At Praise & Worship, our beliefs come from Jesus. He is our starting point, our middle point and our ending point. But who is He? What is His story? Why do we make such a fuss about Him?
Jesus is the Word. He lived. He proclaimed. His disciples wrote it down so that we too would know the story. So that we too would proclaim. So that we too would live.
…these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. — John 20:31
While He was preaching, Jesus taught us also that the “Law and the Prophets” were God’s Word. These are the 39 books we now call the “Old Testament.” The “New Testament” is the 27 books written by Jesus’ disciples so that the spoken Word would be preserved and passed down through the generations. These 66 books were all collected into The Bible. We believe The Bible has been preserved to us by the Holy Spirit, through the Church, without error and is the authoritative revelation which points us to Jesus, all because Jesus lives and reigns!
Jesus is our story. He is The Story. The Living Word. We study the Bible to continue to to discover what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do! He has done all of this for you, He is even now working for you, and will do amazing things through you!
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” — John 5:24
Dig Deeper: John 1:1-5, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 1:16, John 17:17, Luke 16:13, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Galatians 5:16-17, Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Corinthians 12:3, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Psalm 119:105
Jesus is God. There is only one God. The true God. The living God. One God, Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all that exists.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. — John 1:1-5
Dig Deeper: Genesis 1:1-5, Deuteronomy 6:4, Jeremiah 32:17, Psalm 19:1, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 12:29, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, 2 Corinthians 13:14
How have Christians throughout the centuries apprehended (not comprehended) the mystery of the fact that God is One God, yet Three Persons? Read the the Athanasian Creed!
In the beginning, when God created everything (and we mean everything), the peak of His creation was Humanity. The universe, and everything in it, was perfect. There was no brokenness or evil, no hurting, no crying, no disease or death. People lived with creation and with God.
And God called these people HIS IMAGE. From our perspective, this is strange or confusing language. But it is critically important. Humans were called to rule God’s creation on His behalf. He would accomplish His goals THROUGH His people. Again, we are prone to say: “Why doesn’t He just do it Himself?” Simply put: He doesn’t want to do it that way because God is LOVE. He is not about Himself, He is all about others. He expresses His identity, His power, His purpose and His plan THROUGH PEOPLE.
Dig Deeper: Genesis 1:26-29, Exodus 3:1-22, Acts 1:6-8
In the beginning, before death and disease, God’s design for His perfect people was Family. He would be our Father. We would be His children. Then, we would emulate that pattern in our own families. Families provide love and security, provide for all of our needs, teach us who we are and how we are to live.
Dig Deeper: Genesis 2:22-25
No one needs brokenness explained. There are many words for it: sin, iniquity, transgression, fallenness, human nature, etc. It is the one part of life we all share, regardless of where we have come from or where we are going.
And just like the broken families many of us come from, God’s family was broken. This happened when God’s children rebelled against Him, to try to create their own reality. The devil began his fight for this world and humanity entered into full on rebellion. Not only was family destroyed, humanity was forever diseased and Creation itself was torn apart. Instead of a reality flowing with love and security, our world became one filled with death and uncertainty. Darkness flowed in to where light once reigned. But that is not the end of the story.
Dig Deeper: Genesis 3:1-24
Even in the midst of the deep chasm created by Brokenness, God went to work through His original design: Family. Not wanting to have His children lost to death forever, nor relenting from His commitment to justice, God chose a family: Abraham and Sarah. Their son Isaac would foreshadow God’s ultimate plan for restoration and their Grandson Jacob would be the father of a great nation bearing his own name: Israel.
Israel has a unique relationship to God: this people he calls His Son. This people, he calls His Bride. He calls this people a nation of priests. They represent Him to the world. Israel is God’s light to the nations. Even though God chooses Israel and continuously saves them, they continually reject Him by serving themselves, worshiping other gods, and oppressing the weak and marginalized. In the first 39 books of the Bible (more on that below) we see this story unfold in dramatic fashion with a remnant longing for God’s promised restoration.
Dig Deeper: Genesis 12:1-20, Genesis 15:1-21, Genesis 17:1-27, Genesis 35:1-15, Isaiah 40:1-31, Amos 9:11-15, Jeremiah 31:31-34
God Himself, relentless in His commitment to saving His children and restoring all of Creation in justice, comes down from Heaven to fulfill the Rescue Plan. The Son of the Father, Jesus of Nazareth, was born of the Virgin Mary and lived the way Israel had been called to live (but never accomplished). He actually IS the light to the nations. Because He is God, he never succumbed to the Brokenness, He was perfect. Because He is Man, when the people rejected Him (just as we did the first time back at the beginning), He died.
But then, He rose again. From 1 Corinthians 15:3-11, these words:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Dig Deeper: Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-53, John 20:1-31, Acts 1:1-26, Romans 1:1-17, Ephesians 1:3-14
God has paved the way for restoration by coming down to us, by doing for us the very things we couldn’t do. But there are still people who choose the Brokenness, and He still wants to call them Home. And He is still working the same way He always has, through People. His people. His family.
He has given us His Spirit which is at work through His Church today to proclaim the work of Jesus. We are brought, literally, “into Christ” through Baptism. He calls us His sons and daughters, He calls us His bride. We are joined to Him and called “His Body,” having been set free to join Him in His work of restoring Creation!
Dig Deeper: John 10:1-42, Acts 2:1-47, Romans 6:1-23, Ephesians 2:1-22, Ephesians 3:1-21, Galatians 3:23-4:31, Colossians 2:6-15, 2 Corinthians 5:1-21, Hebrews 12:1-29
As followers of Jesus, we live our lives in the redemption he has purchased with His death and the restoration He has already begun with His resurrection. But we long for the day when He returns to bring full restoration. This is His plan as we read from Revelation 21:1-7:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
God is love and He is just. This is displayed fully when we gaze upon what Jesus did by dying on the Cross. In justice He died because a price must be paid for our Brokenness. He died because in love He wanted to pay that price Himself and spare us the suffering of eternal torment. He rose again to demonstrate that He is God, to fully secure our righteousness before God, and to begin the New Creation. These words from Romans 4:16-25:
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Tragically and inexplicably, some reject God’s free gift of inheritance. Don’t do this! God is Love, which means He sent Jesus for YOU. He is also Just, which means the Brokenness must be answered for! But He has done everything for YOU so that He Himself would fulfill justice and that YOU would be freely welcomed back into His perfect family.
He is calling you to be His child, be a part of His eternal family where Brokenness is vanquished and His original design is fully realized, fully restored, better than it would have ever been before, all because of Jesus! HE IS THE STORY! HE IS YOUR STORY!
Dig Deeper: Matthew 24-25, Romans 6-11, Galatians 2-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 1 Peter 3, 1 John 2-5