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May 2019



      I Believe (Part III): The Nicene Creed


            In examining how we worship and why, last month we continued our series on the Confession of faith; this common but important aspect of our worship service where we confidently confess before God and each other what it is that we believe as Christians.

            In April we looked at the history behind the formulation of the Apostles’ Creed. This month we’ll take a look at the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed is the second most popular confession of faith in the history of the church, and, like the Apostles Creed, it was formulated as a reaction to a heresy (false teaching). However, as we’ll see, it wasn’t the church that initiated the formulation of this creed. It was actually a Roman Emperor. His name was Constantine.

            In 312, while readying his troops to attack the city of Rome so that he might take over as emperor, Constantine claimed to have seen a vision of a cross in the sky along with the words “In this you shall conquer.” Constantine took this as a vision from the God of the Christians and he ordered his troops to put the sign of the cross on their shields. The next day Constantine and his troops were victorious in the battle of Milvian bridge. He was then made emperor of Rome and a year later he signed the Edict of Milan, which ended the persecution of the church. However, even at this time, there was trouble brewing that looked like it could destroy the harmony within the church, something that Constantine was eager to put an end to. Pastor Jerry Moan, in his introduction to the Nicene Creed explains the situation like this:

In the year A.D. 325, the emperor Constantine, troubled by the lack of harmony within the church, convened a church council in the Asian city of Nicaea. A dispute had erupted about the deity of Christ. A teacher from Alexandria, Egypt, named Arius argued that Jesus was actually a created being who did not exist as true God from all eternity. The Council of Nicaea condemned this Arian heresy, reaffirming the scriptural teaching of Christ’s full deity and His oneness with the Father. The Bible presents Jesus the Son as true God in every respect, being “of one substance with the Father.” Luther called this Nicene Council “the most sacred of all councils.”

            Unfortunately, the battle against Arianism didn’t end at the Council of Nicaea. Rather, it would continue for several more decades, and you’ll still see some remnants of it today. However, in the end the truth of scripture triumphed (and will always triumph) and we continue to confess this truth today, “[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made: Who for us, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, And was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven, And is seated on the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.”

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples, “’Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” May this be our confession of what we believe, not just in our heads but with our hearts.  

Pastor Gideon


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