In the Holy Spirit

This week we are going to return to and complete our series on the Apostle’s Creed. So far, we have briefly introduced the Creed and covered its discussion of God the Father and Jesus. This week we will look at the final section that confirms belief in the Spirit, the Church, and several other core tenants of the Christian faith. The final section of the Creed says this:

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.

Each of the phrases in this section of the Creed builds upon the one before it. We begin with an affirmation of the Holy Spirit. In addition to affirming belief in the Spirit, it is the final piece of the larger affirmation of the triune God to be found in the Creed. This phrase is affirming belief in the existence and work of the Spirit. This work was first seen at Pentecost when the Spirit came and indwelled Christ’s disciples in the Upper Room. They then went out and preached the Gospel boldly to those in Jerusalem and from this we see the beginning of the Church.

This work of the Spirit launched the Church and in the next phrase we are affirming our belief in the universal Church. The belief that the life and work of the church is a core part of Christian life. That we are called to engage with and be a part of the Church. This specific phrase can be a bit confusing due to its use of the word catholic. This word is intended to refer to the universal Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. It is important to remember that when this Creed was written, there was only one Church. The Great Schism between the Eastern and Western churches had not yet occurred. The Protestant Reformation had not yet occurred. Catholic here is intended to mean all encompassing. It is intended to remind us of our commitment to and participation in the life of the Body of Christ.
Once the Church was established, we begin to see them gathering to study, fellowship, pray, and partake in communion. Here in the Creed, we see the affirmation of the communion of the saints. This confirms the importance of Christians fellowshipping (or communing) together. The importance of the Body living life together. It is also confirming our belief in the sacrament of communion. Communion was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper. It is a time for us to remember and celebrate his sacrifice on the cross. The writers of the Creed understood the importance of this sacrament and here we find them affirming the practice.

As we participate in communion, we are reminded that Christ’s work on the cross was necessary because of our sin. Our wrongdoing is what put him on the cross. His work led to our forgiveness and redemption. And the next phrase in the Creed affirms our belief that our sins are, in fact, forgiven through the work of Christ and his resurrection. This is vital because without our sins being forgive, we cannot have a relationship with God. The forgiveness of our sins allows us to be redeemed and to have a hope for the future.

Christ’s work on the cross and his sacrifice covered over our sins and allows God to view us as righteous. But Christ did not remain in the grave. Three days after his death, he rose! His resurrection defeated death and is a guarantee of our own resurrection at the end of time. The Creed affirms our belief in the resurrection of the body. As Christians, we believe that when Christ returns and brings the new heaven and new earth, all believers will experience a literal, bodily resurrection just like Christ did. His resurrection allows for ours and allows for us to live for eternity in the new heaven and new earth he promised us in Revelation. This eternal life is affirmed in the final line of the Creed. Upon our resurrection, we will enjoy eternity with Jesus. What a glorious hope we have!

As we have walked through the Apostle’s Creed together, I am hopeful that we have experienced a deeper understanding of the core beliefs of our faith. Hopefully, we have learned more about our faith and more about the God who created us, the Son who died and rose for us, the Spirit who indwells us, and the Church of which we are a part. I want to leave you with the encouragement to memorize the Apostle’s Creed. Allow it to be a reminder of the truth of Scripture and the love and work of our God.

Josh Cervone