Why exposit the Apostles' Creed or any creed whatsoever?
Simply put, the Apostles' Creed is a summary of the Christian faith. Full stop. If you believe these words to be true (as with any historical creed), you are saved.
Now I know, in today's modern evangelicalism world, this is all old and passé. Don't you have anything new? Don't you have any fresh revelation?
In Acts 17, when Paul preaches the good news of Christ to the Greeks upon the Areopagus (also known as Mars Hill), he quotes their own poets and philosophers. He meets them where they are at and reveals who is behind what they think is the Unknown God. That is the true and only God who created the heavens and hell. And this God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God, to take on flesh, live a perfect life, die a sinner's death, and rise again on the third day. And this Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Acts 17:21 (CSB) Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
Some were interested but that could have been because they have never heard such a thing before. Some believed and followed.
But some mocked and scoffed--because to them it was old news. They have heard it all before. They dismissed it because it didn't give them what they wanted: more of themselves and more of the world. They rejected it because it didn't answer their questions because they were asking the wrong questions.
Acts 17:32 (CSB) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him, but others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.”
There is no new revelation. There is no new thing. There is no new prophecy. There is no new gospel. New good news is old heresy--every single time. And to declare that there is no new theology and no gospel fights against our modern mind. We have grown up thinking that we always have to be on the cutting edge of everything. We have to be the first to know. We have to be the first to see. We have to be the first to experience. We have to always be discovering everything. And in areas of science, medicine and technology, praise God for his revealed common grace.
But what God has revealed about himself is as old as Genesis 1:1. And his great gospel is this:
Matthew 1:21 (CSB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Of all the religions, myths, fables, philosophies, and idealisms, there is only one that is true. And that is the gospel of Jesus Christ--that he live, died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. And apart from all the other cults, sects, and religions, we know this to be true because it is an historical fact that happened over 2,000 years ago.
Disbelieve God all you want. Call yourself an atheist or agnostic. But to deny the historical fact of Jesus Christ is foolish to say the least.
For us Christians, there is nothing new under the sun. And I am convinced that we, Christians, don't really know what we believe about Christ.
So start with beginning of the first century church. Learn as they learned. Hear as they heard. Believe as they believed. And confess as they confessed.
And with this creed, declare what they declared: that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Ephesians 4:10–16 (CSB)
10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.
11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.
16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall 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 life everlasting.
Matthew 24:24-25 (CSB) For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note: I have told you in advance.
Matthew 23:1–7 (CSB)
1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses.
3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.
4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues,
7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.
Matthew 4:4 (CSB) He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Genesis 2:16-17 (CSB) And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
Genesis 3:2-5 (CSB) The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” “No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Hosea 4:6 (CSB) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.
Institutes of the Christian Religion: Calvin's Own 'Essentials' Edition.
John Calvin. Robert White (Translator).
Banner of Truth. 2014.
So I wrap up my Bible Study with my son over Apostles' Creed. And while reading Calvin's 1541 Edition of his Institutes, I get to Chapter 4 and voila:v Faith, with an Explanation of the Apostles’ Creed
I love the provision of God!
As I am reading through it, I will fold in some Calvin into these notes here.
All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism.
James E. Dolezal.
Reformation Heritage Books. 2017.
The Creedal Imperative.
Carl R. Trueman
Christian Standard Bible
Holmon Publishing. 2020.
Many times, many teachers, preachers, and small group leaders (myself included) will "cut straight to the chase" and engage the commentary instead of engaging the Word of God. Remember, the commentaries are not without error—they are the observations of the author.
Slow down, pray, read, chew and meditate.
ESV Reformation Study Bible
Commentary & Edited by R.C. Sproul.
Ligonier Ministries. March 16, 2015.
I don't have much to say except this: if I was restricted to one Study Bible, this would be the one. Even if they never make one for the CSB. That is how much I love R.C. Sproul's notes--they will always refer back to historical creeds and confessions.
ESV Study Bible
If I had to pick just one format (hardcover vs. leather vs. paperback vs. digital), I use it way more in my Olive Tree Study Bible than anything else.
Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible.
New American Standard Bible 1977.
AMG International. 2008.
Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.
Life Application Study Bible.