At Westlake Church, we have just kicked off an in-depth look at the Apostle’s Creed, which is probably the oldest summary of what Christians believe, dating back to the 2nd century AD as the church began to rapidly grow.

How can something that was written for the Church well over 1500 years ago be helpful to the contemporary church today?

It’s my conviction that the evangelical church in Europe right now has a CREED NEED. There are things in the Creed we need to know and the reason we need to know them is basically the same as the first believers who were first taught the Creed needed to know them.

MATURITY …. The best way to think about the Apostles’ Creed is as a discipleship course. In the early church when people came to faith most came from pagan backgrounds. They needed to be taught the very basics about what Christians believed about God, the Church, and Salvation. These new converts were taught the Creed before they were baptized, and it provided the foundation for them to grow in spiritual maturity.

In Europe now we live in what has been called an increasingly Post Christian culture, what that means is that most people have no idea about the basics of Christianity anymore. A couple of generations ago people got religious instruction in schools and many were sent to Sunday School. This meant that most people knew at least the basics of Christian beliefs, but now they don’t. So, we need the proven ability of the Apostles’ to teach people the basics of the Christian faith in a way that is accessible and easy to remember.

ORTHODOXY… A quick read of the New Testament letters reveals that even back then counterfeit Christianity was trying to deceive Christians. Just have a look at Colossians, Hebrews, or the book of Jude to see how serious a problem it was. It only got worse as the Church grew and spread. People started combining Christianity with Greek philosophy, there were groups that denied that Jesus was fully divine and other groups that denied He was fully human. There were false teachers saying Jesus had already returned or that there would be no bodily resurrection. Counterfeit Christianity creates confusion in the church and confusion leads to conflict.

In the police, I sometimes had to go to banks to collect counterfeit banknotes they had come across. I remember one counterfeit twenty-pound note that was a really good forgery, I would never have thought it was fake. I asked the bank teller how she had known it was counterfeit, she said “When you know the real thing, the fakes are easier to spot.” I think that is just like Christianity, the best way to identify counterfeit Christianity is to become really familiar with orthodox Christianity. That is what the Creed did for those first generations of believers and can do for us, help us become familiar with orthodox Christian beliefs. It helps us know what the real thing is. When it comes to what the Christian faith teaches, it teaches us orthodoxy, right belief, and then we can easily spot false teaching.

I suspect we need the Creed to help us with orthodoxy now more than ever. A quick look on YouTube or a search of the web and you will be bombarded with counterfeit Christianity. Knowing and understanding what the Creed teaches will enable you to easily spot it and reject it. It will equip to know why those JWs and Mormons that knock on your door and seem so plausible are so wrong.

UNITY … One of the things that was unique about the early church was that it brought such different people together. Slaves mixed with slave owners, rich people with poor people, and people from all sorts of different religious and cultural backgrounds. What held these people together, what was the glue that meant they stuck together even in the tough times? It was what they believed in common. Only their common faith could hold such different people together and the Apostles Creed provided the basis for their unity, if you could agree with the Creed, you were part of the church.

Take a look around Westlake on Sundays, we come from different countries, different cultures, different classes, different levels of education, and different religious backgrounds. We need something to hold us together, and the only thing I know that can do that is our unity in the faith. When we say the Creed together over the next few weeks, we are saying this is the faith that holds us together. The creed is a summary of the basis of our unity.

So, we are having this in-depth teaching on the Creed at Westlake because we want our Church to be spiritually mature, orthodox in belief, and unified in fellowship.

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