Jun 10, 2012

WHAT WE BELIEVE_Sermon Notes (EXPANDED)


       1 Timothy 6:12–14

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”
introduction: The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas
Vivia Perpetua and Felicitas suffered martyrdom in the reign of Septimius Severus, about the year 202 a.d. the acts of these Carthage African martyrs are translated from the Greek. As a result, it was reported that the prison governor was converted.

…we were suddenly taken away to be heard, and we arrived at the town-hall. At once the rumour spread through the neighbourhood of the public place, and an immense number of people were gathered together. We mount the platform. The rest were interrogated, and confessed. Then they came to me, and my father immediately appeared with my boy, and withdrew me from the step, and said in a supplicating tone, ‘Have pity on your babe.’ And Hilarianus the procurator, who had just received the power of life and death in the place of the proconsul Minucius Timinianus, who was deceased, said, ‘Spare the grey hairs of your father, spare the infancy of your boy, offer sacrifice for the well-being of the emperors.’ And I replied, ‘I will not do so.’ Hilarianus said, ‘Are you a Christian?’ And I replied, ‘I am a Christian.’ And as my father stood there to cast me down from the faith, he was ordered by Hilarianus to be thrown down, and was beaten with rods. And my father’s misfortune grieved me as if I myself had been beaten, I so grieved for his wretched old age. The procurator then delivers judgment on all of us, and condemns us to the wild beasts, and we went down cheerfully to the dungeon.

Polycarp 9:2-3

When then he was brought before him, the proconsul enquired whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, 'Have respect to thine age,' and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their wont to say; 'Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.' Then Polycarp with solemn countenance looked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the stadium, and waved his hand to them; and groaning and looking up to heaven he said, 'Away with the atheists. But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, 'Swear the oath, and I will release thee; revile the Christ,' Polycarp said, 'Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?'
Polycarp 10:1
But on his persisting again and saying, 'Swear by the genius of Caesar,' he answered, 'If thou supposest vainly that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as thou sayest, and feignest that thou art ignorant who I am, hear thou plainly, I am a Christian. But if thou wouldest learn the doctrine of Christianity, assign a day and give me a hearing.'
Polycarp 12:1-3
Saying these things and more besides, he was inspired with courage and joy, and his countenance was filled with grace, so that not only did it not drop in dismay at the things which were said to him, but on the contrary the proconsul was astounded and sent his own herald to proclaim three times in the midst of the stadium, 'Polycarp hath confessed himself to be a Christian.’ When this was proclaimed by the herald, the whole multitude both of Gentiles and of Jews who dwelt in Smyrna cried out with ungovernable wrath and with a loud shout, 'This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the puller down of our gods, who teacheth numbers not to sacrifice nor worship.' Saying these things, they shouted aloud and asked the Asiarch Philip to let a lion loose upon Polycarp. But he said that it was not lawful for him, since he had brought the sports to a close. Then they thought fit to shout out with one accord that Polycarp should be burned alive.

Basil the Great: “Rising superior to every emotion of fear and shame, we ought to display great boldess and courage in confessing our Lord Jesus Christ and his words” (Moralium reg. sexta.)
       WHAT IS A CREED?
-Credo – Latin for “I believe”. = “I place confidence in” or “rely upon”
  • A confession of faith
  • A summary of doctrine
  • A distillation of truth
  • A statement of belief
-Examples are the Nicene Creed, The Chalcedonian Creed, The Westminster Confession of Faith. RCC holds specifically to Nicene, Apostles’, Acts29 Doctrinal Statement (this includes the doctrinal statement of the National Association of Evangelicals), and RCC’s own Confession of Faith, which is adapted from the Gospel Coalition which it holds in common with Way of Grace and Camelback.

-a confessional church is a church that says there are systematic truths which bind them together. These trues may be expressed is a creed or statement of faith

Hilary: “No one can either express what he knows not, or believe what he cannot express.”
       NT REFERENCES to ‘CREEDS’
  • “pattern of the sound words” (2 Tim 1:3)
  • “words of the faith” (1 Tim 4:6)
  • “the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Tim 6:20)
  • “the trustworthy word as taught” (Titus 1:9)
  • “the faith … once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)
  • “the saying is trustworthy”                                          (1 Tim 1:15; 2 Tim 2:11)
       NT CREEDAL ‘FRAGMENTS’
  • Romans 1:3; 4:24; 8:34
  • 1 Corinthians 8:6; 12:3
  • Ephesians 4:4-6
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • 2 Timothy 2:5, 8
  • Titus 3:3-8
  • 1 Peter 3:18

       1 CORINTHIANS 15:3–7
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,
     and that he appeared to Cephas,
     then to the twelve.
     Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers …
     Then he appeared to James,
     then to all the apostles.

       1 TIMOTHY 3:16
 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
                He was
                                manifested in the flesh,
                                vindicated by the Spirit,
                                seen by angels,
                                proclaimed among the nations,
                                believed on in the world,
                                taken up in glory.

       WHY CREEDS?
DEFINES THE FAITH
- a brief summary of the Christian faith
- the church is not to be a collection of mere subjective ‘believers’
- a historical ‘bond’ (a common heritage)

PROVIDES A STANDARD FOR THE FAITH
- barrier against error
- refutes heresy
- a basis for fellowship

-CAVEATS:
“But neither this, nor any other creed, hath authority of its own equal to Scripture; but derives its principal authority from being founded on Scripture”Secker’s Works, vol. 4, p 265 (Archbishop, in his lectures on the creed)

-CREEDS ARE NOT COMPLETE OR FINAL
       History of Apostles’ Creed
ORIGIN
  • The “Traditional” Story (?)
5th ct. Tradition had it that each one of the apostles composed a line.
 “The creed, handed down from the apostles, is not written on paper and with ink, but on fleshy tables of the heart” Jerome [Against John of Jerusalem, 9].

Under Charlemagne the official creed of the west
2nd chapter of Luther Small Catechism
Augustine told N African converts in the 5th Ct. to say it daily!

  • Used in the baptismal Q&A
  • APOSTOLIC as in Acts 2:41-42
Cyril of Jerusalem said of his church’s creed: “a profession of the holy and apostolic faith” and Athanasius said “the councils of our times write apostolically” – that is, conforming to the apostolic teaching/writing

NAMES
  • Rule of Faith
“The rule of faith, indeed, is altogether one, alone immoveable and irreformable; the rule, to wit, of believing in one only God omnipotent, the Creator of the universe, and His Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised again the third day from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right (hand) of the Father, destined to come to judge quick and dead through the resurrection of the flesh as well (as of the spirit). This law of faith being constant, the other succeeding points of discipline and conversation admit the “novelty” of correction; the grace of God, to wit, operating and advancing even to the end.” – Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins, 320 AD
  • Old Roman Symbol
(150 AD). Symbol is related to a verb meaning to put together. Latin – symbolum – a military password, sign of loyalty. Was originally a baptismal creed used by the roman church, not long after 100. other churches had them: Jerusalem, Antioch, Caesarea Alexandria. Greek ichthus fish – “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior”

Early form of it preserved in the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (215) in the Apostolic Tradition. 215 AD – baptismal rite Q and A (originally in greek)

To Rome from Milan in 390 AD mentions the Symbolum Apostolorum (first called here)

404 AD Rufinus wrote a commentary on it

  • Received Form
       History of the Apostles’ Creed
  • Universality, simplicity, antiquity.
  • Packer: “109 words which for 19 centuries have united all Christians in a common affirmation of faith”
  • A Trinitarian framework

       Matthew 28:18–20
… Jesus … said to them,
“… Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them
in the name
of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe
all that I have commanded you.”

       Matthew 16:13–18
JESUS: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
DISCIPLES: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
JESUS: “But who do you say that I am?”             PETER: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
JESUS: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

       THE IMPORTANCE of BELIEF
John 8:24
unless you believe
that I am he
you will die in your sins.

Faith = assent, trust, commitment, certain conviction of mind, full assurance.
Belief is knowledge, trust

Sproul talks about faith as a disposition of the heart.

“Faith involves living. It is more than professing and more than understanding theology. In the final analysis it involves commitment to the will of God. Faith has a content that fills the mind and grasps the heart to the end that a changed life is apparent. The end of faith is fidelity to Jesus Christ.” – RC Sproul, Basic Training

Faith “is in the understanding, in respect of its being and subsistence; in the will and heart…” – Dr. Owen, Catechism

Calvin on faith: “Faith is the hypostasis, that is, the support or possession, on which we fix our foot” in Demetrio

“The proper object of faith, without doubt, is truth”. – Donald Fraser in Herman Witsius, p. 385

Credo in Deum – “I have confidence in God” or “I put my trust in God” means “I have committed myself to God”.

       BELIEF OBEYS
Romans 1:5
               
“we have received grace …          to bring about   the obedience of faith for the sake of his             name among all the nations”

Romans 6:17
               
you who were once slaves of sin have                 become obedient from the heart to the               standard of teaching to which you were        committed, and, having been set free from        sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

We need what William Barclay called “total belief”:
“There is a belief which can only be called total belief. In it a man’s whole life and every action are dominated by which he believes. This is a belief which is an act, not only of the mind, but of the total personality.”

       THE IMPORTANCE of CONFESSING
     1 John 4:2–3
                By this you know the Spirit of God: every             spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has             come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit           that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

    
Romans 10:9–10
                “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is     Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with          the heart one believes and is justified, and        with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ”


The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty;
The Creator 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, died and was buried;
 
He descended to the grave;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven;
and sits at the right hand
of God the Father Almighty;
 
Whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in
the Holy Spirit;
the holy [universal] Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

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