We sang “This I Believe” in our men’s group. The song is based on the Apostle’s Creed and the linked version is from Hillsong.1
Both the Apostles’ creed and “This I Believe” say I believe many times.
Is that just a list of facts to believe? You may have heard the statements in the Apostle’s Creed as cold intellectual truths. I know I used to. But there’s quite a difference between assenting to cold facts and saying “Yes!” to a truth that our life depends on.
If someone says, “Atlantic City is the capital of New Jersey,” not much is at stake in whether that is true or not. 2 But what if I were driving a fully loaded 18-wheeler towards an old one lane bridge across a deep gorge. Can it support me and my load? To go across that bridge is to trust it with my life.
That second kind of belief, trusting with our lives, is the kind of belief sung about in “This I Believe.” Full-bodied genuine Christian belief is much deeper than simply saying “Yes” to some facts, and “This I Believe” takes what might only remain as head knowledge and transforms it into wonderful warm praise.
How do we get that kind of heartfelt belief? In certain circles you are ordered to believe each point in the Apostle’s Creed … or else. You must persuade yourself to believe and confess each of the points or you are in trouble.
But that attempt at self-persuasion is futile because we can only truly grasp these truths by faith. And that faith is itself a gift from God. In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
We have been rescued from sin and death by faith in what Jesus accomplished in being crucified on the cross for our sin and then brought back to life. And as we follow Christ today, we continue by faith. By faith, we trust our lives to the God who gave us the creed’s truths:
I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the resurrection, that we will rise again. I believe Jesus rose again. I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The preceding truths all focus on our personal relationship with God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But now consider these truths:
I believe in the saint’s communion and in your holy church.
Here, we have union with Christ —– we join the faith and life of everyone who has ever loved Jesus —- in the unity of the Holy Spirit. God is invisible and we demonstrate our belief in this unseen God by loving real life people. Real life people whose flaws start to disgust us — until we look in the mirror!
That’s when the great theological truths of the apostles’ creed stop being only abstract and cerebral. God is the God who changes us. The creed comes alive as we live out the Lord’s command to Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32.)
- Atlantic City is not the capital, Trenton is