Tenth article: I believe in the communion of saints - 23 February 2018

Hennie Symington

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2

To the mainstream Protestant stream of thinking, the phrase could imply a reference to the traditions of conferring sainthood on certain just and deserving believers such as Mother Teresa and other highly regarded Christian believers through the centuries. The phrase, the communion of saints, was incorporated into the creed much later ‒ probably around 350-500 AD, and has been the cause of much speculation. However, when we confess the “communion of the saints” it simply implies that we are all, whether as a group or as individuals, recipients (partakers) of Christ and his gifts. From this, it becomes clear that our relationship with fellow believers should be guided and supported by the love that Christ has for us. This article of faith truly articulates the mutual bonds uniting fellow believers inspired by the love of Christ. The phrase “communion of saints” is used in the New Testament to refer to baptised believers in a local congregation, such as the saints at Corinth, or Ephesus or Colossae. Some of these believers were far from saintly in their behaviour, but they were holy by virtue of their participation in the church as the body of Christ.

The New Testament also recognizes “a great cloud of witnesses” made up of men and women of faith who surround us as we walk the path of faith, while each community within the Christian tradition has its own “saints” in this sense. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Spurgeon, along with many missionaries and martyrs, are held in great regard by Christians throughout the ages. Each Christian tradition can offer its own special “saints” to the entire body of Christ. In the same way we as believers can respond to the biblical call to holiness be drawn closer to one another as we look to Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Prayer: Dear Lord, most of us see ourselves as lacking in faith, love and good works. Yet Lord, you have adopted all of us as children of God. Empower us in our weakness to act as a body of “saints” witnessing to your love, your forgiveness and restoration of God’s image in mankind. Amen

Ninth article: I believe in the holy, catholic Church - 22 February 2018

Hennie Symington

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12

What is church? The church is the assembly of God’s people, saved by Christ and called by him to gather together and partake of the kingdom in a very special way. The first gathering of God’s people occurred on Mount Sinai when the Lord spoke through Moses in Deuteronomy 5:22. This was a momentous gathering for the people of God for it was assembled by God himself. This so-called gathering, was instituted in the New Testament also as a gathering called together by God. The word ecclesia,is more than a congregation. It means that God himself convenes the congregation assigning to it a new calling, namely to proclaim the work of God.

Who is part of this church? Ourselves and all who believe. In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we read: "Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals, yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house …"

Why holy? It is important to remember that the church was instituted by God himself and, as such, is the domain of God. We are called to be “holy because I am holy” as we read in 1 Peter.Therefore, it is expected of the church (as the gathering of believers) to act likewise.

Why Catholic? Of course, the Roman Catholic Church subscribes to the Apostle’s Creed, but here the word catholic is used in a broader sense. Essentially it describes the character of the Church in its variety of peoples, worship styles, customs, languages and much more. The best example of this can probably be found in international congregations all over the globe embracing the customs and worship styles in mutually beneficial ways of being part of the gathering of God’s people following Christ’s injunction to “… 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Acts 1:8

What does Paul say? At first Paul referred to the church mainly as separate congregations e.g. “the congregation of Thessalonica”. However, as time passed, Paul began to speak of “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), acknowledging the wider more inclusive character of the infant church growing steadily throughout the Levant and further afield.

Prayer: Lord, we cannot but rejoice in the height, the breadth and the infinite variety of your church on earth. We pray that you will unite us not only through our diverse traditions and worship styles, but through your abiding love for your children all over the world. Amen

Tiende artikel: Ek glo in die gemeenskap van die heiliges - 23 Februarie 2018

Hennie Symington

Om te glo is om seker te wees van die dinge wat ons hoop om oortuig te wees van die dinge wat ons nie sien nie. Dit is immers vanwëe hulle geloof dat daar oor die mense van die ou tyd met soveel lof getuig is. Hebreërs 11:1-2

In die hoofstroom Protestantse kerke sou hierdie frase geïnterpreteer kon word as ʼn verwysing na die tradisie waar sekere gelowiges soos Moeder Teresa en ander hooggeagte gelowiges deur die eeue heen, deur die kerk gekanoniseer of heilig verklaar word op grond van hulle geloofsdade. Die sinsnede, "die gemeenskap van die Heiliges",is heelwat later (350-500 nC.) by die belydenis gevoeg.  Al wat dit beteken is dat almal, of dit ʼn groep of enkeles is, deel het aan Christus en sy gawes. Hieruit is dit duidelik dat ons verhoudings met mede-gelowiges gekenmerk moet word deur die liefde van Christus.

Die Artikel, “die gemeenskap van die heiliges” soos wat dit in die Nuwe Testament gebruik word, beklemtoon die besonderse band wat mede- gelowiges bymekaar bring binne die gemeente, soos die heiliges in Korinte, Efese of Kolosse. Sommige van hierdie gelowiges was alles behalwe heilig in hulle optrede, maar hulle was heilig omdat hulle deel was van die kerk as die liggaam van Christus.

Die Nuwe Testament verwys ook na ʼn “groot wolk van getuies” bestaande uit manne en vroue van geloof wat ons omring terwyl ons die pad van geloof stap. Trouens, elke gemeenskap binne die Christelike tradisie het sy “heiliges” onder andere Luther, Calvyn, Wesley en Spurgeon, saam met die talle sendelinge en martelare wat weens hulle dade deur Christene deur die eeue heen vereer word. Mag elke gelowige deur hierdie geloofshelde geïnspireer word om deel te wees van die bybelse oproep om heilig te leef in navolging van Christus, “die Begin en die Voleinder van die geloof” (Hebreërs 12:2).

Gebed: Here, die meeste van ons sien onsself nie as heiliges nie, tog het U ons aangeneem as kinders van God. Versterk ons in ons geloof sodat ons as heiliges getuies kan wees van u liefde, vergifnis en die herstel van God se beeld in almal. Amen

Negende artikel: Ek glo in die heilige, algemene Kerk - 22 Februarie 2018

Hennie Symington

Net soos die liggaam ʼn eenheid is en baie lede het, en soos al die lede saam, al is hulle baie, een liggaam vorm, so is dit ook met die liggaam van Christus. 2 Korintiërs 12:12

Wat is kerk? Die kerk is die samekoms van God se volk wat gered is deur Christus en deur hom saamgeroep is om op ʼn besondere wyse deel te hê aan die koninkryk. Die heel eerste samekoms van God se volk het volgens oorlewering plaasgevind op die Berg Sinai toe die Here deur Moses gepraat het in Deuternomium 5:22. Dit was ʼn besondere byeenkoms omdat dit deur God self bymekaargeroep is. In die Nuwe Testament vind ons ʼn soorgelyke samekoms van God se volk. Die woord ekklesia wat in die Bybel gebruik word is meer as ʼn gemeente. Dit beteken dat God self die kerk byeenroep en ʼn nuwe opdrag aan die gemeente gee, naamlik om die Woord van God oral te verkondig.

Wie is deel van hierdie gemeente? In 1 Petrus 2:9a en vers 10 word gelowiges genoem, "ʼn uitverkore volk, ʼn priesterdom en ʼn nasie wat vir God afgesonder is"

Waarom heilig? As gelowiges is dit belangrik om te onthou dat die kerk deur God self ingestel is, en dus God se eiendom is. Ons word geroep om “heilig te wees, omdat Ek (God) heilig is” (1 Petrus 1:16). Daar word dus van die kerk (as die byeenkoms van gelowiges) verwag om ook so te wees.

Waarom Algemene Christelike Kerk? In Engels word die woord katoliek i.p.v algemeen gebruik. Dit beskryf naamlik die karakter van die Kerk met sy wye verskeidenheid mense, volke, aanbiddingstyle, gewoontes, tale en veel meer. Die beste voorbeeld van ʼn Algemene Christelike Kerk is waarskynlik internasionale gemeentes wat dwarsdeur die wêreld floreer (dikwels in nie-Christelike lande en in die geheim) en verskillende gebruike, gewoontes en aanbiddingstyle inkorporeer om so deel van die samekoms van God se volk te wees en in opdrag van Christus dat “… julle my getuies (sal) wees in Jersusalem … en tot in die uithoeke van die wêreld.” (Handelinge 1:8).

Wat sê Paulus?  Aanvanklik het Paulus gepraat van die kerk as aparte gemeentes maar later na die Kerk verwys as “die kerk van God” (1 Korintiërs 1:2) om erkenning te gee aan die wye en meer inklusiewe aard van die ontluikende kerk wat stadig maar seker versprei het deur die midde-Ooste en Klein-Asië en verder.

Gebed: Here, ons kan nie anders as om met vreugde gevul te wees oor die hoogte, die wydte en die diepte van u Kerk op aarde nie. Ons bid dat ons een sal wees sal wees in u konstante liefde vir u kinders oral in die wêreld. Amen

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