Rev. Mark Buetow
This is a series of articles explaining what the Apostles’ Creed teaches and why we use it in church and our prayers.
The Second Article:
And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by 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 rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
The center, foundation, focus, emphasis, big deal and whole point of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. But there are lots of Jesuses out there. So we learn and pray and recite the Apostles’ Creed to confess, teach and be reminded of what the Bible says about the real Jesus. Who is He? Why did He come here? What did He do?
Jesus is true God, the Son, eternally begotten of the Father. He is true man, having taken on flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary. So Jesus is God. Jesus is a man. He suffered, died, rose again. He ascended into heaven and will come back in a way we can see with our eyes one day. That’s why we call Him "Lord."
Notice that the words of the Creed about Jesus are all about Him. Not us. Him. The sum and substance of the Christian faith is not us. It’s not our faith. It’s not how much we believe. It’s not how much we change or improve our lives. It’s not how we live or how holy we can act or seem. It’s about Jesus. Jesus being born for us. Suffering for us. Dying for us. Rising from the dead for us. Ascending into heaven for us. Coming back for us.
One of the reasons that we learn to recite and pray the Creed every day is that then our hearts and minds and ears will be filled with Jesus and not us. It’s very easy to make religion about how well we can fix what’s wrong with us. About how well we’re doing. About how we are better than others. The Creed doesn’t play that game. These words that the church pulled from the Bible put it to us straight and simply: Jesus saves sinners. He came to do all that He did to save us from everlasting death and separation from God. He came to forgive us and make us new.
The Creed reminds us, before we head out into the world, that the only Jesus that matters is the One who is Lord by saving us. The only Jesus that saves us is the One who gave His life for us. The only true God is the One who sends His Son and the Son who comes in the flesh to be our Lord and to rescue us from sin and death. The Creed reminds us of all that.
And we need to be reminded. We need to hear it daily. We need to rehearse it. We need to say it and believe it. That’s because we’re always inclined to look for the god who works on our terms. Fixes what we want fixed. Does what we want done. Makes me happier and better off. The Creed doesn’t play that game either. The Creed summarizes what the Bible teaches from front to back: We are doomed unless God saves us. So He does. And He does so by becoming one of us so that He can suffer and die like we do. Then He rises from the dead, doing what we can’t do so that one day we will do like He did: rise from the dead.
When you look at these words of the Creed, particularly these words of the Second Article (the second part, about the Son), there are really no other words which so simply, beautifully, and comfortingly tell us what God and religion and church and the faith are all about.
Learn these words. Recite them. Pray them. Cherish them. For in these few words, we have the summary of what the whole Bible is about: a God who becomes man to save us. The Creed tells us the “who” and “how” of what Jesus Himself says in John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The Creed, then, is not just some man-made bunch of stuff. It’s a display case that illuminates and shows the beauty of God’s Word and what it says.
In the First Article of the Creed, we are taught that God is our Father. Here in the Second Article we are taught that God is our Redeemer, that is, the One who saves us from sin, death, devil, and hell. That’s worth hearing every day, not just in church but in our homes and always in our hearts and minds.
Created: March 17th, 2014