“And In Jesus Christ His Only Son”
1. The second Psalm is clearly a Messianic psalm. In Psalm 2.7, we read the words of the pre incarnate Christ, in which He rehearses the words spoken to Him by God the Father: “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
2. Last week I introduced The Apostle’s Creed to you. For many of you it was your first exposure to The Apostle’s Creed, one of the earliest, and certainly the best known, of all the creeds of Christendom. I also provided some background history related to the development of The Apostle’s Creed and the reason for its formulation as a tool used to oppose the Gnostic heresy, the Marcionite heresy, and the Manichean heresy.
3. Though we are now some 1700+ years removed from the time The Apostle’s Creed was formulated, and the Gnostic heresy, and the Marcionite heresy, no longer exist as formal religions that pose any open threat to Christianity, and the Manichean heresy is but a relic and empty shell of a religion, their particular brands of error are very much alive and active in the 21st century, still being advanced by the Devil to subvert the faith once delivered to the saints.
4. Allow me to illustrate by means of some oversimplification: The Gnostic heresy can be grossly simplified to be described as, in effect, a religion based upon salvation coming about by the application of knowledge. The Gnostics thought that by their superior knowledge they could attain to some level of spiritual well being. But I find that same philosophy creeping into our churches in the form of what two experts describe as “mentally believing Christian doctrine” as a means of getting saved. So, there is one aspect of the ancient Gnostic heresy that is still creeping into our churches; sinners depending upon what you might call “doctrinal belief,” or depending upon knowledge, as a basis for thinking they are saved from their sins.
5. Here’s another illustration: Marcion was of the opinion, still greatly simplifying now, that the God of the New Testament as revealed by Jesus is a God of love, while the God of the Old Testament is a God of Law and a God of wrath. However, is not that same general view advanced by modern day antinomian preachers who will not preach Law to sinners, but who seek to bring the lost to Christ by the exclusive means of preaching God’s goodness and God’s love? And this despite Paul’s pronouncement, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith,” Galatians 3.24. How different are most modern day preachers from Marcionites, who have in effect turned their backs on the powerful Law preaching of the apostles, of the Reformers, of the Puritans, and of our Baptist forefathers?
6. Finally, there were the Manicheans. Listen to what one expert, Dr. Kenneth Johnson, writes about Manicheaism: “The Manicheans were the followers Mani. Mani was a Persian who, about 252 AD, mixed Christianity with Gnosticism and other Persian elements. He states his teaching was from Christ and the Persian Magi.” He also points out that among other beliefs, Manicheans did not believe that Jesus was a real man with flesh. But do not many who claim to be Christians today believe that Jesus is not risen from the dead in a glorified human body of flesh, but testify that He now exists as a spirit, despite what the New Testament clearly teaches in numerous passages?
7. So, our short review of the dangerous errors The Apostle’s Creed was formulated to combat to keep the Christian faith pure in doctrine and practice, reveals to us that the dangers that existed centuries ago remain today. Errors abound. Doctrinal laxity persists. Reasons for making use of The Apostle’s Creed remain.
8. Now, before this morning’s sermon, allow me to refresh your memories concerning that first portion of The Apostle’s Creed that we looked at last week, concerning God the Father.
9. My assertion was that contemporary evangelical Christianity (the kind so many progressive Baptists yearn to imitate in so many ways) is no longer orthodox because, with respect to three areas, contemporary evangelicalism does not measure up to the Creed’s declaration about God the Father.
10. First, contemporary evangelicalism too frequently adheres to a faith without a proper Object. But faith without a proper Object is no faith at all.
11. Second, contemporary evangelicalism has been criminally silent in the face of assaults on the doctrine of the eternal Fatherhood of the First Person of the godhead and the eternal Sonship of the Second Person of the godhead.
12. And finally, key evangelical leaders have endorsed (without opposition from their peers) the day-age theory advanced by Hugh Ross, which denies the Genesis account of creation.
13. Thus, I think I made a strong case last week that evangelicalism (and too many “fundamental” Baptists who are theological quislings) would choke if they collectively tried to swallow the first part of The Apostle’s Creed, which reads, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” And after a week of thinking about it, I am sure I made a strong case. Evangelical Christianity does not measure up to the ancient standard of The Apostle’s Creed with regard to their beliefs about God the Father.
14. Now, as brother Isenberger prepares to come, after we stand and sing I will show how the second part of The Apostle’s Creed causes many modern day evangelicals no end of trouble. Let us stand at this time.
1. Reminding ourselves that The Apostle’s Creed wields no scriptural authority of any kind, but is a summary document that reflects a consensus of collective Christian opinion over 1700 years of history, let us also reserve the right to consider the opinions of those in the faith who have lived and died before us.
2. Just as no one can force us to make use of any creed, so ought no one be allowed to deny us the right and proper use of a creed such as this to protect ourselves, to instruct ourselves, and to clarify in our own minds what Christians have always believed about certain vital topics.
3. Those things said, we now turn to that portion of The Apostle’s Creed which deals most directly with the Lord Jesus Christ: “And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
4. There are three portions of this part of the Creed which deals with the Lord Jesus Christ:
1A. First, THERE IS THAT PORTION OF THE CREED DEALING WITH WHO JESUS IS
The Apostle’s Creed begins, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord”
1B. Gnostics believed that spirit was good and matter was inherently evil, despite the fact that God pronounced His material creation to be “very good” in Genesis 1.31. So The Creed begins by declaring that the Father Almighty created the material universe, and also declares that Jesus Christ is both His only Son and also our Lord.
2B. Why does The Creed make this assertion? The Gnostics held that Jesus and the Christ were two separate individuals, one being material and the other being spirit. They taught that when Jesus was baptized the Christ came upon Him and remained on Him only until His crucifixion. Thus, they believed that the Spirit had only a brief and tenuous association with matter and with humanity.
3B. By reading “And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord” the Creed denies anyone the pleasure of walking on both sides of this issue. Genuine Christians, orthodox Christians, see Jesus Christ for Who He really is, God’s only Son, Who is our Lord. He is not some composite being composed of two separate persons. Rather, He is one Lord Who has two natures, one divine and one human, without either being diminished by the other.
2A. Next, THERE IS THAT PORTION OF THE CREED DEALING WITH WHAT JESUS DID
It continues, “who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty”
1B. First, there is the incarnation of Jesus Christ
“who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary”
1C. These two phrases are another swipe at Gnosticism, bringing together the Spirit of God and the virgin Mary, spirit and matter, to achieve the miracle of the incarnation. But this portion of the Creed also stands against two rapidly growing contemporary errors.
2C. On the one hand, there are the liberal Christians who deny the supernatural and insist that Jesus was only a man and nothing more than a man, the product of human sexuality. You cannot hold to that and at the same time be in agreement with The Apostle’s Creed.
3C. On the other hand, there are the Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ and of Latter Day Saints. They do not believe that the Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin Mary and the means whereby the eternal Son of God assumed human flesh and became a man, though this is what the Bible plainly declares. “A body thou hast prepared me,” Hebrews 10.5 reads.
4C. I read the statements of two Mormon “apostles”: “Brigham Young stated, ‘The birth of the Saviours (sic) was a (sic) natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood, was begotten of his Father, as we were of our father” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 115). Mormon Apostle McConkie explained, ‘And Christ was born into the world as a literal Son this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. (emphasis added) He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events (Mormon Doctrine, p. 742).”
5C. No real Christian can agree with those statements. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ stands as one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. Yet neither Christian liberals, such as those so-called “scholars” we read about who contribute to “The Jesus Seminar,” nor “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” the Mormons, believe in and stand for this historical and important foundational truth upon which the Christian faith rests.
2B. Next, there is the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Creed continues, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried”
1C. Roman, Greek, and Babylonian mythology have stories about gods who died and were resurrected. So, the notion that someone divine died and then rose from the dead is not a novel idea. What is unique about Biblical Christianity is the historical basis, the specific references to the time, the place, and the circumstances of our Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.
2C. Pontius Pilate was a real man who held an appointed office as the Procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 A. D., or during the last ten years of the reign of the emperor Tiberius. Thus, the Christian faith is quite unlike, say, Greek mythology, which held that Adonis died, but who knows when or where, or under what historically verifiable circumstances?
3C. Then, of course, there are the liberals, who will even deny that Jesus actually died on the cross. Their explanation for the resurrection is that He wasn’t dead when He was taken down from the cross, only unconscious, whereupon He later revived. This, they say, is what caused His disciples to think that He had risen from the dead. Finally, there are the moslems, who deny that Jesus was crucified at all.
4C. But the Bible teaches, The Apostle’s Creed agrees, and true Christians recognize, that Jesus did die, at a point in history, at a specific location, under known circumstances, by the authority of a man named Pontius Pilate. His death came about after He had been crucified. He was then buried. It was not the Jesus Who died and was buried after the Christ departed at the time of the crucifixion. Oh, no. The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and bled and died, and was then buried.
5C. What is proven by His death? His humanity. Jesus died because He could die. And He could die because He was fully man. Keep in mind that Jesus was an in-the-flesh man Who died.
3B. Third, there is the place of the Lord Jesus Christ after His death and before His resurrection
The Creed says that after He died “he descended into hell.”
1C. Listen very carefully, because only two weeks ago a pastor revealed to me via an e-mail that he did not know this very basic Bible truth that is contained in The Apostle’s Creed. When Jesus died His soul and His body separated, which is what physical death is.
2C. Where did His body go when He died, and where did His soul go when He died? When any man dies (and Jesus was a man) his body is left behind and his soul departs. When Jesus gave up the ghost on the cross at Calvary His body remained on the cross until the Romans certified that He was dead. Then they allowed Joseph of Arimathea to claim His body and bury it in his tomb.
3C. But where did the soul of Jesus go? Where was the soul of Jesus for three days and three nights, until it was time for His soul to be reunited with His body in a glorious resurrection? His soul went to Hell. The authority for making this claim is Psalm 16.10, a messianic psalm, which reads, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Simon Peter points out, during his Pentecostal sermon in Acts chapter 2, that this verse cannot apply to David, but must be understood to apply to the Lord Jesus Christ.
3C. But how, you might wonder, could the soul of Jesus go to Hell? Hell is a place of torment and damnation, is it not? No, it is not, if by the word “Hell” you are referring to Hades, which is the Greek word that refers to the abode of the dead. At the time Jesus died, Hell was a place of two occupied compartments; a place called by Jesus paradise, also referred to in Luke’s Gospel as Abraham’s bosom, which is where the souls of the righteous were sent upon death, and the other part of Hell, the place of torment and fire, where the unrighteous are sent upon death.
4C. The confusion about this subject arises from the fact that since Jesus rose from the dead and led captivity captive, which is to say that He took the souls of the righteous to heaven, Ephesians 4.8, paradise (or Abraham’s bosom) is now empty, with only that portion of Hell that is reserved for the unrighteous dead, and which is a place of fire and torment, still occupied. Thus, the word Hell has gradually taken on the more restricted meaning of that portion of Hell that is still occupied.
5C. So, the soul of Jesus did go to Hell when He died. But Jesus did not suffer in Hell, for two reasons: #1, His suffering for our sins ended on the cross. When Jesus said “It is finished,” He said those words because they were true. #2, His time in Hell was spent in that region of Hell wherein no suffering took place, Abraham’s bosom, or paradise.
6C. Obviously, this part of The Apostle’s Creed slams hard against the errors of Seventh Day Adventism and Jehovah’s Witnesses (who also deny the deity and eternity of Jesus). But, surprisingly, the doctrine of endless punishment, which is vitally connected to the existence of a place called Hell, is under assault in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism. You heard me correctly. Both evangelical Christians and more and more fundamentalists are getting wobbly on this issue of endless punishment and Hell.
7C. A man who once preached in this pulpit, the pastor of a very large church in Texas, said by e-mail some six months ago that he wondered whether or not there really was a place of fiery torment we call Hell. As well, Billy Graham has gone on record saying much the same thing.
8C. I think we all understand that when most people refer to Hell they are referring to that region of Hell reserved for the punishment of the damned, that place of torment and fire. But if more and more evangelicals are following the lead of Billy Graham, and if that Baptist pastor who once preached here (and who will never preach here again) is any indication of what is going on among fundamental Baptists, then you have to wonder how strongly held is the conviction that the soul of Jesus went to Hell when He died on the cross. The Creed says, “he descended into hell.” But what if you no longer believe in Hell? That is the direction many evangelicals and fundamentalists seem to be moving. If Hell is not a real place, as they are now saying more frequently, did the soul of Jesus not go to a real place for three days and three nights?
4B. Fourth, the Creed reads, “the third day he rose again from the dead.”
1C. In case you are in need of real clarity at this point, this refers to the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This means that He rose from the dead after three days and three nights as a flesh and bone man, and that He was not a spirit.
2C. Jesus, Himself, said after His resurrection, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” Luke 24.39.
3C. And did Jesus not challenge doubting Thomas to “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing,” John 20.27?
4C. Yet I contend that most members of most evangelical churches in the United States would answer with the word “spirit” if you asked them, “Did Jesus rise from the dead with a body or as a spirit?” My friends, if Jesus rose as a spirit what happened to His body? The import of the tomb being empty after the resurrection is as a demonstration that Jesus rose from the dead physically!
5C. Folks, half of the kids who attend our church tell me, when I ask them, that Jesus rose from the dead as a spirit. Yet it is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity that Jesus rose up in His glorified human body, a body that you can see and feel.
5B. Fifth, “he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty”
1C. There are too many verses that attest to this to recount now. I think I counted 28 verses the last time I checked. But it is one of the most strongly asserted truths in the entire Bible that Jesus ascended to heaven to the Father’s right hand, where He now is in a glorified human body.
2C. Yet all over America pastors exhort people to ask Jesus into their hearts in order to be saved. And all over America, church going people and others who claim they are Christians will tell you that “Jesus is everywhere,” when you ask them, “Where is Jesus right now?”
3C. And not only is Jesus presently in heaven, He has to be in heaven. For you see, the Father said to Jesus, “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool,” Psalm 110.1 and Hebrews 1.13.
4C. So, not only is the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven at this very moment, He has been there since His ascension 2000 years ago, and He has to be there until God the Father has made Christ’s enemies to be His footstool.
5C. What is to be said, then, in response to those preachers who urge sinners to invite Jesus into their hearts? And what is to be said to those professing Christians who insist that Jesus is floating around in the world, instead of being where the Bible says He is, instead of being where the Bible says He must be? My friends, what we see so much of these days is not orthodox Christianity!
6C. What passes for Christianity these days not only does not really know who Jesus is, they are ignorant of what He has done.
3A. Finally, THERE IS THAT PORTION DEALING WITH WHAT JESUS WILL DO
The Creed reads, “from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
This phrase states two things Jesus has not yet done, but will certainly do:
1B. First, this phrase indicates that Jesus will come again.
1C. Isn’t that wonderful? One of the most comforting things Jesus ever said was in John 14: “1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
2C. The first time Jesus came to earth He came as the lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world. But the second time He comes, which is referred to by this portion of the Creed, He will come as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, to save Israel from her enemies and to establish His millennial kingdom.
2B. And “to judge the quick and the dead.”
1C. That is, He will judge both the righteous and the unrighteous, both the saved and the lost, both those who have come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing and those who have not.
2C. When He judges the quick, it will be to reward believers for service rendered in the flesh. When He judges the dead, it will be to determine the severity of the punishment that will be meted out to those who will be cast into the lake of fire.
3C. This is really what those who say they don’t believe in Hell are striking out against. They are actually denying the doctrine of endless punishment. They are quite willing for God to let people into His heaven forever, but they are adamantly opposed to God punishing forever those who have rejected Christ and who He has found wanting. Could that be because they are Christ rejecters?
4C. Not only are such people, including more and more evangelicals and I fear fundamentalists as well, questioning the doctrine of endless punishment, but in so doing are challenging the very righteousness and holiness of God. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 25.46: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
5C. In this verse, the Lord Jesus Christ describes the duration of punishment for the unrighteous and the duration of bliss for the righteous. The two key words in this verse are the word “everlasting” and the word “eternal.” Each describes how long will be either the punishment of the damned or the paradise of the saved. But both English words translate the same Greek word, aiwnion. Thus, for however long the righteous will be in heaven enjoying his eternal life, the condemned soul will be suffering the torments of the lake of fire. And the severity of that damnation will be determined by Jesus Christ, the judge.
1. My friends, I suspect that there is a reason why so few churches these days pay any attention to any creeds or confessions of faith. It’s because so many congregations have departed so far from historical Christianity that any reference to creeds and confessions would only embarrass them.
2. Indeed, our examination of this portion of The Apostle’s Creed dealing with Who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will certainly do, greatly troubles me about the spiritual health and vitality of the evangelical world around us, and even the fundamental Baptists.
3. I do not see evangelical Christianity in the United States agreeing with The Apostle’s Creed. I do not see evangelical Christianity measuring up to the canon of the Creed regarding God the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ. This troubles me because I know of so many fundamental Baptists who are moving in the direction of evangelicalism, which suggests to me that they are moving farther and farther away from confessional orthodoxy.
4. Now, lest anyone discount the importance of creeds such as this, remember that there have been few men on earth who more urgently insisted on the new birth in their preaching than George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. Yet both of those men were confessional.
5. Rather than good confessions and creeds being a danger to people, our present situation would suggest to me that it is the absence of good creeds and confessions which poses a threat. And while a lost sinner is just as bound for Hell with a good creed memorized as without one, a good creed can provide a doctrinal framework that God can use to do a work of grace in a sinner’s life.
6. As well, a good creed can show men when they are deviant and in trouble. And this creed that we are looking at shows me that Christianity in the United States, both of the evangelical persuasion and the fundamental variety, can hardly be called Christianity at all.
 R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Preaching To A Dying Nation, (Los Angeles: Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle, 1999), page 225.
 Psalm 68.18; Mark 16.19; John 3.13; 6.62; Acts 1.9, 11; 2.33; Ephesians 4.8, 10; 1 Timothy 3.16; Hebrews 4.14; 7.26; 8.1; 9.24
 quis-ling n. a person who betrays his or her own country by aiding an invading enemy, often serving later in a puppet government; fifth columnist. (1940; after Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), pro-Nazi Norwegian leader). From Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1587.
 Abd El Schafi, Behind The Veil, page 179
 Matthew 27.57-60; Mark 15.42-46; Luke 23.50-54; John 19.31-44