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.
Genesis 49:22–26 (CSB)
22 Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine beside a spring; its branches climb over the wall.
23 The archers attacked him, shot at him, and were hostile toward him.
24 Yet his bow remained steady, and his strong arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 by the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, and blessings of the breasts and the womb.
26 The blessings of your father excel the blessings of my ancestors and the bounty of the ancient hills. May they rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince of his brothers.
The Apostles' Creed. This is the earliest statement of faith. The earliest written form of this creed is found in a letter that Marcellus of Ancyra wrote in Greek to Julius, the bishop of Rome, about AD 341. Fifty years later, around 390, it started showing up in commentaries and books. This became the creed, the statement of faith, and was recited in church and before water baptisms of new believers.
This creed is not just something to recite. For you to recite it means you must believe. We might be able to recite it and not give it a second thought. But back in those days, if you said this with your lips, that might mean you are accepting the most brutal persecution by the Roman government--the same government who crucified our Christ were persecuting Christians and throwing them to lions to be devoured or taking their corpses, dipping in tar, placing them on a pole to to be the source of light for nighttime parties.
1 Corinthians 12:1–3 (CSB) Now concerning spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
If you believe this, know what you are believing. You are believing in Christ for your life.
What does that look like? Let us who this ancient statement of faith and examine it.
Hebrews 11:6 (CSB) Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
In around 400AD, there was a new teaching from the Bible circling around the church from a man named Pelagius. He started to spread the teaching that mankind was not in fact infected, broken, and corrupted by sin of Adam but in fact, we were born free from sin and we only sin due to ongoing bad habits.
To that end, if we can break the bad habits, we can live in freedom from sin.
That sounds amazing accept for one thing: humans cannot break from sin. We can do things that appears good and wholesome on the outside, but inside, in our hearts, will, and minds, we are jacked up as ever.
This is why Christ preached:
Matthew 23:25–28 (CSB)
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside of it may also become clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity.
28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 5:21-22 (CSB) “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool! ’ will be subject to hellfire.
What we do on the outside--self-discipline and devotion and abstinence--matter not if the heart has not been swapped out by God himself.
What mankind cannot see--our hearts, wills, minds, souls--must be cleansed by God himself.
The end of Pelagius' teaching was this: if a man could be taught 2+2=4, then man could be taught the gospel and believed and be saved.
But what does the Bible say?
John 6:43-46 (CSB) Jesus answered them, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me — not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father.
For you to believe, God has to draw you to him first. For:
Romans 8:30 (CSB) And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.
And this calling is a work of the Spirit, for:
John 3:3-5 (CSB) Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”“How can anyone be born when he is old? ” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born? ”Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
You must be born again to believe and enter into the kingdom of God.
All the Sunday school. All the conferences. All the Christian private school. All the catechism. All the Bible colleges. All the seminaries. All the books. No matter how many times you read the Bible. It matters not until the Spirit opens your eyes to see the glory of God, for:
1 Corinthians 2:12 (CSB) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.
You know what is the real spectacular amazing truth? If you ask for God, you will get God.
Luke 11:9-13 (CSB) “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ”
Who gives faith in God? Who gives belief in God? Who gives understanding God? Who gives repentance to God?
If you are reading the Scriptures and cannot understand or you are hearing this and cannot believe, I double dog dare you to ask God for God. Try it. I dare you.
Because Christ himself said that if you ask the Father, he will give you the Holy Spirit.
But check this out: because of what Christ has done, God does not visit for a little while. If you ask God, you get God forever.
If you want to believe, you must ask him.
But can I tell you something? If you have the will to ask God for God, that is a good and holy thing. And not to believe is unholy. If you can ask God for God, rest assure that the Triune God dwells in you.
I love the show Ted Lasso. The premise of the show is simple, "If you want something, you must believe in something." What you believe in has to be something substantial and worthwhile.
I wish that could apply to anything we want to do or achieve. The opposite is quite true: if you don't believe in what you are doing, more than likely, you will not accomplish it. You will more than likely fail.
But just to believe in something won't necessarily make it true. Like I can believe in being a ga-zillionaire but I still have the same provision of God that I have always have. (That is a study for another time.)
But when it comes to absolute things, eternal things, who you do believe does matter because it matters forever.
For the Christian, we believe in God and most importantly, we take him at his word.
Some people do believe in God but pressed on whether or not they will go to heaven, they will usually reply, "Oh, I think I am pretty good person." as if to say, "Why wouldn't God let me in?" But to believe in God is to take him at his word. And to take him at his word means we believe what he has said in the Scriptures. And if we study the Scriptures, we can easily conclude that God does not save you because you were pretty good or not as bad as a mass murderer or this other guy who cheats on his taxes. For:
Romans 3:10–12 (CSB) as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
Romans 3:23 (CSB) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
Who we believe is of dire and utmost importance.
If all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, what hope is there for us?
Romans 3:21–24 (CSB) But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Our Father in heaven has sent our only true and real hope, his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is God forever and ever.
Everything comes the Father.
The Father sent the Son:
John 5:22-23 (CSB) The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
And you believe and trust the Son, this is what the Father will give to you:
John 14:15-17 (CSB) “If you love me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 (CSB) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
John 3:16 (CSB) For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 8:14–17 (CSB) For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
John 14:23-24 (CSB) Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.
Keep in mind that "the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding" 1. That just means he is not of anything or being sent by someone. He is just simply God and we all come from him and we exist for him.
John 14:11 (CSB) Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.
1 Corinthians 8:6 (CSB) yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him.
The Apostles' Creed, of all the things that it says God is, it simply calls him Almighty. Almighty simply means all might or or all strength.
We tend to thing of the strong or even the strongest in the world as being someone of immense strength. But speak to those men and women and they will only tell you how weak they are when they cannot lift a certain weight at the weight they want to lift.
But the Father, with all things proceeding from him, has all the strength. He is Almighty. For:
Psalm 24:1–2 (CSB) The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD; for he laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.
Isaiah 50:2–3 (CSB) Why was no one there when I came? Why was there no one to answer when I called? Is my arm too weak to redeem? Or do I have no power to rescue? Look, I dry up the sea by my rebuke; I turn the rivers into a wilderness; their fish rot because of lack of water and die of thirst. I dress the heavens in black and make sackcloth their covering.
If he has all the power and might, then he alone is completely free to do, for:
Psalm 115:3 (CSB) Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases.
God has the freedom to do as his will dictates. He is God. In comparison, we, mankind, as his creation who belongs to him, have a will that is free to do what we want but limited. We cannot be 9 feet tall. We cannot sprout wings and fly. We cannot do all things perfectly. And in our brokenness and sin, we cannot ascend to God.
But God knew this. He already knew this. And the Almighty God, maker of heaven, earth, and hell, sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God to us.
When our original parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and sin broken the cosmos, the world, and their hearts, they were ashamed and filled with guilt. They wanted to so badly to cover up their sin. They hid because they did not want God to find them. And they covered themselves with mud and leaves in case God did find them they would be covered.
We do not have the ability, in our flesh, to cover up with our righteousness. Our righteousness is filthy rags in his sight. But God knew that. He sent his Son, in his perfect righteousness, to take on our flesh, so that he could cover us in his righteousness. For:
Isaiah 1:18–19 (CSB) “Come, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB) He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We are weak. We cannot cover up ourselves enough to be holy unto God. Yet, God is almighty. He alone was strong enough to come down from glory to take us on in order to save us from our sins.
That is the Almighty God.