I Believe in Jesus Christ: The Apostles’ Creed

“I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST HIS ONLY SON OUR LORD”

O.T. Lesson   Isa 53:1-6
N.T. Lesson   John 1:1-14

Real enjoyment, fun if you will, for the Christian is Jesus.  After the resurrection, the New Testament believers suddenly found the key to the Old Testament.  The Old Testament was de-mystified, and from one end to the other, it was noted that the story was of Jesus.  They found him in the Pentateuch and in the Historical books, in the poetic and in the prophetic.   He was in Creation, actively involved with the patriarchs– in the Passover, the wilderness wanderings, in the Judges, in the story of the Royalty of Israel.  He was in the law and in the sacrifices and in what they represented.  And he was in predictions of the Messiah– of his life, of his death, of his resurrection, of his ascension and of his coming again.

The Messiah had been seen in shadow but now after his resurrection it was in the open for all to see.  His humanity was demonstrated in his name Jesus– just an ordinary Jewish name but with a new dimension!  Tacitus the Roman historian mentions him as “Christ, who was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontus Pilate in the reign of Tiberias” [1. Mc Grath, I Believe, Illinois, Intervarsity Press, Page 39.], and Josephus the Jewish historian devotes a whole paragraph to these final events [2. Josephus, Antiquities, Book XVIII, Chapter 3, p3].   But he was more than merely an historical figure.  He was the Son of God– His first-born, unique Son, and the NT believers became preoccupied with him.  Look at the book of The Acts of the Apostles chapters 3 and 4.

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek [called the Septuagent, which was the translation Paul used] the special name for God which came out of Ex.3:14 “I AM WHO I AM or I WILL BE THERE AS I WILL BE THERE. [sometimes indicated by the letters YHWH, and written in English as Jehovah, Yahweh] was translated as Kyrios and translated in English as LORD.  The normal definition was sir, Mr. or Master or owner, a title of respect.  And sometimes in the NT it has that connotation;  however, it often goes over to the larger meaning and identifies Jesus with the special name for God from the OT.  [In Matt 12 Jesus calls himself ‘Lord of the Sabbath”, and in Luke 20 he challenges the theologians of the day to  the title of ‘Lord’ to the Messiah. and then in John 20:28 Thomas exclaims “My Lord and my God“].  In Acts 2:36 Peter identifies Jesus in these words “Let all Israel be assured — God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

The Apostles took Jesus’ statement recorded in Matt 28: 18 seriously– “All authority is given to me in heaven and earth” and Paul writes in Eph 1:18ff “Christ.. is seated.. in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  Not only is he Lord in an abstract way but also individually.  Romans 14:7-9 says,”None of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone.  If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  For this very reason Christ died and returned to life so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”

Can you truly say that “Jesus is Lord” in your life today?

(Buy this book from Amazon.com) 2   (Buy this book from Amazon.com)

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD. HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY.  HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED. HE DECENDED 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 CHRISTIAN CHURCH,  THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS,  THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS,  THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY,  AND THE LIFE EVER LASTING. AMEN

Other resources used:

  1. Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  2. D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Apostles’ Creed: Do You Really Believe It?  Wheaton, SP Publications Inc., 1977. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  3. Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  4. Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  5. Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)

©2000 D H Friesen

I Believe: The Apostles’ Creed

REVIEWING OUR FAITH

O.T. Lesson Psalm 8
N.T. Lesson Hebrews 10:32-11:1

The opening words of the Apostles’ Creed are “I Believe….  Lets take a brief look at what it means to ‘believe’.

  1. Belief, or faith, means assent.  Agreeing with a proposition.  As in ‘I am of the opinion that there is a God’ or ‘Ford cars are useless’ … a belief founded on some knowledge or experience or based on the opinions of others.
  2. The statement from the creed goes much further.  This is not a mere educational position or knowledge but rather a deep trust.  This is not talking about being spiritually aware, but rather an assurance that the object of our trust is secure and trustworthy– and a suitable anchor for our belief.  See Heb 11:1.
  3. Faith means commitment.   “Take your ordinary life… and place it before God as an offering” [Romans 12:1 (The Message)] Heb 12:2 says, ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith’ And true faith leads to obedience.  Jesus challenged His disciples to “Make disciples … and teach them to obey everything I’ve commanded” [Matt 28:20] Paul commends the Roman believers in Rom. 1:8 and 16:19: ‘Your faith is being reported all over the world, and ‘Everyone has heard about your obedience‘.
  4. In James 1: 22-25, we have the challenge of faith and evidence.  It is like a rope that goes through the ceiling and over a shiv and comes back down with both ends hanging down.  If you grab one end and lean on it, down you go.  But if you grab both ends at the same time you can pick up your feet off the ground.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God‘ [Heb 11:6].Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.   Saving is all his idea, and all his work.  All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role.  If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” [Eph. 2:8-10 MSG}.  Or as James says it, ‘faith without deeds is dead‘  [James 2:26].  In Heb 11, we get the litany of those who ‘put their money where their mouth was’; ending in this statement in verse 39- “These were all commended for their faith (even though) none of them received what was promised.”
  5. The Faith“- That is the belief system described by the word of God as ‘The Sacred Tradition’.  Take a look at I Tim 4:6 where the Faith is described and then contrasted in the following verse “If you will point these things out …  the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed” vs. “Having nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales“.

The Apostles’ Creed, then, is an outline of the tenets of our faith– it grew out of an awareness that we need to obey the injunction from scripture “to be able to give an answer … for the hope you have [I Peter 3:15]. The Apostles’ Creed is not the complete definitive statement.  But it contains the framework- the essentials (as found in the Word of God) that have stood the test of time, of archeology, of research, and of experience in walking with God.

There is also one presupposition we ought to mention- The Bible is THE WORD OF GOD and is the authority that gives structure to our faith and how that is to work out in practice.

Psalm 119 has 176 verses, and almost every one has ways and reasons that God’s Word should be our preoccupation and standard.  It uses words like statutes, laws, precepts, commands, words, promises, and decrees to describe Scripture.

Deuteronomy 4:1,2 says, “Hear the decrees, follow them.  Do not add… and do not subtract and this is mirrored in Rev 22:18 “If anyone adds anything  …God will add to him the plagues… If anyone takes words away from this book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the Holy City.

Our faith then is described and defined in the Bible by the God of the Bible and it is active in doing and submissive in not doing other than what is described in the Book.   In Acts 17:10-12 we read of “the Bereans who were of more noble character that the Thessalonians for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true“.

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD. HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY.  HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED. HE DECENDED 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 CHRISTIAN CHURCH,  THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS,  THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS,  THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY,  AND THE LIFE EVER LASTING. AMEN

Other resources used:

  1. Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  2. D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Apostles’ Creed: Do You Really Believe It?  Wheaton, SP Publications Inc., 1977. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  3. Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  4. Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  5. Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)

©2000 D H Friesen

Christ Crucified: The Apostles’ Creed

In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 3, we have the genealogical background of Jesus’ mother.  It is introduced with the comment that “He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph…” [v. 23].  In Jesus’ neighbourhood, Joseph was his father and no one would have believed anything differently.  And so the genealogy tracing [we believe] his mother’s roots gives us the very human side of Jesus.  However, what wasn’t generally known was that God had demonstrated His power in the miraculous conception described in the words of Luke’s gospel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God,” [Luke 1:35 NLT].

God the Son emptied Himself of His divine glory, took on the limitations of a fetus in the womb of the young woman Mary who was engaged to be married.  The angel went and talked to Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, and told him to take Mary as his wife and not think badly of her because of her seemingly premature pregnancy, because it was God’s doing– and to name the baby Yeshua (Jesus)– which means “The Lord saves“.

A story is told about a husband who had taken his wife to a Christmas Eve service at the church she attended.  He refused to stay himself, because he rejected the idea of God becoming a Man.  “I can’t respect a God who would want to give up being God to become like me,” he told his wife.

As he was going home it was snowing and on his front lawn a flock of winter birds huddled against the storm.  The wings were so burdened down with snow they could hardly fly.  A wave of compassion for the helpless birds swept through the man, and he went into his house to bring the birds some bread.  But as he approached them, the scattered in fright, hopping and flitting away.

“If they don’t eat, they’ll die,” the man said to himself,  “I’ve got to get food to them somehow.” The talking to the birds he said,  “Don’t be afraid, I want to help you. I want to save you, If only I could communicate with you.  If only, for a moment I could explain to you– but to do that, I’d have to become one of you…”

That’s when he started to understand the meaning of the Incarnation- God becoming Man.1

Not only did Jesus have parents and live in Nazareth, but he did so in a particular time frame.  And this is acknowledged in the statement of the Creed: “Under Pontius Pilate“.  This statement serves as a means of historical verification. [1. Locherbie, D. Bruce, The Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, Victor Books, 1977 P 45-50]   As people have gone into historical research to try to discredit the story of Jesus– his life, his death, his resurrection– this fact has always stumped them.  He really did live– He really did die ‘on a cross’ and the historians have recorded it, and not just those who were ‘Followers of The Way’, but also both Roman and Jewish. [2. Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997. p.39] [3. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews. XVIII chap 3, 3]

But the key event was his death by Crucifixion.  The word ‘excruciating’ comes from the Latin word for torture by crucifixion.  Not only was it the most difficult way to execute someone it was also the most humiliating way to die.  Exposed and naked before society, dying partly from loss of blood, but mostly from asphyxiation.  The pressure on the lungs so great that you can’t breathe.

But for Jesus the most difficult thing was being cut off from his Father.  As he took the load of the sins of the world, his Father could no longer look at him, and the Bible says that darkness covered the area– not an eclipse, for it lasted for 3 hours; not just a storm, but rather God hiding the sun– and in the middle of that experience, Jesus cries “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?“[Matt 27:46].

And He did it for me and for you and every other human being that has ever lived.

The crucifixion is the cure for selfishness, laziness, pickiness, arrogance, and apathy.

The crucifixion answers the question about what is important to God– and in Micah he says to us -“do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.  Jesus said it in his statement on the mount of Olives: “Not my will but Yours“.

He gave up the rights of glory and independence.  He took on the limitations of humanity and adopted the attitude of a slave.  He learned humility (by what he suffered) and deliberately took the lowest place possible– on a cross.

That is why God has exalted him and given him the highest name, given him honour (forever).  Given him the right to praise reserved for only God. [See Phil 2: 6-11].

And on this basis he calls us into relationship with himself.  II Corinthians 5:19-21 “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting peoples sins against them…/we urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, ‘be reconciled to God!’  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God.” [NLT]

So believe him– throw yourself on his mercy. Accept him– Appropriate his grace. Receive His righteousness [right standing with God].  Then demonstrate your belief by living out His lifestyle in your life.

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD. HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY.  HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED. HE DECENDED 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 CHRISTIAN CHURCH,  THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS,  THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS,  THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY,  AND THE LIFE EVER LASTING. AMEN

Other resources used:

  1. Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  2. D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Apostles’ Creed: Do You Really Believe It?  Wheaton, SP Publications Inc., 1977. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  3. Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  4. Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  5. Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)

©2000 D H Friesen

God the Father, Almighty Creator: the Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed II

OT LESSON — Psalm 9
NT LESSON — Galatians 3:26-4:7

Some years ago the UN did a survey and decided that Canada could no longer be considered a “Christian” nation, and so it was dubbed ‘Post Christian’.  There’s still a lot of controversy as to whether that is true or to what extent it is true….  Many say “I believe there is a god…”  but I wonder what kind of a God they believe in.  On the other hand there is a growing Anti- Christian movement  clamouring for attention in North America, usually under the banner of ‘tolerance’ or multi-culturalism or humanism that is reacting to the discredit some have brought on our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because of their glaring misbehaviours.

This is not news, it goes back to Adam and Eve and every living human since. Genesis 6:6 says “The LORD  was grieved that He had made man” and so He brought the flood to destroy every breathing thing.[See Gen 7]  And when Moses took the Israelis out to the wilderness away from the slavery they were experiencing in Egypt, God became angry at their rebellion while Moses was up on the Mountain talking to God, He said “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.”  But Moses interceded for them and God relented except to punish those who really had turned away from him with a plague [See Exodus 32]  And in Romans 1:20 Paul explains that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse“.

Not only is God God as revealed in nature and history, but he is also Father as revealed in the Word.  It is an apt analogy so that we as humans can understand- and has an animal equivalent so that those who might have difficulty can understand in the Shepherd  with his sheep. [See excerpt from Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1970 pages 20-23] “I am the Good shepherd;  I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father– And I lay down my life for the sheep. “[John 10:14,15] And he has “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.“[II Cor 1:22]

He loves to forgive, [see Psa 103:10-14] and invites us into the intimacy of grown sons calling him ‘Dad’ [see Gal 4:4-7].

He is also called ALMIGHTY.  It appears like that some 32 times in the OT. The chorus goes “My God is so big so strong and so mighty There’s nothing my God cannot do.”   In Romans 13:1, 2 Paul says that all leadership, whether they acknowledge him or not, is derived from God.  In Luke 1:37, and I Cor 10:13, and Phil 2:13 God gives us the power to do all that he calls us to .  And he isn’t capricious saying one thing and then doing another- He is the same yesterday today and forever.[Heb 13:8]

The LORD God made the heavens and the earth “In the beginning God created…” and the word used is “Poieten” from which we get the word poet and poem.  Eph 2:10 His Workmanship- He is an artist, a craftsman.  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”[Rev 4:11]  See also Col 1:15-17, and Ro 1:20.  But he didn’t create it and forget about his creation. Psa 104:27-30 talks about how God superintends his creation and in Col 1:17 “In him all things hold together:” The answer to the power that  holds the electrons and the protons and neutrons in their places as well as the galaxies of stars planets, etc.  God signed his creation with his signature when he created human beings for it says in Gen 1:26-27  Then God said “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”  The scientist Pascal said “There is a God- shaped gap with in us..” and St Augustine-  You made us for yourself, O LORD, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”.

Jesus told the sceptics to give to Caesar what belonged to him (taxes symbolized by a Roman coin) and to God what belonged to Him– that is us with the imprint / signature of God on us.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,…you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.”

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD. HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY.  HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DIED AND WAS BURIED. HE DECENDED 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 CHRISTIAN CHURCH,  THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS,  THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS,  THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY,  AND THE LIFE EVER LASTING. AMEN

Other resources used:

  1. Alister McGrath, I Believe — Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1997. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  2. D. Bruce Lockerbie, The Apostles’ Creed: Do You Really Believe It?  Wheaton, SP Publications Inc., 1977. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  3. Holy Bible, New International Version. International Bible Society, 1984. (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  4. Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)
  5. Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.  (Buy this book from Amazon.com)

©2000 D H Friesen