Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Do You Believe?: The Nicene Creed - April 14, 2010

John 12:44-50 (New Century Version)
44 Then Jesus cried out, "Whoever believes in me is really believing in the One who sent me. 45 Whoever sees me sees the One who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world so that whoever believes in me would not stay in darkness.

47 "Anyone who hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge, because I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for those who refuse to believe in me and do not accept my words. The word I have taught will be their judge on the last day.49 The things I taught were not from myself. The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach. 50 And I know that eternal life comes from what the Father commands. So whatever I say is what the Father told me to say."

On most Sundays in churches around the world, countless Christians make a profession of their faith using the words of the Nicene Creed. As a teenager I went through the "rigors" of confirmation and had to memorize this an other creeds. Did I understand what I was stating? Probably not; it was just one of those things that young people that attended denominational churches were required to do to be considered a "member" and professing Christian. Unfortunately, many who recite this creed do not clearly understand what they are saying, and it has become so ingrained into the memories of church members, that it has lost much of its meaning in the hearts of prophesing Christians.

In the face of heresies that began to arise in the young Christian church, there arose a need for the leaders of the church to come together and commit to writing what Christians believed. A council of bishops, the Council of Nicea, was called by the Emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. and served to repudiate the heresy that had arisen and confirm the nature of God, and the relationship of the Trinity.

Immediately after this council, additional challenges arose and necessitated more definative additions to the creed at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. This has given us in essence the creed many denominational Christians profess today. While not necessarily rejecting the Nicene Creed as erroneous, some evangelical and other Christians, on the basis of their "by scripture alone" view, consider it as in no way authoritative because it is not part of the Bible, and do not recite it in their services.

Over the next few days, as we dig more deeply into what we believe, we will dissect this creed along with other believer's creeds and look into biblical support of what these creeds state. Here is the text of the modern version of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,begotten, not made,of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

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