The Apostles ‘ Creed (12th Day of Christmas)

Apostles CreedThe Apostles’ Creed does not mean the Apostles wrote it, rather it states the fundamental truths of Scripture as given to us through the apostles. It is said to have been formalized by the Second Century but began to take shape with the Apostles as a Baptismal Confession of Faith. This is reverently spoken in many denominations which hold traditional values. It is however becoming a rarely spoken Confession in most Baptist churches today which is odd considering it was a Confession of Faith spoken by those about to be baptized.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (some use Christian) church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Twelve Tenants of Faith

  1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

We have a God that has a personal relationship with us. We are His Creation, His Children by heavenly adoption through His Mercy and Grace. It is He who created us, judges us, and saves us.

  1. and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

We believe in Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God. He is God Incarnate, Immanuel Savior, Redeemer. Jesus is fully God and fully man and the Way into heaven. He is our lawyer and our substitute who receives our punishment for our sins.

  1. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary;

The seed by which Jesus was conceived was not of this world but of the Holy Spirit, God’s Breath. Born of a sexually pure young woman (translated to Virgin), Jesus was born without sin.

  1. suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

Christians teach that the death of Christ was for the purpose of making propitiation for our sin, reconciling us to God, and paying the price for our sins in our place. This is essential to the understanding of how Jesus is able to do what He does in our lives. He had to be sacrificed to make amends for our sin.

  1. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

So is the final mission of Christ while on earth. To defeat death’s hold over us due to our sinful nature. It is crucial to the understanding of the nature of Christ, the importance of His death for our atonement, and what will happen to us after death. It is because He rose from the dead in His physical but elevated form, the Spirit in the flesh.

  1. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

Just as the Death and Resurrection are essential, the Ascension is vital to the faith because He returned to the Father to take His place at the witness stand next to God’s judgement throne. This is where He will witness us to the Father and erase our sins by speaking in our place. 

  1. from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

AS Jesus continues to watch over the flock we are judged. Jesus judges the living in matters of the heart (repentant heart) and of our faith activity after we die. The final judgement spoken here is upon Jesus return to earth He will reward the faithful and destroy the wicked.

  1. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The Holy Spirit, Breath of God, Third Person of the Trinity is the Helper, Comforter, Savior, that dwells within us. He is revealed by our faith through the regeneration of our soul. The Holy Spirit grants us the Gifts/Fruit by which we are known as Believers. There is no peace within us without the Holy Spirit.

  1. the holy catholic church, the communion of Saints,

The One Church Body of Jesus Christ. In other words, all Believers are part of the same Body IN Christ. The catholic spoken here is non-specific to the Roman Catholic Church but the people, the Believers, the One Church with One Mission, and Many Gifts to accomplish it. The word catholic means “universal. The church is not the “New Israel” and we did not take the place of Israel as the nation is still God’s chosen. We are, however, an extension of Israel through our faith and belief in Jesus Christ who took over the mission that the Jews could not do.

The communion of Saints has nothing to do with the sacrament. It is the coming together in one accord as Believers in Jesus to worship, fellowship, and conduct the work of the Kingdom here on earth. When God created Adam and Eve, He had communion with them. Meaning He had a close personal relationship with them and worked with them to learn more about Him. When we commune with each other, we develop relationships, learn from one another about God’s relationship in our lives.

  1. the forgiveness of sins,

Christ pardons the sins of His people by His free grace. We are forgiven by the Blood of Jesus but we must Repent of our sins. That is, we must recognize that we are filled with sinful nature, admit to our sins and the lack of being able to rid ourselves of them eternally without the sacrifice of Jesus. Without Repentance there is no forgiveness. Another piece of this is:  “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

(Mark 11:26 NAS) Meaning, if you cannot forgive, you will not be forgiven.

  1. the resurrection of the body,

Not the Physical body as we see each other right now but a Spiritual body that leaves the flesh yet in the form of the flesh and either goes to heaven or damnation. Resurrection of the “Spiritual” body is at the instance of death. We are not held in waiting as the ancient Hebrews believed but taken up upon the earthly shells death. Yes, Sheol is real as those before Christ could not truly save themselves and they awaited the Messiah to bring them to the Father for their reward. Yes Hell is real as the place of eternal torment. The Spirit goes the direction of the Judgement.

  1. and life everlasting. Amen.

The Spirit body, once again, is eternal and lives forever either in peace or in torment dependent on how the life was lived in the body. If repentance was made truthfully then the Spirit lives with God, If there was no repentance then the Spirit suffers in the darkness away from God.

The Apostles’ Creed is an important extra biblical document that should not be overlooked or forgotten as it has been part of the faith since the beginnings of the church. Saying it is one thing, believing the basis behind it is another. This Statement of Faith should be on all Believers hearts upon Baptism and spoken as a reminder of the tenants of faith.

So ends the 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany begins tomorrow. This celebration begins with the Wise Men visiting the Christ Child and not reporting back to Herod thereby saving Jesus life.

This coming week we will begin looking into the Didache, the teachings of the Apostles and an early guide to presenting the Gospel to the masses. God Bless you all.

Fruit of the Spirit (9th Day of Christmas)

Fruit of the Spirit

 I heard someone ask, “Why are they called fruits, they are not something we eat because there is no physical nourishment that comes from these?”. Well actually we do have physical reactions to the Spiritual Fruit but first let’s examine what is the fruit of the Spirit:   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.. Galatians 5:22-23

The Spirit within is a healthy Spirit when these emotions and actions are produced by the Believer and shared with others. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness all produce a physical response of happiness and gratitude. When we are happy, the body responds in kind and the health improves. It is a scientific fact that the human bodily functions are connected with emotion.

Why does it take a scientist or a doctor to tell us something is healthy when it is written in Scripture. The Old Testament, written by scribes who dictated what the Holy Spirit spoke to them, has numerous indicators of healthy living and how emotional responses heal or destroy the human body. The biggest destroyer of our health is sin. God’s defense mechanism came from the physical reaction of sacrifice which made individuals feel better after they had the feeling of regret, then prayed for healing to make themselves feel better. The joy of knowing that God would forgive produced happiness.

 The ritual bathing which transformed into Baptism was also a means of good health. The ritual bath water was constantly flowing so there was no stagnation which would breed harmful bacteria. This washing was done for many reasons to include disease, viruses, and after the menstrual cycle. It kept the body healthy. Not one Levitical priest was allowed to enter the Tabernacle without the ritual washing. In fact, no one who was of ill health could bring a sacrifice without first outwardly cleansing the body.

David understood the need to be cleansed before entering the presence of God when he worshipped in prayerful song:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51

 The fruits of the Spirit are evident within David’s plea for God’s Mercy on his Soul. He understood it was not the physical sacrifices of burnt offerings but the internal peace from pouring out to God. So the Spiritual Fruit does nourish our souls and our bodies.

This year as we begin anew, let us be nourished with the fruit of the Spirit as we find our Spiritual Gifts in order to receive the blessings from our attitudes by which God is pleased in us and sends blessings. Have a safe and joyous New Year.

Seventh Day Of Christmas: Seven Swans of the Spirit

Seven Swans

According to the Catholic Church for whose youth the song was written these are the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Every person has a unique ability about them. Some have a mish mosh of trades they can do but have one special thing that they use extremely well. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well the Holy Spirit has given each of us a gift that we use in everything we do. It is that one unique part of us that most people hardly ever recognize that is within us. Peter exclaims this in his first letter:  

10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God’s many-sided grace — 11 if someone speaks, let him speak God’s words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah — to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Some folks find their gifts and abuse them by using them for their own gain. In the long run they find that they lack a certain joy and happiness because they misused what was divinely given and their soul actually suffers. Somehow God still uses them but makes them realize their faults when others are given joy as they suffer. I know it sounds mean but it is God’s way of talking karma.

But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8

Paul tells us of the Spiritual Gifts and using them for God’s Glory. Do not prophesy falsely for you will lose others trust; Serve others without need for recognition; Teach right and proper, morally, ethically, and spiritually correct; Counsel others comforting their soul and leading them on a right path; Givers give without recognition and not because they have to or coerced into giving, but because they want to; Lead not with an iron fist or falsehoods but so that others will follow for the right reasons and not your own gain; Those who are compassionate be so without a contrite heart showing and sharing God’s Grace to all mankind.  

To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of these gifts: Wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; working of miracles; prophecy; judge between spirits; speak in different kinds of tongues; and interpret tongues. Each one is given by the spirit to share God’s Word in unique ways.

To one, through the Spirit, is given a word of wisdom; to another, a word of knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, by the same Spirit; and to another, gifts of healing, by the one Spirit; 10 to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the ability to judge between spirits; to another, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues; and to yet another, the ability to interpret tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit is at work in all these things, distributing to each person as he chooses. I Corinthians 12:8-11

The Holy Spirit chooses each individual gift by deciding when and who they go to. Some gifts are permanently sealed on us while others are temporary. Now as a note, the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues (languages) and interpret (translate) them is the ability to speak, understand and share in other earthly languages to spread the Gospel throughout the world preparing Christians for missional work.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are ingrained in us so that we can do God’s work and complete the Great Commission to the world while keeping separate from being of the world. These gifts help us clear our minds to do what God desires of us and helps rid us of earthly desires and prepares us for His Kingdom. We still need to live in the world but that is only temporary. We must Live in the Spirit, Recognize, and Share our gifts of the Spirit with others to accomplish our task on this earth. Be gracious to others as God has shown His Grace to you. Love as God Loves and give of yourself. Strive to be better Christians this coming year so that we can show the Kingdom of God on this earth.

God Bless