Wow guys! I am honored and humbled at the dialog that came out of the last blog. There were some great questions asked and it really stretched me.
I loved it!
I hope it did as much good for others as it did for me! It was also very humbling and kinda scary. Faith is a very sensitive subject, and a person's beliefs are so important that people have gone to war over them. This stayed in the back of my mind when answering questions. My goal is to speak truth in love, but do no harm in the process. That can be very difficult. Like stomping through a field...
...filled with porcupines! :)
Well anyway, last week I showed a video that took us through the first 5 Articles (read beliefs) of the Nazarene Faith. The video talked about the Nazarene view of God, the Trinity and its parts and the video ended with the Nazarene belief on what sin is.
I also said that for a church to be called "Christian" it must have these three basic beliefs.
Their belief about God = One God / Three Persons
Their Belief about sin = It separates us from God
Their Belief about Salvation = Jesus Christ is the atonement for our sins
The first two beliefs were covered last week. If you missed that video you can link to it here.
The video ended with the Article of Faith that talked about sin. I want to rehash that for just a second before we go on. All too often, we respond to words like sin with a resounding "meh..." or we tend to classify sins. Where some sins are considered horrible and others are completely overlooked. This is a real problem because sins is more than just specific actions, its a condition of the heart that wants to do things your own way. Its a focus on the self rather than the creator. There are many more attributes to God other than just love. We tend to focus on the love and grace of God , but we forget that God is holy. So that love rides tandem with judgement.
This week, the third belief that all Christian Churches share is a stumbling block for many. Unapologetically, Christian churches claim that Jesus Christ, God's own Son died on the cross as a sin offering and was raised from the dead three days later.
When sin entered the world, Genesis 3 talks about God immediately clothing Adam and Eve with skins. Now think about this, where did the skins come from? Of course God could have spoke them into being, but its more likely that something died that day to provide for Adam and Eve. Think about it, Adam and Eve had already covered themselves with fig leaves. However, their vegan approved clothing was not going to work outside of the Garden of Eden, which is precisely where they were headed.
So, God chose an animal from all of those that he created, killed it, used its blood to forgive Adam and Eve's sin then used its skin to cover Adam and Eve. I submit to you that this was the world's first sacrifice, and what God started that day was done over and over throughout human history.
(Why did God do it? Couldn't he have weaved something for them?)
That's the rub in the old testament something always had to die in order for forgiveness to be obtained. God explains why in the 17th chapter of Leviticus. "...The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life." (Leviticus 17:11) also Paul talks about it in Hebrews, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin." (Hebrews 9:22)
Like all who come before us, we too are guilty of sin, first of all the sin that was passed down since Adam and Eve, but also the sin of disobedience, of not doing what we know is the right thing. The end result of sin is death. We are all sentenced to die, to be without God. Jesus instead offered to die in our place. He took the punishment and the blood that HE shed takes way our sin like light dispels darkness, heat dispels cold.
The reason Jesus was able to do this is because he was sinless. Since He never committed a single sin in his life, then he and he alone could be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world and the forgiveness made available from this is for everyone; rich, poor, black, white or any color in-between. All anyone has to do is accept what Christ did on the cross, to believe He is Lord, and to repent or turn away from their sin. This is the reason why we call the gospel "the Good News." Because without it we all are in a hopeless situation!
Forgiveness is only the beginning, this is the first step in forming a relationship with the very creator who made the Universe and everything in it. Michele calls it becoming friends with God. It may seem rather simplistic but she's a children's pastor so...she can get away with it. You see, God wants a relationship with each of us. The one who spoke the whole universe into existence, sees the person you are, even though, compared to all of space, we are SUPER infinitely small beings.
(Uh, remember that TRIGGER WARNING I talked about 3 posts ago?)
But, like I said, The Good News of Jesus is a stumbling block for many people. How could something so good be rejected?
Well, first off, since Christ had to die in our place, the idea that a person could be good enough to be forgiven of their sins is thrown out the window, otherwise Christ wouldn't have had to die, God would have told us to just be good. Remember sin causes us to be in a hopeless situation.
Second of all, Christ himself said that he was the way the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father except through Him. This exclusivity stands in opposition to any ideas that there is more than one path to heaven. Once again, why would Jesus go to such extreme measures to redeem us if there was another way? Hard words to swallow in our inclusive, open minded culture. In fact, many people seem to dislike Christianity because of this claim.
(OK, end trigger warning)
This will end the basic beliefs that all Christian church share, from this point on you may begin to see deviations between the Nazarene Church and other denominations. But, like I have said before, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, or a good thing.
I fell like I have posted a book rather than a blog! Anyway, here is the second video on Nazarene beliefs, enjoy.
What did you think of the video?
Was there anything that jumped out at you?
Was there anything that you have a hard time with?
Please Comment and lets get a conversation going!