Sunday, 21 April 2013
Every large organisation or institution has a Mission Statement. A statement outlining what the Organisation is set up to do, what are its values, ethics, and purpose.
Many years ago, in the year 325, the first ecumenical council of churches met and wrote a "mission statement" which is better known as the Nicene Creed. The name originates from the city of Nicaea in Turkey, where the ecumenical council met.
Also known as the Credo, (I believe), this document or statement has been accepted by most Christian denominations in the world.
It is, in fact, what a Christian truly believes. It is what identifies a Christian from anyone else.
Let's look at it in some detail:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty.
This proclaims at the onset that there is only one God. We are taught to see him and address Him as a Father. A symbol of love, caring, mercy and forgiveness. And that He is almighty; not like any other father here on earth.
Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
He is so almighty that He has made everything. Visible and invisible.
This bit is important. It says visible and invisible. Not seen and unseen. If I were to leave one room and enter another I become unseen. But I am not invisible.
The use of the word invisible is to underline the fact that there is an invisible, spiritual, world which we do not see. We are both visible in human form and invisible in our spiritual form - our soul.
There is also an invisible world of angels and spirits of those departed from this world. As well, of course, as the invisible Holy Spirit.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made.
Note in particular that we say one Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Lord, our Master, and there is no other.
Begotten - born of a Father (God) - not made by God just as He made us, and the planets and everything else.
Before all ages. Jesus has always existed. He did not just begin to exist when He was born on earth. This is when He appeared to us in human form. But before that, He has always existed with God, because He is God.
Consubstantial to the Father. From Latin consubstantialem, of one essence or substance. This word was used by the Council of Nicaea (325) to express the Divinity of Christ. The Trinity is not a hierarchy. It isn't God at the top, then Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit. All three are equal and one; and have always been so.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man;
Another proclamation that Jesus, who always existed, became human form through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.
was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Sciptures.
What is Pilate doing here? Why is he getting a mention in the Creed?
This is very important and significant. Jesus' life, death and resurrection is not some fairy story we hear and tell our children. "Once upon a time ..."
This is actual fact and it happened at a point in time. When Pilate was ruler. The mention of Pilate is to serve as a beacon in history so that future readers reciting the Creed can identify when these real facts actually happened.
Jesus died and rose again as predicted in the Old Testament by the prophets.
And ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.
Jesus is indeed King in Heaven with God. We also believe that He is with us here and now in Spiritual form. Always by our side and ready to help us with our needs.
But we also believe that He will return to earth in human form as He did all those years ago.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
Another proclamation that the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit has always existed. Just like God and Jesus.
He inspired the prophets to write what they wrote, and to predict the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The prophets did not make it all up as a fairy story. They were told by the Holy Spirit what to write.
And the holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
The word holy does not refer to us. There are plenty of so-called Christians who are far from holy! This refers to the Church. It was created by Jesus through Peter and it is holy because of this.
Catholic means throughout the world, universal. (Katholikos from katholou).
Apostlic means belonging and starting from the Apostles as chosen by Christ.
I confess one baptism for the remission of sins.
If we are to be put right with God we just have to accept Him through baptism and to confess and be sorry for our sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
This is yet again very significant. Here we proclaim that this life, in this world, is only a passing phase. When we die there will be a resurrection and a new spiritual life in a spiritual world.