Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2011 11:56 am
The Messenger, January 27, 2011
The First Council
of Constantinople, Part II
By DEON BARNES
Special to The Messenger
The Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us and for our salvation,
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, and was buried;
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spoke by the prophets;
and we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church;
we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and we look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
If someone were to ask you, “In terms of your Christianity, what do you believe?” how would you respond? Could you articulate the major teachings of the Bible in a few concise phrases? Are you even aware of what the major teachings of Scripture are? (And no, the major teaching of Scripture is not “God is love.” Although one of the attributes of God is love, this is not the ultimate teaching of Scripture.)
A creed is a statement of one’s beliefs. Today, we have the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, the subject of our immediate attention. These offer a person the opportunity to have at the ready a concise statement summarizing his beliefs as a Christian.
The italics in this creed note the additions made by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD to the original creed created in 325 AD. The additions placed by the First Council of Constantinople strengthened the position of Christ as God.
Also, the original creed contained no exposition for the person of the Holy Spirit. The First Council of Constantinople saw fit to include a description of who the Holy Spirit is, what His purpose is and how He relates to the Father and the Son.
The leaders of the council saw the results of the false teachings concerning Christ and His essence as God, and they preempted future attacks upon the Trinity by clarifying that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all three the same God, equal in “substance, power, and eternity” (Westminster Confession Ch. II).
This is an important truth found in Scripture, one which requires a strong faith in the authority of Scripture to believe. Without the effectual work of God upon a person’s spirit, it is an impossibility to even conceive. Next week we will deal extensively with the Trinity and clarify the truths found in Scripture concerning the Trinity.
Editor’s note: Deon Barnes serves as a ruling elder of Grace Community Church (PCA) in Troy and is a candidate for the ministry in Covenant Presbytery.