B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #126
I Cor. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’
August 13, 2008
The Athanasian Creed Part 2 (2 of 2 parts)
by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew
In our last study we considered the history of the Athanasian Creed. Now we will study the Creed itself and the Biblical teaching which it proclaims. There are some terms used in the Athanasian Creed that can be confusing or misunderstood. So that there is no confusion, we should take note of a few things:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
==The expression “catholic faith” does not refer to membership in the Roman Catholic Church, but of those who are united in the “universal Christian faith” and members of the Holy Christian Church. “Catholic” is the Latin word for “universal.”
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
==The term “uncreate” reminds us that all three persons of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are equal and without beginning or end. The Son was not “created” by the Father, nor was the Holy Spirit “created” by the Father and the Son. All three persons have existed from eternity as one united and equal God.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
==The creed also goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ was at once fully God and fully man (“perfect God and perfect man”; “one altogether; not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person”). Jesus was not half man and half God, but, as incomprehensible as it seems, both immortal and mortal at the same time.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
==Whenever works are spoken of in connection with the judgment it is good to remember:
== Good Works are those thing done by believers in the true fear and love of God – for Jesus’ sake.
==These will stand as evidence of true faith in Christ, which alone saves.
This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.
In contrast to the peaceful tone of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the Athanasian Creed begins and ends with the strong condemnation: “This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.” While many have opposed this harsh wording, the same is taught in Scripture! Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24; cf. Acts 4:12, Mark 16:15-16). Let us continue to proclaim both the Law and Gospel of Scripture to today’s world.
Our Lord used the teaching method of parables so that people could understand spiritual truths better by seeing illustrations of them in everyday life. Think of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field…We can still do as our Lord did by taking illustrations out of everyday life. Another interesting teaching method is in Jotham’s fable of when the trees went forth to anoint a king over them. By having the trees talk he got the peoples attention and then explained. Judges 9:7-21 A Pastor Stubenvoll wrote some modern examples of the parable and Jotham’s fable which we will look at. Consider also how you could use these methods in preaching and teaching.
The Hypocrite and the Snake
A hypocrite happened upon the scene just as a snake was shedding its skin. “You can spare yourself this trouble,” said the hypocrite.
“Your skin is worthless and your bite poisonous. I can do humanity no greater service than to kill you.”
With that he grasped a club and was about to deal a deadly blow to the snake.
“Wretch!” cried the snake, “I am in the process of changing my old skin because it has become useless and torn, but you, hypocrite, are still keeping the old skin and going about in sheep’s clothing, in spite of the wolf within. I use poison only in cases of emergency. she cried. “but you use it on every occasion.”
“God could do His Church no greater favor than to tear the mask from your face and expose you.”
We begin a series on Symbols of the Church.
These will be in attachment form.