1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 4 ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’” 5 The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.6 For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.8 Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. 10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. 11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. 12 You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.13 Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.16 They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.17 For you are their glory and strength, and by your favour you exalt our horn.18 Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord.
Romans 10: 4
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
THE APOSTLES CREED
This morning we begin a three part series on “The Apostles Creed”. So what is the Apostles Creed and why is it important?
The Apostles Creed in its original form was put together by the early Church leaders to outline the “rule of faith” which new believers recited at the time of their conversion and baptism. They recited this after a time of teaching on the truths of the Bible. Later on it developed into what it is today with an added purpose of preventing error in the Church. It has also effectively been instrumental in keeping the Universal Church in agreement as to what constitutes a Christian. Any departure from the statements in the creed is even today, considered heretic.
Bear in mind that this creed was formulated before the Church became the fragmented organisation it is today. And yet all main-line Churches accept the Apostles Creed as the bottom line “rule of faith” even today. This includes the Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians – and there are others I have not mentioned.
The reason it is still valued (universally) is that each sentence is found in scripture. I have had the creed printed on the back of the home group notes with the relative texts for your interest.
So be assured it does not replace the Bible in any way but rather it points us to those un-negotiable truths about God in the Bible. It outlines what Christians believe. The Apostles creed is also not, as some might assume, an incantation that in some mystical way brings one good fortune or protection.
What it is most effective in doing today is guarding against doctrinal error.
Lies that people believe about god and Jesus today include:
God is love and wouldn’t hurt anyone!
All faiths lead to God!
The trinity isn’t in the Bible so it can’t be true!
The creation story is a myth!
The Flood never happened, or it was only partial!
Mary wasn’t a virgin!
Jesus didn’t actually die, he just fainted!
The Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament
Jesus isn’t coming back
All people go to heaven
These statements attempt to make the Bible acceptable on human intellectual terms.
In our Mark reading Jesus answers the question “of all the commandments which is the most important?” In reply Jesus recites what is known in the Jewish community as the “Shema”. “Hear O Israel,The Lord our God is One”. He goes on to say “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. Jewish people are expected to recite this every morning and every evening.
In reciting the Apostles Creed we affirm what we believe about God the Father Almighty. We affirm that Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Any diversion from this truth constitutes a false religion in the view of the Christian Church. To attempt to explain the trinity in logical terms is to attempt to make God who we want Him to be rather than who He says He is!
Genesis 35:11 God says “I am God Almighty and Jesus in
John 10:30 says “I and the Father are one.”
The most important commandment, according to Jesus, is that we believe there is only one God and that we Love Him with all our hearts souls and minds. In order to love God that way we must first believe that He exists.
Believing God exits does not save us. The Bible tells us that Satan believes and trembles! Knowing that He exists does not mean we love Him or accept His offer of salvation either.
Knowledge does not save us, but believing in Him in the fullest Biblical sense does. The dictionary definition of the word belief is “to accept that something is true without proof”.
We cannot prove God exists scientifically, although the Bible says we are without excuse because what we see around us is evidence enough.
Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”.
Someone once said “it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe. I agree!
Biblically the words trust, faith, and believe come from the same route word which is more than simply accepting that something is true without proof.
In declaring that we believe in God, and believe what He says, we are saying we put our trust in Him. This is not an intellectual exercise! It is a God ordained spiritual event that changes us from within.
When we believe in this biblical sense we begin to grasp the significance of what God did for us in Jesus and we want to respond in loving obedience to His sovereign will. When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth about God we realise what our fate would have been without Jesus.
The Apostles creed begins with the words “I believe in God the Father almighty!
What does that mean? To use a dictionary description it means that we believe that He has supreme unquestionable power over everything.
There are more than a few occasions mentioned in the Bible where God’s supreme and unquestionable power is evident.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 89:7 that God is greatly feared. And in verse 13 he says “His arm is endowed with power, His hand is strong!” We know from stories in the Bible that by Gods command the earth was flooded, droughts, earthquakes and volcanoes occurred. Even the sun stopped in its tracks! There are many accounts in the Bible of His power and authority over life and death, people and places, Nations and Nature. Think of the Pharaoh’s experience of Gods power at work!
And so when we say we believe in God almighty we need to be sure we know what we are saying. Our God is awesome and Holy and worthy of honour reverence obedience and respect of the highest order!
I cringe when I hear people speak glibly about God being “The man upstairs!” or the “Big Guy” or using His name in any inappropriate manner. I shudder when I hear the expression O.M.G. An expression so prevalent at the moment! Even used by children!
But there is much comfort in knowing that the God we believe in is “almighty” because God who passed harsh judgement on those who invoked His wrath, by the same power, heals the sick, raises the dead, provides protects and saves those who believe and trust in Him. This same Almighty God is Our Father in heaven!
GOD OUR FATHER
I was deeply moved recently as I watched my 18month old grandson, Mitchell, spend time with his dad on the farm.
I saw the love between the two of them, the trust, the desire to be close to each other, the joy they shared, the concern of the father for his son’s safety, and the way the son looked to his Dad for help. I marvel at the way they miss each other when separated just for a night and the joy they show when re-united. I believe this is only a small snapshot of the kind of relationship we can enjoy with God our Father Almighty.
How wonderful it is for us to know that Our Father in heaven loves to spend time with us. That He is never too busy too tired, too stressed, too pre-occupied to listen to us, to love and care for us. What a blessed assurance to know that he keeps His promise to never leave or forsake us. To know that no-one can snatch those who believe in Him from His hand! That He knows my name.
Knowing this and believing this, living as though we believe it, deepens and grows our love for our Him in our hearts our minds and our souls.
GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS
The next statement we make in the Apostles Creed is that we believe that God created all things! He spoke and the World and all in it came into being.
It does not matter to those who believe the Bible what the world and its geologists, anthropologists, and scientists say about creation. We believe that God is the creator of all things. Including ourselves! Because He said so!
We do not have to understand how the world and everything in it was formed. We simply believe that He created and controls all things. The Psalmist said in verse 9 “You rule over the surging sea, when its waves mount up, you still them. And in verse 11 He says “The heavens are yours, and also the earth, You founded the world and all that is in it.
It is not easy to ignore the scientific theories about creation because they do present a very plausible argument. But we must remember that they are just that. Theories! No-one on this earth was there at the beginning but God was there, in the beginning and I choose to believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth. Do you?
Paul said in our Romans reading “9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved”.
If you able to say with me this morning that you honestly believe that God is Your Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth (and all that is in it) would you please say the Apostles creed with me.
If for any reason you are not sure that you can say this and mean it, please don’t feel pressurised to do so.
Next week will look at what it means to believe in Jesus and His ministry on earth.
I do encourage you to read the Apostles creed on a regular basis and if possible learn to recite it so that if you ever need to answer questions about God and what you believe about Him you will be able to answer with confidence and conviction.
THE APOSTLES CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty, (Mt 5:45)
Creator of heaven and earth, (Gen 1:1; Rom 1:20)
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, (Mt 3:17; Phil 2:12)
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, (Lk 1:35)
born of the Virgin Mary,(Lk 2:7)
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,(Jn 19:16)
Was crucified, died, and was buried. (Jn 19:29 – 42)
He descended into hell; (1 Pet 3:19 – 20)
On the third day He rose again from the dead,(Mt 28:1-10; Jn 20:11-18)
He ascended in heaven, (Lk 24:51)
And sits at the right hand of God, (Heb 1:3)
The Father almighty; (Mk 14:36)
From thence He shall come again (Mt 16: 27; Acts 10:39)
To judge the living and the dead. (1 Cor 15: 51)
I believe in the Holy Spirit, (Jn 14:15 – 20; Acts 1:7 – 8)
The Holy Catholic Church, (Mt 16:18 – 19; Eph 5:26-27; Col 1:24)
The communion of Saints, (Mt 28:19 – 20; 2 Cor 11:13; 1 Cor 15: 33)
The forgiveness of sins, (Jn 20:22 – 23) the resurrection of the body, (1Cor 15:51 – 54; 1 Thes 4:13 – 18)
And life everlasting. (1 Jn 5:20)