Unpacking the Apostle’s Creed - 1 February 2018

Hennie Symington

“Surely God is great, and we do not know him; the number of his years is unsearchable.  … he does great things that we cannot comprehend.” (Job 36:26; 37:5b).

What is the value of tradition? People tend to view time-honoured traditions as outdated practices that are no longer valid. Yet, far from being dead, age-old traditions ensure a consistency of belief in the Living and active Word of God.

Through the ages many documents and creeds explaining and expounding our Christian faith have been in circulation, but none have been as widely accepted as the Twelve Articles of Faith or the Apostle’s Creed as it is more popularly referred to. For many years, it was believed that the Twelve Articles originated with the apostles which explains the title, Apostolic Confession of Faith. We know very little about the origin of the Creed. However, it is certain that in the first two centuries after Christ, more than one version of the Creed was known. By the second century AD, however, these versions merged into one version which was used by the early church in Rome. Today, the Creed has been accepted by virtually all Christian churches throughout the world, with the exclusion of the Greek Orthodox Church. The value of the Apostle’s Creed to Christian believers through the ages and to this day is that it provides us with a clear and systematic framework of our core beliefs.

Is there need for a confession of faith?

A confession of faith acts as a reminder of the greater truths that underpin our faith. It helps to keep us from straying from the truth and gives us the knowledge to proclaim and defend our beliefs. But most importantly, it allows you, as a believer to publicly proclaim your faith and to bear witness of your beliefs.

What do we mean when we say: “I believe in God?”  “Who is God?” or “How do we know who He is?” are questions that often arise in the believer’s mind. However, by attempting to define and describe him in our own terms, we run the risk of creating God in our own image. Yet, the more we “study” God, the more we realize that God is the Other, the One that is different from us. His ways are higher than our ways and we cannot presume to understand all there is to know about him.

We can only know him through what He reveals about Himself through his works, through the history of mankind, through the Holy Scripture and all of creation. Of course, we as modern-day believers, wanting answers to all our questions about creation and the universe, often stumble in our ignorance. In this manner God becomes real to us and allows us as his creatures to meet him – not as the God of our own creation and our own imagination, but as the One who made us in his own image. 

Prayer: God, we thank you for revealing yourself to us through your Word and through the great deeds you have done. Amen


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