Summary: A sermon focusing on the aspect of God, the Father Almighty as contained in the Apostle's Creed.
In case you didn’t know, Vanessa and I just moved. We discovered, once again, we have a lot of stuff. We’ve also committed to never moving again. At least, we hope we don’t have to move again. It’s tiring. It’s taxing. It’s challenging. And, we’ve got stuff. Moving is one of those times all of us should take to unload some of our stuff. I had a box labeled “Important papers” that we’ve moved from Junction City (that’s Junction City, KY) to Monroe. I haven’t looked in that box labeled “Important papers” since Junction City…that’s 15 years ago! We’ve carted that box around for 15 years and never looked in it! Now, really? How important could the papers be? Suffice it to say, we got rid of a lot of papers, along with a few other things we didn’t need. That happens when a person moves. At least, it should. Sometimes, we just gotta’ get rid of all the extra stuff.
The Apostle’s Creed is the expression of our Christian faith without all the extra stuff. I wanted to start with the Apostle’s Creed because it’s what I believe. You want to know what I believe, read the Creed. The Apostle’s Creed contains only the essential, Biblical elements necessary for a strong Christian faith. Its brevity is its beauty. The Creed is not weighted down with confusing verbage. The Creed is historically rooted, and it is widely accepted across many denominations as the most concise expression of our historic faith. I want to spend the next eight weeks un-packing the deep, yet simple truths contained in The Apostle’s Creed.
But where did the Apostle’s Creed come from? Did one or more of the apostles write it? The Creed dates from about 150 A. D. The author is unknown, but it is one of, if not the earliest confessions of the Christian Church. The creed was composed by acknowledged church leaders to counter false teaching that had invaded the second Century church. The leaders of the church felt they needed a statement that summarized the essential beliefs of the faith that were handed down by the apostles. Their creed, their declaration of faith, became the Apostle’s Creed. The Apostle’s Creed has withstood the test of time. It has weathered the storm’s of controversy and doubt, and it stands in simple beauty as a testimony of the faith once received. So we join our voices with the countless millions who have spoken its historic words, and we proclaim—“This we believe!”
I have entitled this series ibelieve because from its very first word, the Creed is intensely personal. “I believe.” The Creed is my confession of faith. Though it be joined with a thousand other voices, it is still my faith that I claim. As a matter of fact, it is my faith joined with thousands of others that makes the Creed so powerful. But what it is I believe? And what does it mean to believe? Perhaps that is the best place to start because faith itself is such an abstract concept. The writer to the Hebrews says, “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Hebrews 11:1). When we speak of faith, of believing, we acknowledge that faith is a both/and proposition. It is both an intellectual assent and an active trust in God. Faith is more than blind following of something unknown. Faith is living our lives in such a manner to reflect the beliefs we hold in our hearts and minds.
If I may use an illustration: Rightly or wrongly, we have faith in a dollar. We believe we can take one dollar to the store and exchange this dollar for goods or services equal in value to the dollar we possess. Because we believe that fact, we get up and go to the store and pick up an item, take it to the cash register, and exchange our dollar for the goods or services. We gave intellectual assent to the knowledge, but faith did not become faith until we acted on that knowledge and saw that it proved to be correct. In the same way, faith in God is both knowing and doing. To say, as the Creed does, “I believe,” means we have given consideration to the doctrines within, and have ordered our lives to reflect that fact. But we must remember that faith itself is the work of God. God is the source of our faith, and our faith rises in response to God’s self-revelation. We might say that faith is the echo of God’s own call in those who believe. But what exactly is it I believe?
The most elementary aspect of our faith is in God, who has revealed himself to us as Father and Creator. The Bible begins with the words we read only a few moments ago, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible reveals God as Creator, but it also goes on to reveal God as Father. He is God the Father Almighty. How do we unpack that phrase? How do we unpack the infinite with the finite? The truth is that God is unknowable unless God chooses to make himself known. Isn’t that true of any person, though? People remain a mystery to his/her companions as long as they are silent. As soon as one speaks, though, others catch a glimpse of that person’s character, intentions, and personality. God is knowable to us because God spoke to us. He has spoken in His creation, and He has spoken to us as Father through His son, Jesus Christ. The revelation of God in the Bible, through His Son Jesus reveals God who is righteous and merciful. In Jesus, we see the heart of a loving God reaching out to his creation that is longing to be reconciled to its creator.