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Month: July 2017

Know Christ’s Love

Last night I checked out Hope Centre Church’s Worship Together event. In many ways, it was everything I expected it to be (and that’s all I’m going to say about that) but I was deeply encouraged by the short sermon delivered by Pastor Nathan, and I want to share my brief – albeit slightly unrefined – notes in the hope that you too might be spurred on to pursue Christ more fervently.

Preaching on Ephesians 3:14-19, Pastor Nathan captured the thrust of this section of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus this way:

[Paul speaking] “I’m not going to pray for your specific life issue.
Rather, I’m going to pray that you encounter more of God’s love.”

Why Does Paul Pray That?

Because he knows where our priorities should be. Put simply, we need to seek Christ above every other pursuit and treasure him above every other thing. In his commentary on this passage, Martin Lloyd-Jones writes “Indeed, our chief defect as Christians is that we fail to realize Christ’s love to us.” Let that sink in for a moment. Do we really understand how much Jesus gave up for us in love? Do we fully grasp the extent of this love for us? Do we go about our lives every day in the confidence that nothing can separate us from that love?

Lloyd-Jones goes on to add

“How important it is that we should meditate upon this love and contemplate it! It is because we fail to do so that we tend to think at times that He has forgotten us, or that He has left us.”

If you’re a Christian (and frequently, even if you’re not), you know in some sense about God’s love for you; but Paul’s prayer is that you would know it. D. A. Carson in his A Call to Spiritual Reformation points out that just as a loving home is required for children to grow to personal maturity, so we must come into the knowledge of Christ’s great love for us, in His household, the church, if we are to grow to spiritual maturity.

There are three points worth unpacking from this idea:

1. Christian people find Jesus beautiful. Religious people find Jesus useful.

You don’t come away from worship with 3 points on how to fix your life; and if you do, you’re doing it wrong. Rather in finding Jesus beautiful, everything else fades from the foreground, and troubles fall into their rightful priority and place. Finding Jesus beautiful is actually the most useful thing you can do.

2. Paul calls us to pursue love in community.

Nobody graduates from the love of God. We must constantly strive to love better, love more completely, and in order to do this we must begin with knowing the One who loves us unceasingly and unconditionally. Paul prays specifically that the Ephesian Christians would experience God’s love together “with all the saints”; regardless of their personality or propensity towards a particular kind of Christian pursuit, we should go after more and more of God’s love unified with fellow believers in heart and mind. We do this together, because God’s love is expressed in community.

3. Seeking after God’s love is not (purely) an intellectual pursuit.

While a deeper relationship with God necessitates studying him, learning about him, and getting to know him through the community of saints, encountering God’s love surpasses knowledge; you’ve got to experience it. When you read Scripture, you do so to encounter the living God revealed in it’s pages. When you pray, you don’t simply recite religiously, but to seek God and grow into maturity. Rather than just knowing about his love, why not regularly re-calibrate your life by creating space to actually encounter God and be refreshed in his presence?

Karl Barth (acknowledged as the greatest theologian of his century) was asked by a student if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a single sentence. Barth is said to have responded: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Go hard after God’s love.
Experience it.
Encounter Jesus.
That’s all you need.

Wednesdays on the Web (26/07)

Meet the Puritans: Union and Communion

I’ve enjoyed this series, and this article is particularly comforting for those who face death, but who know of their union with Christ. Death no longer holds us captive to fear, and Jesus has made our hope for resurrection secure.

A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce

This article fascinates me, and I’ll admit I’m still thinking through all the applications for the many and varied situations that divorces arises from, and the “lies” that this author seeks to address from the gospel.

Dear Church, You’re Wrong About Sex

Phylicia gets down to business.

Dealing with Disappointment

Depak Reju has written some quality work (I have one of his books still on my wishlist) and this article further supports that statement. Along similar lines to the excellent You Are What You Love, Reju appropriately shines the spotlight back on us.

No One is Born a Child of God

This one often comes up when people talk about God being ‘unjust’ towards people, but there are plenty of other false narratives that would be corrected, if we just realised this simple truth.

The doctrine of Adoption is arguably one of the sweetest doctrines in the Bible, but it doesn’t make any sense if people are already born children of God.

Theologicon: Australia’s First Pop-Culture Conference

Take your favourite comic book characters, pop-culture icons, and silver screen superheroes, mix in theology… and you’ve got Theologicon: a conference to explore how Christians can engage with the enduring themes and questions posed within pop-culture. This looks like the most fun I could have on a weekend. I’ll be keeping an eye on the event page.

The Council of Ephesus

We’re in a series of articles exploring the councils and creeds of the Christian church. Why? Because when it comes to faithfully and diligently working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) we miss a great deal when we simply try to construct our own “real Christianity” with nothing more than a bible. To take heed from those who have gone before us is to benefit from the wealth found in the most important theological declarations of the Christian tradition.

Today we continue the series with a look at the council of Ephesus.

Background

The First Council of Ephesus sought to further clarify and better articulate the Church’s understanding of the person of Jesus Christ, more specifically how he is both human and divine. The orthodox position has always been that Christ is both God and man (true God from true God… born of the virgin Mary) but what did this actually look like, and how did these two natures co-exist? Answers to these questions run the risk of over-spiritualising or over-humanising Jesus, thus distorting not only our understanding of him, but necessarily undermining the work he accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection.

The Controversy

The two major players in this council came from two of the most powerful cities in the world; Nestorius (Patriarch of Constantinople) and Cyril (Patriarch of Alexandria). It must be said from the outset that both these men were deeply concerned with understanding the nature of Christ in a way that was true to Scripture, however they erred in that Nestorius held a literal approach to Jesus which emphasized his humanity, while Cyril emphasized his godhood.

Nestorius

Nestorius developed a view of Christ that aimed to refute both Arianism (Christ was created as god-and-man together, see The Council of Nicea) and Manichaeanism (matter was evil, thus Christ wouldn’t fully become human, but rather was a completely divine being merely ‘wearing’ a human form). This led Nestorius to the conclusion that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, but these parts were separate. For Nestorius, Christ could therefore suffer on the cross in his human part, while the divine part remained unaffected and in control. He emphasized that Jesus was human in every possible way, which he believed is crucial if we are to share in his suffering and benefit from his sacrifice.

Cyril

With a sharp focus on the other side of the argument, Cyril believed that Nestorius dangerously diminished the divine in Jesus, and that this produced two different people (one human, one divine) that were only loosely tethered to each other in Christ. Cyril held that it was only through the divine Jesus also bearing the infinite punishment for infinite sin on our behalf that he was an effective High Priest for humanity.

Why it Matters

In the end, after a lot of underhanded political maneuvering and power plays between the parties of both Cyril and Nestorius, the council decided in favour of Cyril’s Christology which better balanced the two natures, and had Nestorius stripped of his rank and exiled. While we should be glad for this outcome with regard to developing an important theology, it could also be concerning for those at the time; if a decision of a church council was reached largely because of politics, how could they be sure the right call was made? What we must remember is that even with all the posturing of the day, both parties were seeking as best they could to be faithful to Scripture and facilitate the expansion of the true Christian faith across the world. Throughout the pages of the Bible we frequently see how God uses imperfect people and even evil acts to accomplish his good purposes, and always despite the inadequacy of those he uses.

We would do well to remember the council of Ephesus when engaging in disagreement with fellow believers. Ephesus reminds us that we should exercise humility, care, and a posture that seeks to listen in order to better understand. Today we look upon the events at Ephesus with gratitude, because it was here that the church came closer to our current understanding of the dual nature of Christ and how Christ accomplishes our salvation.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Ephesus tends to leave the modern reader with the impression that a clear statement of beliefs on Christ’s two natures hasn’t been clearly articulated yet. And that’s really right; it isn’t until the council of Chalcedon in 451 (approx. 20 years later) that a full Christology is made clear. Stay tuned!

More articles in Councils & Creeds:

Making Disciples Starts with You

I try to include books on parenting and family as a regular part of my reading diet. I began this month with Chap Bettis’ book The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ and I’ve been so convicted in the first couple of chapters that I’ve not only had to re-read them, but I’ve decided to blog my way through the remaining content.

Not pulling any punches, Bettis is quick to get to the real heart of the matter when it comes to effective disciple-making. Quoting Scottish pastor and theologian Robert Murray M’Cheyne, he writes

“What my children need most
is my personal holiness”

It might seem obvious, but how can I effectively disciple someone if I’m not a disciple – being discipled – myself? As a student, I often observed that what I learned at seminary wasn’t just information; I came to love what my teachers loved. I caught their curiosity for the course content, and I inherited their desire to go deeper. This didn’t happen simply by what they taught, but by how they taught it. The same thing is true for Sunday sermons; what the congregation hear in that 30 minutes is (hopefully) the result of hours of careful study and constant prayer. What I bring to my children in family devotions and daily discipleship must be the same; the overflow of my own times in the word saturated with prayer for the growth of their faith and love for the Lord. To expect them to grow by a make-it-up-as-I-go-along impromptu delivery is likely to be disastrous.

For me to be the best parent I can be, I must acknowledge my complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. I must be careful not to make an idol out of having perfect Christian children, but I should be encouraged too that God has promised to lead, teach, guide, and fulfill his promises when I put him first in my life. It sounds counter-intuitive at first, but the beginning of family discipleship really has nothing to do with children. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 shows us the order of our priorities:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

This command makes plain for us that we must love God with – and for – our own selves before we can teach our children to follow. We must have his laws written on our own hearts before we can effectively model what it means to be a Christ-follower. My most sincere hope is that I don’t simply teach my children about a deity that I know with my head, but rather introduce them to a Lord and Saviour that I treasure with my whole being. It begins with me.

Wednesdays on the Web (19/07)

Fill out a short form to get this free e-book from Mark Dever on the gospel & personal evangelism.

The Radical Difference between Believers and Unbelievers

Different worldviews, different rules, different kingdoms, and ultimately different kings.

Every Book of the Bible in One Word

There were a number of reasons why I really enjoyed this. A good summary helps my memory, but also asks me the question “do I know why that is the word chosen for this or that book?”

It’s a Date Night: What Did You Expect?

Joshua Waulk via Balight Counselling:

“It may seem like a settled matter to some, but from the first session of counseling I hold with any couple, I seek to convince them of the primacy of hope in Christ and his gospel alone for their marriage, rather than any particular tool, intervention, or methodology that we may discuss or employ. This would include, for example, date nights, even if they appear to have been helpful, or the latest best-selling book on marriage, even if it’s all the rage in the Christian blogosphere.”

The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson

Thoughtful reflection from Albert Mohler on the brouhaha that was Eugene Petersen last week. How can I look at the cirumstances, actions, reactions, recants, re-reactions, and consider how I might learn from this. Not only to ensure I always speak with truth and clarity but to avoid – as Mohler suggests – being next.

The Words of my Mouth

This honest piece is very relatable; both as who I am, and who I strive to be. A good reminder of the wisdom that came from the brother of Jesus. Lore Wilbert writes:

I have spent decades trying to figure out how to bridle my tongue, going from one extreme to the other, from utter silence to rampant zingers. This discipline of letting the Word of God be my bit and reins for a bridled tongue is the only thing that’s changing me really, from the inside out.

 

Luther: The Man and His Theology

This event is happening in Brisbane next week, and tickets are almost sold out. Come and celebrate 500 years of Martin Luther’s legacy; and learn not only about the man and his theology, but why the Reformation still matters for Christians today. (At the very least, come and get the free CSB Bible for attendees)

You Are What You Love

When it comes to our spiritual formation, the average Western Christian has lost much of the value that comes from practices that quiet our souls and remind us of who we are. We live in an age of addiction to speed, multi-tasked productivity, compressed thoughts, and condensed experiences. Even when it comes to our spiritual life we find ourselves too busy to pray, too distracted to just “be still”, and even see some churches try to preach shorter sermons out of fear that they will lose the attendance of our attention-deficit generation. And from society around us we (the church) run the risk of succumbing to these bad doctrines and false narratives; carelessly adopting our secular culture’s daily liturgies.

In You Are What You Love Smith argues for a return to intentional practices that immerse our souls in “liturgies indexed to the kingdom of God”. He recognises that we are restored by being re-storied; and we have a deep need to change the rhythm of the narratives that we live by. The truth is the same whether we are considering the habits of our own lives or the environment of our local church; where we invest our time reveals where our love truly resides.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t ask people to gather wood.
Rather, teach them to long for the sea.”

But we can’t re-calibrate our hearts merely from the top-down. Intentional discipleship isn’t a purely intellectual exercise (although, I believe that it needs to begin as one). Smith helpfully points out that his solution isn’t to shun knowledge – as though being anti-intellectual would somehow make you more ‘in tune’ with matters of the Spirit – but to focus on the connection between our habits and our desires. We need to recognise the power of habit. As Christians, I think we understand routine. We strive to read our bibles regularly, we gather together every Sunday to worship as a community, but we are also bombarded with the many unhealthy cultural liturgies that would seek to distract our hearts and steal our affections. We check our social media before – or more frequently than – our time spent with God, and we are lazy about sticking to spiritual disciplines that we know are good for our souls.

Smith is quick to point out that ​we won’t be “delivered from deformation simply by new information” bur rather reflection must propel us into new practices. By grace we have been provided the means by which to nurture our love for the good and beautiful God, found in the rich practices of the historical Christian church. Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to your habits, your morning routine, the order in which you sub-consciously prioritize your tasks and time. Smith reminds us that in the midst of a world of “hurry sickness”, there is infinite value in receiving and adopting the historic Christian practices as enduring gifts that help us rightly order our loves, just as they have for Christians down through time, and he shows how this deep continuity remains a radical call to discipleship.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

The Council of Nicaea and The Nicene Creed

We’re in a series of articles exploring the councils and creeds of the Christian church. Why? Because when it comes to faithfully and diligently working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) we miss a great deal when we simply try to construct our own “real Christianity” with nothing more than a bible. To take heed from those who have gone before us is to benefit from the wealth found in the most important theological declarations of the Christian tradition.

Today we continue the series with a look at the council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed.

Background

The Nicene Creed is actually the culmination of effort from two ecumenical councils (Nicea in 325 AD and Constantinople in 381 AD) and a century of wrestling over the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. During the reign of Emperor Constantine the most divisive schism that the Christian church had ever experienced broke out. This great controversy – known as Arianism (after it’s loudest voice, Arius of Alexandria) – taught that Jesus Christ was a creature and not equal with the Father. Arius’ followers believed that despite Jesus being an incomparably great creature, still “there was [a time] when the Son was not.” This teaching caused the church to think through the orthodox view of the Trinity in a clearer way than stated in the Apostles’ Creed.

The Council

The very first ecumenical council of the Christian church saw 318 bishops from East and West branches of Christianity come together for two months. Here a number of secondary issues received decrees, but the issue of primary importance was the Arian controversy (it was also known as subordinationism, because it subjected Christ the lesser to God the greater). Things escalated quicker than expected, when soon after the council opening someone called for a reading of the Arian position as a place to begin. One of the Arian bishops read a statement which clearly denied the deity of the Son of God, designating him a creature and not equal with the Father. Expecting to hear something more moderate, the bishops were horrified at such blatant heresy, and the riot only stopped at the emperor’s command. The council immediately turned to articulating a clear statement of orthodox Trinitarian belief.

The Creed

Patterned after the Apostles’ Creed, but adding wording to clearly exclude Arianism, it states:

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us humans and for our salvation came down and became incarnate, becoming human, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit.

The original creed ends at this point, finishing with a statement specifically condemning those who would assert that Jesus isn’t completely co-equal and co-eternal as the second member of the Trinity.

Why it Matters

Statements like “being of one substance” and “light of light” serve as the analogy we can hang our Trinitarian thinking on. How can you separate light from light? You can’t. Neither can the Father and Son be separated; Jesus is of the same substance and thus truly God. Although we may simply accept it without question today, the fact that Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) are equally God is non-negotiable for Christians. Arian heresies are far from dead; Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, and others deny the true deity of Jesus, and the Nicene Creed settles this point, ascribing to Jesus his proper glory and majesty.

More articles in Councils & Creeds:

Christian Classics: Round 4

The Christian life is meant to be lived out in community. Rather than doing our best to “work out our salvation” in isolation from other believers, intentionally spending time with and learning from our brothers and sisters in Christ is richly rewarding… actually I’d say it’s required. On this shared journey towards Christlikeness, we work together to deepen our understanding of God through the means of grace (scripture and prayer) and the church community is the crucible in which we learn how to better apply the teachings of Jesus to the way we live our lives.

In addition to regular church attendance (also required for Christians), I’m part of a group that meets together regularly to read, discuss, and learn from the writings of great men and women of faith throughout history. These spiritual forebears of ours have much to speak into our lives today from the timeless words of scripture, and we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t take time to listen to what they have to say. Most recently, the group has spent time studying the works of Christians such as Karl Barth, J. I. Packer, and Martin Luther. We’ve loved learning more about spiritual disciplines, evangelism, personal piety, loving one another, understanding the person and work of Jesus, and living the Christian life.

Who is the next author, and what does he have to say?

The next round of Christian Classics is about to begin, and members of the group are placing orders for the next book with anticipation. We’re taking a look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s influential work: Discipleship. We’ll be using the more accessible Reader’s Edition from Fortress Press, as it divides his content nicely for our fortnightly meetings, and the modern translation and supplemental material help to make clear Bonhoeffer’s theology amidst his unique social context. Bonhoeffer has much to say about Christ’s call to discipleship and what that looks like for us as disciples, and he takes the time to discuss the more practical aspects of the church of Jesus Christ and discipleship (doing life together as members of the body of Christ). The largest section of this famous work is his discourse of the Sermon on the Mount which can be said (without exaggeration, I think) to have influenced almost every evangelical theologian since it was written.

We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. We have so much to learn from the great men and women of the Christian faith who have forged a path for us; why don’t you join us as we read through some of their most classic works and discover more of the glory of Christ together.

Contact me via social media (buttons can be found here on the site) if you’d like to be involved, either in person or online. Why not get a head start, and order the book from Book Depository.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Wednesdays on the Web (12/07)

Good News for Difficult Times

Our circumstances may be difficult, even insurmountable, but we have good news to preach to ourselves that will change the way we respond to difficult circumstances.

Scott Slayton provides a valuable reminder here (rooted in Romans 8 and coupled with Martin Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression), which I really need to read.

You May Not Love What You Think

A timely reminder for me, as I’ve just finished reading James K. A. Smith’s book on this. Here, he writes “how are you curating your heart?” through the activities you invest in and the priorities you choose (consciously or subconsciously). How do we engage in self-awareness rooted in scripture for the good of ourselves, our families, and the glory of Christ?

The Law of Love

Barnabas Piper writes for hereadstruth.com (follow it, if you don’t already) about law, Christian liberty, and love.

What Hogwarts Can Teach us about Friendship

…friendships are part of the triumph of the good. The final victory over evil demands love seasoned through the years. Every time that Harry tries to accomplish by his own strength, even if his motivations are noble (like keeping his friends out of harm’s way), Ron, Hermione, and others intercede on his behalf.

What Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ Taught Me About Parenting

Even if you’ve never read Augustine, there’s gold in this post.

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

I’m currently reading my second book by Don Whitney, this time Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. The book is full of insight into how to understand and mature your Christian faith, and the many benefits that come from intentional investment in relationship with God. Here’s a short clip on one discipline that I found helpful.

Moving Beyond Small-Talk

To be “saved” according to the New Testament means to become part of the people of God. A person is not simply restored to relationship with God in order to live as a Christian individual, isolated from the world and separated from the church. Rather the Christian becomes part of the body of believers; the community which has been called and gathered by the Holy Spirit, among whom God can dwell and through whom he can reveal his life and character to the world. In considering the fact that we now live as part of the Christian community, there are a number of implications for how we live both for ourselves, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Aside from the many means of grace we have been given to aid our own spiritual development, there is one loving service we must not shrink back from supporting each other with – I believe – much more.

When it comes to confession of sin, pride for our status or concern for someone else’s opinion of us can cripple us from fulfilling this scripture-mandated imperative. Even though we’re fundamentally the same, our natural self-protection tells us its better to preserve our dignity than to make ourselves vulnerable in such a way. Conversely if we were to lovingly navigate another person away from this or that specific sin, it too could be seen as pride in us; a kind of holier-than-thou attitude. Both of these are false narratives, and need to be dismissed if we are to grow. When Christians live together in community, we must recognise as a matter of primary importance the obvious reality that we are all sinners saved by grace alone. Addressing sin does not mean that that person is being dishonoured or demeaned. Nor do we look any worse than we already are as those who desperately rely on Christ every day. Quite the opposite is actually true; they (and us) are paid a great honour when we admonish one another in the way we should go, in the knowledge that we are all sinners who belong to each other through Christ.

German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes:

Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.

John Wesley was never one to shy away from the seriousness of sin, habitually beginning his class meetings with “what sin has overtaken you this week, brother?” James 5:16 tells us “confess your sins to one another”. It is entirely possible for people to meet together, worship together, pray together, and yet be utterly isolated from each other because they enjoy fellowship as believers, yet not as repentant sinners. If we are genuinely saved, if we are legitimately concerned with growing in Christ, and if we are intentional about not staying the same but continually “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), then we must move beyond general sweeping confessions of “sin” and engage in acknowledgement and repentance for specific sins. Scripture tells us that sin won’t be conquered in isolation, but if we are to put sin to death and grow in our walk with Christ, it happens in the community of the saints.

We must choose to go deeper; to love each other harder and hate sin (in ourselves, as well as in others) more. I pray that we would be a people who grasp the seriousness of sin; humbly but urgently exhorting one another through tears to turn from sin when sin is apparent, quick to accept in humility when it is pointed out in us, and always with rejoicing because of the forgiveness that is ours in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace.

The Apostles’ Creed

We’re in a series of articles exploring the councils and creeds of the Christian church. Why? Because when it comes to faithfully and diligently working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) we miss a great deal when we simply try to construct our own “real Christianity” with nothing more than a bible. To take heed from those who have gone before us is to benefit from the wealth found in the most important theological declarations of the Christian tradition.

Today we begin the series with a look at the Apostles’ Creed.

Background

Over the years, Christians have appealed to a variety of voices as sources for authority. While Scripture is clearly the ultimate and final source of authority on all matters to which it speaks, much of our theology was articulated and defined in the first 500 years of the Christian church. Often expressed in the form of a confession or creed, the Apostles’ Creed is perhaps the most well-recognised. So named because it is acknowledged to be a summary of apostolic teaching (i.e. taught by Jesus’  Apostles) many churches still recite it today as a reminder of the essentials of Christianity.

The Creed

It states:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Why it Matters

While within the creed there are plenty of key doctrines that need further ‘fleshing out’, if you knew nothing else about Christianity but what was contained here, you would have something that Orthodox Christians of every kind could hang their faith on. The Apostles’ Creed speaks of God as Creator; the incarnation of God the Son; the gospel (Jesus died and rose again); forgiveness of sins, the gathering of the church by the Holy Spirit, and the hope of eternal life.

The Apostles’ Creed represents a set of uncompromising core beliefs for Christians. Much like the opening chapter of J. I. Packer’s Knowing God where he prompts the reader to stop and make sure they agree on and believe certain foundational truths before they continue into the deep waters of his book, the Christian must be able to affirm each sentence, stanza, and summary statement contained in the creed in order to grasp what Christianity through the ages believed and continues to believe.

The Apostles’ Creed reminds us that our faith is not mythological, nor is the work of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit disconnected from our daily lives as disciples of this seeking, saving, three-in-one God. The Apostles’ Creed reminds us of this reality in clear, simple terms.

More articles in Councils & Creeds:

Wednesdays on the Web (05/07)

4 Essential Tips to Transform your Bible Reading Experience

Every Christian knows the importance of this fundamental means of grace. Scripture is one of the primary ways through which God speaks to his people today. And yet, we’ve all experienced peaks and troughs as we engage in this discipline. Time to get back on track? Try this.

Resources During Suffering and Lament

Suffering isn’t a question of if; so when the storms come, I would like to have a solid foundation under me. Having my feet firmly cemented in these truths is what I need.

Make Time to be Bored

It’s school holidays for us right now, and boredom is a very real thing. But is it a thing to be avoided? And what about the adults? This is a worthy reminder.

5 Questions to Ask Singles Instead of “How’s the Love Life?”

We all know single people. Beautiful, ambitious, life-giving people who just happen to not be married right now. While culture is in a state of fluidity and liberty when it comes to relationships and the status of being “married”, there’s a lot more to a person that this; why not get curious about something different?

The Order Matters

It mattered to them, and it matters to us.