This is the final week of our study of the Apostle’s Creed. I hope it has helped you better understand this great confession. I will put this week’s section in bold font:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker 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, 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.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
This final section is about the Holy Spirit and the work of the Spirit. The Spirit would later be given more attention. In this creed there is much assumed and it is quite vague, but for us it is about the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit, who proceeds from God the Father and the Son. It is the same Spirit who overshadowed the cosmic waters before creation in Genesis 1.2 and who filled the heart of Christians at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
The Spirit makes us holy like God. The Spirit unites us to God. The Spirit regenerates our soul so that we can be called “new creation”. It is the Spirit that will raise us from the dead one day as Romans 8.1-18 shows.
The Spirit creates “the holy catholic church.” This doesn’t mean “Roman Catholic” to us Protestant, though we should consider all of Christ’s children to be part of the church. Rather, “catholic” means universal. This part of the confession states that we affirm the holy (sanctified, set apart), universal church of God that goes beyond the divisions of geography, nationality, ethnicity, culture, socio-political identity, and gender to say the least. We are not “American” Christians or “Chinese” Christians, but “catholic” Christians. Our shared identity in Christ by the Spirit is what unites us. Other labels, even denominational labels, are secondary.
The “communion of the saints” is our way of saying we are part of the same family of Christians as those who have died and are buried and those who will come after we are dead and buried. In other words, time and death don’t separate us. We believe that God extents himself to us and keeps us alive in him until the resurrection when we receive new bodies. This means our siblings in Christ are alive in God and we are all part of the same church awaiting that great day.
We believe in the forgiveness of sins obtained for us on the cross by Christ. We do not have to worry that God will judge or reject us. We accept his Son’s work for us.
We affirm that we will receive resurrected bodies someday. Christians do not think we die and then remain disembodied spirits. We affirm the goodness of creation, the goodness of our bodies, and the goodness of physicality. Our hope is not merely to die and be with Christ, but to die and be with Christ in our new bodies as Paul said in 2 Corinthians.
Finally, once we have been raised from the dead we never have to fear death again. We have been promised life ever lasting. Eternal life. We will live with Christ forever,