THE APOSTLES' CREED
M. Frank 3-96
To say "I believe" is also to say "God loves me." For faith is a gift from God. No one comes to Jesus without the help of the Spirit of God. And no one comes to the Father without coming to Jesus.
This gift, of course, is available to all. And if you have not come to Jesus Christ by faith, know this: even now God is seeking to give you this gift, and thus to save you from sin and death and hell. Repent and believe the gospel.
IN GOD THE FATHER
What a privilege to know God as our heavenly Father. What a price God paid to bring us into His family. No longer do we belong to ourselves. We have been purchased by the shed blood of the Son of God. We have thus been adopted into the family of God.
Now we see God's love. Now we know Him, not as a distant, unknowable power who might hear our prayers, but as our dear Father in heaven, before whom we can boldly come as beloved children.
We call Him Father, not because it is an appellation we have thought up, but because He is our heavenly Father, revealed to us in this way in Jesus Christ.
To refuse God as Father is to refuse God and to seek an idol.
How remarkable that we may call God "Father." For He is the Almighty God, the One who holds the whole of creation in the palm of His hand. And yet in His Son He has sought us, purchased us, found us, adopted us.
To know God as Father is to know that He loves us. To know Him as the Father Almighty is to know that He is able to love us. At all times. In all situations. In the face of all enemies. Even in the face of our own wretchedness.
MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
All things, visible and invisible, come from God, created, finally, by his spoken word.
Because of our sin the Creation cannot reveal God to us. But when we have met Him in Jesus Christ, the Creation of God can be heard, however silently, loudly singing the glory of His name.
Finally, the awesome power of Creation, the impenetrable size of Creation (even of an ever expanding Creation), the unthinkable pattern of Creation, do not detract from our Christian faith. Instead they tell us the uncontradictable truth, that if the glorious One who created all that is can really love us as He has loved His Son, then His love for us is deeper, higher, wider and far more glorious than we can ever begin to understand.
AND IN JESUS CHRIST
Behold the mystery of God. He, God Almighty, became a Man. The Man Jesus Christ. The Man who was born of Mary, raised by Mary and Joseph. The Man who submitted himself to the tyrannical authority of Pontius Pilate. Jesus Christ, the Jew. He, God in the flesh, was and is our brother. He knows our weaknesses. He sympathizes with us when we are wracked by temptation. Here, in this Man Jesus Christ, God meets us. Here, in this Man Jesus Christ, is revealed the Father. Here, in this Man Jesus Christ, we find the source of the very Spirit of God.
How great is the mystery of God! It is sung by angels. It is sung that God loved us so much that He, in the person of His Son, became a Man, for our sake. This is a deep mystery, one that is finally understood only by a life which is surrendered to Him.
HIS ONLY SON
Behold the mystery of God. He is One God and yet three Persons. As a triangle is perfectly one and yet cannot be understood apart from three distinct angles, so God is perfectly One and yet cannot be known apart from His being three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But the mystery of God is also this: He did not save us with spare change. Instead He saved us through the suffering of His only Son. In light of this mystery self-pity is revealed to be the child of darkness, ignorance and sin. It is a denial of the Incarnation.
When the Son of God became a Man, our status as human beings changed. Once we were defined by Adam, the sinner who died. Now we are defined by Jesus, the new Adam, the Man who perfectly loved God and His neighbor, the Man who is alive forever. Who He is and what He did counts for all who come to Him by faith.
Behold the mystery of God. We were made for God, and yet have cast off His Lordship and chosen for ourselves terrible slavery to sin. We who were made in the image of God have chosen to be less than human, have placed ourselves on the path to hell.
And yet God sent His only Son. And in Him, by faith in Him, we have found our true Lord and by life in Him are being restored to the glory we have cast away.
HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus is the gift of God from the very beginning. That is why Joseph is left out of the picture here at the birth of Jesus. There is no co-operation between a husband and a wife to bring about the birth of the Savior. Our salvation rests, from the beginning, on God's mercy.
Mary received Jesus into her body in the same way we receive Him into our hearts, by faith.
BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY
How great is His love. He was born of a woman. He is fully man as well as fully God. (How great is this mystery.) He was a helpless baby, nursed at the breast of Mary, reliant on Joseph for protection. The Son of God, born of Mary.
HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE
As a man Jesus did not turn His back on humiliation. He knows what it means to be subject to governmental authority, just as we do. He "suffered" under Pontius Pilate, a weak-willed tyrant, who refused to do his duty and release Jesus, even though he knew Jesus to be innocent. Jesus knew the weakness and helplessness we often feel when we are forced to deal with capricious, dishonest and foolish men and women who have authority over us.
WAS CRUCIFIED, DEAD AND BURIED
Jesus Christ tasted death for our sake. He died the death of a criminal. By His death He paid the price for our sins. By His death He broke the power of sin over us. By His death He freed us from the threat of sin and death and hell. In Him we are dead to sin and alive to God.
HE DESCENDED INTO HELL
Jesus knew the full wrath of God poured out on sin. He tasted suffering which we will never have to taste. Of course, we will taste death. But, because He died for us, we will never have to know the pain of hell. We will never have to know the utter absence of God.
And here is the great wonder: it was the Son of God who knew this terrible suffering. God took this suffering unto Himself.
ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD
Jesus Christ is alive. Alive forever. Nothing can separate us from Him now. Certainly not death.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead we do not have to fear death. His victory is our victory. Because of Him death has become a toothless enemy, a door to God. Because of Him.
Jesus Christ is alive -- alive to God. He who once was made sin for our sake is now dead to sin and alive to God. And because by faith we are one with Him, we must count ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God.
As we are buried with Christ in the waters of baptism we are marked with His death. And as we are raised with Christ from the waters of baptism we are marked with His resurrection. We are one with Him.
Again, we must count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and live accordingly.
HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN
All that Jesus did He did for us. His going up into heaven counts for us. This "going up" is a solid foundation for our hope to be with the Father. Paul tells us that our real life is hidden with Christ in heaven. He is there -- for us.
AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY
The right hand of the Father is the place of favor and power. The ascension of Jesus to this place is a sign that all He (Jesus) did and said, whom He claimed to be, was true, was and is the very word and deed of God.
The ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father also reminds us that He is truly King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For He is at the right hand of the Father, the hand of power. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. In spite of all opposition His will will be done. We can count on it, and live accordingly. We have not been called in Christ to have a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of joyful, obedient boldness: even in the face of death.
Finally: Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father for us. He is there for us. His presence counts for us -- there at the right hand of the Father. There is the place of favor, the place of eternal joy. He is there, saving a place for us, at the right hand.
FROM THERE HE SHALL COME TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
There are those who live as if there were no God. They live pleasing themselves and hurting others all the days of their lives. At a ripe, old age they die, perhaps even with a smile on their face. And we are tempted to think: "Ah! They have escaped the judgement of God."
But this not so. Finally, all will. stand before Him: the living and the dead. And all will answer for their lives.
There is also this: we come to Jesus now because we need mercy. Without that mercy, without the forgiveness of sins we find in Jesus, without the newness of life that we find in Jesus, we will surely be found wanting on Judgement Day. We will surely go to hell.
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity. He is God with us. He is given to us by the Father and the Son.
He brings us to faith in Jesus. He gives to us all that Jesus has accomplished for our sake. By him we know the presence of the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit brings Christians together. He makes real the unity we have in Christ. He gives to Christians gifts by which we serve one another. Thus, by Him, the Church is built up.
THE HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Church is not a building, but a people. You and I are part of the Church.
The Church is the body of Christ. By His call and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we do His work in the world. In a very real sense, here, in this world we are, until He comes again, His hands, His feet, His Presence to the world.
The Church needs you, just as the body needs the hand. If you cut yourself off from the Church, the whole Church suffers.
You need the Church, just as the hand needs the body. If you cut yourself off from the Church you do yourself terrible spiritual harm.
The Church is "holy" because she belongs to God, because God, through His Holy Spirit, is in her midst.
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
We have, as Christians, a new family, a very big family. In Christ we have brothers and sisters who are red and yellow, black and white, citizens of countries everywhere. Our brothers and sisters are from ages past as well as now and will be from ages in the future. Time cannot separate us. In Christ we will live forever as one people.
Because we are brothers and sisters we are to forsake all prejudice and love one another. Prejudice is finally a denial of the work of Jesus and of His Lordship.
Christians are referred to as "saints." That is because we have been set apart by God for His use in this world. Furthermore, as His people He has made His home with us. Because of His call and His being with us we are a holy people, God's people, saints. We ought to remember this in all our decisions. We ought to live accordingly.
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
Life with God, the hope of eternal life with God -- all of this would be impossible if Jesus had not died for our sins. Without the forgiveness of sins we would be lost, sunk in sin, careening to hell.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
Our Christian hope is rich beyond our wildest dreams. We hope not simply that the soul will live, but that the day will come when we will receive a resurrection body like the resurrection body of Jesus. A body that will live forever. A body that is as superior to the one we have now as the oak tree is superior to the acorn.
Indeed, for the Christian this is certainly true: the bodies we have now are just loaners from God, given to us to wear out in His service. The real body we await: a body to be used forever in the praise of God.
AND LIFE EVERLASTING
This life that we look forward to is marked both by quantity and quality. It is a life that lasts forever. It is a life before the very face of God.
CS Lewis once commented that this life we look forward to is akin to a wonderful book with an infinite number of chapters. And each chapter is better than the last one.
Mike Frank © 1996
Back to the index