Monday, January 23, 2012

The Apostle's Creed

 THE APOSTLE'S CREED (updated language)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead.  On the third day He rose again.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again 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

I. Definition
Creed - a brief, authoritative formula of religious beliefs
The Apostle's Creed - is a very old, well known, commonly used summary of Christian beliefs. (of THE FAITH)

II. The Origin of the Creed
The earliest Christian creed (statement of faith) was Jesus is Lord. BUT, the need developed to be more exact without being lengthy.

So, asked "what is essential to the faith?" This led to the Apostle's Creed.
The earliest forms called the Roman Creed.
The term "Apostle's Creed" 1st. found in 390 AD
The current form solidified by the mid 5th. century. It's at least 1500+ years old.

With some variations - languages, words (Maker/Creator)/ sentence structure (I even phrases "descended to hell/dead"

The Creed used by the Danish National Church was prefaced by "We renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways."

III. The Name of the Creed.
A. Creed is from the Latin word Credo - "to believe"
B. Apostle's creed - not because written by the Apostles, but because it was a statement of the beliefs of the Apostles
NOT primarily beliefs of early church/Christians OR later church/Christians...
But of the Apostles!! - Who got it firsthand!! 1 John 1:1
This is real stuff. Not just a religious dissertation.

IV. The Purpose of the Creed. (then/originally)
#1. to define the Faith - not all about the faith, but it does state the essentials of the faith.

#2. To weigh, measure, test other declarations of faith. (to identify error/perversion/heresy)
(Therefore, it's often used as baptismal formula)
Example: the Gnostic Creed - "We believe, that Christ descended from the Power above, from the Good, and that HE is the Son of the Good; that He was not born of a virgin, and that when He did appear He was not devoid of flesh. That He formed His Body by taking portions of it from the substance of the universe, i.e. hot and cold, most and dry; That He received cosmical powers in the Bod, and lived for the time He did in the world; That he was crucified by the Jews and died; That being raised again after three days He appeared to His disciples; That He showed them the prints of the nails and (the would) in His side, being desirous of persuading them that HE was no phantom, but was present in the flesh; That after HE had shown them His flesh He restored it to the earth; That after He had once more loosed the chains of His Body He gave back heat to what is hot, cold to what is cold, moisture to what is moist, and dryness to what is dry; That in this condition He departed to the Good Father, leaving the Seed of Life in the world for those who through His disciples should believe in Him."

When this compared to the Apostle's Creed, it was apparent that this was not a Christian creed.

#3. To teach the fundamentals of the Faith. (Catechism) - for people of all ages who wanted to become part of the Christian faith.

All of the above done briefly but sufficiently. Therefore it could be easily memorized!! (Scrolls were very expensive and few in number) (many people were illiterate) Therefore, memorization was the easiest and most practical way to "have the statement of faith"

#4. for use in public worship (liturgy) - it could be quoted together, similar to the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd. Psalm. It became a corporate confession of faith, as well as a personal confession.

#5. to keep Christians rooted (anchored) in the Apostolic teaching(s) - (tradition)
An objection: we follow Jesus, not the Apostles.
Answer: Yes, but, what Jesus said, did is handed down to us by the Apostles - who were there with Him. Therefore, Apostalic tradition is so important.

V. The Content of the Creed - primarily about Christ.
Because, it's not a general creed of religious faith(s)
It is the Apostles Creed - A Specifically Christian creed.

What we believe about Christ makes us distinctly Christian and distinctly Not Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, etc.

The Purpose in the Apostles Creed is no different today than it was 2000 years ago.

The Apostles' Creed is not valid if it's not true. Unless it is true, then all creeds are valid - agnostics, atheists, etc.

It cannot be accepted as a congregation, but must be accepted personally. (Embraced, practiced)

Do we accept the Person behind the Creed?
Do we practice it?

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