LEGACYouth: The Apostles' Creed

Part 1

Today we're going to talk about the Apostles' Creed...what is it, what it's saying, why it's important, why it's relevant.

First...what is a creed? 

creed is a statement of beliefs...that guide a person's action.

In the case of the early church, a creed was more than a summarized set of beliefs, but also a representation of what they had in common (Acts 2:44, 4:32).

Historical Context: As the Christian church spread throughout the first century Roman world, there was a practical need for local churches to have a basic statement of beliefs. As false teachers began to bring in strange ideas, Christians needed to know: "Just what is it that we believe?"
Some of these churches only a few books of the New Testament, perhaps some of Paul's letters or one of the four Gospels. But none of the churches had all the New Testament. They needed a standard to judge whether a teaching was truth, or heresy.
Furthermore, the early Christians realized that new people didn't have to know everything before they could be baptized and accepted as believers, prompting the question: How much should they know and accept before being admitted into the church? This was yet another reason why early churches pursued the drafting of a creed.
Ultimately, the change in times and religious direction led to the creation of the Apostles' Creed.

What is the Apostles' Creed?
Essentially, the Apostles' Creed is a summary of Christian doctrine, a record of what the apostles taught. And although it's not directly mentioned in the Bible, it's content certainly is (see right image).

So today, we're going to focus on the first statement of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth." 

As echoed in the video, this statement is all about Oneness, the truth that there's only one way to heaven and it starts and ends with God. It's not saying, "There is a God that exists" but rather, "There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist...and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist." (1 Corinthians 8:6, ESV)

Also, note how the video points out another important distinction: the difference between believing there is a God and believing in God.

Let's face it: It doesn't take much faith to believe in the idea of God. As James 2:19 says, even demonic principalities believe God exists. And I don't know about you, but I really want to have more faith than a demon!

Truly, it's take greater faith to believe in God. But maybe you're wondering what it really means to believe "in" God?

What do you think believing in God looks like? 

As stated by renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, the word “believe” in the Bible means more than simply agreeing in our minds that something might be true. It means “trust”—that we believe so strongly in God that we are willing to commit our lives to Him and live the way we know He wants us to live.
Suppose you were walking along a path and you came to a bridge which crossed a deep canyon. You might look at it and believe that it would hold you, and you might even see other people walking across it so you know it would hold your weight. But so far, your “belief” in the bridge is only in your head. When do you really believe the bridge will hold you? You only really believe it when you are willing to commit your life to it and actually walk across it.
It is the same way with Christ. Yes, we can believe that God exists, but God wants us to come to know Him personally. And He has bridged the gap between us by sending His Son to remove the barrier of sin and become that “bridge.” To believe in Christ is to commit our lives by faith to Christ—to trust Him personally as our Lord and Savior. Our prayer is that you will come to truly believe in Christ.
With this in mind, now what do you think believing in God looks like? 

How do you think believing in God affects a person's life (whether thought or action) as opposed to cavalierly admitting God exists?

Also, why you think this opening statement emphasizes the fact God is the Maker of the heaven and earth...and how does this apply to us (or how can this be an encouragement to us) now?

For starters, it edifies our call to trust God. 

Think about it: God created everything we see...and if when we look at the big picture, we find how God not only knows what's best for us, but how He's still working for our good. He not only has infused the earth with steadfast love (Psalm 33) in the beginning, but is continually renewing His love into our lives. 

So why do so many let small things get in the way?

God is being a Creator is not a past tense notion, but a past, present & future one...so man would ultimately be drawn into a relationship with Him.

Part 2

What we believe about Jesus is the backbone of what we believe as, well, believers.

Let's start by asking ourselves: Who is Jesus?

When we say we believe in Jesus, from a Christian perspective, it is a faith declaration. 
"I believe in Jesus" may be four simple words, but it contains the very core of our faith. When we confess Jesus, we are continuing the Apostles' Creed

We are saying we believe:

1) He is God's ONLY Son.
Question: Why is it important that Jesus was God's only son? 
  • It tells us he is, indeed, divine. He is of God and from God. It's really important we accept and believe both of these statements...because when we do, we can understand the unique relationship he had with the Father.
  • It validates the nature & Word of God (John 1:1 - Jesus = The Word, true Logos of God, the Living Word of God, fully God and yet fully man, who came to reveal God to man and redeem all who believe in Him from their sin.
  • Isn't it cool that God had perfect relational community with His Son & the Holy Spirit, yet still wanted to create mankind in His image so He could demonstrate His amazing love for us. His Son, Jesus, is not only a right hand man, but the central way His love could be shown to everyone.
  • Furthermore, no one else can make that claim. It's important to accept Jesus as set apart from any other religious leader in history.
2) Jesus was born of a virgin through the Holy Spirit.
Question: Why is it important that he was born of a virgin? 
  • His origin is a miracle (evidence of God sending him to earth)
  • It fulfills a prophecy: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall  conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)
  • He is Immanuel, which means 'God with us'.
  • If we don't believe this, we are essentially saying God is a liar and Jesus is not who he said.    Why would we follow a liar? Or as Bono said, a "nutter"!
  • Most importantly-it showed redemption was not of man-it was something that could only be achieved by God's intervention. We are not capable of saving ourselves.
  • Not to mention, in Romans, Paul talks about sin entering through one man and salvation coming through another, a second Adam so to speak. What Adam failed to do in a perfect environment as directly birthed from God, Jesus did in an imperfect environment, thus fulfilling God's original intent.
  • Just as he was God, this shows he was also man. Although Jesus never lost touch his divinity, he was limited and subjected by his humanity in same way we are. 

3      3)  Jesus suffered and was crucified.
  • Just as he was God, this shows he was also man. Although Jesus never lost touch his divinity, he was limited and subjected by his humanity in same way we are.
  • Additionally, it was not an easy purchase, but was bought at a price.
        4)  Jesus died and was buried.
  • He really died - he was a sacrifice In the truest sense of the word (Isaiah 53).
  • Jesus was really dead-no miracle max was going to bring him back. He was dead and buried.
  • Historical context - They used to break the criminals legs so that they would suffocate and die on the cross. They didn't do that with Jesus because he was already dead. They could tell by stabbing him in the side. The blood had begun to break down and the cells and plasma had already begun to separate. Plasma is 90% water, so when he was pierced, the blood cells and separated plasma both came out.

Part 3

Question: Do you think the Holy Spirit is somewhere out there? Or in your heart?

Holy Spirit – a Spirit of grace, mercy & truth, our Helper/Counselor, a person who bears witness (testifies) about Christ, giver of joy. He has a mind, will, emotions like us. He teaches, convicts, leads, reveals truth, strengthens and encourages, comforts, intercedes, helps us in our weakness and sanctifies. One thing to remember is he can be resisted & quenched. He is not going to force himself in-we have to allow and partner with him.

Question: With this in mind, now what do you think? Is the Holy Spirit just floating somewhere out in space? Or is a divine presence dwelling in your heart?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19

The holy Christian (catholic* & apostolic) Church – As the video above mentioned, the church is more than a building. It’s the unified people of God, the body of Christ, which is the communion of saints, and you…are a part of this communion! Whether we’re Baptists, Presbyterians, Charismatic…the point is we’re called to be unified…to be one. And it’s this spirit of oneness that captures Paul’s attention in Ephesians 4:1-5, where he urges the church to.

“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

In addition to being one, we’re also called to be holy. Yet, it’s important to remember that the church can’t be holy apart from Christ...and from what God has declared. In fact, the Word says we are declared holy (“…the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:17) by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (which is all the more why we should want to know who He is).

*Catholic = universal, apostolic – related to the Apostles and their teachings-those sent and who the message continues to be sent to.

What is sanctification? What does it mean to be sanctified? Sanctification is the process by which we are made holy…by being cleansed by the washing of water with the word (i.e. washed by the reality of Christ loving the church…giving Himself up for her…saving us from our sins by dying on the cross (the evidence of His love) and giving us new life). It’s a process where we can live a life of perpetual meekness, as it says in Psalm 22:26: “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

In three words, sanctification is: separation (to be set apart as holy by grace), dedication (to purity & the holiness we’re called to) and perfection (being completed in Christ).

Note: We don’t make ourselves perfect, but we are perfected by Christ. It’s not about never messing up, but about being redeemed and transformed and in that transformation…walking in obedience.

The forgiveness of sins – By believing in who God is…who Christ is…we are receiving forgiveness of sins through His name. Imagine if you didn’t believe in this part of the Creed? What would the effects be? It would create a “faith logjam”, right? If our transgressions aren’t covered…if we don’t believe we’re truly forgiven…then we’re making God out to be a liar”…and suddenly, the cross becomes a powerless force in our lives.

The life everlasting – We believe in the eternal future God has promised us, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heave for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Many times, we are aware of where we’re ultimately going…but we don’t always live with it in mind. But what connects this temporary home to the one we’ll spend in eternity? It’s as the Psalmist declares in Psalm 16:11, “…a path of life, where there is fullness of joy…” where in His presence, there are pleasures forevermore.

So regardless of what we believe about what happens to our earthly bodies after the second coming of Christ and a new earth is established, the bottom line is: the life everlasting is more than a future experience, but a present possession.

Amen - Question: Why do we say Amen? What does it mean?

It means, “Let it be so.” It is a declaration and a prayer at the same time.
Bottom line: At the end of the day, the creed is more than a proclamation; it’s a prayer that saints have made in faith, where sinners find their hope, where God shows His love.

Make it real. Don’t just say it. Live it by loving it and praying it in.

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