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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « He who comes to God... | Main | The Hidden Treasure (2 -- Setting Out for the Field) »

    If One Confesses the Apostles' Creed, is this Authentic Faith?

    Question from Visitor: Would it be accurate to say that if you believe in the Apostles' Creed, in its entirety, you have authentic faith?

    Response: Important Question. The answer is yes, but other similarly important truths must be similtaneously understood and embraced ... truths the framers of the creed would have, no doubt, considered to be a given. That is, the content of the Apostles Creed is sufficient if such a confession springs from a heart that is renewed by the Holy Spirit. What do I mean by this and how can we know if this is the case? Well, consider that many people confess this creed, including no small number of persons whose hearts have not been graciously transformed by the power of the Spirit to trust and love Jesus Christ. The content of the Apostles Creed is certainly a great start since we must unhesitatingly affirm all of those truths if we are to be Christians, but consider there are some things that the creed does not mention but that are necessary for salvation -- There must be a Spirit-wrought change in the heart as a person encounters the Word of God, such that their self-complacency shattered and their self-righteousness renounced. The Holy Spirit must also convict that person of their woeful, guilty, and lost condition; that they justly deserve the wrath of God, save in Christ's mercy alone. Likewise, the Spirit must reveal to them and persuade their heart of the goodness, beauty, loveliness and sufficiency of Christ ALONE to meet their desperate case and by a divinely wrought faith will cause them them to lay hold of and rest upon Christ as their only hope. That all other hopes are vanity.

    So while we are often tempted to to narrow things down to systems of either/or, but in this case especially, it is not either/or, but both/and. The facts from Scripture must make their way down to the heart and subjectively change us as the Spirit opens our eyes, ears and hearts to it. So the answer is yes, the Apostles Creed is sufficient for salvation if it is believed as originally intended, that is, if the Spirit opens our hearts to believe it correctly. The framers of the Apostles Creed probably would never have ever imagined that later people's could distort such a clearly articulated confession, but they did. For example, those who are Roman Catholics unequvocally confess the entirety of the Apostles Creed and yet, if they embrace the whole of RCC teaching, their faith in the content of the Creed is spurious because they still refuse to trust in Christ alone for salvation. A belief in Purgatory, among other erroneous Christ-dishonoring doctrines, negates the sufficiency of Christ's finished work and a trust in self to do part of the work of redemption. The framers of the Creed probably assumed that anyone so confessing the Lordship of Jesus Christ would cast off all trust in self-righteousness, but human nature, as it always does, has a tendency to slip in in its attempt to usurp God's authority.

    For this reason later creeds were also developed to clarify. For Example, shortly after Augustine, the Council of Orange said of our faith: "If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

    As it is, only a regenerate person would confess the Apostles Creed with genuine faith that renounces all self-righteouness and only finds its righteousness in Christ. Such a Spirit generated faith in Christ would save them, but a regenerate person could not simultaneously confess the Creed and then go on believing that Jesus Christ is insufficient, as many erroneous theologies have done.

    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 of the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried.

    He descended into hell. [See John Calvin]

    The third day He arose 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 catholic [universal] church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and life everlasting.

    Amen.

    Posted by John on January 22, 2008 12:14 PM

    Comments

    Amen. Well said!! The Apostles' Creed is a wonderful summary of sound biblical Christian doctrine. It is however sad that essential elements of the Gospel are not mentioned in the creed, such as sola fide (justification by faith alone), which as Luther stated is the article upon which a church (or individual) stands or falls.

    The commentor asked, if someone believes the content of the Creed, do they have authentic faith? And you answered him stating if someone merely confesses the Creed with their lips, this is not enough; that anyone, regardless of their spiritual state could do this.

    Yet, while this is not to be denied, I don't think your response answers his question adequately. His question goes beyond mere professing of Creedal truth, to actually believing and possessing the essential content of the Creed itself.

    Historically, it has been understood and agreed upon that what has to be believed in order to be a true Christian is contained, fundamentally, in the Apostle's Creed. So to more directly answer his very important question, I'd purpose we affirm him in saying "Yes, if you truly believe in what is affirmed in the Apostle's Creed, then you have been given the gift of authentic and saving faith".

    Hi David

    Your point is understood, and I believe I did answer "yes". But the question then is, can someone affirm the creed without having these other things take place in the heart? Can I affirm the creed fully and then not have my self-righteousness shattered? Can I affirm the creed but then not be convicted by the Holy Spirit of my woeful, gulty condition and that Christ alone can meet my desperate case? Apart from these other necessary things, (which the Creed does not mention) things which are evidence that true grace has been worked in our hearts, all confessions of the Creed are empty. Yes, if someone truly believes the gospel as contained in the Creed they will be saved, and it will be evidenced by someone at the same time confesses that he justly deserves the wrath of God save for Christ's mercy alone. If you cannot confess that from the heart, then it is not true faith.

    There are plenty of people out there who are not saved who would affirm the Creed line for line. And authentic Spirit-wrought faith would include all the other elements mentioned. I am fully confessional, and the need of confession, but I also fully embrace that the Spirit must subjectively work these things in the heart of those Christ came to save. Later confessions like the Counsel of Orange and the WCF actually fill these things out in their confessions themselves.

    shalom
    John

    Hi John.

    My apologies. I don't see your unqualified "Yes" in there anywhere. The closest thing I saw was this statement,

    "The content of the Apostles Creed is certainly a great start since, indeed we must unhesitatingly affirm all of those truths if we are to be Christians, but consider there are some things that the creed does not mention but that are necessary"

    My contention was and is, that the Apostle's Creed is a sufficent summary of Christian doctrine needing to be believed in order to know and understand essential Christian truth with nothing else being neccsary. Again, we all know simply reciting the Creed is not enough to save you. You must truly believe the content of the Confession. This is what has been understood historically as the bare minimum neccesary to be believed and still be considered a genuine Christian.

    You must believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You must beleive in His forgiveness of sins, etc.

    So, I apologize if I missed your yes. I thought you were saying there were things not stated in the Creed, but are neccesary to be believed.

    All the qualifying statements you make would seem to fit better as works God does upon a sinner IN ORDER that he may believe what's contained in the Creed. For example when you write,

    "The Holy Spirit must also convict that person of their woeful, guilty, and lost condition; that they justly deserve the wrath of God, save in Christ's mercy alone."

    The Reformed view on this would be that a person must have already received God's Spirit BEFORE they could believe on Christ (or in the Creed). In short, regeneration preceeds faith. So that, if a person believes the content of the Apostle's Creed, their heart has already been changed, they have received the Holy Spirit, and nothing else is neccesary for them to be saved.

    David

    You are corect, It was not an unqualified yes, and it still is not - we cannot treat the Creed as if it were an exhaustive treament on what the text of Scripture says on what is necessary for salvation, because the Bible itself has more to say.

    >>>>I thought you were saying there were things not stated in the Creed, but are neccesary to be believed.

    You yourself, it would appear, are acknolwedging that a true Spirit wrought faith includes other ideas about what true saving faith is. For example, you may say that true faith in not merely intellectual assent, but the work of the Spirit's regeneration that changes our heart to believe. This is not in the creed. Nor does the Creed affirm that we are saved by grace ALONE. Can we affirm the creed without believing this also? We must also define some boundaries such as we cannot go believiing in the creed PLUS our good will as well ...These are important qualifers of what true faith is and is not.

    I hope your idea of a Spirit generated faith includes the idea that one's self-complacency must be shattered and their self-righteousness renounced and that our only hope is in Christ. You seem to be assuming that true faith will also include this so it is not necessary to say. But to leave it out of the gospel would be negligent.

    I did not see that mentioned in the creed. Are you saying that one can confess the creed without believing this ALSO?

    The point is that the Creed does not exhaustively cover all truths necessary to be saved. The Spirit who regenerates our hearts unto faith in the gospel MUST ALSO include an affirmation confessionally that that we have no hope in ourselves and that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation.

    A regenerating work of the Spirit will include this kind of faith will it not? If yes then we are speaking past one another. If not then we disagree. The whole counsel of Scripture plainly includes more elements than the above confession when speaking of the gospel.

    "---- you said, "if a person believes the content of the Apostle's Creed, their heart has already been changed, they have received the Holy Spirit, and nothing else is neccesary for them to be saved."

    Yes, agreed but how do you define belief? As soon as the word "belief": has content then it is transformed one way or the other. The word is not an empty term but itself must trake on certain properties as defined by Scripture. Those properties can mean many things to different people. In this day and age these need to be clarified so as not to assure persons who are still partly trusting in themselves. It can either mean a mere intellectual assent to a list of truths or it can mean something else like a Spirit generated faith which has lost all confidence in self and throws itself completely on the saving mercy of Jesus Christ.

    I must question, can you point to any affirmations I made above that DO NOT have to accompany a Spirit-wrought saving faith? Can you believe the creed and also reject that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ alone?

    Solus Christus
    John

    Here's my view in a nutshell and how I would've answered your commentor.

    A person cannot fully trust (fiducia) in what the Apostle's Creed professes apart from authentic faith. What is confessed in the Creed is so closly tied to Biblical truth, to believe it, is to believe what the Bible says regarding essential doctrine.

    Both, unbelievers and believers alike may profess the Creed, but only true, genuine believers possess the truth of it's content.

    I'd also add all of the subjective work of the Spirit you mention must be present in a person prior to their believing in Christ (or in the truth contained in the Creed).

    So that, and to answer you commentor's question, if a person believes in the Apostle's Creed in it's entirety, they have authentic faith.

    This is not because faith in the Creed, in and of itself, equals salvation, but that the Apostle's Creed points to believing in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God and our Lord, for the forgiveness of our sins and life everlasting. Amen.

    David R. McCrory

    You said, "I'd also add all of the subjective work of the Spirit you mention must be present in a person prior to their believing in Christ (or in the truth contained in the Creed)."

    Indeed we all here affirm that the regenerating work of the Spirit must take place prior to faith and love for Jesus Christ. "No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. And the faith this produces will include a confession that we despair of any hope from ourselves and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Later confessions included this kind of language due to heresy. People could confess the Apostles's Creed, like Catholic semi-pelagians and yet still trust partially in ones own moral ability so this neede to be clarified.

    In Romans 10 Paul encounters the same issue with Jews: "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them [the Jews] is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

    We could carry this over today and say that many confess the truths of the creed and yet still do not submit to God's righteousness, since they are still trying to establish their own. So if you believe that this work of the Spirit must be done then what are you saying that is different then I? This work of the Spirit leads to confession of additional truths that are not contained in the creed, no?


    This may not be the nutshell you're looking for, but the points are better made than some of the above careless comments about the "AC..." Select/Paste Link Here to read: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/201a-RethinkingtheApostlesCreed.pdf

    THE 67TH BOOK OF THE BIBLE

    The 67th book of the Bible has not been canonized as of now because this fictionalized book has not been completed. The 67th book is being written by men and is inspired by man's opinions. This book is post 100 AD until the the present.


    THE 67TH BOOK-THE BOOK OF DENOMINATIONS.

    Denominations 1:1 And man said let us write our man-made creeds and traditions for men to invent their salvation. 2. Let us use church traditions to supersede the word of God. 3. Let us correct the errors that God has written in the first 66 books of the Bible. 4. Let us write a book that cannot be translated in error as were the first 66 books of the Bible. 5. Let us create various and sundry denominations with different plans of salvation. 6. Let us expose the faulty doctrine of Jesus and the apostles. 7. Let us name different denominations that express our individual man-made views about God, salvation, and the requirement for the forgiveness from sins. 8. Let us name these denominations:
    The Roman Catholic Church
    The Baptist Church
    The Methodist Church
    The Salvation Army
    The Seventh Day Adventist Church
    The Church of Latter Day Saints
    The Jehovah's Witness Church
    The Anglican Church
    The Pentecostal Church
    The Christian Science Church
    The Unitarian Universalist Church
    The Nazarene Church
    The Community Church
    ETC.
    ETC.
    ETC.

    The fictionalized Book of Denominations has not been canonized because men are still adding their man-made opinions.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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