BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY”
Have you ever been involved in a discussion with someone who
identified himself as a Christian, “just not your
kind of Christian?” As we
sink deeper and deeper into the end times apostasy we find more and more
people who choose to identify themselves as Christians without believing
what Christians have always believed.
People seem more and more willing to buy into the notion that
they are within their rights to identify themselves as Christians, while
being at odds with what real Christians have held to be true for
thousands of years.
Please turn in your Bible to the second to the last book of the
Bible, the book of Jude. A
very brief letter, only 25 verses long, I would like you to read verse 3
silently while I read aloud. Jude
3: “Beloved, when I gave
all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful
for me to write unto you, and exhort you
that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered
unto the saints.”
Do you see the phrase “the common salvation” in that verse?
Albert Barnes wrote on this phrase, “The salvation
common to Jews and Gentiles, and to all who bore the Christian name.
The meaning is, that he did not think of writing on any subject
pertaining to a particular class or party, but on some subject in which
all who were Christians had a common interest.”
There is only one plan of salvation devised by God.
There is only one Gospel. There
is only one Savior. Jesus
said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the
Father, but by me.”
Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be
So, there is only one kind of real Christianity, called here
“the common salvation.” The
next phrase I want to bring to your attention, which reads “the faith
which was once delivered unto the saints,” refers to that body of
truth, those doctrines, those facts, which are vital to Christianity and
the salvation which only Jesus can provide for sinners.
Here, then, is the dilemma Christians have always been faced
with. How are we to settle
disputes between divergent groups who each claim to believe the Bible?
After all, Mormons claim to believe the Bible.
Seventh Day Adventists claim to believe the Bible.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to believe the Bible. Pentecostals
and Charismatics claim to believe the Bible.
What is to be done about those who claim to believe the Bible,
but who simply do not believe what Christians throughout history have
always believed to be taught in the Bible?
As I have already suggested, this is not a new problem
confronting Christianity. It
is actually an issue that is older than Christianity.
There have always been those who claimed to be Christians, and
before that claimed to be “God’s people,” yet they did not believe
what God would have us to believe the Bible to teach.
So, what is the remedy? The
remedy, at least in part, has come to be what some people call creeds,
or what others label confessions of faith.
Creeds and confessions of faith are really one and the same
thing. One of the earliest
known creeds is referred to as The Apostle’s Creed.
You will find it in your bulletin.
Why is this important to you?
Because, my friends, Christianity is an
ancient religion. Christianity
is a faith that is rooted in history.
Christianity is a system that is based upon an unchanging Bible.
If we cannot trace our roots to the ancient past, over the
centuries of time, to men of old who believed the same things that we
believe are taught in the Bible, then we are no different from the
Restorationists, groups such as Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists,
Jehovah’s Witnesses, and various
But they are not who I am concerned with this morning.
My concern is to show you that evangelical Christianity here in
How would I know this to be true?
After all, both evangelicals and fundamentalists claim to believe
the Bible. Yes, but the
creeds show them for what they really are.
The Apostle’s Creed shows that in some important respects
evangelicals and fundamentalists do not believe what Christians have
previously believed for almost 2000 years.
Before brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song, allow me to
raise two issues for your consideration:
First, CONFESSIONS OF FAITH IN THE BIBLE
you get upset at the very notion of creeds, allow me to define for you
what a creed is, and then show you some creeds in the Bible:
New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines a creed as,
“1. a brief statement of religious belief;
a confession of faith. 2. a
specific statement of this kind, accepted as authoritative by a church;
especially, the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, or the Athanasian
So you see, the Westminster Confession
of Faith is a creed. The
First London Baptist Confession of 1644 and the Second London Baptist
Confession of 1689 are both creeds.
As well, the New Hampshire Baptist Confession and the
Philadelphia Baptist Confession are creeds.
Down through the centuries Christians have always formulated
creeds and confessions, not as a substitute for the Bible, but as a
distillation of what they held to be the salient points of Bible truth.
Essentially, a creed is a statement by a group of Christians that
declares to the world “this is what we believe the Bible teaches.”
A properly written creed can be very helpful in distinguishing
those who claim to be Christians from those who really
“Some have said the creeds are man
made and hence should be ignored in favor of Scripture.
Should we then dispose of all sermons, Bible study texts,
commentaries, doctrinal outlines, books on theology, devotionals, et
cetera? Certainly not!
The creeds do not masquerade as Scripture and many specifically
point out that it is the Scriptures themselves which are ‘the only
infallible rule of faith and practice.’
Yet as Christians is it not valuable to consider how the Holy
Spirit has spoken to our brothers and sisters over the millennia as they
have struggled with various issues, poured over the Scriptures and often
fasted and prayed heartily with their fellow Christians in the light of
the inspired texts? Surely,
to quote the pulpit prince C. H. Spurgeon to his students, ‘you are
not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound the Scripture
without the assistance from the works of divine and learned men who have
labored before you in the field of exposition . . . . It seems odd that
certain men who talk so much of what the Holy
Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has
revealed to others.’ (Commenting
Let me to read some creeds that are
found in the Bible.
Deuteronomy 6.4: “Hear,
O Israel: The LORD
our God is one LORD.”
“This scripture verse is incorporated into Jewish life and used
in prayer every morning and evening.
This verse is the core of Judaism’s central belief in the unity
of God. Martyrs through the
ages spoke these words as they met their deaths at the hands of their
enemies. It was given to
Moses by God Himself 3500 years ago, and has been recited in every
synagogue in every country of the world throughout the ages.”
Philippians 2.6-11: “6
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him
the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore
God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above
every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of things in heaven,
and things in earth, and things
under the earth; 11 And that
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
That’s a good creed. Amen?
This third one is also a good creed.
First Timothy 3.16: “And
without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest
in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the
Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
Next, CONFESSIONS OF FAITH AND BAPTISTS
It is entirely possible to attend a
Baptist church for many years without any exposure to anything
resembling a creed or a confession.
This is likely the result of a posture toward confessions and
creeds running through the ranks of Baptists in the United States that
is similar to the view of the Baptist historian of the 19th century,
Thomas Armitage, who wrote,
the book called the Bible is given by the inspiration of God, and is the
only rule of Christian faith and practice.
The consequence is, that we have no
creeds, nor catechisms, nor decretals, which bind us by their authority.
We think a creed worth nothing, unless it is supported by
Scriptural authority, and if the creed is founded on the word of God, we
do not see why we should not rest on that word which props up the creed;
we prefer to go back directly to the foundation itself and rest there
alone. If it is able to
sustain us, we need nothing else, and if it is not, then we cannot rest
upon a creed to support us when that creed has no support for itself.”
I very much appreciate the contributions made by that wonderful
man of God, Thomas Armitage, and I think our Baptists in the
First, Armitage and those who, like him, oppose creeds and
confessions seem to not recognize that creeds differ little from
commentaries, written sermons, and Bible studies, as aids to learning
and as tools that help to clarify doctrinal truths in the minds of
God’s people. Though
creeds can be misused and substituted for real faith in Christ and
personal study of the Bible, they can also be a very helpful device for
the babe in Christ and to clearly define Christian doctrine to those who
are not believers.
For reasons I am not clear about, Armitage and other Baptists of
the 19th century did not seem to recall that for some 1700 previous
years of Christian history, and for 400 years of English speaking
Baptist history in both the
I am of the opinion that when Baptists used creeds they were the
stronger for it, and I believe there to be some correlation between the
disuse of creeds by Baptists these days and their spiritual weakness and
doctrinal ignorance. Baptists
these days simply do not know what to believe, which is to say that they
don’t really believe much at all.
The proper use of creeds would, I think, greatly help any church
that employed them. This is
why our church kids have been taught Spurgeon’s Catechism for several
years; just another way to teach them Baptist doctrine.
Let us purpose in our minds not to be afraid of a useful tool
just because it is new to us. Over
time our hands will learn to grip the unfamiliar tool and use it to
effectively serve God.
Remember, this tool may seem strange for our hands to grip, but
it is not a new tool. Neither
is it an untested and untried tool.
Throughout most of Christian history Baptists and others have
made effective use of this tool we call a creed.
Do you value it more than God’s Word?
Then you misuse it and make it a shameful idol.
Do you place no value on it whatsoever?
Then you are a craftsman who refuses to use a hammer or a saw, a
chisel or a plane, which only increases the difficulty of your task.
My recommendation is that one use of a creed is as a level would
be used, or as a compass would be used, to quickly evaluate whether a
doctrine is true to God’s Word as to inclination or direction.
We will use a portion of The Apostle’s Creed in this fashion
after brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we sing.
Please stand at this time.
There are a number of ways in which a creed or a confession can
be used, without ever using a creed or a confession as any kind of
substitute for God’s Word.
Some old English Baptists used Baptist confessions to defend
themselves from false accusations.
Other Baptists adopted confessions as rallying documents for
others of like faith and practice to agree upon.
Still other creeds were written to stand against dangerous
heresies. Finally, some
confessions were written to serve as instructional guides to provide
doctrinal training for children and those newly come into the faith.
First, THE HISTORY OF THE APOSTLE’S CREED
creed generally emphasizes the beliefs opposing those errors that the
compilers of the creed think most dangerous at the time. . . The
Apostles’ Creed, drawn up in the first or second century, emphasizes
the true Humanity, including the material body, of Jesus, since that is
the point that the heretics of the time (Gnostics, Marcionites, and
later Manicheans) denied.”
A.D. 180, Roman Christians developed an early form of the Apostles’
Creed. . . . They affirmed that the God of creation is the Father of
Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified under
Pontius Pilate, was buried and raised from the dead, and ascended into
heaven, where he rules with the Father.
They also affirmed belief in the Holy Spirit, the church, and the
resurrection of the body.
Second, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE APOSTLE’S CREED
Apostle’s Creed is important for at least three significant reasons:
First, the Apostle’s Creed is the most famous of all the creeds
adopted by early Christians in response to errors that were creeping
into their congregations.
We see evidence in some New Testament
epistles, such as Galatians, Colossians, First John and Jude, that false
teachers were confusing believers and attempting to overturn God’s
truth and lead them astray.
While the apostles were still alive
they confronted and rebuked those who listened to the heretics, and
directed others to do the same, as we see in Titus 1.13, where Paul
urges Titus to rebuke Christians who listened to those they should not
have listened to: “Wherefore
rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.”
After the apostles left the scene the dangers did not diminish,
but a new strategy had to be devised to combat the errors that swept
through Christendom. One of
the methods adopted was the use of the creed, the most famous being the
Second, the Apostle’s Creed was a means whereby new converts
could be indoctrinated with universally accepted Scriptural truths and
guarded against succumbing to heresies:
No two pastors teach their congregations exactly the same truths,
or with the same emphasis. This
is due to different life experiences, different training, different
spiritual gifts, different people, and so on.
Nevertheless, there are great truths in the Christian faith about
which everyone ought to be agreed.
There are certain things that no one who is an orthodox
Christian, a really historical Christian, would ever think of denying.
When it comes to standing up for the
doctrine of the trinity of the Godhead and the humanity of Jesus Christ,
The Apostle’s Creed has got to be foremost.
So, for more than 1700 years The Apostle’s Creed has been
accepted by Christians everywhere as a minimum statement of faith, a
minimum declaration of belief. If
a supposed new convert could not in good conscience subscribe to the
declaration of this creed he was not, and he should not, be welcomed
into a congregation as a new believer.
Third, the Apostle’s Creed was a means whereby Christian
orthodoxy could stand together united against heresies.
I am a Baptist, but it should be recognized that Baptists are not
the only ones on earth who subscribe wholeheartedly to the Christian
faith. Saleema, the
Pakistani girl I have mentioned so frequently, is almost certainly not a
Baptist. But is she not a
young Christian woman of astonishing grace and commitment?
What about the Anglicans, John Wesley
and George Whitefield, and Martin Luther, and John Knox, and Hudson
Taylor, the missionary to
First, and most importantly, they have in common with us the Lord
Jesus Christ. Next, they
have in common with us the faith once delivered to the saints, as it is
expressed in the Bible. But
they also have in common with us several expressions of the essence of
our faith, one of which is The Apostle’s Creed.
Thus, while not everyone who
subscribes to The Apostle’s Creed is genuinely converted, it can be
most emphatically declared that those who do
not subscribe to The Apostle’s Creed are simply not
Christians as Christians have always been and as Christians have always
The Apostle’s Creed, then, is a very
important line of demarcation drawn in the dirt.
Stand on this side of the Creed and you may very well be a
Christian. Stand on that
side and you most definitely are not a Christian.
Third, PAST DEPARTURES FROM THE APOSTLE’S CREED
to know what kind of people refused to subscribe to the Apostle’s
Creed in days gone by? I
have already mentioned Gnostics, Marcionites and Manicheans, so let me
tell you a little more about these three groups.
First, there is Gnosticism.
Gnosticism was “An early Greek religious movement of broad
proportions that was particularly influential in the second-century
church. Many bible
interpreters see in certain NT documents (such as 1 John) the attempt to
answer or refute Gnostic teaching.
The word gnosticism
comes from the Greek term gnosis,
meaning ‘knowledge.’ Gnostics
believed that devotees had gained a special kind of spiritual
enlightenment, through which they had attained a secret or higher level
of knowledge not accessible to the uninitiated.
Gnostics also tended to emphasize the spiritual realm of the
material, often claiming that the material realm is evil and hence to be
“Gnostics were ‘people who knew’, and their knowledge at
once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and
future status was essentially different from that of those who, for
whatever reason, did not know.”
Next, there is Marcionism. “The
movement began with Marcion in the second century, which rejected the
validity of the OT witness for Christians because the God of the OT was
believed to be incompatible with the loving God revealed through Jesus.
Often persons who focus on the NT in their preaching or teaching
and who overlook the OT as the ‘cradle’ for Jesus and the Christian
faith (and hence who fail to give proper credence to the
‘Jewishness’ of Jesus and the early church) are accused of
Third, there were the Manicheans.
“At its peak, Manicheism could be found from
such errors as Gnosticism, Marcionism and Manicheism affecting churches
everywhere, the Apostle’s Creed was formulated to concisely state
those Christian doctrines which were under attack by those groups.
The Creed proved to be a very effective tool in blunting the
assault of these Satan-inspired groups on Christian congregations.
I Want To Conclude With TODAY’S DEPARTURES FROM THE APOSTLE’S
this point I have spoken about the Apostle’s Creed.
Now we will actually examine it.
We haven’t the time remaining to examine the entire Creed, so I
would like to concentrate on the first of its three parts.
Please look at the back of your bulletin, where the Apostle’s
Creed is reproduced.
would like to warn you about three modern day departures from the
Christian faith related to God the Father:
First, notice how each of the three
assertions of the Creed begin: “I
believe in God . . . And in Jesus Christ . . . I believe in the Holy
Ghost . . . .”
I will not prove it to you, since it is such a widespread disease
that you cannot help but see it yourself, but will only remind you of
it. People these days
believe that belief without any connection to something or someone
believed in is either appropriate or somehow beneficial.
There is even a so-called Christian song with words that go
something like, “Only believe, only
believe. All things are
possible if you only believe.” Such
a view of faith is utter nonsense.
I am reminded of the senior citizens in a bus accident on the way
Contemporary Christianity has departed from historical orthodoxy,
has removed itself from our 2000 year old faith, because modern day
evangelicals, and even fundamentalists, are of the personal conviction
that faith, in and of itself, faith, without the triune God for its
object, is somehow beneficial. No,
it is not. To think that
faith without the triune God as its object is in any way beneficial
disagrees with the Creed, showing the one disagreeing is not a
Next, notice that the Creed affirms
the First Person’s fatherhood of the Second Person:
“I believe in God the Father . . . And in Jesus Christ his only
Son . . . .”
There is a serious error moving about Christendom these days, and
it is propagated by the MacArthur
Study Bible. It
is a denial of the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ.
And though John MacArthur now claims that he no longer holds to
the error of denying that Jesus has always been the Son of God from
eternity past, he did not so believe when the MacArthur
Study Bible was printed.
Let me read Psalm 2.7 to you:
“I will declare the decree: the LORD
hath said unto me, Thou art
my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
Now, let me read MacArthur’s footnote on that verse:
“This recalls 2 Sam.7:8-16 as the basis for the Davidic king.
It is also the only OT reference to the Father/Son relationship
in the Trinity, a
relationship planned in eternity past and realized in the incarnation,
thus a major part of the NT.”
This footnote implies that Jesus was
not the Son of God before the incarnation.
That would mean God did not send His Son, but someone who would
become His Son. By denying
that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, it is also denied that the First
Person is also the eternal Father of the Son.
But what has the contemporary Christian community said about
MacArthur’s Study Bible note? Virtually
I hold in my hand a copy of
Sonship Of Christ, by George
Zeller and Renald Showers, one of two small, but very good books, I know
of, written on the subject. But
by and large evangelicalism is absolutely silent on this.
No objections and no outcries.
Fundamental Baptists are also silent on the subject, with one
pastor of a very large church starting a Bible college without knowing
where he stood on the subject when I brought
it up to him. Imagine!
Starting a Bible college and yet not knowing whether or not he
believed in the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ.
Back in the days when the Creed was more widely used, not only
would that fellow not have been able to start a Bible college, and not
only would he not have been able to pastor a church, . . . he would not
then have been allowed to join a church!
So, is it safe to say that evangelical Christianity has fallen
short of the mark, and that even Baptist fundamentalists are wide of the
mark, if these examples are typical?
I would say so.
Finally, notice that the Creed says,
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
Throughout history this assertion would have been unanimously
accepted as a testimony to the accuracy and precision of the Genesis
account of creation, that God created the heaven and the earth in six
But now we have a phenomenon sweeping the country called theistic
evolution, which believes that each day in Genesis chapter one actually
refers to hundreds of millions of years.
This theory, which is strongly advocated by a fellow named Hugh
Ross, an astronomer supposedly converted to Christianity, rests upon the
existence of death and destruction in God’s creation before the Fall
of mankind into sin, completely overturning what the Bible teaches about
God’s creative work.
Yet who do we see on the back cover of
one of Ross’ books in support of his theory?
Bill Bright, president and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ,
David Hocking, former pastor of the Calvary Church in Santa Ana and
nationally known author, the late Harold Lindsell, former editor of Christianity
Today, and Earl Radmacher, former president of the Western
Conservative Baptist Seminary.
Folks, these are some of the most notable Christian leaders in
Christianity is going through a dark hour of apostasy, when even
the most conservative Christians stand at odds with the Apostle’s
Creed, a Christian confession that could be 1800 years old!
When you decide where you are going to stand, who will you stand
with? Will you stand with
the compromising evangelicals of the 21st century, or will you stand
with Christians down through the ages who
believed the Bible, and knew the Bible well enough to describe what they
To get saved from your sins you have to have faith, but it must
be a faith which is fixed in a proper Object.
God’s Word shows us that the proper Object of faith is Jesus
Christ, the Son of God.
As well, the relationship between the First Person of the triune
Godhead and the Second Person of the triune Godhead is now, and always
has been, from eternity past, one of Father and Son.
To save sinners from their sins, the Father sent His Son, not
someone who would change into His Son.
This is what is meant in Malachi 3.6:
“I am the LORD,
I change not.” And this
is what is meant when Hebrews 13.8 declares, “Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
Finally, it is important to believe the Genesis account of
creation, that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, and that He made
the heaven and the earth the way He said He did in Genesis chapter 1.
Is God’s word true? Can
God be relied upon to know what He did before any of us were born?
I think so. I know
Albert Barnes, Albert
Barnes’ NT Commentary, (
 John 14.6
 Acts 4.12
 Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 428.
 Thomas Armitage, “Baptist Faith and Practice” in C. A. Jenkyns, Ed., Baptist Doctrines (Chancy R. Barns: St. Louis, 1882), page 34.
 Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 56.
 Grenz, page 75.
 See footnote for Psalm 2.7 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1956.