Can I Faithfully and Firmly Believe This? (Audio and Manuscript)
Can I Faithfully and Firmly Believe This?
† IHS †
May the grace and mercy of God our Father, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, sustain your trust in their love, and reveal to you more and more, Their Presence in your life!
A moment ago, if you were paying attention as we began the Athanasian Creed, you might have had a moment of concern as we began, as I said,
Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the Christian faith. Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally.
But the nature of reciting a creed gave you only a few seconds to say this, and before you could process it, we were moving on to the next phrase.
A little way down, perhaps some of you gasped as we read,
Therefore, whoever desires to be saved must think thus about the Trinity.
If you had a moment to think at that point, you might have jotted down a question for me during Bible Study, and if you did, that is awesome – I will try and answer it then. But really? How can we believe in these words we barely can comprehend as we are reading them off of the page.
And then, my last words,
This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.
Which brings me to a question. Can I faithfully and firmly believe something I just read, even though I don’t understand it completely? Pastor, someone is thinking, if this is that important, shouldn’t we do it, maybe once a month or so? At least more than once a year?
What do you think Chris? Do it monthly?
Back to the more important question….and the one that follows…
Can I faithfully and firmly believe this ancient mind-twisting, theological statement? And if can’t understand it, does that mean I am not saved?
We will answer that in a few moments.
The Isaiah Moment –
In many ways, saying the Athanasian Creed is like the situation Isaiah finds himself in, as we hear it described in the Old Testament reading this morning.
He’s overwhelmed, and confused. Everything he thought he knew of, he is unsure of, all he knows is that God is a lot bigger, than he ever contemplated before. His eyes can’t keep up with all he sees, and you will notice that the one thing he doesn’t describe in any depth, is what God looks like.
Isaiah sees Him, but all He tells us is that God is sitting on the throne, and God is wearing a robe that would take Carol, Linda, Barbara, and Cyndee a lot longer to sew than 18 stoles!
As Isaiah is overwhelmed, he forgets everything he knows about God, and is intently aware of how he doesn’t belong in God’s presence. He’s a sinner, a man who can’t filter his thoughts, and he is surrounded by people just like him.
All he can think of, is I don’t get it, and no maybes, (CLICK) I don’t belong here in God’s presence.
That is where his thoughts are going, as he realizes the glory of God, as He encounters it.
As he finds himself dropping to his knees, in awe, unable even to plead for mercy…
That is what happens to us when we sit down, and start to consider what we do know about God, when we try to summarize it, whether in 12 verses of the Apostles Creed, or the fifty of the Athanasian Creed, or in a sermon, or in a book.
It is not easy to get our minds wrapped around all the scripture teaches about God. Heck I could teach for forty-five hours just on the titles we have for God, and on His name, and on the one line from this creed,
But the whole three persons are coeternal with each other and coequal, so that in all things, as has been stated above, the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is to be worshiped!
The Grace of God
And in those four underlined words, we find our hope. We find out that like Isaiah, we belong in God’s presence. Not because we are good enough, or qualified enough, or know and understand enough, but because of the reason we worship Him.
There was one more line that should give us pause…
And those who have done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire.
He has judged us already, as Christ bore the iniquities of us all. Because Jesus bore the stripes on His back, and the nail scars in His hands. That judgment comes when the Holy Spirit is poured out on us, as we are declared His people, as we are promised eternal life. Because He loves us, because that love and mercy sent Jesus to die for us, and rise again. Because His death and resurrection brings us into a relationship with Him, a covenant with Him, where God judges us and says, you are righteous, you have done good.
In awe and confusion and fear, we find ourselves in the presence of God.
We hear the angels and archangels, the seraphim and elders, singing the words Holy, Holy, Holy…. And then we are touched, our lips and heart cleansed as God comes near.
And we join in the praises….
For God has judged our trust in His work, our need for Him to do that work, our need to cling to Him, and it is enough.
Enough so that God not only welcomes us into His presence, but sends us out to bring His message to a world that needs it, but needs the work of the Spirit to help them hear it.
There is s a lot of truth in this creed, this statement about the God who we trust, who we know, in who are beliefs are found, revealed to us in Christ. The creed puts what we know is true, and what we know isn’t true.
Yeah, it’s long and complicated, it helps us know that things like Gnosticism and Subordinationism, that donatism and other things are wrong. What it does best? It reveals to us the God who reveals Himself is bigger than our thoughts, is bigger than our theories that try to explain what God keeps as a mystery.
I wrote yesterday that the mysteries of God aren’t there primarily to be solved and explained. These mysteries are here to leave us in awe, to bring us to the point where we are silent, where we know He is God.
Like Isaiah, before the throne, like us as we bend a knee, and take and eat, and take and drink, the body and blood of Christ.
This is our God, trust in His promises, revel in what He reveals, and know that He is your God, and we are His people, who dwell in His peace, and Christ guards our hearts and minds in that place, and no one can change that.
Posted on June 1, 2015, in Sermons and tagged Athanasian Creed, desires to be saved, doctrine, faith, Faithfulness, Ttinity, Unity in Trinity, What do I Believe. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.