Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #163
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Today, we begin a unique series that is based on a historical text that was passed down from the early church all the way to us today. If you have ever attended a Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, or Presbyterian church, you may have heard something similar to these words which are referred to as the Apostles’ Creed. Now, Baptists, as a rule, do not subscribe to any creed. Coming out of the Protestant Reformation, Baptists decided that, unlike other Protestant denominations, they would be non-creedal. Baptists state that “the final authority for faith and practice is the Bible, not words about the Bible.” However, while I do not hold any creed to the level of inspired Scripture, I believe that there are some elements from other parts of the church that are good that we should at least be aware of and learn from. The Apostles’ Creed is one of those things. Let’s read it:
I believe in God the Father almighty;
and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended to heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence He will come to judge the living and the dead;
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh
(the life everlasting).
What is a creed? According to Merriam-Webster, a creed is a “statement of basic beliefs; an idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group.” Thus, the Apostles’ Creed is a statement of what the apostles of Jesus Christ believed. Now, there are three versions of the Apostles Creed, and the one I just read is referred to as the “Old Roman Symbol.” This “Roman” version is the oldest version of the Apostles’ Creed. According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, it was put in written form by 180 AD. Tradition states that, on the day of Pentecost, the twelve Apostles each contributed one line to this creed to make up the twelve lines of the “Old Roman Symbol” that we have today.
The other versions of the Apostles’ Creed are the Nicene Creed and the Ath-a-na-sian Creed. These later versions of the creed came about because the church needed to combat false teachings that were creeping into the church. Thus, the Nicene Creed, which was adopted by the Council of Calcedon in 451 AD, contains additional text affirming the deity of Jesus Christ as there were some false teachers who claimed that Jesus was not divine. The Ath-a-na-sian Creed was issued in the late fifth century or early sixth century and includes additional text affirming the Trinitarian unity of the Godhead — that God is Father, Son, and Spirit, yet one God.
According to an article by David Meager in CrossWay, “The Creed seems to have had three uses: first as a confession of faith for those about to be baptised, secondly as a catechism (an instruction for new Christians in the essentials of the faith), and thirdly, as a ‘rule of faith’ to give continuity to orthodox Christian doctrine.”
Starting today, and each day throughout Holy Week, leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we are going to break down this creed and look at the biblical basis for each of these truths that every Christian ought to believe. The first line of the creed reads: “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth…” From just this first line of the creed, we see three important facts about the God we believe in.
1. We see the uniqueness of God. Isaiah 44:6 says, “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” In Isaiah 45:5, God says, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” God makes it clear that He alone is God. He alone is in control. He alone is almighty.
2. We see the eternality of God. The first line of the Apostles’ Creed acknowledges God as eternally existent. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Job 36:26 says, “Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.”
3. We see the sovereignty of God. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Old Roman Form of the Apostles Creed states, “I believe in God the Father almighty,” and the Nicene version adds, “maker of Heaven and Earth.” These statements affirm God’s sovereign power which is shown through His creative acts.
These three facts about God — that He is unique, that He is eternal, and that He is sovereign — form the foundation of everything we believe as Christians. It is what Jesus’ disciples believed. It is what the early church believed. It is what we ought to believe as well.
MUSICAL SELECTION: “What a Day That Will Be” by Bart Millard and “We Believe” by Newsboys