When we say, "We believe, we are emphasizing that we believe, together with others in the fellowship of faith.
This fellowship of faith includes the whole people of God in every time and every place. It is the people of God, down through the ages as well as the people of God in all the places.
- We are thinking here in terms of the great fellowship of faith which has rejoiced in the goodness and mercy of God down through the centuries of the Church's history: "Thy hand, O God, has guided Thy flock from age to age."
- We are also thinking in terms of the whole Church throughout the world. Whatever divisions, conflicts and tensions there are in today's world, it is still gloriously true that "in Christ, there is no East or West, in Him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth."
"We believe" - Here, we are thinking of the whole people of God, a great fellowship of faith down the ages and across the world.
"We believe" - Here, we are reminded that we must learn to look beyond the limitations of our congregation and our own nation. we must learn to look beyond the limitations of the Church in our own time. We must allow our thoughts to grow in size as we think of all that God has done down through the centuries. We must allow the Spirit of God to increase our faith as we consider all that the Lord is doing in different parts of the world today.
- Believing together means exploring our Christian Faith together. It means seeking to understand more fully the foundations of the Christian Faith.
- Believing together means looking more closely - together - at the faith first proclaimed by the apostles, the Gospel which we find in the Scriptures, which speak to us of Jesus Christ.
- Believing together, we commit ourselves to discovering more of the richness of "our common salvation" (Jude 3), the salvation which God has given to each of us through faith in Jesus Christ.
As we turn to the Word of God, seeking to understand all that is meant by salvation in Jesus Christ, we will discover that this is not merely a matter of 'your faith' or my faith.'
Neither you nor I have a part in deciding what is meant by "Christian faith."
We can only come to the Word of God to be taught. We do not bring any ideas of our own. We come to the Scriptures to learn what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.
We do not come with our minds cluttered up with thoughts of our own. We come ready to hear and receive what the Lord is saying to us. We come to receive instruction in "the faith which was once for all delivered to the people of God" (Jude 3). We come to receive teaching from the Scriptures, to be taught the faith which is "according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The 'faith' which we will discover in the Bible is a faith which is centred on Jesus Christ, a faith which focuses its chief attention on His death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
This faith is the faith of the Gospel, the unchanging Gospel, the Gospel which is as relevant today as it was in the days of the apostles.
This Gospel is so profound that even the most mature minds find that they are out of their depth.
It is also so simple that even a child can grasp its basic message: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
As we seek to understand the Christian Faith, we must allow the love of Jesus Christ to touch our hearts.
Real knowledge of God is not merely an increase in head-knowledge. It is a growing love for the Saviour.
At both the outset and every stage of our study of the Christian Faith, we must learn to say to the Lord, "The greatest thing in all the world is knowing You, loving You, serving You. We want to know You more, to love you more, to serve You more."
This is the attitude for which we must pray, as we seek to learn from God's Word that we might live for God's glory.
When God sees, in us, this heartfelt desire to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him, He will surely use us mightily in His service.