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What I Believe

I believe the Bible is God’s true love letter to humankind. His word is a must read that tells us what He says about His character and His love for His creation.

In my possession is an old bible, it has a zippered cover to keep it together and many pages are repaired with tape. I have learned in my life to cling to it like a life preserver on the open seas. The words contained therein truly blessed and shaped my life.  I cling to the truths in the Bible because everything else is passing away but God’s word stands forever. My sinful rebellion has not put God off from me; rather He has held me in the hollow of His hand: I am not left to myself. He has promised thus, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6). So it is His good work which He starts and finishes.

My very basic theology is bound up in the Nicene Creed:

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
[put another way…the universal body of believers worldwide] and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

These are the basic tenants of the Christian faith. If you can repeat the Creed in honesty and sincerity as your basic beliefs then you are my brother or sister and I will gladly fellowship and share with you in the Eucharist. All this is not to say that I have no other specific theological beliefs and constructs, for I do. The Creed is the barest bones of theology that we must have to properly recognize the truths of Scripture and look at God with the proper frame of reference.

So what else then? What of other great tenants of theology? How shall we then live as Schaefer phrased the resultant question? What type of world view do we apply to the world at large?

I am a Calvinist, a happy Calvinist; the terms are not contradictory. I have read the end of the book and know how it will end. So, frankly, Calvinism is in the fabric of how I see this broken world. There is much of Calvinism I do understand, nor do I have to; the point is the John Calvin did not die for our sins, neither did the Wesley brothers; we worship a living Jesus who paid the last full measure of our sins. He has saved us and redeemed us.

The Bible tells us that God is the creator of all seen and the larger world we do not see. He is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, possessing all authority. Scripture reveals the triune God as involved, in amazing detail, in our lives. To believe that God wound up the world like a child’s top and let it rip is deism, not Christianity. To view God correctly we must understand that we were created for His glory, not for Him to serve us. God is the great King who rules in all affairs of this globe. The thread of God’s hand in affairs is woven all throughout the Old and New Testament. The will of God is done in heaven and earth.

The oft repeated phrase: “My God would never cause that (fill in your own blank) is frankly another way to say that we have built our own god and he must conform to our philosophy and worldview. I do not mean to be cruel or heartless to those who have suffered terribly in this life. But truth is not easy at times. My heart goes out to you because I too have suffered. I have lost loved ones, I have struggled with economic loss and disaster, I have struggled and do now struggle with health, I have had wayward children…shall I continue? As I look at our world I see fellow-believers who are cruelly oppressed and mistreated. Christians pay the ultimate price daily in the world for the temerity of their faith. So our suffering is relative. What has been revealed to me is the simple fact that God has used the hammer of affliction to mold my life and bring about His character. “A servant is not greater than his Lord” Jesus told us (John 13:16 KJV).  We cannot expect a life not afforded to Jesus, who was the most deserving human that ever walked the earth, of good treatment and blessings. This was not his lot; it is not ours either. We dare not expect it either for we have never been promised a trouble-free existence. So, frankly, I consider the health and wealth gospel as dangerous heresy. Certainly, Christians of the first century A.D did not hold to such nonsense. There is much in this life that is mystery and promises of answers in the here and now have not been given. All final answers for God’s rule reside with God alone. I am not asked to comprehend what He has not revealed; I am responsible to obey what He has said plainly in His word.

We are not saved for ourselves alone as is all too often the narcissistic notion of our culture. We are born from above not for ourselves (I using the term ‘born from above’ because that is the more literal rendering of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3. The phrase ‘born again’ has largely lost its’ punch in popular American culture and is applied all too easily and cavalierly). We are born from above not to merely receive all our desires (God is not the giant Santa in the sky or a genie to grant my wishes) but to fulfill the desires of Christ in this world. We are born from above to exude the character and the heart of Jesus visibly and effectively in our relationships, family and community. Jesus desires that we should see those around us as his beloved sheep, not fodder for our lusts, greed and selfishness. We are called to love those around us and not treat them as potential rivals in business or for the resources available.  The desire of Jesus is for us to view the world through his prism of absolute Truth, not the sin-broken prism of this age.

Yes, I believe in the Absolute Truth found in the scriptures we call the Bible. God is absolute love…and justice. Holiness is not play-dough that we can shape, however we please to gloss over our own defects. There is sin, and sin cost Jesus his life to pay for that sin and satisfy justice for that sin. A God who is not just is no God at all but merely the self creation of broken men and women who fear an absolute standard. Sin is neither cute nor humorously naughty; it is basest rebellion against the loving rule of an absolutely good and righteous God, consequently it is deadly serious.

Once we understand both the concepts of holiness and justice and the sacrifice of Jesus our response should be that of total gratitude. We respond in faith and willingly give Jesus the keys to our heart, soul and body. The triune God then becomes the arbiter of our lives and conduct.  God shall reveal His will for our lives; He will reproduce the very love and character of His son in our lives. As have so many, at times in my life I was stuck like a bug on flypaper over the issue of “What does God want me to do?” Well, God doesn’t send emailed instructions. What God does do is change our very hearts and lives and desires an obedient, willing heart. He wants us to love our fellow believers and simultaneously our unbelieving neighbors. Let me honestly say this is where I have failed so miserably; He is still in the process of changing my self-love for His love. Love your neighbor as yourself and love God with your total being, search for ways to serve Him on a daily basis and God will walk you on the path He has chosen for you. Being in Jesus is the threshold to discovery.

In Jesus we do not find merely eternal fire insurance but we find a relationship that will never leave us the same as we were. The life transformation is not boring, nor is it easy because life transformation is explained in Ephesians as changing a garment: taking off one garment and putting on another. The life transformation is just that: transformation. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Life is essentially this cocoon process, this transformation for us. We are becoming. We are being made, new, different. God’s ultimate desire is that we transform to that beautiful soaring creature. It is the ending of one form for another.

Anyone else want to be a butterfly?



Copyright © 2011 Brian Bailey, Author