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Apostles' Creed 1

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted May 22, 2013

RELIGION – You know Baptists don’t do everything right. This statement is shocking to some and may cause me booted from the SBC. And though we have a leg on other denominations, we Baptist don’t do everything right. I have grown up Baptist born, Baptist bred, and when I die, I will be Baptist dead. (I also have had seven years of Baptist education and married a wife who had four.) But I was never exposed and I don’t expose my congregation to the great creeds of the faith as other denominations do.

Now truthfully when I hear the word Creed, I think Creed Bratton, minor character from the now ended TV series “The Office.” But the “Church” (body of all Christians, not specific denominations), has had statements of what they believed going back since the time of the Apostles.

So in order to correct my personal ignorance and hopefully encourage you all, we are going to be looking at the Apostles’ Creed over the next few weeks. There are many ancient creeds that could be studied, but the Apostles’ Creed is short and very simply and powerfully laid out.

So first off, what is a creed? Many non-Baptists will probably know more than me at this point. Winfield Bevins writes that “The English word creed is derived from the Latin word credo, which also means “I believe.” The earliest form of the Apostles’ Creed appeared around the second century, and it seems to have assumed its final form in the eighth century. Even though there is no historical justification for this belief, the creed is traditionally attributed to the apostles. The early church used the Apostles’ Creed to teach and disciple new believers in the faith. When someone became a Christian, that person was expected to be baptized as a public sign of the believer’s death to the world, and born to new life in Jesus Christ. Before new believers could be baptized, they had to undergo an extended period (usually three years) of instruction in Christian beliefs that included memorizing the Apostles’ Creed.”

So here is the creed. Please don’t get turned off too fast on me here. By the way, I don’t have it memorized, I know many of you do, and I am going to work on it.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The first thing we notice is “I believe.” People can and put believe in all kinds of things. Many people believe in aliens and the Bigfoot. You see you can believe aliens and the Bigfoot without ever looking for one and your belief will probably never make any real difference in your life. Your belief is solely a matter of the intellect only.

But the Creed’s opening words, “I believe in God,” render a Greek phrase coined by the writers of the New Testament, meaning literally: “I am believing into God.” Here is what this means and looks like. I believe in God and I also believe my wife loves me. This belief in her love for me compels me to do things for her that I would otherwise not freely do. Like wear a shirt outside, put the toilet seat down, or refill soap dispensers at my home.

You see all these things she asks me to do are for my own good. Me wearing a shirt keeps the neighbors from being freighted or blinded. Putting the toilet seat down keeps her from falling and killing me. Keeping the soap dispensers full means clean hands, less germs, and more health. (I think we coddle immune systems too much and you should let them work.)

But my knowledge of her love for me moves me to freely desire to do the things that please her and in the long run are good for me too. In the same way, a belief in God according to Apostles’ Creed believes in God’s loving choice of you for salvation and your response of living a life pleasing to Him for His glory and your own good.

So I know most of you “believe” in God. But the reality is that most of you live a life in which that belief in God makes little difference in how you spend your time or money and how you live. So ask yourself, do you really believe in God? Does this belief make any difference?  I conclude with J.I. Packer again who writes that “Christian faith only begins when we attend to God’s self-disclosure in Christ and in Scripture, where we meet him as the Creator who “commands all people everywhere to repent” and to “believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ . . . as he has commanded us” (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23; cf. John 6:28ff.). Christian faith means hearing, noting, and doing what God says.” If this does not know there is good news for you, keep reading the Creed and we meet Jesus.

Pastor Phillip Howle

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