While you still have your hymnals, turn to page 846, and while we remain standing, let’s recite together the Nicene Creed, which we have been studying for these weeks and now we come to the end. Page 846 in your Trinity Hymnals.
Christians, what do we believe?
“We believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds. God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made, who for us and for our salvation
came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father and He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
You may be seated. I’d encourage you to keep your hymnals open there to page 846, or look at these Nicene Creed pamphlets as we finish this series by looking at just the last few lines of the Creed.
You’ll note “we acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.” That will be the second half of this message to look at what it means to acknowledge one Baptism.
But first we want to look at this one line that deals with the doctrine of the Church. The first thing to note about that line, “one holy and catholic apostolic Church” is that this line is in here at all. What I mean is that if you asked many Christians, even pastors, to write up a Christian creed and you said you have maybe 250 or 300 words, I want you to write a Christian creed, one that will, you can’t cover everything but that will cover some of the most essential things and could serve the Church for centuries. Well, that’s a lot of pressure, none of us could quite do that.
But I bet if we had to type out 200 or 300 words of a creed, most of us would not think to spend most of those words on the Trinity and we might not think to say anything at all about the doctrine of the Church. It’s one of the things that evangelical Christians have often overlooked is the doctrine of the Church. In fact, as we think about Reformed and Presbyterian churches, it’s not just the doctrine but it’s the form of government and it’s the worship, you might even say the discipline. It’s those three or four things together which have historically constituted what it means to be Presbyterian or a Reformed church.
But of course this is long before Presbyterianism, except of course that Jesus was a Presbyterian, I’m sure of it. But we do have a place given here for ecclesiology, that is the doctrine of the Church.
Notice that this doctrine is connected to what comes right before it, which is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. That makes sense. The Church is the community of those born again by the Spirit and brought into God’s family by the Spirit, and in most branches of the Church throughout most of history, that has also included the children of those believers. It’s fitting that the last affirmation before this statement about the Church is it says the Spirit spoke by the prophets. Think about it. The way in which the Spirit creates and gathers the Church is by the Word of God.
One of the important Protestant apologetics against the Catholic argument that says, well, you Protestants, you have your Sola Scriptura but who told you what books were in the Bible? Well, that’s a question of canon. But they would further say you really need an authoritative magisterium or you need the Church itself to define the Word of God.
But theologically that gets it backwards because everywhere in the Bible it is not the people of God determining the Word of God, but it is the Word of God summoning and calling forth the people of God. But the Word of God is primary. It’s the Word that came to Abram when he was a pagan idolater in Ur of the Chaldees and summoned him to go and promised to make him a great nation. It’s the Word that called Moses from the burning bush. It’s the Word, there was no form seen, the Word that spoke to the nation of Israel in Exodus 19 and 20 and gathered them together as a nation and spoke by Moses these 10 commandments. So it is everywhere the Word, the Spirit works through the Word to gather together a people.
Then also notice that it says “we believe in the Church.” I’ll mention a little bit later, that verb, you look there on the page, “we believe in one God, the Father Almighty” at the very beginning. That’s the only time the “believe” verb is there. In the third paragraph then it’s inserted by translators just to try to keep track of. All of these other statements are under that main heading “we believe in the Father, we believe in the Son, we believe in the Holy Spirit,” and then also “we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”
That means the doctrine of the Church is something we profess. Just like we confess our faith in a God we cannot see, we confess our faith in a Church that does not always look like all of these things that the Nicene Creed declares it to be. It is an article of faith. That’s not to excuse the Church for our sins and failures, but sometimes people are very cynical toward the Church, as if Jesus was impressed when we disrespected His bride. People point out all of the failures and sins and divisions and false teachings and heresies in the Church, and there are all of that over 2000 years.
Which is why it’s important to remember it is in this aspect also an article of faith. Our lives don’t always seem like there’s a loving God watching over us. We don’t always understand why things happen to us or bad things happen in the world, and yet we profess what we believe about God. In a similar way, we can confess here what we believe about the Church. Not just what we believe about the Church, but you notice the Creed says “we believe in the Church.” When the Church is holy, catholic, apostolic, one Church, we learn to listen to her. 1 Timothy 3:15 – The Church is a pillar and buttress of the truth.
The Church is not infallible, councils and catechisms and creeds err, but the Church is empowered and led by the Spirit and the Word. So let us not confuse the doctrine of Sola Scriptura with Solo Scriptura. Solo meaning the Scripture alone, only. Scripture alone in that the Bible is the final arbiter of all things about which it means to speak, that this alone is inerrant and has the final word. But not Scripture only, meaning we don’t care what the Church has thought, or we aren’t bothered by what creeds and catechisms have said.
We are not primitivists. A primitivist is someone who thinks that if only they could get to the primitive root of things. So a primitivist in the Church is someone who says, “If we could just get rid of 2000 years of all of these barnacles that have attached themselves to the Christian Church.” Sometimes you find very well-meaning people speak this way. It’s usually people who are maybe between 18 and 29 years old and there’s a certain kind of idealism and that can be good. But I say, you know, “What would we do if we were just on a desert island and we had nothing but our Bibles?” Well, if you were on a desert island and you’ve got one book, you’re going to take the Bible, but not only is it impossible to be a primitivist in that way, it wouldn’t even be desirable, it wouldn’t be wise, because we believe in listening to what the Church has said, learning from the Church, and letting the Church lead us in beliefs and practices that have stood the test of time. We believe that the Spirit, though only this book is inerrant, the Spirit didn’t leave the Church suddenly 2000 years ago. So we do believe in the doctrine of the Church and we believe in the Church.
Note these four adjectives describing the Church. Most of you know something about the attributes of God, and if I asked you can you give some attributes of God, you might say His love, His mercy, His omnipotence, His sovereignty, the attributes of God. But most of us don’t give much thought to the attributes of the Church, and the Nicene Creed has given to us a fourfold description of the Church.
So the first thing we confess is that the Church is one.
Let me read to you from Ephesians 4.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit of the bond of peace.
Then notice, Paul’s going to list seven, there’s a good number, seven ways in which the Church is one.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
So in confessing that the Church is one, we are affirming the fundamental unity of the Church.
Sometimes, perhaps as conservative, theological conservative Christians, we get skittish about unity talk because we’ve maybe had the experience of people sort of pounding that against us when you care too much about doctrine and you should just care about unity. Unity can be a gloss for “stop being so concerned about the truth.” Well, that happens, but we ought to care very much about the unity of the Church. Jesus prayed about the unity of the Church in John 17. Paul here gives instructions about the unity of the Church.
What’s crucial is to realize that Paul is saying where there is this spiritual oneness, you really are one in Spirit, one in body, one in Lord, one in faith, one, all of that is one, you are united, you ought to do everything you can to maintain this relational unity. That’s his logic. With all humility and gentleness, be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
So it starts down here with the spiritual, theological unity, and then it says, look, you have all of these things together, Church. Isn’t it incumbent upon you to forgive one another? To love one another? Because you’re not just strangers passing in the night. You have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. We confess the fundamental unity of the Church.
We also confess, second, that the Church is holy.
The holiness of the Church is both a present reality and an ideal, similar to our own holiness. We have a definitive sanctification in Christ, you’re declared holy, you are already holy, but holiness is also a progressive sanctification. It’s something that we aspire to, that we fight for, that we grow in to. This is true with the Church’s holiness. There is a positional and a progressive holiness. The Church is Christ’s bride, the Church is Christ’s body, therefore the Church is a holy people, a royal priesthood, God’s treasured possession. At the same time, 1 Peter 1:6 we are called to be holy.
So the Church is one, the Church is holy.
Third attribute – the Church is catholic.
Well, if I had a dollar for every time, and it’s a fair question, someone has asked me, after reciting the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed, “Pastor, why are you having us confess the Catholic Church? I’m not Catholic anymore. I grew up there.” Or, “This is a Protestant church. We’re not Catholics.” Well, we are catholic, but we are not Roman Catholic. In fact, a very strong argument I would make as a Protestant, is in fact to call catholic Roman Catholic is to be very much not catholic. Meaning, catholic is another word for universal, and the Roman Catholic church says that that universal church is under the authority of the bishop of Rome, which is in a sense the very counter definition to universal, under that one singular bishop.
But we ought to confess the catholicity of the Church. Katholikos, Greek word meaning general, universal, or pertaining to the whole. We can think of the Church’s catholicity in a few different ways.
So the Church is catholic, or universal, with respect to place. That means the Church is not limited to one specific location. Believers everywhere can worship God in spirit and in truth and more than that, the church to which we belong is a part of this same universal Church wherever Christ is truly and rightly worshiped. It’s a universal Church not just on earth, but in heaven.
So there’s a catholicity with respect to place and with respect to persons. So the Church is a global body. People from every tribe, language, people, and nation, membership is not respected by the color of your skin or ethnicity or sex or by social standing.
So universal with regard to place, to person, and with respect to time. That means the Church is diffused across centuries. We are part of a Church that has existed since the beginning of the world in one sense, and will exist until the consummation of all things. No matter the age of a particular local church or denomination, the Christian Church belongs to the oldest, most diverse, most global institution on the planet. Let me say that again and personalize it: You as a genuine Christian belong to the oldest, most diverse, most global institution on the planet and the only one that Christ has promised Himself to build.
So it is universal across time, which is helpful. It’s helpful to think this document originating 325, that’s older than any of you, 1700 years ago. This hymnal has songs from probably almost all of those 1700 centuries, or even some ancient credo formulas that go before that. This is an old faith and it ought to give you pause, not that new things can’t be right and corrective, but before we decide for the newest ideology that everyone says, well, to be a normal person in 2024 you have to agree to this thing which has been the thing for about a minute in history, remember that you belong to a catholic, a universal Church.
And it is catholic with respect to truth. That is to say, there is a core deposit of truth. To be catholic in the truest sense does not mean we are in allegiance to some ecclesiastical hierarchy or to an earthly pope. It means we are in allegiance to the faith that was once for all delivered for the saints.
So this doctrine of the catholicity of the Church can help us in a number of different ways. It helps us avoid a number of sins and errors.
Racism, for example, is a fundamental rejection of the Church’s catholicity. Some church growth strategies from a previous generation, which said we’re just going to build the church around a certain kind of person, is a breach of the Church’s catholicity. The catholicity of the Church can
also be threatened when national concerns are confused as automatically Christian concerns.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the Church’s catholic nature is when churches promote and defend theological error. When churches move to bless same sex unions, you can follow the Pope has been confused at best on this matter, these bodies, or church officials, not only are incorrect accusing to the Bible but they presume to know more than any Christian communion has known prior to the second half of the 20th century. That is a great presumption.
We should not own the argument that many people make. Well, you Protestants, you’re the ultimate newcomers on the block. That was one of the main charges against Luther and that’s why Luther and Zwingli and Calvin all took great pains to say no, what we are trying to recover is the truth that has been corroded and corrupted. We are not trying to say something that is brand new but trying to recover something that has become obscured.
If the Church in the West truly believes in one holy catholic Church, it ought to cease to undermine doctrinal commitments that are not held in the global South.
I wonder if you saw, I think it was in Christianity Today this past week, by 2050 there will be more Christians in Africa than in any other region of the world. Already more in Africa by far than in Europe and in north America. We belong to a global faith.
Finally, notice in this section, the Nicene Creed teaches us to affirm that the Church is apostolic. That is to say, Acts 2:42, from the very beginning, the Church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching. Ephesians 2:20, the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
There’s all sorts of warnings and commendations in the pastoral epistles in particular that Paul wants Timothy to be anchored in the apostolic deposit of truth. He warns against false teachers who have swerved from the truth. Timothy is told to guard the good deposit, to pass it on to others, to keep a close watch on his life and doctrine. The Lord’s servant must be able to teach, he must rebuke and exhort, he must be able to give instruction and sound doctrine. In other words, from the very earliest days of the Church, it wasn’t the Council of Nicaea that invested orthodoxy. It wasn’t Irenaeus who invented this category of truth from error, but from the very beginning the apostles were jealous to say there is a core deposit of truth and if this Church is to be a true Church, it must be beholden to this apostolic deposit of truth. Some have swerved from it, you, my son, Paul tells Timothy, must hold onto it.
The four attributes of the Church depend upon each other. If any one adjective is lost, the other three will be jeopardy. You can’t have holiness without the other three, you can’t have oneness apart from catholicity and apostolicity. All four must go together.
But if one is to be preeminent, or if one is the glue that holds the other three together, it is this last attribute, that the Church is apostolic. Without a commitment to the apostles’ teaching, and remember the apostles’ teaching was the Old Testament which they preached and also the Spirit leading them to write down new canonical Scripture. So we’re right to think the apostles’ teaching is both the Old and the New Testament. Without a commitment to the apostles’ teaching, the unity of the Church will just be paper thin. Unless the Church is anchored in the apostolic gospel, holiness will not be possible. There is no Church that is holy that is not committed to the teaching of Scripture.
Apart from defining the truth of the Bible, that the apostles preached and the Scriptures they wrote, there can be no true catholicity. To be catholic is not to belong to the same hierarchy, but is to be sharers and participants in the same apostolic truth.
Which brings us then to the last section of the Creed. Having confessed those four attributes, we have this statement which turns our attention fully to think about once again matters of salvation: We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
Two questions come to mind about this statement. First, why does it say one baptism? One. Well, it may be to suggest that baptism is numerically one. That is to say, we should only be baptized once. You are only to be named, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, once, so you don’t need to be named again.
Calvin had this great line, I’m paraphrasing, but he said if I were to be re-baptized every time I had become aware of more sin in my life or learned some new truth in God’s Word, he said there would not be enough water in all the rivers in all the globe.
So baptism is an initial sign. It’s an initiatory sign. It means that you’re part of this covenant community, this family. The Lord’s Supper is the renewing sign. So you only receive baptism once because it’s an initiation. You partake of the Lord’s Supper frequently because it’s renewal. So that may be part of what it’s saying. One baptism.
But probably more important than that is the theological point. We confess one Baptism because there are not different baptisms for different kinds of Christians.
So go back to Ephesians 4, which I read a few moments ago. If you know Ephesians, think about the context in chapter 2 and chapter 3. Paul is dealing, as he does in many epistles, with Jew/Gentile conflict, this mystery that the Gentiles are also heirs and also recipients of the Gospel and the dividing wall is cast down. So that’s chapter 2 and 3, Jew/Gentile divisions that stand behind Paul’s pronouncement in Ephesians 4 that there is one Baptism. So there’s not a separate baptism for Jews and for Gentiles. There’s not two tracks.
Or think of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians. Some of you are baptized into, were you baptized, he says, into Peter or Stephanas or to Paul? No, of course not. There’s not a baptism according to your favorite teacher or according to your favorite theologian. There’s not one baptism for men and one for women. There’s not one baptism for Africans and one for Europeans. Not one baptism for rich and poor, or slave and free. Only one baptism because there’s one Father, one Lord, one Spirit, one Church, one faith. It is a profound element of our unity to think across this big room, people who are very different than you, grew up in different parts of the country or the world, have different kinds of sins and temptations and struggles, different kinds of jobs, live in different kinds of places, and yet all named in baptism Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only one baptism.
So that’s one question, “Why does it say one?”
Here’s a second question. What is meant when it says baptism for the remission of sins?
There is no doubt that the New Testament connects baptism and forgiveness. Baptism, the water symbolizes cleansing, purification. It’s tied to the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2, the washing away of sins Acts 22. Titus 3, baptism is called the washing of regeneration and renewal. So baptism is a sign and seal of forgiveness. You might say why do we practice infant baptism in this church, if baptism means all of those things. Well, the response is I agree with all of my Baptist friends who want to link baptism and forgiveness, and even baptism and faith. The response, however, is that that faith need not be evident at the time that the sign is received. It is true. The sacraments are only efficacious, they only work, you might say, when they are received by faith.
So there’s no question that baptism and faith should be linked and that baptism and forgiveness should be linked. The question is about the order.
So Romans 4:11 says that circumcision is a sign and seal of the righteousness that we have by faith, so circumcision signifies the very same things that baptism does, cleansing, forgiveness, justification, purification. Yet all of that was given to Abraham when he was called but then it was given to his infant sons. So that spiritual sign with all of that significance was also given to Abraham’s children. Just one of the reasons why we practice infant baptism.
But back to this question. So there’s a connection baptism and the remission of sins, but how? Because some would read this “for the remission of sins,” in a kind of quid pro quo relationship, or a very sacramental understanding of forgiveness, that you receive baptism, and in some traditions of the Church it washes away original sin, or it affects baptismal regeneration, so baptism, when you’re baptized, you automatically have your sins forgiven. Is that what the Nicene Creed is saying?
Well, I don’t think that’s what it means to say and it certainly isn’t necessary to take that understanding of the Nicene Creed. So think more about that preposition. So you need to know verbs and prepositions to be a parishioner in this church. Grammar teachers love the preaching here.
For. Now the Nicene Creed was originally written in Greek. That word translated here “for” is a fine translation. It’s the Greek word, preposition, eis. Looks like e-i-s, transliterated, which can mean “for” or “in” or “into.” It is the common preposition used with baptism and baptismal formulas.
So Matthew 28, the Great Commission, baptize them in or into the name, that’s the preposition eis. Romans 6, baptized into His death. 1 Corinthians 1 also baptize. All of those use that preposition “eis.”
So to be baptized “eis,” for/in/into, to be baptized in the triune name or into Christ’s death is to be made the possession of God, or to be bound up in the work of Christ. That little preposition speaks of incorporation or identification. When you’re baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it identifies you as belonging to God. The physical sign points to these spiritual realities. So in the same way to be baptized “eis,” that’s the Greek, for or in or into the remission of sins does not mean that the act of water automatically in itself forgives, but rather it identifies, it appoints to that forgiveness, it identifies us as God’s beloved people.
It may also be significant that this line of the Creed begins with a different verb. Remember I said at the beginning the Creed starts with “we believe” and those other instances of believe in the English translation are just supplying the implicit sense. There’s actually no second verb “we believe, we believe.”
But when you come to this line, there is a new verb, that now instead of saying “we believe” it says “we acknowledge,” or you could say, “we confess.” So the controlling verb up to this point has been “believe” and now it switches to a new verb.
You say, “Is that significant?” Well, perhaps, in this way. Whereas we believe in God the Father, we believe in God the Son, we believe in God the Holy Spirit, and we can even say we believe in one holy catholic apostolic Church, we now confess one baptism for the remission of sins.
Now why might that be significant? Because perhaps to say “we believe in our baptism,” though there’s a way that could certainly be correct, that may sound too much a note of self-reliance. Like, “I believe in my baptism. I was baptized and therefore that means I’m good to go.” The different verb here points us to a different understanding. Lest we think that, “Well, I was baptized when I was a baby, therefore everything in the rest of my life I can’t possibly not go to heaven.” No, we don’t put our confidence in the sign, but rather in what it signifies. We trust in God, we confess our baptism.
So perhaps the different verb there is pointing us away from an extreme sacramentalism which says by the working of the sacrament itself these things happen. They must be received in faith.
Let’s step back here in our last few minutes and try to make some summary remarks about the Creed.
Number one. The Creed reminds us of the supreme importance of faith. This much should be obvious. We believe. Outside of this, we are not a part of the catholic, small C, and orthodox Church. This means Christian in an historic, orthodox, lower case C catholic sense, cannot include Mormons, it would not include Unitarians, who by definition deny the Trinity. I would also say it does not include theological liberals who would not genuinely affirm the Holy Spirit gave conception so that Christ was born of a true virgin, or that Christ truly was resurrected from the dead, or if Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead. If these supernatural facts of history are denied by liberal Christians, then they stand outside of the bounds of historic orthodox Christianity. So this gives to us the importance of belief.
Second. The history of the Nicene Creed also affirms that new statements are sometimes necessary to combat new errors.
One way to say this is the Nicene Creed is a floor, not a ceiling. It’s a floor. This is what Christians must believe but this is not everything that Christians should believe.
Sometimes people want to make it a ceiling. Well, we shouldn’t try to define anything else other than maybe the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed. Well, the history of the Nicene Creed itself tells us that’s not the right impulse. Because in 325 the Council at Nicaea wrote up a statement and then a generation later, by 381 at the Council of Chalcedon, same theology, much expanded statement, because there were new theological errors. We could go to 431, there’s a Council at Ephesus, and 451, a Council at Chalcedon, where again the Church is dealing with Christology and trinitarian theology and keeps making new statements because new errors keep poking up their head.
Like when you used to go to the old Chuck E. Cheese and you played the Whack-a-Mole game, that’s what heresies are like. You hit down one with the mallet and another one pops up. So you need to keep pounding with that mallet.
So new statements are sometimes necessary. This is a floor, not a ceiling.
Third. The Nicene Creed reminds us of the centrality of the Trinity, that most of this ancient creed is taken up with defining and celebrating and worshiping Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Which is, sadly, often an afterthought for us as Christians. We kind of know it somewhere in the cobwebs of our mind, but it doesn’t really have a personal grip on us.
Fourth. We see in the Nicene Creed what we might call the significance of “religion.” Religion is often used as a bad word. We don’t have religion, we have grace. Or Jesus came to destroy religion. Well, if religion means something that is manmade, then of course He did. But often you have to understand when people say that, or if you give credence to that idea, “Oh, I’m spiritual, not religious,” what they mean by religion is usually there’s services I have to go to, there’s a clergy, there’s a sacred book, there’s doctrines I have to believe.
But we see here there is an affirmation of religion in that sense. There’s a doctrine of the Church, there’s at least one of the two sacraments, baptism is mentioned. So we can’t just say, “Me and Jesus, we’ll be good to go.” We have a Church and we have order and we have rites and rituals.
Five. Notice the soteriological focus. I just have one more after this. The soteriological focus. I’ve said several times the Trinity is at the heart of it. But did you notice the doctrine of the Trinity is pointing us toward the doctrine of salvation? That’s what soteriology means. There in the middle section, talking about the incarnation. It says “who for us and for our salvation.” And here at the end it speaks of “one baptism for the remission of sins.”
Now why do I underline this? Because sometimes you hear people say silly things, like “It’s you evangelicals who invented this salvation gospel.” Or, “It’s westerners who corrupted the Gospel and you made it so individualistic.” Or, “Medieval people, they were scared and the priests wanted to control them and so they invented an angry God and heaven and hell and forgiveness of sins so they could just control simple people.” And all of these kinds of silly things are said as if talking about salvation and judgment and sin and forgiveness were not on the lips of Jesus Himself, as if they are not enshrined in this document before any of this.
Did you know the Nicene Creed? You know how many Americans were on it? None. You can’t blame us.
This is largely, almost, remember, it’s largely a product of the East, of the Eastern bishops, of Greek-speaking bishops. This focus on sin and salvation, judgment and forgiveness, and rightly so because the chief problem in your life, in mine, is that we are sinners, and the only solution is to know God the Father who sent His Son to die on a cross, to live again, and send His Spirit that we might be His people.
Finally. You see there is a future orientation to the Creed.
Part of what we respect and honor in the Nicene Creed is its age. As I said at the beginning, it’s ancient. It was the first official ecumenical Church Creed and you could make a very strong case that after the Bible, this is the most important thing ever written for Christians, is the Nicene Creed.
But we would miss the point if we looked at it as just a fabulous relic in a museum, sort of, “Everyone, quiet, quiet. Children, come to the field trip. Look, there it is. The Nicene Creed. Quiet, everyone. There it is. Just a moment in time. What an amazing history.”
The Creed, however, won’t leave us just in the past, to examine something that they believed and we affirm. But it sends us into the future. You see the very last line, “And we look for the resurrection of the dead.”
I love that word as its put in Latin, and you’ll know it, expectamus, expect. The Nicene Creed ends on a note of amazing expectation. We look, we look forward to, we expect, we anticipate, what? We look forward to the resurrection of our bodies and eternal life in the world to come. Not just life here, and not simply life in heaven without pain. That will be good, life without sin, life with fellow Christians, life reunited with family members, all of that is a blessing. But we look forward to all of that and more than that. We also look forward and supremely look forward to life with this God that we have confessed and studied in the Nicene Creed. For eons upon eons we will thrill to know and to worship God the Father Almighty and we will bow before His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is of one essence with the Father, and yet now and forever a man. We will sing praises together to Father and Son and also to the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.
So we agree with the doxology – Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen and amen.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we thank You for all that we have learned in this ancient creed. May it lead us into our Bibles and lead us up into heaven and out of ourselves in worship and adoration, for You are worthy. In Christ we pray. Amen.