The Apostles’ Creed first appeared around 140 AD.
It’s old — and it’s bold, bolder than we often give it credit for. In fact, the audaciousness of its historic claims easily get obscured by our familiarity with the ancient lines.
“I feel strongly about this,” John Piper once warned in a sermon, “that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep and who yawn through the Apostles’ Creed — that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power.”
An Act of Rebellion and Allegiance
Yawning through the Apostles’ Creed is absurd when you truly study its claims. This is something of the Christian’s pledge of allegiance, as Matt Chandler reminded The Village Church recently in his kick-off sermon to a 12-week series on the Creed.
“When the early church recited the Apostles’ Creed, it was simultaneously their greatest act of rebellion and their greatest act of allegiance,” Chandler said. “When the church gathered, they didn’t stand in an air conditioned room, protected by rule of law. When they stood, across the centuries, not knowing who would come in, being watched at who’s reciting this, they rejected the popular narratives of their day.”
He went on to explain:
In Rome they rejected that Caesar was lord. They rejected the narrative of the first century and said, “No! Jesus is Lord.” It is a beautiful moment when the people of God recite this creed. They said, “We don’t believe the story our culture is telling.”
The story our culture is telling has some similarities, but it has changed over time. Today, by reciting the Creed — if we believe it — we are saying:
- We reject the narrative of materialism. We reject that stuff will satisfy our souls.
- We reject the notion that what I need for physically satisfaction is more and more and more sexual partners.
- We reject the idea that there are multiple ways to salvation, and everyone has his own way.
“We just fundamentally reject all these narratives,” Chandler said. “Our narrative is that we believe in the God of the Bible. When the church recites this creed, distilled, pulled from, wrung out of the Word of God, we are saying: ‘We reject the modern narrative. We believe the historic narrative — the narrative that God has come into the world to save sinners, that Jesus Christ has died for our sins, and we believe and trust that he has made known to us the path of life.’”
A Faithful Act of Mutiny
Yes, the Apostles’ Creed says all this. It is the Christian’s pledge of allegiance. We can debate a line or two, and we can modify the exact wording over time, but the statement has endured the ages because it is an always-relevant act of cultural mutiny.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And 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, dead and buried; He descended into Hades; The third day he rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven; and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence 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 the life everlasting. Amen.