In the parish throughout Lent, we are going to consider the Creeds. especially the Apostles' Creed - I post a copy of it here for reference sake. Aside from Scripture itself, this is one of the oldest and most enduring confessions of the Christian faith. Tradition says that each of the Apostles, the 12 disciple contributed a line to it.
Let us confess our faith as we say:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again
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.
Where does the Christian faith begin? Faith begins when we attend to the reality that God is revealing who he is through the person of Jesus Christ and that we are accepting the invitation to come into relationship with God through Christ for Scripture, “Commands all men everywhere to repent and believe in the name of the Lord Jesus... as he commanded us (Acts 17.30, 1 John 3.23 and John 6.28) Believing in God is more that an assent, an acknowledgement that he is real and out there somewhere in the cosmos. Faith and belief is about a commitment to a vital relationship with the God who created all that is, seen and unseen; of heaven and of earth. This belief is also a commitment to actively express the personal conviction that God has drawn me into this relationship and that I have accepted and am living out the reality of that invitation and relationship in this world and this life.
Some will ask, “What if I have doubts? What if I get it wrong? What if I make mistakes?” First, I would point out that without doubts we cannot be certain of what it is that we actually believe. Moreover, we need to be aware that we need to examine both what we believe and where we have doubts. We need to know that there are, according to JI Packer, two types of doubt. There are those inside doubts: that is there is faith that has become infected, sick from a lack of faith and confidence in God and in the Scriptures leaving our faith “out of sorts”. There is also the external pressures that cause doubts. They often com about because we have laid to one side the faith we place in God and the Scriptures because we have chosen to believe in human expert opinion or a deep involvements that have take us way from both God and Church, or even the fear of ridicule from others for believing they way you do about a particular thing as you do. Often doubts will come because of personal experience and allowing that to override where faith is concerned.
So how do we overcome doubt? This is the moment where we need to be aware that we need the community of faith to get through these things. We need people in the churches whom people can talk to, to explain the difficulty that one is having. We need to explore and examine the Scriptures and prayerfully speak with God, considering what both the Word and the Spirit have to say on the subject and reason things out (Faith is not against reason and logical, faith is above reason). Then it is important to explore what there might be in one’s life that would give rise to the doubts. It is important to remember that time and perspective will make things clearer and easier to understand.
So when we come to say the creed, it is crucial to remember that when we proclaim, “I believe in God” that the God we proclaim is the God of the Scriptures, the God that is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. It means also that we do not believe in any other gods; that we don’t put our lives into the hands of something or someone else, be they metal or mental. We proclaim that we believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity ... but who will by no means clear the guilty.” (Exodus 34.5-7) John’s Gospel reminds us that God is both light and love. God is both lover and judge. God loves and at the same time requires righteousness and purity. God demands morality and compassion at the same time because that is his nature and his role. We see and learn this in Jesus, the Son.
When we proclaim that we believe, we claim to be participating in the worship of the Father, who is above us, with the Son Jesus, who is one among us and beside us through the Spirit who is within us. The worship and mission of God come from God himself and we are the divine community which God has created to be his Church and in God the Church lives and moves and has its being. And maybe that is the most important thing about faith... it is not just about the head knowledge that we can collect nor is about all the things the heart can feel, it is the realization that faith (pisteuo) is a verb. Faith informs the mind and emboldens the heart which in turn, empowers the hands and the feet of those who proclaim their relationship with God.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10.31