A common tactic of the deceiver is to parade half-truths as orthodoxy and in so doing give birth to every manner of counterfeit Christianity. The church must remain ever vigilant to ensure authentic faith and doctrine. Even in the New Testament Church we see evidence of this battle and in our century, the enemy has not grown weary nor has his attack weakened. Indeed, more than ever before we see an onslaught aimed at undermining true believers and toppling the Church of Jesus Christ. How do we guard against this invasion? Our battel plan has not changed. Equipped and emboldened by the Holy Spirit we apply our minds to the study of God’s unchanging Word and pledge ourselves to remain true to immutable truths long adopted and accepted by orthodox believers. As Baptists we comfortably refer to the pages of scripture for truth – and this is a good practice. But there are other bulwarks that we can plant our feet on to ensure that we have a solid foundation when the enemy attempts to bring us down or lead us astray. In the more liturgical churches, creeds are often used to provide a concise statement of truth distilled from scripture and then used to catechize the faithful.
In this class we will examine the Apostle’s Creed and then expand our study to explore other foundational truths that underpin our worldview.
One of the earliest creeds is the Apostles Creed. It is first mentioned in a letter probably from Ambrose written in AD 390 from a synod in Milan and may have been associated with the belief, widely accepted in the 4th century, that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, each of the Twelve Apostles contributed an article to the twelve articles of the creed. While we cannot unequivocally claim divine inspiration for the Apostle’s Creed, a direct line can be drawn from each of the articles to the inspired Word of God. The Creed mentioned back in the 4th century was not exactly the same as the one we now know as the Apostle’s Creed and a few phrases were added in later years. No changes have occurred to the latin version since about the 5th century. The earliest surviving manuscripts that include the creed as we know it today date to between 710 and 714 AD.
Of course, the text we will study is translated into English and is a fairly recent 20th century translation that is broadly accepted by an inter-church ecumenical group. This one has been recently updated and you can read more about these changes in any good historical treatise on the creed.
Rather than a deep textual criticism, our study will focus on the theological truths encompassed by each of the articles of this creed.
Our objective in this class is not to simply amass more knowledge but rather to ensure that we can clearly articulate the significance of these foundational truths to our faith. Thus equipped we can be better prepared to give an account (an apologia) for the hope that is in us (I Pet 3:15).
As we build on our existing knowledge let us not gather knowledge just for the sake of accumulating knowledge, instead let us pursue the quest to know God and then go further, and make Him known. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. – John 17:3 By embracing these old truths, we guard against proclaiming a watered-down gospel. Tozer warns that American Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual. My prayer is that this class will help to stand against such mediocrity.
hen we becomePaul said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). If you were to carry out an audit on the state of your mind, how closely do you think it would match the mind of Christ? Would you instead find that it is cluttered with attributes like anxiety, bitterness, worry, depression, anger, lust, envy, resentment, or jealousy? As believers such attributes cannot be allowed to take hold. In this series we will examine what the Bible has to say about replacing these attributes with a mind like Christ’s. This is a lifelong undertaking but every journey begins with the first step and in the weeks that lie ahead, won’t you take the first steps on this journey with me.