUL JOYFUL

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.


SALVATION BELONGS TO OUR GOD

Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne
And unto the lamb
Be praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength

Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever, amen

And we the redeemed shall be strong
In purpose, and unity
Declaring aloud
Praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength


HOLY HOLY HOLY

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning
our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons,
blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy!
All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns
around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim
falling down before thee,
which wert, and art,
and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy!
Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man
thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy;
there is none beside thee,
perfect in power,
in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name,
in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!
Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons,
blessed Trinity.


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear


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Two weeks ago, we started going through the items in our statement of beliefs. And if you were not offended by the controversial topics, good for you. If you WERE offended, then you can relax, because, at least in the Christian arena, today's discussion will be quite tame indeed.

You can find the statements through which we're going on the website at almcyberchurch.org. Just click the "What We Believe" link. Or, here in Second Life, you can click one of the three stone pillars with the sign on top that says "Church Information," and the statement of beliefs is embedded in the note card you'll receive.

The last couple of weeks, we started by reading the concolusion at the bottom of that document. Today, I'd like to just quickly summarize it.

Both today's discussion and any other doctrinal teachings come from the perspective of the conclusions of individuals or groups. But we do not place our trust in our conclusions, and we do not rely upon our doctrines or beliefs to save us from our sins and connect us with God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (TLS*) says,

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not dwell in or rely upon your own understanding.
6 Know Him in all things, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight.

We tend to trust in, dwell in, and rely upon, our own understanding. We trust our beliefs, those things our minds have concluded that we are certain will ensure we escape torment in hell. But we are told in this passage in Proverbs that we should NOT trust in or rely upon our own understanding.

GOD is the one who saves you, redeems you, guides you, delivers you, and holds your life in His hand. NOT your mind. NOT your understanding. NOT your beliefs. But HIM, and HIM ALONE.

You cannot trust in your rightness to save you and to lead you into Truth. That's God's job, and He's the only One who is qualified for it.


So let's dive into reading the third item in the list.

3. Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the incarnate Word of God and thus God Himself. He purchased our redemption from sin. Jesus Christ suffered, died, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father now as our High Priest and Advocate. We await His return with wakefulness and joy.


Okay. So I realize even this one is not completely safe nor is it free from controversy.

Some groups say Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. Others say the name Lucifer was incorrectly associated with the devil, and thus disagree with the first group on the basis of a name.

If you're familiar with the beliefs of the Mormons, you might recognize the following teaching of their founder, Joseph Smith:

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! ... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did."

Who created the Father God? Well, He supposedly had a mother and father as well, and ultimately we may not be able to know who or what was the prime creator.

Now, they DO believe Jesus is the son of God, and that He lived a sinless life and was therefore able to offer His life to pay for the sins of the children of God.

Is that enough? Many Christians would say that a Mormon cannot be saved, while Mormon doctrine would say that Christians are the church of the devil and will go to hell, albeit they can eventually be saved from hell and enter heaven.

From the Book of Mormon, we read this:

"Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whosoever belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10)

Presumably, the Church of the Lamb of God is the Mormon Church, while the church of the devil is the Christian church, about which Joseph Smith said he could join none of them.

Now, this isn't "pick on Mormons" day. I simply chose Mormonism as an example of a conflicting view of Jesus.

But what did JESUS say about Himself, and what did He say about how we can be saved?

John 8:12-30 (NASB)

12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
13 So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true."
14 Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.
15 You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.
16 But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.
17 Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me."
19 So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also."
20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

21 Then He said again to them, "I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come."
22 So the Jews were saying, "Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, 'Where I am going, you cannot come'?"
23 And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.
24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
25 So they were saying to Him, "Who are You?" Jesus said to them, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning?
26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world."
27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.
28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.


Okay. So the part on which I'd like to focus is where Jesus says, "unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

The word "He" is added, so many Christian teachers believe what Jesus actually said was, "unless you believe that I Am," being how God addressed Himself in the Old Testament, "you will die in your sins."

But they responded by asking, "Who are you?" to which Jesus replied, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning?" And then He goes on to say, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He."

So from this passage, we could deduce that believing Jesus is the Messiah is a prerequisite to salvation from sin.

The Messiah was prophecied to be the One who would save God's people from their sins. He was to purchase, with His blood, a divine pardon and reconciliation to God.

Mormons believe that. They add to those beliefs many fanciful and arguably heretical teachings, but while I suspect those doctrines could cause a number of issues for those who embrace them, are those beliefs, according to Scripture, enough to deny them the redemptive power of the Cross?


Okay. So I said today's discussion was going to be less controversial. Perhaps I was wrong, and I suspect some of us are having fits right about now. But the question remains, and I consider it to be a fair one.

And our discussion today is NOT about Mormonism. Rather, it is about Jesus. Isn't it so easy to get distracted? To take our eyes off the Redeemer and focus instead on doctrines, beliefs, teachings, ideas, and the conclusions of the fallen human mind?

The reason I brought Mormon teachings into our discussion today is to present a view contrary to our own, and then to attempt to drive home how important it is that WE do not ALSO add to what Jesus Himself said is necessary for Salvation.

"Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the incarnate Word of God and thus God Himself. He purchased our redemption from sin. Jesus Christ suffered, died, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father now as our High Priest and Advocate. We await His return with wakefulness and joy."

So we've seen in Scripture that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. The word "Christ" is actually another word for Messiah. So this first sentence is the same as saying "Yeshuah the Messiah is the Messiah." I think we can all agree on that one.

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jesus said this Himself in John 14:6b (NASB),

6b "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

When Jesus speaks, I tend to believe what He says. He has, after all, more than proven Himself to be completely reliable, wouldn't you agree?

He is the incarnate Word of God, and thus God Himself.

John was referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." And after being with Jesus, hearing His public teachings, and being taught in person the truths of the Kingdom of God, John wrote this about Jesus in John chapter one, verses 1 and 14:

John 1:1, 14 (NASB)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Now, some teach that verse one should be translated, "and the word was A god," but from the studies I've seen, that doesn't seem to stand up very well to scrutiny.

So our belief is that Jesus is not just A god, but He is THE God -- timeless and eternal, perfect in every way -- and the person of Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.

"He purchased our redemption from sin. Jesus Christ suffered, died, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father now as our High Priest and Advocate."

These points all come from the Scriptures, including the first-hand eye witness accounts of his death, his physical appearance after the grave, and His bodily ascension into Heaven. And Jesus told us that He was going to prepare a place for us so that "Where I am, there you may be also."

And finally, "We await His return with wakefulness and joy."

Acts 1:9-11 (NASB)

9 And after (Jesus) had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
11 They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

Now, I realize that some people are convinced Jesus was an alien and He was returning to His ship. But come on, let's let go of our speculations, however sound or phantasmagorical they might be.

The Son of God, the Word of God, the Savior of Whosever Will, was taken from this earth, and has promised to return for us. And our response?

We await His return with wakefulness and joy.

And let's close with this parabale told by Jesus in Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV)

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'
7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
9 But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'
12 But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."


Are you prepared? Even if you drift off to sleep in the temporary story we call life, are you prepared for His return?

The virgins who were prepared showed that they were awake enough to keep themselves ready.

And the call came. That call might be a sermon, or a book, or a simple realization that you will meet Him, one way or another, face to face, and that meeting is drawing very nigh.

Be awake. Be Present. Dwell with Him in His Holy Temple. And by remaining Present, Here and Now, in His Light and His Breath, you shine the Flame of Perfect Love which illuminates the world around you.