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When I was in college at Texas Tech, I had the opportunity to attend Paradigm Bible Study at one of the bigger churches in town. Justin Cofield had a band and did a great job leading over 1,000 Tech students each week in worship. Jon Randles was the preacher who each week would challenge us to be “dangerous disciples” and “room changers” for Jesus. The man traveled everywhere, had a ton of FCA connections, did wonderful missions overseas, and spoke to college football teams. Anyone remember Nebraska Football Head-coach Tom Osborne? Jon gave the devotional before his final game against a senior-led Peyton Manning squad and won by 4 touchdowns. A key part of his message each week anywhere he went was on what he called “The center” of the faith. You can be a Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, or Catholic with a lot of externals in the faith that makes each denomination different, but as far as he was concerned, Jesus was the reason all were Christian. Jon passed away almost 10 years ago, and I miss him dearly! His Twitter account is still up and has gold quotes from him. “If you draw all your strength from the faith of others, you are just a fan and spectator. Make faith in Christ your own and you become a playmaker.” The Apostles and Nicene Creed are great ways to make plays for Jesus. When you affirm the Apostles Creed, 10 times the Apostles Creed makes an affirmation about who Jesus is and what He did. When you say the Nicene Creed, that number about who Jesus is and what He did increases to 19. That is an interesting and remarkable truth, isn’t it friends? Over 49 times a month our church will clearly and boldly affirm who Jesus Christ is and what He has done. It is so important to understand that when you affirm your faith in the Creed, you are not only affirming what the Global Methodist Church calls binding teaching, you aren’t just affirming what you believe, but you are also affirming who you believe! You are saying you believe Christ is who he says He is. Today, we are continuing to visit about the essentials of the faith in the Global Methodist Church through exploring what we believe, and why we believe it. When we leave here today we hope to not only have a fuller picture of who Jesus Christ is but also love Him more deeply than we have before.

Who is Jesus? He is God’s “only Son our Lord.” The clause “only” is fascinating. The church Fathers were not just saying God has only one Son as Savior, nor only that Jesus is a part of the Godhead Christians call the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Creed writers were also saying following Jesus is the only way to live. In one of the most memorized and famous verses in the Bible, John’s Gospel tells us “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not be destroyed, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 is important when you read John 3:14-15. Jesus is referencing a story from Numbers 21:5-9. In that text, Jesus says he will be lifted like the serpent of old to save his people. The Greek word for “lifted” (hupsoō) can also mean “exalted,” and this double meaning is the point. Those who looked to the serpent in Numbers were spared their physical lives. Those who look to exalted Jesus will have “eternal life” (John 3:15-16) now and in the future ( cf John 5:28-29; 6:40, 54; 11:23-24, 17:3). That’s key to me friends. Whoever believes in Christ should not perish now or in the future, unless they walk off his path. Jesus says later “I am the light of the world, he that follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”- John 8:12. The Resurrected Christ is the supreme authority and source of life and light for all who follow Him, a belief which our Global Methodist Church Book of Doctrines and Disciplines states is “foundational.” Don’t you see friends? To say you believe in Jesus Christ His only Son is stating you live by His authority and teachings alone. When a believer is in doubt, or when they are successful, they look to Jesus for how to act.

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Following Jesus’ teachings is and should be common ground for any believer. I remember serving in my first church full-time. We were having a life group at a friend’s house, and someone brought a “believer” to the house who openly questioned why I was there. “Preacher, are you here to convert us? Are you right and we are all wrong?” I didn’t address the question until the end of the night and said this: “Brother, I am not here because I am right, I am here because I love Jesus and follow Him wherever He calls me.” Hear me friends, he had never heard following Jesus put that way before. I never discussed why he called himself a believer who never came to church, but I can say he came to every life group and eventually Methodist men’s breakfasts. Church, that is part of what Jesus meant when He called Himself “The Way, the Truth, and The Life.”-John 14:6. That following Him is not only about saving your soul, following Jesus is also about changing your life, today. I find it highly encouraging that following Jesus is not something I have to wait for, I can pursue Him! Our lifegroups, sunday school classes, Blessing Bunch bible study on Tuesday mornings, our Sunday afternoon ‘The Chosen’ study group, HisKids, and more are all designed to help you pursue Christ and change to be a better disciple for Him.

Jesus as Savior and teacher is one thing, Jesus as Lord changes the game, doesn’t it? “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”-Hebrews 1:1-3. When you read the titles of Jesus, Soter (Savior) is said 157 times in the New Testament. Jesus is Kurios, (Jesus is Lord) is said 700 times! The New Testament doesn’t see Jesus as a nice teacher, but also as the one in authority, who keeps all things together! He’s in charge. In the original Greek of Jude, Jude calls himself a “dulos” of Jesus in Jude 1:1. The English rendering is translated as a “slave.” The image of slaves is not the same as the sin of slavery from the Civil War era. Slave in the Bible means allowing your actions and thoughts to please one person. Jesus as Lord is a decision by the believer that all of their thoughts and actions are concentrated on bringing glory to Him. What does scripture say is the primary mode of operation for the believer to give glory to Christ as Lord? “Compete well for the eternal life of which you have been called,” Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim 6:12. The Biblical word for competing for the Lord Jesus is obedience, no matter the circumstances. One of the best competitors for the Lord Jesus Christ I ever read was Oswald Chambers’ devotional My UpMost for His Highest. A prolific teacher, Chambers was devoted to Jesus Christ and always had a way of teaching about Jesus in ways that encouraged and uplifted others. For a long time, the devotional ranked as the second most popular book in the world besides the Bible. The devotional is compiled of notes taken by his wife on various things that her husband would teach his students. In the devotional marked May 14th, Chambers highlights the joys of obedience to Christ, stating “The moment you obey God, His Son shines through you in even in adversity; but if you debate with God, you grieve His Spirit (see Ephesians 4:30). We must keep ourselves in good shape spiritually if we want the life of the Lord Jesus to reveal Himself, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give in to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. The thing that ought to make our hearts beat is a new way of revealing our Lord Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean choosing the disagreeable; it means embracing the disagreeable when God places it in our path. Wherever God places us, He is sufficient (cf Philippians 4:19). Never live on your memories of past experiences. Let God be active and alive inside you so that the life of the Lord Jesus Christ will reveal Himself at every turn.”

What and who are you affirming? For the early church and first believers at Pentecost, it was no contest. If the behavior does not honor or glorify the Lord Jesus, it’s not worth the time or trouble. I read a line the other day that “We must stop asking people to accept Jesus into their heart and start asking them to swear allegiance to Jesus as King.” Friends, affirming and asking Jesus to become your King is not a burden, it’s not a worship style, it’s a joy! It causes the first believers at Pentecost in Acts 2 to cry out “what must we do?!” This joy caused the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 27 “Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path.”- Psalm 27:7-11. Friends, trust King Jesus and seek His way. Do so, and you will no longer wish for things such as God’s church, your family, or your business to thrive, it will! Do you want to know why? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be leading the way, making plays for Jesus. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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