Human nature, human flesh, and human blood are at the heart of every scandal. It is the scandal of being human. The question is, from whose perspective do we view the scandal of being human? The perspective we choose, the one we most trust, will orient our relationship with God and determine the way we live and treat one another. Far too often we use our humanity as an excuse or a justification. For God, humanity is not a barrier to, but the revelation of his life and love. In Jesus Christ the fullness of divinity and the fullness of humanity exist and live in complete union. God does not act on humanity but in humanity.
The Church proclaims the scandal with these words:. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. This part of the Creed structures the scandal around two relationships and one overarching movement. These three components converge in our Lord Jesus Christ but with profound implications for us all. Taken as a whole, these three components are the core of the good news, the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first relationship described is the one between Jesus and the Father. We declare that Jesus Christ is our Lord, meaning we can have no other.
He is the one and only. This is not only in name but also in being. The Church does not try to explain what God is. It declares that whatever God is, Jesus Christ also is. Jesus is God. The second relationship the Creed describes is between Jesus and humanity. The relationship is localized with particular people in a specific time and place.
It is not, however, bound to or limited by those people or that time and place.
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Those truths touch all people, in all times, and in all places. All this, the Creed declares, not once but twice, is for us. The overarching movement in this part of the Creed is one of descent and ascent. It is a movement from God, to and through humanity, and back to God. What does that mean for us? It means we have not been abandoned.
Creed : A Seven-Week Reflection Guide on the Apostles' Creed by J. D. Walt (2012, Paperback)
God in Christ has accomplished for us what we could not do for ourselves. God sees us as more than the sum of our actions, successes, and failures. God always sees more in us than what we see in ourselves. This is where it gets really scandalous. Through Christ our humanity has become the way to our divinity. By the grace of God we can become fully divine and fully human. Very carefully, says the Rev. Otherwise we risk imaging God and creating an idol with our words and thoughts. What are the most important things a person can take with him or her on a mission?
Listen to an interview with Betty; click the button below. Five Things We Believe about God. With just 21 words the Nicene Creed describes God. Twenty-one words? Surely there is more that can be said about God.
I suspect there is. Very carefully. A good friend, mentor, and teacher of mine used to remind me that when it comes to theology we often say more than we really know or can know. It was his way of warning me to be humble, cautious, and not too certain when speaking of God. Perhaps that is why creedal statements are so concise and lacking in specifics.
God is not a problem to be solved, a question to be answered, or a doctrine to be explained, but a mystery to be experienced. Creedal statements come not so much from our intellectual understanding but from our heart. As with our professions of love for another, our creedal statements offer declarations not proofs.
Whether we are confessing our love for another or our belief in God, the challenge is always to live according to what we have declared. What then are we declaring in this first section of the Nicene Creed?
First, we are declaring that God exists. It is a declaration that God is God and we are not. We are affirming a mystery, a presence, an existence at the heart of the world that is beyond our ability to control, explain, measure, or manipulate. There is more to our life and world than what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Our finite minds cannot reconcile an all-powerful God and human free will, or divine goodness and human suffering.
But we are not called to understand; rather, we are called to experience the oneness of God that invites us deeper into the mystery of these paradoxes. Our third declaration is that God is Father. This does not mean that God has sexuality or gender. Neither is it a projection of human fatherhood on God.
It means that God is personal and relational. God is not abstract, indifferent to, or uninvolved in the life of the world and humanity. God can be known and experienced. To state the obvious, one is a father by having a child. It distinguishes God from humanity and is the premise of our prayer and the basis upon which we appeal to God.
Again, creedal statements declare but offer no explanation of how or why. Creation is, therefore, good. There is both material seen reality and nonmaterial unseen reality. Thus, there is more to creation than what we can perceive by the physical senses.
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The spiritual world is as real as the material world. Nothing that exists has its existence outside of God. Creation is not simply a historic event, limited to the distant past. At some point all our talk of God must give way to the profundity of silence. Mike Marsh in Communal believing. Seven Spirits Burning. John Crowder. Walk with Me. Dennis E. Believer's Daily Renewal, The. Every Day with God eBook. Lessons for New Believers. Witness Lee. Bone of His Bone. Experiencing the Holy Spirit eBook. Religious Affections. Jonathan Edwards. How to Be Useful to the Lord. Concerning Spiritual Gifts.
Donald Gee. Don Nori. Spiritual Warfare. Jessie Penn-Lewis. Experiencing the Holy Spirit. Basic Training. Psalm Rabbi Rami Shapiro. The Practice of Prophesying. The Prayer of Mary. Keith Fournier. Dead to Law but Living to God. Lessons on Prayer. Conferences, Messages, and Fellowship 6. The Anointing of the Holy Spirit. Theodore Austin-Sparks. Praise And Worship. Jae King Jr. The Ministry of God's Word. The Normal Christian Faith. General Messages 1. Mishnah and the Words of Jesus. Roy B. Chasing an Elusive God. Ray Vincent. The Pursuit of God.
How to Teach the Bible. David Bergsland. Thirty-Minute Sermons. Caleb Nathanael McIntosh. Regaining Strength: 90 Days of Prayer and Praise. Randy Sawyer. General Messages 2. The Restless Heart. Ronald Rolheiser. Certain truths have been revealed by God. Those truths have to be remembered, understood, and handed on.
These words were recited every day and were handed down from one generation to the next. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
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He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Ben Myers: In the ancient church the creed was used to instruct new believers prior to their baptism. In addition to this educational use, it also had a liturgical use. It was a declaration made at baptism, like the oath of allegiance that you make when you become a citizen of another country. Ben Myers: Christian discipleship begins with baptism.
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In baptism we identify fully with Christ. The whole Christian life is compressed into that moment like a closed accordion. What we need is for that accordion to open, for the meaning of baptism to stretch out and encompass the whole of life. To be a disciple of Jesus is to practice living as if we really have already died and risen with him. The more we remain at the beginning—at the cross, at the waters of baptism, in union with Christ—the more progress we make in discipleship.
The more we understand it, the happier we are. I think these two words point to the central mystery of the creed.