Summary: This is the first in a 7-part series on The Apostles Creed. I used this as a way to give folks in my new churches an understanding of my beliefs and our common ground as Believers.
Sermon Series “Belief and Faith Coming Together”
Week One – “Beliefs as Boundaries”
Pastor john Bright – delivered 7/14/19
Revelation 2:12-17 “12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, [g]which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’
What we believe drives our actions.
• If you believe everyone is out to get you – Paranoia – you would treat people a certain way – mistrust
• Change that belief – everyone is a special creation of God put here for you to bless – how would you treat others with this belief?
So, what we believe matters! When I served on Eastern Shore 20 years ago – one of the churches had several diabetics. Church dinner were very interesting when it came to the dessert table. Those who had been diagnosed with diabetes years and years before (old school) would get several desserts and announce they would just take extra insulin. The folks who were recently diagnosed (new school) would avoid the desserts and try to convince the others that it was best to limit how much insulin you use.
Today people refer to the old way of doing things as “old school.” They will even call somebody they don’t like because of their speech or action – call them “old school” as a put-down.
Let’ get this straight – as I’m talking to you about “The Apostles’ Creed” I realize its old school and that’s a GOOD THING!
Old school is a good thing when it comes to Christianity. Our Wesleyan approach to any issue is to include Scripture (primary), tradition, reason and experience.
Tradition is the essentials of our faith that looks back 2000 years to what the Church through time has claimed as belief.
In Revelation 2 and 3 we find messages to the New Testament churches in Asia Minor. These were real churches and these messages are still meant for the Church today. In the past I have the book of Revelation in Bible Study (Commercial – talk to me if interested in a weekly Bible Study). In those studies we often spent six months covering the letters to the churches in Chp.2-3. There are some odd terms in this letter to the church of Pergamom - like the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolations. We are not sure what these are exactly but there is a reference to food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality. These were the very topics dealt with at the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15.
Doctrine is belief and right belief is Othodoxy. These beliefs for boundaries for us in Christianity. Boundaries are good – ask any farmer – fences – keep animals in (like cattle, horses, goats) and keep animals out (like rabbits and foxes)
The Apostles’ Creed had it’s origin in the Synod of Milan held in 390 AD. Most likely, it was based on the baptismal practices of the early church where those to be baptized would be asked a series of question and the response would be – “I believe.” That’s why we start the Creed with “I believe.” This makes it a confession of personal faith. It’s important we agree on these things – boundaries – fences. That means some are inside the fence and others are outside like “non-Trinitarian” churches:
• Unitarians – do not believe Jesus is God (only a messenger or prophet)
• Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – do not believe the three persons of the Trinity to be one
• Seventh Day Adventists – do not believe the Holy Spirit is a person.
These are just examples, there are plenty more!
The Apostles’’ Creed is called “A Confession of Faith” – not just what we believe/know. Parts of the Creed cannot be known.