I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth…
and in Jesus Christ, 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 into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
From there He judges the living and the dead.
I believe in Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen!
Catholicity. It means more than simply being super Catholic in practice or doctrine. In Latin catholic means “all embracing.” So, speaking of the holy catholic Church (as a Reformed thinker) is to speak of the entire Church. The “big C” Church. All Christians worldwide who presently are, who have been, or who will be. So what then does it mean to publicly state that we believe in the holy catholic Church?
An important first note is to clear up that meaning of catholic. In using that term the writers specifically wanted the opposite of the meaning we think of today. We believe in the unity of believers under the banner of Christ. Christ is our absolute – He is what we base our faith off. Not denominations. Not pastors. Not history or tradition. The Church invisible… the Church triumphant… they all center around Christ. So, to believe in the “one holy, apostolic, Church” is to believe that Christ is all that really matters when calling yourself a church.
The next line you’d think is an unnecessary one. How else could we even claim to be Christians without the forgiveness of sins?? This phrase, though, points out something that many simply would rather forget exists. Popular pastors glaze over it, eastern spiritual leaders reject it, and the a-religious mock it or denounce it as judgmental. That thing is sin. To admit that you believe in the forgiveness of sins is to admit you believe in sins in the first place. To admit that is to say that you mess up in a way that good deeds dont cover for. It is to admit that you cannot find salvation in yourself – your own light doesnt provide true guidance. To say, as a Christian, that we believe in forgiveness of sins is to place ourselves at the feet of Him from whom we take our name and lay prostrate in humble reliance on Him. It means we approach the mercy seat of Christ, where He answers prayer.
I hadnt really thought about how important this clause was until right now. This is where we come to die to ourselves, and live for Christ. It is where the Gospel takes ahold of our lives in a real way. It is where repentance is found. Here we stand before a holy God, and find the blood of Christ covering us and counting our sins as nothing. To accept and exclaim belief in forgiveness of sins is a most beautiful thing indeed.
Tomorrow I finish this tour of the Apostle’s Creed, but I invite questions and comments as we move through 2017! Amen!