I remember back in college, our religion professor gave us an assignment. We were to title it “Credo”, and we were supposed to write everything we believe. Well, I’m 53 now, long removed from those days, but I often think about that assignment, partly because I doubt that I ever completed it.
I wonder how many of us, as adults, could complete that assignment. When we’re young, it’s expected that we will be rather rootless and ungrounded, blown about by every doctrine that comes along. That’s part of being immature. But I think that by this time I should pretty well know what I believe.
Basics. I guess that would be the Apostles Creed. That sums it up very well.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. On the third day He arose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there 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.
That’s pretty basic, isn’t it? Let’s look at this point-by-point.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty,” First person of the Trinity. When God chose to reveal Himself to us, He called Himself our Father, a revelation with which we have no right to tamper.
“Maker of heaven and earth” No question. John tells us in the prologue to his gospel that the Word (Jesus) was the agent through whom the Father created. It’s amazing how separate, yet intertwined, the persons of the Trinity are!
“And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Jesus of Nazareth, the “historical” Jesus, who was the Christ (Messiah) from eternity, who is the one-and-only, unique Son of God; He is our Lord. I submit to Him as my Lord, and someday every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord of all.
“who was conceived by the Holy Spirit” No, not by Joseph, nor by any other man, but by the Holy Spirit.
“born of the Virgin Mary” The point is, she was a virgin. She was not a young maiden who engaged in premarital sex. She was a virgin, she had not known any man.
“Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried.” No question He suffered. He was human, perfect human. He was literally crucified, He literally died, (if you don’t think so, have a talk with Chuck Colson!) and He was literally buried in a tomb. He was dead, dead, dead!
(In the Methodist Church we didn’t say He decended into hell, like they do in some other churches. If there was a controversy that led to this, I never heard about it. I now understand that when Jesus died, He decended to the “place of the dead”. This was not the lake of fire which will punish Satan and his angels and those who reject the Savior, but rather a place where people go between their death and their final judgement.)
“On the third day He arose from the dead.” Glory Hallelujah! He arose from the dead! Death couldn’t hold Him in the tomb!
“He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” He was victorious over the powers of sin and death, and now is exalted to the highest position in heaven, sharing the Father’s glory as He did from eternity.
“From there He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Yes, I affirm His pretribulational return to gather His people to be with Him, His premillenial return to execute His wrath upon those who reject Him, His millenial reign on the earth, and His final judgement of all people.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit,” The third person of the Trinity, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, moving and working among us to do the Father’s will; as well as writing, preserving, and teaching the written Word of God.
“The holy catholic church” The universal church, the Body of Christ made up of all true believers.
“the communion of saints” All true believers in Christ, living and dead, from throughout history.
“the forgiveness of sins” God forgives our sins because the penalty was paid by His Son Jesus Christ through His vicarious, atoning death on the cross.
“the resurrection of the body” Not just the resurrection of the spirit, but the resurrection and glorification of our physical, human bodies. “While it doesn’t yet appear what we shall be, we know that we shall be like Him…”
“And the life everlasting.” Eternal life. Beginning in the here and now. Abundant life with our Lord forever and ever.
This is a major historical creed of the Church, and I believe it to be the Truth, that is, the Faith once delivered to the saints. Deviation from these beliefs is heresy.
This, then, should give you a good idea where I’m coming from.
In my upcoming posts I plan on talking about threats to the church as I see them, different systems of theology, and my own opinions about different Bible translations.