The One True God, Part 1
From the series Jesus Loves Me
Recent studies suggest that the average Christian doesn’t believe what the Bible says about Jesus. Shocking, right? In this program, guest teacher John Dickerson reveals why that’s a critical problem as he continues his series, Jesus Loves Me. Don’t miss why understanding and believing in who Jesus is, is vital to our faith.
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About this series
Jesus Loves Me
Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart
Do you know the core beliefs of Christianity? Forget what churches, denominations, or notable pastors say for a second - what do God and His Word actually state are the essential truths to being a follower of Jesus? In this 10-part series, journalist, author, and pastor John Dickerson helps us uncover the foundational building blocks of the Christian faith. By using the simple children’s song - Jesus Loves Me - John reveals what these lyrics tell us about God, His love for us, and the reliability of the Bible. So whether you’re a new Christian looking for guidance or you’ve been a believer your whole life - and you need a refresher, John’s words will encourage you!More from this series
Today we’re talking about our belief in Jesus. And the point of this series is: What do we actually need to believe about God to access the power of God through Jesus?
You know, when Jesus walked on this earth two thousand years ago, He’s a documented, historic figure; lived around Jerusalem in the surrounding area. It’s a city and a region that are still there today.
When Jesus walked on this earth, there were people who met Him, but who did not experience His life-changing power. And then there were other people who met Him and they believed certain things about Him that literally physically healed them or changed their identity, gave them power. What was the difference between the people who believed and experienced His power and those who simply met Him and didn’t experience His power?
And so, where you want to experience the power of God, the power of Jesus in your life, what is it that you need to believe about Jesus to actually encounter that power?
In fact, we are going to see Jesus kind of ask this question to His closest followers, His twelve disciples, and here’s how the true story goes, recorded in Matthew chapter 16. “Jesus asked His disciples one day, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’” Now, the Son of Man was a title that Jesus often used to refer to Himself.
And at this point, Jesus has been doing miracles, thousands of people are following Him, hundreds of thousands of people know who He is. He’s a well-known figure. And everyone has different opinions. You know, some people would say, “Ah, He’s kind of a magician, huckster, I don’t know how He does those miracles, but it’s obviously not supernatural.”
There were other people who said, “Yeah, He’s doing miracles and He’s probably a prophet from God.” And then there were still other people who said, “Oh, He’s not merely a prophet, He’s actually God among us. He’s the Messiah figure. God in a human form to rescue humanity from all of its brokenness.” And so, Jesus asks His closest disciples, “Who do you say,” or, “who do people say that I am?” Well, they answer, “Some say You’re John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And then Jesus has this moment where He looks them in the eyes and He says, He says this, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
And this is a moment that each of us come to in our lives. We hear about Jesus and we learn a little more about Him. And for some of you, today is the day where you’re going to decide for yourself, “Who do I say that Jesus is?”
Not who do your parents say or what does the Church belief or what does your spouse say? But who do you say Jesus is? Who do you believe He is? Do you believe He’s a fraud and a huckster? Do you believe He’s maybe a prophet from God, but only human? Or do you believe He’s Almighty God who became a human to save us and to rescue us?
Well, if you’re familiar with Jesus’ closest disciples, there’s an impulsive one named Peter. Peter gives us hope for all of our failures, because he messes up a lot, just like I do. And Peter blurts out an answer right away. Here’s what he says in verse 16. He answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Now, that word Christ meant so much to Peter and to those disciples. You see, they were part of a God-fearing movement who were looking forward to the Messiah. They knew these ancient prophecies in what we call the Old Testament of the Bible, that predicted that someday, the same God who made humanity would become a human, and He would walk among us so that He could fix everything that is broken, all of our sins, all of our mistakes, the sins we have made personally that have separated us from God, and the sins of humanity like murder and war and rape and genocide and racism and greed and prejudice – that God would come down to fix all that, and He would be known as the Messiah or the Christ, which means the Messiah.
So, Peter answers, “You’re not just a prophet. You are God among us here to set us free.” Now, Peter got a lot of answers wrong, so let’s see if he got this one right. Jesus responds to Peter’s answer and He says, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.” In other words, “Peter, you have it right. I am from heaven, I am God in the flesh, and I am here on earth to save the world.”
And here’s our big idea; it’s the answer to that question we asked today. Jesus is fully human and He’s fully the one true God. You could say Jesus is the Christ, that’s what this means, but since in our day and age Christ is more often used as a profanity than anything else, we are going to define it. What does it actually mean? It’s not Jesus’ last name. It’s a title about Him. He’s the Messiah. He is fully man, fully human, and fully the one true God.
And the idea of this series is that if you were in a room by yourself or you are flying on an airplane and your neighbor next to you asks, “What is Christianity? What do I need to believe? How do I access the power of God?” That if you didn’t have a Bible with you, you had no phone, no apps, no Internet access, that you, from your memory and from your heart could say, “Here’s what Christianity is.”
And it’s as simple as that children’s song that we have named this series after: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. And what we are doing now is we are going through what each of those words mean, because that word “Jesus” has a lot of significance. It’s not that He was just a prophet or a moral example or an inspirational teacher. Yes, His teachings are inspirational and they are an example to us, but He is Almighty God. And that’s why He can save us. So, Jesus is fully God and fully man.
This card summarizes everything we will learn in this series. He loves us.
It means He came into our world on a rescue mission. He died on the cross for our sins and He rose from the dead. “Me” means that to receive that salvation, I need to have a moment in my life where I own my mistakes and I say, “God, I need Your salvation. I believe that. And where sin has corrupted me, I believe You can make me a new creation.”
“This I know” is about saying, “I know I can’t earn my salvation, but I know I have received that gift.” And then, “For the Bible tells me so,” is this reality that to walk in the freedom and in the power of the Christian life, we make the Word of God, the Bible, the standard for what we do and for what we believe.
We can summarize this series with a verse from Romans chapter 1, verse 16. It says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” and that word gospel is really what we are learning in this series. The good news. How do you kind of summarize the message of Jesus?
I told you about a time in my life when I was still working as a news reporter and a journalist. And I was in New York City with a mentor, a person I really looked up to and they said, “John, why would you think about going and becoming a pastor?” And this verse was really the reason. I’m not ashamed of the gospel. There are some people who don’t know Jesus who might laugh at me, they might not understand it, but I am not ashamed of it. Why? Because it’s the very power of God. It’s not just a religious system or a belief system or one of many ways. It is the one way to connect back to your Creator, the very power source of the universe. And this gospel brings salvation, that is freedom from sin in this life and immortality and eternal life after this world. And that salvation is available to everyone who believes.
But what do you need to believe? Well, when it comes to Jesus, we need to believe that He is God. Your outline puts it this way. Number one of three things that kind of say the same thing a few different ways is that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah. Or you could say the Savior; those words are all synonymous. He is God-Man, that’s a really modern way of saying it. He’s the God-Man. And He came to earth to rescue us and to make us right with heaven.
One of my challenges as I have prayed for all of you in this series is: How do I take this and help us understand that this is not hypothetical, this is not just like seminary stuff or big churchy words like divinity and Trinity. This is very real. This is very tangible.
Crowds gathered around Him, people pushed each other aside to try to touch Him, because they heard the stories of friends and relatives who were lame and who now could walk, who were dead and now were alive, who were blind and now could see.
And crowds gathered around Him and there was great controversy of: Who is this man? This man who has such power and, yet, this man who is so gentle. This man who has no army and no political power and, yet, thousands of people follow Him. This man who we now know two thousand years later launched the largest movement in all of human history.
Did you know that today, one out of three people in the world identify as Christians? That is two point two billion people. To put that into context, the biggest celebrities on Instagram have about one hundred million followers.
Multiply their followers by ten, then multiply that by two and then add another two hundred million. That’s how many followers Jesus has, not who just think He’s a nice guy or want to see pictures of Him on vacation, but who bow down and worship Him as God.
This is the most influential person in all of human history. And so, the question of who do you believe Jesus is is the most important question that you’ll ever answer in your life. You see, if it’s all made up and He’s not God, but you choose to believe that, what will be the end result? Well, you’ll live a more moral life and you’ll have better relationships by following His example. But let’s say that it’s true that He actually is God. Let’s say that His claims that He is the way, the truth, and the life are true. Well, then the stakes are eternal.
Belief in Him either leads to an eternal life or an eternal death. Either leads to eternity with God or separated from God.
They are looking at this Messianic, all-powerful figure and they are saying, “You know, what does it mean? Does He have to abide by our rules? Is He God? What does this mean for us?” And, really, that’s what we are wrestling with when we say the word Jesus. Who do I believe that He is?
And for me, I have come to believe that He is this one true God. Because there’s no one else from two thousand years ago who has millions of followers today. No one is following Julius Caesar today or Alexander the Great. I noticed as I traced human influence throughout history, that most influential people, as soon as they die, their influence starts to go down.
Big celebrities from a hundred years ago, kids today don’t know their names. People like Buddy Abbott.
Jesus lived a hundred years ago times twenty. And, yet, in every generation, His followers multiply. Why is that?
Because there is a power when you believe in Jesus. It’s not just a thought system or a religion. It taps into the very power grid of the universe. And people who believe in Jesus like I have, we see such a transformation in ourselves, something more real than anything I ever saw as a news reporter.
And we see it in ourselves and it’s so real that we give our lives to say, “I’ve got to tell other people about this.” And then other people experience it, and they tell other people. And it has become the largest movement in all of human history, significantly larger than any other movement in all of human history. Jesus is the Christ, fully God.
Secondly, Jesus is fully human without sin. This is part of what it means to be the Messiah. The Messiah had to be human and feel our pain. He knows the sting of emotional rejection, He knows what it means to be made fun of as a kid, He knows the pain of a splinter under a fingernail, He knows the salty warmth of tears on His face. He felt our pain. He was one of us. Almighty God humbled Himself and took upon Him the form of a man.
And He further humbled Himself by going to the cross. We’ll explore what that cross was and why it’s the ultimate symbol of love. When we say, “Jesus loves me,” we are talking about what He did on the cross. But to do that, He had to be God and He had to be man.
Third, Jesus is the one true God within the Trinity. Now, you don’t have to fully understand the Trinity to get this and you don’t even have to memorize this little saying. Really the gist of today is that Jesus is God, okay? But here’s what is beautiful about everything in the Christian life and everything with Jesus. You only have to have a childlike faith to receive it. And a four-year-old can understand it.
But if you want to go deeper, it just gets richer and richer and richer. And that’s how it is with understanding the Trinity.
But I’m going to show you the significance of this here, because there are errors on each side of this. And many of the people who God calls us to love, who don’t yet believe in Jesus, they fall on one side of this or the other. For example, there are people who would say, “Well, Jesus was only human.”
I was one of those people for a while, okay? I was like, “Yeah, Jesus lived, He was probably a moral teacher, He’s an inspirational example,” but I didn’t believe He was God. And so, I was not accessing His power. Now, I could imitate His teachings and have a slightly better life on earth by trying to be like Him. But I didn’t have any power to be like Him, because I didn’t believe that He was God.
So, this would be the position of people who don’t believe in the supernatural. This is also the position of our friends and neighbors who are Muslims. The teachings of Islam say that Jesus was a religious figure, but He was just a prophet; He wasn’t God. And, in fact, for a devout Muslim, if you claim that Jesus was God, they are probably going to get a little upset because that would be heresy or blasphemy to them. So, lots of people in the world who believe Jesus existed and was a good person, but not God.
There are also people over here who have buildings that look like churches and churchy names, but they are missing the power of God, because they believe that Jesus is a God. So, maybe you’ve heard of Mormonism. It’s called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Or maybe you have heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups tend to come knocking on your doors.
And they look really traditional Christian, they’ll have an old translation of the Bible, and a tie one. And they’ll say, “We believe Jesus is God and died on the cross for the sins of the world.” And you say, “Oh, that sounds like what they say in church. That sounds right to me.” But if you get into it deeper, what they believe is that Jesus is a God; He’s not the one true God. He’s a God. And Satan is also a god and if you work hard enough and pay enough money to the church, you too can become a god, which is ironically what Satan told Adam and Eve back in the garden. “You can become like God.”
And because they believed Jesus is a god but not the one true God, they don’t have the power of God that leads to salvation.
Well, I don’t know if you have ever heard the saying “a watershed issue.” Watershed is very simply where water goes when the rain falls. You know, it runs downhill, eventually it finds a creek. So, there are places all along this where within one square foot it’s a world of difference.
And this is why our beliefs in Jesus are so important. If Jesus is just a man and a good teacher, but not God, He also doesn’t have the power to save us. To experience the power of God that brings salvation, I must believe, intellectually, but then in my heart, that Jesus is the one true God.