“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:16–17, NKJV)
For centuries Christians have joined their voices in reciting the Apostles’ Creed. The Creed has served to catechize in the Christian faith, to confess that faith through its declarations, to unite in kindred faith for corporate worship, and to call unbelievers to faith in the faith.
The Apostles’ Creed disciples in the gospel. It lays out a syllabus for study of the Christian faith. It proclaims a redemption grounded in the triune God and centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. To embrace the Creed is to ascribe all glory to God for such a great salvation.
But does the Apostles’ Creed speak to morality? Does it address the social issues of our day and those of generations past and future? Do the words “I believe” affect the stand we take regarding areas related to Christian living?
The answer is no, and yes. The Creed does not explicitly speak to social issues or to any issues of morality for that matter. But it does speak emphatically to where we find God’s direction and why we look to Him as disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Apostles’ Creed provides three considerations for determining what we believe and how we live.
THE TRUTH “I BELIEVE”
In arriving at what we believe, we are not left to our own imaginations, preferences, or sensibilities. The formulations of the Creed are not innovative; they are derivative. The Creed follows the lead of Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3–4, emphasis added).
The Apostles’ Creed directs us to an authority outside of ourselves. It lifts our eyes to God and leads us to look for the sanction of “thus says the Lord” in the positions we take and in the way we conduct our lives. “I believe” is a response to what God reveals in His written Word.
CHRIST AS “LORD”
The Creed emphasizes the lordship of Jesus Christ. He is the One to whom all authority has been given. That authority is kingdom authority. It is exhibited in redemptive life that consecrates all of life to God (Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31) and lives that life in resurrection power (Phil. 4:13; Eph. 1:19).
Those who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and enfolded into the kingdom of Christ, who have bowed the knee before Him by God’s grace are “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10; compare Col. 2:6).
If we call Christ “Lord,” it is incumbent upon us that we do what He says. That means our opinions and options are to be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ, hearing His word and putting it into practice. Saints are to live sanctified lives (1 Cor. 1:2; Matt. 7:24-25).
THE CHURCH AS “HOLY”
When we say we believe in a “holy” church, we understand ourselves to be a people in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-19), a people separated unto God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
The church is where the kingdom of God and His Christ is most visible. The church is where disciples are gathered and taught to obey (Mt. 28:18-20). Believers are educated, equipped, encouraged, and engaged to seek first the kingdom of God with its counter-cultural perspectives, priorities, values, ethics, commitments, and goals. Our positions and practices should be kingdom-qualified.
So when it comes to how we live, the Creed does not so much give us bread as it teaches us how to bake bread—by the light and heat of God’s Word, in His call to be holy unto Him, through living under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Christ gives us this reminder as His holy catholic church: “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:8–10).
- What does it mean to receive Christ as Lord and to walk in Him as Lord (Col. 2:6)?
- Read Colossians 3:1-17. How do verses 1-4 relate to verses 5-17?
Holy God, grant that we would not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing our minds, that we would discern Your will, what is good and acceptable and perfect, walk in Your ways, and so bring glory to You, our Father in heaven.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.