Not too long ago Jeff Foxworthy and his Blue Collar Comedy buddies did a segment entitled, “I believe.” They took turns finishing the phrase “I believe.”
The one I remember most was Jeff’s: “I believe that if you let somebody cut in front of you in traffic and they don’t give you the little “wave,” it should be perfectly legal to get up underneath ‘em, get ‘em loose, and put ‘em into the wall.”
Recently I had the opportunity re-state and re-commit what “I believe” in accord with many other Lutheran Christians around the country. It was a good exercise for me as I read Scripture, prayed, and studied again the basics of what I call “The Lutheran Perspective of The Christian Faith.”
In our Lutheran worship service we state our faith each week as we say the words of The Apostles’ Creed together. But there’s an expansion of that great creed that I believe encompasses the core of my faith. I share with you here what “I believe” using the words that these other Lutheran Christians and I have agreed upon.
What you need to know as you read what “I believe” is that number three is the key because everything I believe, and subsequently every component of my life, is informed by and guided by the Bible. And you need to know this also: I am simply a sinner redeemed by the grace of God. As a pastor, yes, I’m a leader and a full-time servant of the Lord, but I am still the same as everyone else — again, a sinner in need of a Savior.
So, here’s what “I believe.”
1) The Lord Jesus Christ:
I believe and confess my faith in the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I trust and believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.
2) The Gospel of Salvation:
I believe and confess that all human beings are sinners, and that sinners are redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God alone justifies human beings by faith in Christ ... a faith that God creates through the message of the Gospel. As an ambassador for Christ, God uses me to speak his Word and build his kingdom.
3) The Authority of Scripture: I believe and confess that the Bible is God’s revealed Word to me and to all people, spoken in Law and Gospel. The Bible is the final authority for me and for us all in all matters of our faith and life.
4) A Common Confession of Faith:
I accept and uphold that the Lutheran Confessions (written documents upholding Biblical teachings) reliably guide us as faithful interpretations of Scripture, and that I share a unity and fellowship in faith with all others (Lutherans and all Christians with this same faith) among whom the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and the sacraments are administered in accordance with the Gospel (the traditional Lutheran definition of what makes a true church).
5) The Priesthood of All Believers:
I believe and confess that the Holy Spirit makes all who believe in Jesus Christ to be priests for service to others in Jesus’ name, and that God desires to make use of the spiritual gifts he has given through the priesthood of all believers.
6) Marriage and Family:
I believe and confess that the marriage of male and female is an institution created and blessed by God. From marriage, God forms families to serve as the building blocks of all human civilization and community. I believe and teach that sexual activity belongs exclusively within the biblical boundaries (the clear biblical boundaries) of a faithful marriage between one man and one woman.
7) The Mission and Ministry of the Congregation:
I believe and confess that the church is the assembly of believers called and gathered by God around Word and Sacrament, and that the mission and ministry of the church is carried out within the context of individual congregations, which are able to work together locally and globally.
So, there you have it. And you know what? It’s a good feeling, a great feeling, to know what I believe and be so convinced by Scripture that it is what God wants me to believe.
I guess my question for you today is “What do you believe?” Now would be a good time to decide or re-decide whether you share this faith with me. I hope you do. You sure don’t have to be Lutheran to share this faith. I think another good question for you to ask and answer for yourself is “On what basis is your belief founded?” The Bible? Your own feelings? The acceptances of society? Current trends in culture? What makes your faith strong or what makes your faith weak? How would you finish “I believe ... ?”
And how could you be sure you were right?
Pretty good questions, don’t you think?
Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville on Hwy. 314 between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. He invites you to Sunday Service, 9:15 Contemporary, 11:15 Pipe Organ, 10:20 Classes. www.princeofpeacefayette.com.