The Nicene Creed.
Have you ever wondered why we profess the Nicene Creed every Sunday? Before I touch on that, let me make a comment on the word “creed.” It comes from the Latin word “credo” and means “I believe.” So every time you and I profess the Creed we declare what we believe about the foundations of the Christian faith.
So on to the Creed…
The Nicene Creed was formulated at the Council of Nicaea (present day Iznik, Turkey) in AD 325. St. Athanasius and many of his contemporary bishops agreed upon these orthodox beliefs to firmly challenge the heretical teachings of Arius on the nature of Jesus. Arius, a priest from Alexandria, denied that Jesus was truly divine. The Nicene Creed clearly and succinctly refutes this heresy. Then, in AD 381, the Council of Constantinople (present day Istanbul, Turkey) ratified and completed the Nicene Creed to include statements on the Holy Spirit, Church and eternal life.
For several significant reasons, we recite the Nicene Creed during every service. First, through the Creed we respond to the proclamation of the Word. It is another way we say “yes” and “amen” to the message of Scripture. Second, the Creed binds us with other believers on this journey of faith. Every brand and tradition of Christianity around the world holds to and proclaims the Nicene Creed. Third, every time we say the Creed we recommit to our belief and trust in God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and to the richness of our incomparable faith.
The Nicene Creed contains four theological movements. It begins with the nature of God and the first person of the Trinity, moves on to Jesus, the second person of the Trinity and then moves to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. After summarizing God’s nature, it describes the nature of the Church (ecclesiology), baptism for the forgiveness of sins (soteriology) and the resurrection of the dead and life eternal (eschatology).
For anyone who would like a deeper study of the Nicene Creed, I have included it and Scripture references below. Of course these do not exhaust the subject but they do offer a great place to begin study. If you take time to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, the Creed will come alive and hold out much more meaning the next time you say it. Oh, and your worship of God and Christ and Holy Spirit will flourish, too.
Scriptural basis that supports the Creed:
I believe in one God, (Mark 12:29, 12:32, Ephesians 4:6)
the Father almighty, (2 Corinthians 6:18) maker of heaven and earth, (Genesis 1:1, Revelation 4:11) of all things visible and invisible. (Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 11:3)
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:5)
the Only Begotten Son of God, (John 3:16) born of the Father before all ages. (Colossians 1:15, 1:17) God from God (John 1:1–2), Light from Light, (John 1:4, 1:9, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Hebrews 1:3) true God from true God, (1 John 5:20) begotten, not made (John 1:18), consubstantial with the Father (cf. 1 John 1:5 & John 1:4, 1:9); through him all things were made (John 1:3, 1:10, Colossians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Romans 11:36, Hebrews 1:10). For us men and for our salvation (Matthew 1:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Colossians 1:13–14) he came down from heaven, (John 3:13, 3:31, 6:38) and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:34–35), and became man (John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). For our sake he was crucified (1 Peter 2:24) under Pontius Pilate (Mark 15:15), he suffered death (Matthew 27:50) and was buried, (Matthew 27:59–60) and rose again on the third day (Mark 9:31, 16:9, Acts 10:40) in accordance with the Scriptures (Luke 24:45–46, 1 Corinthians 15:3–4). He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9) and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69). He will come again in glory (Mark 13:26, John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:17) to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 16:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:5)and his kingdom will have no end (Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:11).
I believe in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), the Lord, the giver of life, (John 6:63, 2 Corinthians 3:6)
who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) and the Son (John 16:7), who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, (2 Corinthians 3:8) who has spoken through the prophets (1 Peter 1:10–11, Ephesians 3:5).
I believe in one (1 Corinthians 10:16–17; 12:12–13; Ephesians 4:4),
holy (Ephesians 1:4; 3:16–17; 5:27; 1 Peter 2:9), catholic (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:2) and apostolic (Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14) Church (Matthew 16:18; Romans 12:4–5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; Ephesians 1:22–23; 4:5; Colossians 1:24).
I confess one baptism (Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5; Galatians 3:27)
for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Colossians 2:12–13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21) and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead (Romans 6:4–5; 1 Corinthians 15:12–13, 16, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)
and the life of the world to come (1 Corinthians 15:54–57; 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1; 22:5). Amen (Psalm 41:13; 2 Corinthians 1:20).