Sermon:  The Church's Creed

Summary:  The center and goal of scripture is not scripture, but Jesus, who is the reflection 
of the one and only relational God, as he demonstrates in his healing of the paraplegic.  
Therefore, we need to keep in mind that scripture is not our goal, but a witness or "sign" to the goal, which is Christ who is our creed.

Know:  Scripture is given to us to lead us to Christ

Feel:  The desire to read scripture to be like Christ

Do:  Reflect on the nature of your Bible study habits, the effect it has on you, especially in your
relationship with Christ.  Identify ways to improve your Bible reading time with regard to your 
relationship with our Lord.

Text:  Jn 5

Scripture Reading: Gal 3:24-27

1.  What is a creed?  (history of creeds)
	a.  Old Testament - Rabbinic tradition, when written in 2nd century, called 
	     the Mishnah
	b.  Early Church - Earliest creeds to combat heretics
	c.  Reformation - Creeds became elaborate, often reactionary
2.  American Restoration Movement's improvement on "creeds"
	a.  Noted that creeds were seen as "authoritative" - What about the Bible?
	b.  Reformation, since creeds reactionary, tended to divide not unite
	c.  Since only Bible is authoritative - "We have no creed but the Bible"
3.  Can there be a further improvement on "creeds?"  

I.  (v.1-15) Jesus heals the paraplegic
	A.  Sick for 38 years!
	B.  Imagine what life was like for him
		1.  Had to be carried, or had to crawl
		2.  Probably no control over bodily functions
		3.  Could only beg
	C.  Jesus healed him instantaneously 
		1.  First asked him if he really wanted to get well
		2.  Commanded him to take up his bedroll and start walking
	D.  Jews' objection
		1.  It was against the law to work on the Sabbath
		2.  Their creed defined carrying a bedroll as work
		3.  The man's response - The man who made me well told me to!
		4.  Jews wanted to know who this was, man didn't know at first

II.  (v.16-18) Jesus on Trial
	A.  When he found out it was Jesus he told the Jews
	B.  Jews began to persecute Jesus
		1.  Almost get the idea that it was "prosecuting" Jesus
		2.  A lot of legal language in this chapter
		3.  Jesus gives "testimony"
	C.  Jesus' initial response to persecution - He is equal to God
		1.  Jews said - Everyone rests on the Sabbath
		2.  God not rest on the Sabbath, still has to make the world function
		3.  Jesus says - God works, I work -- we are one
	D.  Jews are now seeking the death penalty
		1.  Not just breaking the Sabbath
		2.  Jesus is making himself equal with God!
		3.  Jesus broke the biggest law of all!

III.  Jesus' Testimony
	A.  (v.19) - Jesus does only what the Father does
		1.  (v.21) Raises the dead and gives them life
			a. Only God can give life…Jesus gives life…Jesus is God
			b.  (v.28) - All in tombs will hear voice of Jesus
			c.  (v.29) - Some raise to resurrection of life, others judgment
		2.  (v.22, 27) - All authority and judgment to the Son
		3.  (v.30) - Jesus does not seek his own will, but God's
		4.  Therefore:
			a.  v.23-If honor son, honor God; dishonor son-dishonor God
			b.  v.24 - If believe in Jesus, believe in God - you have life
	B.  (v.31-39) - Jesus' defense - Others Testify of Him
		1.  v.33-35 - John the Baptist
		2.  v.36 - The works of Christ (his "signs")
		3.  v.37-38 - God himself - through his "signs"
		4.  v.39 - Scripture - Prophecies from the very beginning
	C.  Question:  Why Jesus heal on the Sabbath? It would cause problems
		1.  Could have waited a day and then healed on Sunday
			a.  Would avoid persecution
			b.  Would not be accused of breaking the Sabbath
		2.  Answer:  God is relational, he cares about people
		3.  Also exposes Jewish scribes, lawyers, Pharisees…
			a.  They had all kinds of social injustices
			b.  Bind all kinds of burdens on people
			c.  Cared more for their rules than they did for people!
	D.  As a result - Jesus initiates a "counter-suit"
		1.  (v.40) - They refused to come to Christ for life
			a.  They obsessed with scripture
				- You "search" the scriptures -eraunaw " examine, 
				   investigate, etc." idea of deep study… 
				- Rabbi Hillel said - "Whoever gains the words of 
				  Torah has gained life for himself"
				- Since life was in the Torah, they sought to master it
			b.  So obsessed, didn't recognize the miracle on Sabbath
				- Their question -- "Who healed you?"
				- Not so they could follow him, but prosecute him
				- Scripture points to Christ, but they missed it
			c.  In their obsession with the minutiae of the law, it seems 
			     they missed out on God!
			d.  Gal 3:24 - It was supposed to be a schoolmaster to lead 
			     them to Christ
				- It was never just about Torah
				- It was about the God behind the Torah
		2.  (v.42) - Did not have the love of God
			a.  To them, God was reduced to a set of rules
			b.  As a result, God was not a "relational" God to them
				- As a result, they were not "relational"
				- Led to neglect of "weightier" matters, such as love, 
				   justice, mercy, etc.
				- Neglected the love of God
				- Put rules dealing with peripheral things at the center
			c.  Love is supposed to be at the center.  Why?
				- Because God is Love - it is central to his character
				- Everything else radiates from that
				- This is why justice, mercy, kindness, etc. are 
				   "weightier matters of the law"
			d.  To know God is to love as God loves
				- 1 Jn 4:7 - He who loves is born of God and knows 
				   God for God is love
				- These people really didn't know God
		3.  (v.44) - As a result of this, they were Glory seekers
			a.  Since God was a set of rules, he was impersonal
			b.  An impersonal God doesn't give honor
			c.  Therefore, they sought honor from each other
		4.  These problems stem from an improper view of God, which was 
		      related to an improper view of scripture
			a.  Cannot reduce God to a set of rules
			b.  He has rules which stem from his character

IV.  Lesson?  Remember the goal of scripture - Jesus Christ
	A.  Is this strictly a Jewish problem?  No.
		1.  We still have written scripture today
		2.  We can fall into the same kinds of pitfalls today
		3.  Need to remember what the purpose of scripture is
			a.  NOT - so we can know more scripture
				- You can know scripture and not know God
			b.  IT IS so that we can grow in knowing God
				- The Spirit uses the scripture to transform us
				- As we read, we learn what God is like
				- As we learn what God is like, we learn what he 
				  wants us to be like
			c.  One suggestion to keep reading from being too academic 
			      is to dialogue with God as you read
				- This part of what "prayer and ministry of the word is?
				- Many early Christians called this "sacred reading" - it 
				  is different that reading other things
		4.  If all you do is read it academically, study, etc. you may miss out 
		     on God
	B.  ILL:  Picture Window
		1.  Wife and I went to a preacher and leaders retreat in New 
		     Hampshire sponsored by Sunset
			a.  Cabin out in the woods in the fall
			b.  Big picture window - Scenery was astounding
		2.  Imagine if a little nerdy guy is there and all he can talk about is 
		     the glass and wants to spend all his time analyzing it
			a.  Suppose he brings his test equipment, takes scrapings?
			b.  What if he can tell you exact composition of the glass?
			c.  What if he invites others to come and see the glass?
			d.  What if he can construct this glass and offer everyone to 
			     come a own a piece of this wonderful glass?
				- I have a piece of the glass right here
				- Isn't this great?
		3.  This misses the whole point of the picture window doesn't it?
		4.  It is not about the glass, but about what the glass is allowing you 
		      to see on the other side
	C.  God have given us a picture window - scripture
		1.  Now I could spend all my time analyzing the glass
			a.  Could tell you how it came about
			b.  Categorize, summarize, do doctrinal studies
			c.  Can also do word studies, background studies
			d.  But if that is all I do, I can easily miss the point
		2.  2 Tim 3:16 - All scripture is "inspired"  What does that mean?
			a.  Literally, All scripture is God-spirited" or "God breathed"
				- Jesus said Spirit is like the wind that blows
				- Scripture is God breathed
			b.  Like looking through the window 
				- Wow, that is inspirational!
				- Or can only say, "Wow!"
			c.  Not because of the glass, but what glass shows you 
				- Who is the hero in the Exodus?
				- Who is the hero in the story of David and Goliath?
				- Who is the hero in the Gospels?  Book of Acts
		3.  Scriptures are not Christ, not God, they bear witness to Him
			a.  Possible Christ could say same thing to us?...
			b.  You diligently study the Bible because you think that in it 
			     you have life… but these testify of ME!
			c.  Christ is the centerpiece of scripture, he is God
			d.  The point is to grow in our relationship with God
	D.  Improvement on "We have no Creed but the Bible" is this:
		1.  "Our Creed is Christ"  -- It is all about Christ, our Lord
		2.  What this does:
			a.  Not just following set of arbitrary rules
				- Parents we have arbitary rules, not always followed 
				  very well, not with passion.  Why?  They arbitrary
				- But God's rules come from his character!
			b.  Allow weightier matters to take their place
				- If Christ not at center, peripheral take center stage
				- But if Christ at center, weightier matters center stage
				- eg:  love, justice, mercy, etc.
			c.  Since the emphasis is on Christ, it will be on relationship
				- Relationship with God - Love God, be godly
				- Relationship with One Another - Love your neighbor
				- Place in the world - To serve and evangelize
		3.  Our creed is Christ - Entire Bible built on Christ
			a.  He is the center
			b.  He is the interpretation of scripture
				- How do I love enemies?  Look to Christ
				- How should I pray?  Look to Christ
				- How am I to love God?  Look to Christ
				- How am I to serve?  Look to Christ
			c.  He is the word become flesh
		4.  This is why we are the "Church of Christ" - He is our creed.

1.  It is about Christ.  Have you obeyed, surrendered, sold out, dedicated yourself, died to 
yourself (invitation)
2.  Begins life with Christ.
	a.  Primary tool to know Christ
	b.  Primary tool Spirit uses to transform you
	c.  Primary tool for Spiritual growth is the word of God
3.  Spend time with it
	a.  Studying it is good
	b.  Reading it is better
	c.  Dialogue with it in prayer is best

Small Group Questions:  The Church's Creed

Summary:  The center and goal of scripture is not scripture, but Jesus, who is the reflection of the 
one and only relational God, as he demonstrates in his healing of the paraplegic.  Therefore, we 
need to keep in mind that scripture is not our goal, but a witness or "sign" to the goal, which is 
Christ who is our creed.

- What was the sickest you have ever been?


1.  Discuss what the Jews' reaction to this healing reveals about them.

2.  What things does Jesus reveal about himself in this healing and also in his defense against the 

3.  Jesus pointed out that these Jews examined the scriptures.  We know that they were champions 
and knowing the scriptures and mastering the contents.  What then, was the nature of their problem?

4.  What does the "love of God" have to do with a careful examination of scripture?


5.  What potential pitfalls in Bible study does this lesson point out for you?

6.  Identify the nature of your Bible study habits and the effect it has on you.  (What have been the 
purposes of your Bible study over the last three or four weeks.  How have you read?  How often?  
How has it affected you?)

7.  Does your Bible study habits affect your relationship with God?  If so, in what ways have you 
seen it affect your relationship with God?

8.  What are some ways you can improve your Bible reading time, especially as it affects your 
relationship with the Lord?