There are three primary creeds that are utilized within the church today. These three creeds are the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Apostles’ Creed. The importance of creeds cannot be overstated. They root us in truth and give us a solid foundation to stand when uncertainty arises. In general, creeds often arise when a need for clarification arises or heretical views start to rise and circulate. The Apostles’ Creed is no different. It both states what a Christian believes, and stands as a firm defense against alternate views. Understanding the Apostles’ Creed will help strengthen your faith and root you and your church in the historic Christian faith.
- Everyone Lives by a Creed
- The Apostles’ Creed
- Who Wrote the Apostles’ Creed
- Outline of the Apostles’ Creed
- Beliefs – God the Father
- Beliefs – God the Son
- Beliefs – God the Spirit
- Beliefs – Christians
- How to Use the Apostles’ Creed
EVERYONE LIVES BY A CREED
It’s been stated by some that they don’t believe in creeds, which, interestingly enough, sounds very much like a creed. It’s similar to the idea of saying as a matter of absolute truth, that there is no truth. It just doesn’t work. The very fact that Jesus said in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”, shows us that Jesus wants us to believe something true about him. In order to do that, we are called to understand and clarify what we believe. The Apostles’ Creed gives us just that, a very foundational set of Christian beliefs to live by.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker 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, dead, and 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 quick 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 the life everlasting.
WHO WROTE THE APOSTLES’ CREED
Did the apostles write the Apostles’ Creed? This is a fair question because it is, after all, called The Apostles’ Creed. The creed, however, was not written by the apostles and was actually believed to have been written 300 years after the birth of Christ. This creed is labeled the Apostles’ Creed because it gives a great summary as to what the early church believed was passed down by the apostles. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. said it best when he said in his book The Apostles’ Creed, “All Christians believe more than is contained in the Apostles’ Creed, but none can believe less.” This creed gives a common, foundational statement of belief that bridges denominational, language, political, and social divides.
OUTLINE OF THE APOSTLES’ CREED
The Apostles’ Creed can be divided into various sections of beliefs that address the fundamental concerns of the Christian Faith. The creed addresses beliefs about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The creed then turns its attention to beliefs about the Christian, their life, and their hope. All in all, the Apostle’s Creed addresses the very basics of the Christian faith.
BELIEFS – GOD THE FATHER
The creed begins with statements about belief in God the Father. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” This confirms a belief in God as being omnipotent or all-powerful. It is right to address God as Father and to give him the praise for being Almighty. The creed continues with identifying God, the Father Almighty, as the one who created the heavens and the earth. This theme is expressed throughout the Scriptures including Genesis, Isaiah, Job, and more, but is succinctly put in this one, powerful statement of belief that God is the one who created.
BELIEFS – GOD THE SON
Once the firm belief in God, the Father Almighty, is established, the creed continues to the beliefs surrounding God the Son, Jesus Christ. The creed addresses Jesus concerning the following:
- His relation to the Father
- And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
- His birth
- Born of the Virgin Mary
- His life
- Suffered under Pontius Pilate
- His death
- Was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell
- His resurrection
- The third day he arose again from the dead
- His ascension
- He ascended into heaven
- His current role
- And sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
BELIEFS – GOD THE SPIRIT
After the creed focuses on God the Father, and God the Son, it then turns very briefly to God the Spirit, the third person the Holy Trinity. By this one statement, “I believe in the Holy Spirit”, the creed demonstrates a belief in the doctrine of the trinity as taught in several places in the Scriptures. While the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is unable to be explained fully, it is also a doctrine that cannot be denied. That is why this brief line is of the utmost importance when reciting the fundamental truths of the Christian faith.
BELIEFS – CHRISTIANS
Once belief in the Holy Trinity is established and made clear, the creed turns to how believers come together and what life as a believer looks like. Using those two words “I believe”, the remainder of the creed tackles critical areas such as:
- The Church
- The holy catholic Church
- Church Community
- The communion of saints
- Status of our sins
- The forgiveness of sins
- Life after death
- The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
- Unity of the Church
Though short, succinct, and to the point, these belief statements establish the basis for the Christian life and the hope Christians have.
HOW TO USE THE APOSTLES’ CREED
The Apostles’ Creed is not just something that exists and should be filed away for another generation. The creed is something that should be read, discussed and studied. It would also be highly beneficial for followers of Christ to memorize the Apostles’ Creed and hold it close to their hearts. One idea is to encourage family, friends and the church to memorize the Apostles’ Creed and discuss the various aspects of the creed and see how our beliefs and lives can be impacted by the content.
The wonder and amazement of the Apostles’ Creed is that all around the world it has been affirmed, memorized, recited, utilized, and defended for almost 2,000 years. It has stood the test of time as a foundation of beliefs for the Christian faith. In a world fractured by economic divide, theological divide, racism, and more, the Apostles’ Creed shines a light of hope by bringing the Church together and helping to unite an otherwise broken community into a common set of beliefs for the Christian faith. Let this ultimate guide to the Apostles’ Creed encourage your faith, and strengthen your beliefs.