There are many myths doing the rounds in religious circles including Christianity. The intention of the Apostle’s Creed, amongst other things, is to dispel myths and ideas that are unbiblical. The Creed brings forward a body of realities that emanate directly from the Canon of Scripture as we have it.
The Early Church in the centuries following the Apostles taught new converts the Creed before baptism so that they knew exactly what they needed to believe and stand for when “myths, ideas and stories” were heard that are decidedly not the Gospel. Should the candidate fail to believe or reject one area of the Creed, they would not be baptized because they were saying they could not receive and accept the “whole counsel of God” as given in the Creed.
The reason for this teaching (catechizing) is because most people coming to faith were from pagan and heathen backgrounds. Most were not from Christian families. In any Confessional Church which follows paedobaptism, pre-confirmation classes ought to be a requirement followed by two things.
(1) Observe the candidate’s lifestyle and behavior over a period of time in Church, Youth Group, Ministry and through home visitation.
(2) An in-depth interview covering Gospel, moral and ethical questions.
The reason for this is because in many Churches there is an intellectual acceptance of the propositions of the Creed. The problem is that this does not amount to Christian Faith … where the candidate trusts God through a personal, intimate relationship based upon salvation by grace through being born again. So we say …
1) I believe. Immediately you observe that this Creed is personal. We do not say “we” believe. We say “I” believe. The word “creed” actually comes from Latin meaning “I believe”. Although the Creed could be said when you are alone, normally we say it when we are gathered as a Body. Yet in saying “I believe” we are showing and accepting individual and personal responsibility to our words … to our declaration. We are saying to the congregation … “look at me; hear what I say; judge and examine my actions and behavior to see it matches my declaration.” Yet more … I am showing God that I believe in Him, that I trust Him and have confidence in Him. Always remember that although this Creed was completed in the 4th Century, as you say it, it is your statement of faith!
2) I believe in God. Something we must understand is that the Bible never seeks to prove God is … it never attempts to prove God exists. The opening words of the Bible are:
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Did you see that? The Bible takes God for granted. Those opening words inform us that before creation, God was. The closet we can get is the Bible saying things like:
Gen 22:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.
Rev 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Rev 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the End”
When you say, I believe in God … you are not referring to any other so called god but the God of the Bible. He is the true, living God … there is no other. Neither are you agreeing that the God of the Bible reveals Himself to Christians in one way and other religions, each in different ways. The revelation of God is:
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God …
So when you say you believe in God, you are saying that you believe there is one God, the God of the Bible and that He alone is the Supreme Being. There are no other gods; no contenders to the Throne. There is God … He was, is and always shall be. Although He is known as God, He has given us His name!
Gen 28:13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.
Ex 6:2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD.
Dt 5:6 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 “You shall have no other gods before me.
If you have a Concordance you may do a study and see how many times God calls Himself “LORD”. In the Hebrew God’s name is transliterated as YHWH. Later in time, vowels were added giving us the name YAHWEH. Translated into Greek it is Jehovah and into English it is Lord. In our Bible you will see the name LORD spelt with small capital letters. LORD is God’s name. Knowing this will help us to be very cautious in using this name at any time and in any way because every time you use the name you are using God’s name … and you might be using it in vain! Now for us Christians, saying “I believe in God” means …
1) “I accept He is everything the Bible says He is.” The Bible is the only source providing information about God other than the visible creation. Whatever the Bible says God is or is not is to be believed and accepted without question because the Bible is God’s authentic, inerrant Word. But there is more … in accepting what the Bible says God is and is not … I accept that the Bible has the authority to tell me how God wants me to live and how He wants me to respond to Him.
2) “I know God personally.” “I believe in God” is saying I have a personal relationship with God (More will be said later when we get to believing in Jesus Christ) … but for now, it means He is my God and I have faith in Him sufficient to say … You are the LORD, my Lord.
3) “I am subject to God as His servant.” I acknowledge that I am because He is. Without God I am nothing. Because of what He has done for me through salvation I am subject to Him as His subject. I belong to Him … and willingly so.
4) “I depend upon Him for all of life.” I acknowledge that He is my source for:
(a) Spiritual Life. That part of me that is most important and totally dependent upon God for daily nourishment. This drives me to daily prayerful devotion. I feed my soul to keep it healthy because it belongs to God.
(b) Physical Life. I need to care for this body of mine because it houses the soul. Feeding and cleaning it is only one side of the story. I need to be careful I don’t abuse my body by what I put into it (too much alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc.) or what I take out of it in the sense of work and exercise.
(c) Emotional Life. Great care is required that I depend upon God and not myself because when I depend upon self, I will stress, be filled with anxiety and be useless to God, myself and my loved ones.
O LORD, my Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. Thank You for grace, love and mercy. Amen.