The Church in the Apostles’ Creed

4 characteristics that are basic and foundational to understanding what the Church is all about.

O.T. Lesson   Isaiah 56:6-8
N.T. Lesson  I John 1:5-2:6

I believe … in the Holy Christian Church
The communion of Saints
The forgiveness of sins.

The church begins with the appointment of ‘the Twelve‘ [Mark 3:13-19] whom he trained to preach and do wonders (which authenticated them to the people).  The climax of the beginning portion of the establishment of the church comes in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit comes and fills them!   Now, with ‘God in them’, they start to preach with power and confidence. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” [Acts 2:41]

Though there is controversy  about what the Church really is, Alister McGrath [1. McGrath, Alister, I Believe, Illinois, Inter Varsity Press 1997] notes 4 characteristics that are basic and foundational to understanding what the Church is all about.  [I’m using his outline for this portion].

  1. There is one Church. With Jesus  as the head [Col. 1:18], they have in common “One Lord, One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” [Eph 4:5,6]  While we can agree to disagree on peripheral issues, we need to focus on celebrating those things we have in common.
  2. It is a HOLY Church. The word for church in Greek is ecclesia and it means “an assembly”.  The word “saint” has the idea of being set apart – holy is another word that is used in the same connotation.  So it is a group of people who are set apart as the object of God’s favour on the basis of His grace in an assembly.
  3. I have substituted the word “Christian” for “catholic” to avoid confusion with the Roman Catholic Church.  The word “catholic”  means ‘universal’, with the connotation of ‘available to all’.  It is relevant to every culture, every age, every situation [Isaiah 56:7].  [Notice the Alternative Introduction to Communion that I use.]
  4. The Church is Apostolic –– Notice Acts 2:42.  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” and “You are… members of God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, [this phrase ties together the Old and New Testaments] with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.“[Eph 2:19,20].  The New Testament church was preoccupied with rehearsing what Jesus had said and done and those who were qualified to share this information were the ‘Apostles’.  Jesus had said [Matt 28] that as they were going they should make disciples and instruct them in what he had told them, and in John 14:26 He ‘will remind you of everything I have said to you“.

The church is the communion of saints. We read in I John 1:7,9;2:1,2:  “If we walk in the light … we have fellowship… If we confess our sins … he will forgive…  We have One  who speaks to the Father in our defense– Jesus Christ, the righteous one…  He is the atoning sacrifice … for the sins of the whole world.”  The Apostle Paul illustrates the church as a building with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.  He also describes it as a body made up of many parts, each indispensable to the effective working of the whole.  If there is not a working harmony, it will soon deteriorate — and that is where the next phrase comes in: the forgiveness of sins

God is in the “Forgiving” business.Reconciling the world to himself… God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [II Corintians5:19,21].  He has no intention of losing us, unless we refuse to accept His way for us to come into a right-standing with Him.  Note John 3:16-18.  [Hebrews 10: 12-31 develops this very well].

This is the background to the statement in the Lords’ Prayer:  “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors“. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” [Matt 6.12,14,15].

The key illustration Jesus gives is in Matt 18:21-35 MSG

Are we experiencing the fellowship, the communion of the saints — have we let go of the hurts and the alienation of relationships from disagreements, and embraced The Body of Jesus Christ so that we can function in wholeness?    Jesus said,  “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.“[John 13:35 MSG]

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

A Story about Forgiveness

From the Message: Last Part of Matthew 18

“The Kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants.  As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars.  He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’  Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars.  He seized him by the throat and demanded, “Pay up!  Now!’

“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’  But he wouldn’t do it.  He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid.  When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

“The king summoned the man and said, “You evil servant!  I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy.  Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’  The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.  And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

Alternate Invitation to Communion by D.H.Friesen, 1998

” We invite all who have put their faith and trust in Christ to participate in this supper of memorial. Black, White, Yellow, Brown — all are welcome. Every race whether Asian, African, European, Indian, North or South American are welcome. The Bible says that there is no difference — Male or female, slave or free, rich or poor, employer of employee, millionaire or person on income assistance — all are welcome. Those who are healthy as well as those who are sick, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the intelligent and studied as well as those who are disadvantaged both intellectually and scholastically.

“As human beings redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we stand on the same ground at the foot of the cross — Thanking God for his mercy and grace and participating together in the celebration and remembrance of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ which was for our sins and the sins of the whole world.” [return to the sermon]

The Lifelong Learner’s Teaching Archive: February 13, 2000 Senior’s Service

Contribution versus committment

In Castlegar, the local churches co-ordinate together to minister to the city’s seniors’ residences every week.  This is the service for February 13, 2000, as given by Kinnaird Church of God.

TELERICO PLACE – FEB 13, 2000

514 IN MY HEART THERE RINGS

INTRODUCTION

44 CHILDREN OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER

519 SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

459 BRIEF SERVICE ENDING WITH

462 SAVIOUR LIKE A SHEPHERD

374 O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO

509 BRIEF SERVICE ENDING WITH

513 O HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME

364 MY JESUS I LOVE THEE

186 THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

435 WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS

MESSAGE

67  THE LOVE OF GOD

43 GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

BENEDICTION

May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD shine His face upon you and favour you. May the LORD lift up his face toward you and grant you  SHALOM (His peace).  AMEN

*USE HYMNAL OF WORSHIP AND CELEBRATION , WORD

MESSAGE

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  It’s named after a man who was a slave in Ireland and then went back to tell them that they could be set free to love God.  The Bible says that God sent the very best Valentine ever– “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” [John 3:16].

Today, Valentines are often just a way of being polite.  Even those who are sincere are often only serious for the time being.  Like the Leprechaun in Finnians Rainbow: “If you can’t be with the one you love — love the one you’re with.”

So commitments to relationships become rarities, and those who are find themselves being embarrassed for having stuck it out through thick and thin.

Marriage ceremonies have been rewritten to say “….to live together, as long as we both shall love…”  Scripture says, “But God demonstrated his love to us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”  [Romans 5:8]

It’s like the difference between and egg and the bacon in the pan– The chicken made a contribution, but the pig said, “Good-bye” (committment!).

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” [ John 3:17]

Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose.  We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus the Messiah!” [Romans 5:11 MSG]

Thank you for your Valentine!

©2000 D H Friesen

I Believe in the Holy Spirit: The Apostles’ Creed

The Valentine of the Holy Spirit

God gave us His Valentine– it was Jesus Christ. “God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Rom.5: 8] Jesus gave us His Valentine when he promised the Holy Spirit- “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of Truth.” [John 14:16,17]

The Valentine of the Holy Spirit is what we would like to talk about.

We first meet the Holy Spirit in Gen. 1:2: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” ‘The image suggested by the word is that of an eagle protecting its young [1. Fox, Everett, The Five Books of Moses, New York, Schocken Books 1995. p.13]. There at the beginning of Creation is the intimation that the Holy Spirit is part of the action. You meet Him in the story of Noah in Gen. 6: “My Spirit will not contend with man forever.” And the flood wiped out all breathing life. The Holy Spirit is intimated at the Tower of Babel story: “Come let us go down and confuse their language,” [Gen. 11:1-9]

The Holy Spirit also has a unique role in the lives of individual people. Young David, a shepherd and the son of Jesse, was anointed by the Prophet Samuel “and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power,” [I Sam 16:13]. And that was a major part of the influence on David’s life. Even when he violated God’s rules, he acknowledged his sin and begged forgiveness: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me,” [Psalms 51:10-12].

Notice though, that Jesus said, “will send” [John 14:26], and in verse 17, “he lives with you and will be IN you“. In the OT the Holy Spirit came upon people and empowered them for specific jobs, but now He is to come and live within us. In Acts 1:5 Jesus promised just before he left that “In a few days you will be immersed in the Ruah Hakodesh” — (Stern p151) — the Breath of the Holy God. And this was fulfilled on the 1st day of the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2: “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind…. they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and come to rest on each…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [or languages] as the Spirit enabled them.” [Acts 2:1-4].

Jesus told stories in Matthew 25 to illustrate and warn about understanding these concepts. “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins…”. The oil here is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the bridegroom is the Son of God. There is no True Life without the Holy Spirit in the life; it cannot be brought or purchased, and it cannot be transferred from one person to another — it can only come from God. There is however an alternative spirit that often parades itself as the Holy Spirit but isn’t. I John 4 warns us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world…. You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater that the one who is in the world.”[I John 4:1,4]

The next story is about what to do about what God gives you. Though there can be several interpretations and applications, I would like to suggest that we consider some things Dr Blackaby suggested:

  1. God calls us to a relationship with Him. Nothing happens of God in our lives until we respond to his call.
  2. God invites us to join him in a ministry he has outlined for us to do. No employment or activity will have an eternal dimension unless it is God at work.
  3. God equips us and gifts us to do the ministry-job he has called us to join him on.

Moses knew he was called to help his people, but when he went at it on his own he ended up having to leave for 40 years. And in the meantime the Israelis suffered.

So don’t worry about what your gift is, or what your gifting is — rather ask God to show you where He is working, and where He wants to have you join Him. He will supply the special gifting needed. “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit– just as it has taught you, remain in him.” [I John 2:27]

‘John is not ruling out human teachers…. John’s response was that what the readers were taught under the Spirit’s ministry through the apostles not only was adequate but was the only reliable truth…. The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit does not involve revelation of new truth or the explanation of all difficult passages of scripture to our satisfaction. Rather, it is the development of the capacity to appreciate and appropriate God’s truth already revealed– making the Bible meaningful in thought and daily living. All the things necessary to know for salvation and Christian living’. [2. The NIV Study Bible, Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1984]

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

Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus.

I BELIEVE: REVIEWING OUR FAITH

APOSTLES’ CREED- RESURRECTION

O.T. Lesson Psalm 16
N.T. Lesson: Acts 1:1-11

Josh McDowell said,”After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, and thoroughly investigating it’s foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.” (McDowell 179)

Christianity stands or falls on this event.  Let’s take a look at the N.T. story in Matt 28:1-15…”An earthquake…the stone rolled back and an angel saying, “He is not here.  He is risen as he said…The chief priests told them (the guards) “You are to say ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep’. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed…”   Jesus had predicted the event– look at John 2:18-22: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days…After he was raised his disciples recalled…and believed.”

The Old Testament had predicted it– Psalms 16:10: “you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. And the early disciples used this passage to demonstrate the truths of the Good News [of the Gospel].  Acts 2:29-36 “David died and was buried… but he was a prophet…seeing what was ahead. he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ…

This fact became the centre feature of the Followers of The Way– notice what the apostle Paul says: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like him [in spirit] to his death [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” (Phil 3:10,1; NIV/ AMP)

Many people who do not want to have to acknowledge God’s plan for their lives have tried to get around that by pretending the resurrection never happened.   I Cor. 15:12-19 indicates that it was something that was there in the N.T. times already– “If there is no resurrection…then not even Christ was raised… then those who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”  Some have claimed the disciples were hallucination and only thought they saw him alive; however, the lists of people who saw him and the locations and descriptions of those events clearly ‘debunk’ that theory.

Professor Kirsopp Lake (McDowell 255) tried to suggest that the women went to the wrong tomb, the disciples had already gone to Galilee and the women didn’t say anything for several weeks.  If that was true the Pharisees could have stopped the belief of the disciples by producing the real body.  The change in the lives of the disciples was so dramatic that even the Jewish leaders took notice “When they saw the courage of Peter and John…. they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

The good news is that this is available to us– Paul writes to the Romans — “Paul a servant of Christ Jesus… set apart for the gospel… he promised regarding his Son … who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead…through him …we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith…. I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes….” (Romans 1:1-6,16,17)

But Jesus didn’t stick around here- He went back to His Father in heaven where he reigns.  He’s in charge of the universe [see Psalm 2] and at the same time pleads our case before his Father- intimately interested in our affairs and what affects us [see I John 2:1,2 and I Peter 5:7}  And eventually in his own good time the Bible says that he is coming back to take us who have put our faith and trust in him, with him to live and reign with him forever.

The phrase in the creed indicates that there will come a day of accountability when everyone will have to answer the great question- “What have you done about Jesus?”God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.“[John 3:17,18] However in Romans 1:18-20 we read … “So they have no excuse whatever for not knowing God“[NLT]

Do you know Him?  Are you intimately acquainted with Him?  Is the power of His resurrection at work in your life?  He pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal  And His is inviting you to become involved in the work He is doing.

Reference: Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, San Bernardino, Here’s Life, 1979.

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.
  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.
  4. Eugene Peterson. The Message, Colorado, Navpress, 1993.
  5. Gilbert Staford. Theology for Disciples, Anderson, Warner Press, 1996.

©2000 D H Friesen