Philippians 2. 6-11
SIX CHIEF PARTS SERMON SERIES
Lententide Midweek Vespers Two
28 February Anno Domini 2013
Father Jay Watson SSP
There was a time when I was instructing young catechumens in the early 2000’s when I could point to the marginally successful heavy rock band “Creed” as an example of the word still being used in today’s context. The name was chosen by those musicians because they had some nascent religious convictions.
The word Creed is the anglicized version of the Latin, “Credo” and means “I believe.”
There are only two creeds, two beliefs, or, two belief “systems,” in the universe. One either believes in the True God, or one believes in oneself. It is a corollary of Dr. Franz Pieper’s point about their being only two religions in existence: the True faith of the Triune God of Holy Scripture, and the ersatz and emotionally manufactured myths of man’s own ego.
Luther placed his commentary on the Creed right after the Ten Commandments. He did this because the Creed is pure 100% undiluted Gospel. It follows the convicting death of the Law with Christ’s life-giving Person and work. There is only one Creed in the world: the “I believe” Jesus Christ is all that the Scriptures reveal His to be. But instead of reciting every single word from Genesis 1.1 to Revelation 22.21, the church and its Saints (Patriarchs, Prophets, Psalmists, Good Kings, Evangelists, Apostles, Bishops, Pastors, Deacon, Theologians, and Lay) have always mined from Holy Scripture those words of truth about The Word, The Truth that were needed at whatever moment in history that falsehood and error had to be combated. All of the Creeds from Adam and Eve to the Council of Chalcedon in 425 AD are simply different angles and facets of the diamond of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sin!
Eve could and did confess that the true creator and forgiver God was the One Who watched over them then, and Who would be coming to Anoint them with salvation in time—Messias! Abram confessed the Lord in believing God’s promise to make of him a great nation, and to take from him, a seed which would be the Savior. So too were there credos made by David, Solomon, Jonah and Daniel. The New Testament is replete with beautiful confessions of faith—creeds, “I believes” by Bartholomew (“Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel” Jn. 1.49), Thomas (“my Lord and my God” Jn. 20.28), Martha (“yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” Jn. 11.27), and of course Saint Peter at Caesarea Philippi (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” Mt. 16.16).
The Apostle and the new burgeoning and “springing up” Gentile congregations in the years immediately after Pentecost knew of all these creeds and fully embraced and endorsed them. Paul to the Philippians reiterated the first universal general Creed in chapter 2. 6-11, especially its penultimate verse: “…Jesus Christ is Lord…” Iesus es kurios was the creed of the church until heretics changed the general accepted meaning of the word Lord. The ecumenical, world-wide, Catholic and Apostolic conventions, convocations, assemblies, synods, COUNCILS of Bishops and Presbyters met to combat heresy and apostasy. They met at Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon. They took fuller and detailed passages of Holy Scripture and fleshed out in precision the Incarnated God/Man. The Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed are more robust and meatier versions of Paul’s creed and Abram’s creed and Eve’s creed. There is only one creed, and it is Jesus Christ the God/Man, incarnated to fulfill the Law (the Ten Commandments) perfectly and to pay for your law-breaking on Calvary, perfectly. The creed, your creed, is God obeying and dying and resurrecting for you. As Luther puts it in his Small Catechism, “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”
And as the Law was given without Moses’ participation, so too was the Gospel given without cooperation or proof-reading. The Holy Ghost overshadowed the Blessed Virgin and she was “with child,” God was Incarnate! The Lord Christ is the Good Shepherd Who seeks and saves the lost of His flock. The Lord told Peter that He and his confession would be the truth which He The Truth would build His Church, but, that this was a revelation from the Father, through faith yes, but BY GRACE, and not of Peter’s work. So too whenever you stand and confess the Creed, it is not your beliefs but THE BELIEF which is true because Christ is True. All three of the articles of the creed (which are so designated for catechetical purposes) are things which God had done, does, and will do, for you, not anything you can do, choose, or decide. The creed is believed by Grace and gives peace and comfort, and rest, because it’s Jesus!
As Jesus loves you in spite of your sins, and desires you to fight the good fight of Sanctification in the narrow sense (drowning the “old Adam” daily in confession & absolution) by the power of God the Holy Ghost; He goes on giving you mercy and forgiveness in multiple way. The creed of Christ surrounds you. You hear the invocation and benediction (the Gospel) and you are graced to give your credo: AMEN! You are given His true Body and real Blood (the Gospel) and you are constrained in joy to again confess, credo, AMEN!
Please turn in your hymnal to page 12 at the top, to our Baptismal creed: The pure Gospel! Please stand and with me credo:
[“I believe in God the Father…”]