Hell: The Real House of Horrors


Easter According to the Apostles’ Creed (Part 1)

The Apostles' Creed

The Apostles' Creed

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #163

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Today, we begin a unique series that is based on a historical text that was passed down from the early church all the way to us today. If you have ever attended a Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, or Presbyterian church, you may have heard something similar to these words which are referred to as the Apostles’ Creed. Now, Baptists, as a rule, do not subscribe to any creed. Coming out of the Protestant Reformation, Baptists decided that, unlike other Protestant denominations, they would be non-creedal. Baptists state that “the final authority for faith and practice is the Bible, not words about the Bible.” However, while I do not hold any creed to the level of inspired Scripture, I believe that there are some elements from other parts of the church that are good that we should at least be aware of and learn from. The Apostles’ Creed is one of those things. Let’s read it:

I believe in God the Father almighty;
and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended to heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence He will come to judge the living and the dead;
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh
(the life everlasting).

What is a creed? According to Merriam-Webster, a creed is a “statement of basic beliefs; an idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group.” Thus, the Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles of Jesus Christ believed. Now, there are three versions of the Apostles Creed, and the one I just read is referred to as the “Old Roman Symbol.” This “Roman” version is the oldest version of the Apostles’ Creed. According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, it was put in written form by 180 AD. Tradition states that, on the day of Pentecost, the twelve Apostles each contributed one line to this creed to make up the twelve lines of the “Old Roman Symbol” that we have today.

The other versions of the Apostles’ Creed are the Nicene Creed and the Ath-a-na-sian Creed. These later versions of the creed came about because the church needed to combat false teachings that were creeping into the church. Thus, the Nicene Creed, which was adopted by the Council of Calcedon in 451 AD, contains additional text affirming the deity of Jesus Christ as there were some false teachers who claimed that Jesus was not divine. The Ath-a-na-sian Creed was issued in the late fifth century or early sixth century and includes additional text affirming the Trinitarian unity of the Godhead — that God is Father, Son, and Spirit, yet one God.

According to an article by David Meager in CrossWay, “The Creed seems to have had three uses: first as a confession of faith for those about to be baptised, secondly as a catechism (an instruction for new Christians in the essentials of the faith), and thirdly, as a ‘rule of faith’ to give continuity to orthodox Christian doctrine.”

Starting today, and each day throughout Holy Week, leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we are going to break down this creed and look at the biblical basis for each of these truths that every Christian ought to believe. The first line of the creed reads: “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth…” From just this first line of the creed, we see three important facts about the God we believe in.

1. We see the uniqueness of God. Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” In Isaiah 45:5, God says, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” God makes it clear that He alone is God. He alone is in control. He alone is almighty.

2. We see the eternality of God. The first line of the Apostles’ Creed acknowledges God as eternally existent. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Job 36:26 says, “Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.”

3. We see the sovereignty of God. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Old Roman Form of the Apostles Creed states, “I believe in God the Father almighty,” and the Nicene version adds, “maker of Heaven and Earth.” These statements affirm God’s sovereign power which is shown through His creative acts.

These three facts about God — that He is unique, that He is eternal, and that He is sovereign — form the foundation of everything we believe as Christians. It is what Jesus’ disciples believed. It is what the early church believed. It is what we ought to believe as well.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “What a Day That Will Be” by Bart Millard and “We Believe” by Newsboys

Are You a True Disciple? (Part 5)

Are You a True Disciple?

Are You a True Disciple?

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #162

TEXT: Luke 14:25-33

During our first three messages in this series, we began discussing some of the things that hold Christians back from being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Based on Jesus’ words in Luke 14, we saw that some people are caught up in the enthusiasm and excitement of the crowd but they never venture into the area of total commitment. Others may have gotten over the crowd, but they are tripped up by family ties. And then, there are those who have gotten over family issues, but they are hung up on that old, persistent enemy — self. We looked at how we can overcome each of these obstacles and get on the path of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

In our fourth message, we focused on Jesus’ call for us to pick up our cross and follow Him. We saw that carrying our cross means being determined, it means sometimes walking alone, and it means not doing what we would like to do all of the time.

Today, we are going to look at two examples that Jesus Christ gives in this passage, and what they tell us about carrying our cross and being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

1. A true disciple will count the cost. Jesus gives us a picture of what a person who intends to follow Christ ought to do. He says in verse 28, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost?”

What is Jesus saying? He is letting us know that following Christ is not something we do blindly. He is not, as some people try to say, requiring us to leave our brains at the door. He is not tying our hands behind our backs, blindfolding us, and telling us to walk off a cliff. He wants us to soberly ponder what we are getting into before we make the decision to follow Him. He wants us to count the cost.

2. A true disciple will contend with detractors. Returning to Jesus’ example, He says that the man who is building a tower will count the cost “lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him.”

Here we see a picture of a man who set out to follow Jesus Christ. He made up His mind that He would be a true disciple. He got rooted and grounded in the faith, but then his detractors showed up. They laughed at him. They told him he was foolish for even trying to follow Jesus. They said that this man would start out well, but eventually, he would give up.

3. A true disciple will continue to the end. In verse 28, Jesus says, “Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Notice the word “finish.“ If you quit halfway through, you are not a true disciple. A true disciple will follow Jesus until the very end. If he sins, if he stumbles, if he makes a mistake, he will get back up as quickly as possible, and get back on the straight and narrow road.

Count the cost, today, dear friend. Understand that you will have to contend with detractors. And realize that you will only be able to continue to the end if you depend on Jesus Christ. Jesus was fair in letting us know ahead of time what to expect if we were to become His disciples. He did not lure us in and then surprise us with a cross to bear. He lets us know plainly that the way of the cross is not always an easy road, but in the end it is a road that is worth it.

Do you want to be a true disciple of Christ? Are you willing to take up your cross? Are you willing to follow after Christ? Have you counted the cost?

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Jesus Promised Me A Home Over There” by Jennifer Hudson; “Let The Church Say Amen” by Andrae Crouch and Marvin Winans

True Hope in Hopeless Times (Part 4)

Hope

Hope

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #161

TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at the topic of true hope in hopeless times. Last week, we looked specifically at Jesus’ command to “let not your hearts be troubled.” We can do this by choosing not to let our hearts be troubled, by choosing to believe in God, and by choosing to believe in Jesus Christ.

Today, as we continue with this theme, we are going to look at how the Christian deals with death. Death is all around us. People who were here yesterday are not here today. People who got up this morning will not be here tonight. You might have plans for this day that you will never get to fulfill because death will come knocking.

President William McKinley was the third American president to be assassinated. He clung to life for several days after he was shot. Towards the end, as his life slipped away, his wife started crying and screaming, “I want to go too! I want to go too!” With his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his final words: “We are all going.”

Yes, we are all going. And it is likely that you will see and hear about a lot of people who go before it is your turn to go. Let’s look at how we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to handle death. We are going to do this by focusing on three key words in our passage — Sorrow, Sleep, and Spirit.

1. Sorrow. In First Thessalonians, Paul writes to a group of Christians who were particularly enthusiastic about the Rapture. They were eagerly awaiting Jesus’ return. However, when Jesus did not return as fast as they thought He would, and some of their number died, they began to worry. Paul writes to them and says, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”

2. Sleep. Why is it that the Christian does not have to sorrow over death? Because for the Christian, death is not final. Death is, as Paul termed it in verse 13, a “sleep.” This sleep refers to the status of the physical body of the believer. When you are asleep, you are out of touch with your physical environment, and that is what will happen to your body when you die. It will be put in the ground, and it will be unable to communicate with its surroundings using its God-given senses.

3. Spirit. This is another reason why Christians do not have to sorrow about death. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” When you die, your body goes down into the grave, but your spirit leaves your body and goes instantly to be with Lord. In reality, you never truly die. Your spirit is always alive, and when your body sleeps, your spirit will go on to do what the Westminster Catechism says is the purpose of man — “to love God and enjoy Him forever” — with the added benefit of being in the actual presence of our Savior Jesus Christ in Heaven.

We must always remember that Jesus Christ conquered death when He rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, so we do not have to fear death as the world fears death. We do not have to sorrow over death as the world sorrows over death. Thank God, we have true hope to cling to in the face of death.

Are You a True Disciple? (Part 4)

Are You a True Disciple?

Are You a True Disciple?

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #160

TEXT: Luke 14:25-33

During our first three messages in this series, we began discussing some of the things that hold Christians back from being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Based on Jesus’ words in Luke 14, we saw that some people are caught up in the enthusiasm and excitement of the crowd — they enjoy the good times with Jesus — but they never really venture into the area of full and total commitment. Others may have gotten over the crowd, but they are tripped up by family ties. They experience a tug of war within themselves between what mama has to say and what Jesus has to say. And then, there are those who have gotten over family troubles, but they are hung up on that old, persistent enemy — self. They are not willing to give up what they desire in order to follow Christ with their whole heart.

Today, we are going to continue looking at what it means to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Taking up your cross means being determined. Jesus Christ says in verse 27, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross… cannot be my disciple.” If you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, one of the requirements is that you must bear your cross.

2. Taking up your cross means sometimes walking alone. You might recall that on the night when Jesus was arrested, Jesus said to His disciples, “smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” What He was saying was, when the Jewish authorities come to take me — when they smite the Good Shepherd, the sheep (that is the crowd, and the disciples) will flee. And, that is exactly what happened.

3. Taking up your cross often means not being able to do what you want. Jesus says in verse 27, “And whosoever doth not…come after me, cannot be my disciple.” In other words, you cannot pick up your cross and go your own way.

Have you picked up your cross, dear friend? Have you wholeheartedly begun following the footsteps of the Master? As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian one must take up his cross, with all its difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it!” Are you ready to start carrying your cross today?

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?” by Dottie Peoples and “King of Kings (He’s a Wonder)” by CeCe Winans

True Hope in Hopeless Times (Part 3)

Hope

Hope

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #159

TEXT: John 14:1-4

We have been looking at the topic of true hope in hopeless times over the past few weeks. And, ladies and gentlemen, our true hope is the same as Vance Havner’s true hope — and it is found in the same place — in the back of the Bible. So far, we have learned that the true hope of Christians is a person — Jesus Christ, and an event — the Rapture, when Jesus Christ will come to earth to gather all those who believe in Him for salvation. In part 2 of this series, we also saw three reasons why we look forward to the Rapture:

1. We look forward to the Rapture because it means being like Jesus

2. We look forward to the Rapture because it means being with Jesus

3. We look forward to the Rapture because of the certainty of the promise of Christ’s coming.

Today, I want us to look at how our hearts can be at peace during perilous times.

1. Choose not to have troubled hearts. In John 14:1-4, Jesus Christ tells His disciples and us to “let not your heart be troubled.” The word troubled means “to cause inward commotion or to take away calmness of mind.” Many of us skip over this little phrase and hurry on to Jesus’ promises about going to Heaven and preparing a place for us there.

2. Choose to believe in God. The key to overcoming our troubled hearts is found immediately after Jesus’ first statement. He says, “believe in God.” This phrase is also a command.

3. Choose to believe in Jesus Christ. After telling His disciples to “believe in God,” Jesus Christ goes on to say, “believe also in Me.” This is the third command in this single verse.

Don’t trust in people and things. People die, people let you down, people disappoint you. Things perish and can be taken away. Trust in God who does not change and in Jesus Christ who promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. If you do this, you will have no reason to have a troubled heart and you can have true hope in hopeless times.