A True Story …
An atheist saw a Christian pastor at a large community party. The pastor was of some note there and the atheist was also of note in the artist community. The atheist had always struggled with why anyone would believe in God. He wanted to quietly challenge the pastor. Kindly, the atheist entered into conversation with the pastor. Eventually, the atheist got around to the point, “State the Christian faith in two words.” The pastor fumbled with his words a bit. He wasn’t expecting this challenge. Yet suddenly the words came to him. He looked at the atheist and said two words, “You’re loved.” Someone else grabbed the pastor’s attention and the atheist walked away thinking about God in a way that he never had before.
If there is one thing, that we at Madison United Methodist Church wish you would know is that you are loved, loved by God, loved by His greater Church, and loved by us. We came to understand this truth and it has changed our lives.
The Bible is the Self-Revelation of God and, Therefore, Has Authority.
Love is not an idea or an emotion. Love is a person: God himself. Often people ask, “How do we know the purposes and will of God?” The answer is simple but not easy: God has revealed Himself through the Bible. The sole foundation for our faith in God’s love is the Bible, the 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the Word of God, fully true. It is our final authority in all matters of faith, lifestyle, and practice (2 Timothy 3:16).
God Exists Uniquely in Three Persons, an Eternal Bond of Love.
In order to love, there has to be a giver and a receiver. In the love of God, we have found that there is one true God, existing eternally and uniquely and equally in three Persons who are of one substance, full of supreme power and glory: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-14, Acts 5:3-4).
Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, is Lord.
God loved us enough to come to us. Jesus Christ is fully human, born of the Virgin Mary – human enough to understand us. And, yet, Jesus Christ, is fully God – powerful and divine enough to save us from sin and all things unclean and unloving (Colossians 2:9). He taught us how to live and what love truly was.
Jesus Loved Us Enough to Pay the Price for Our Sin and Lack of Love.
Each of us has sinned and been unloving to God and to each other. What we deserve for this sin is eternal separation from God. However, God loved us enough to pay that price, to die in our place. Jesus Christ died on the cross as our substitute, taking upon Himself the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23, Romans 3:23).
Jesus Rose from the Dead.
Not even death could hold back the love of God. Three days after his crucifixion, after Jesus had been buried, Jesus rose again from the dead, defeating both death and sin. This resurrection is not a metaphor for spiritual renewal, but a historical truth.
Jesus Will Return.
Not even time will separate the faithful from the love of God. Jesus Christ will return at a time that Scripture does not reveal. We are not to know the time or the timing when He will return. Yet when He does, He will judge the living and the dead. Those who have rejected the gift of salvation will endure eternal separation from God. Those who have put their trust in Jesus will share eternity with Christ. The faithful will live in the love of God for all eternity.
Salvation Through Faith.
God loves everyone. Nothing separates us from the love of God. Because of that love, by the grace of God, a person may only be saved from sin and death by placing her/his personal faith in Jesus Christ. In that grace, God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and we experience that love and the free gift of new birth.