Summary: "I believe" are perhaps the hardest words of the Apostle’s Creed to state. Faith is under attack, but it is absolutely essential.
During World War II allied armies marched into Germany on their way to Berlin. Retreating German soldiers switched road signs and destroyed landmarks in an effort to confuse their enemy. And, to an extent, it worked, for many a G.I. followed a false marker only to end up in the wrong place. That just goes to show the need for landmarks, the importance of reliable signposts by which to steer.
-if we believe in what is false, or if we are ignorant of what we are to believe, we also will get lost along the way; reach a dead end; the wrong place.
Jude is a letter written in response to teachers who came along within the church and set up false markers, leading people astray by distorting the Christian faith
-thus, Jude urges the church to "contend for the faith"
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)
Three comments about this: (Ray Pritchard)
First, note the sacred nature of the Christian faith. -- “most holy faith” -- value, worth, preciousness. Faith is not secondary.
Second, spiritual growth is not optional. -- "build yourselves up" is a command. If you don’t, you won’t remain neutral spiritually, but grow ignorant and be prone to stray.
Third, spiritual growth does not happen by accident. -- it is connected to faith. If you want to grow, you must grow in faith.
But it is not just any faith. This is talking about something specific, and it represents the summary of what it means to be a Christian; the CONTENT of the Christian faith.
Q: What is meant by the most holy faith? What is the summary of what we believe? The Apostle’s Creed.
As many of you know, the Apostles’ Creed is an elaboration of a very old creed which had been circulating in various areas of early Christianity.
was used for multiple purposes. It was used for catechism training, for teaching Christians the basics of the Christian faith. It was also used as a baptismal confession. When believers came before the church to profess their faith in Christ, not having previously been baptized, they would be schooled in the Apostles’ Creed and then the minister would ask them each of the phrases of the Apostles’ Creed and ask them to affirm this as their faith, before they were baptized, not unlike the way we ask the five questions of membership, to adults who come to the church now to receive baptism and profess faith in Jesus Christ.
But the Apostles’ Creed was also used in worship. the Apostles’ Creed was incorporated and said as part of worship in the gathered services of the Church.
And so, for hundreds of years the Apostles’ Creed has both served as an instrument for instructing Christians in the basics of the Christian faith, and as an instrument for Christians to express, in worship, their common confession in the one true God.
Every time we recite the Apostle’s Creed we are reminded that we are not alone in our beliefs; we are connected to millions around the world who believe the same, and it links us with those who have gone before throughout the ages. Our faith has roots and history.
In his book on the Apostles’ Creed, Don Cole offers four reasons why the Creed eventually became a formal statement of faith:
1) To help the early church distinguish truth from error. -- what do we believe?
2) To provide a basis for refuting heresy. -- what do we not believe?
3) To provide a basis for Christian fellowship. -- there is no unity without common convictions and beliefs
4) To ensure consistent teaching among all the churches. -- there is something comforting and reassuring that we can go to a Christian church in another city or nation, that holds to and teaches the same beliefs as our own.
SERIES: Faith Matters -- What do we mean by the various phrases and stanzas of the Apostles’ Creed, and how do these biblical truths relate to our daily lives? Well, we’re going to try and answer some of those questions as we study through this ancient confession of faith phrase by phrase.
This morning: “I believe.”
-- these are perhaps the hardest words to get past in the entire creed
Our Culture’s Response to Faith:
-we live in a strange time when the very concept of belief is under fire. If you believe something to be absolutely true, you are suspect, and you may well be the root problem of all the problems in the modern world.
ie. faith is dangerous.
You’ve heard the saying that there are two types of people in the world--those who believe there are two types of people in the world and those who don’t. And this is the view of the post-modern. He thinks that those people who think that there are two types of people in the world, the right and the wrong-they’re the problem. They think that you are dangerous if you believe in absolute truth. If you divide the world into people who are right and people who are wrong, you’re a problem. You are a social threat.