Creed: the Church and the Communion of Saints
The Apostle’s Creed I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead;… he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. …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.>
We’ve been talking about what we believe, what we confess in Christ for this Lenten season. Let’s read the Apostle’s Creed all together. Here we go. (slide 1) I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; (slide 2)… he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. …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.
For the past three weeks we’ve talked about the Holy Trinity; God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. And today we are moving to the next 8 words. (slide 3) Let’s read it out loud. I believe in the Holy catholic Church; the Communion of Saints. Many of us would think that I didn’t know that we were the Roman Catholic! Well, no, we are not. The “c” is not a capital letter. It means “universal.” It means you and I belong to a bigger family in Christ. You and I are part of the follower of Jesus Christ who gathered today across the globe. You and I are connected to fellow christians who worship in Korea, Africa, India, Chile, right? We are part of the holy global, universal church. This is bigger than Methodist, bigger than the Roman Catholics. This universal church includes all the churches and the people in them all over the world. We do not only believe in the Holy catholic church, we also believe in the Communion of Saints. What the communion of Saints means that we are part of the followers of Jesus not just globally, but also historically. That means you and I are part of all Christians everywhere all the time. It means that you and I are not here on our own, but all the faith ancestors that we have. They could be your dad or mom; youth pastor or children’s pastor. Right? You have someone who hand the baton of faith to you, in your hand. And now it is our job because you’re part of this communion, this gathering of God’s people, the saint. It is our job, your job to place the baton of faith into the next generation. Somebody ahead of you spent much energy with lots of prayers for you, and now it is our turn to put a lot of energy with a lot of prayers for the next generation! Here is the deal. I think we are called to over invest in the next generation. They are the ones that we should spend all our energy, resource, time, everything, right? They are the ones who will carry the baton from us! We are part of the holy, universal catholic church. And we are part of the communion of the historical church both in the generations behind us the generation that we live in and the generation to come.
Now let’s look at the Creed again. About 3/4 of the Creed has to do with what we believe about the Trinity, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then the just eight words are given to what we believe about the people of God, about the church. You see when our early church fathers and mothers started to decide how can we get just kind of like if you would do the top 10 list of those things that we believe, live for, and willing to die for. They included in there something about the people of God, and it makes sense. Why did the God the Father send the Son, and why did the Father and the Son send the Spirit? It was for people. It was for us. It was for you. God has always cared about people, you. We are made in God’s image. There is only one thing that goes to heaven and that’s people. So when we talk about what it is that we believe, one of the things that we believe in is we believe in the church. The Bible puts a high value on the people of God, and that is called the church.
Now we learned a few weeks ago that there was a time when the disciples were with Jesus and Jesus said to them, “Who do you say I am?” Do you remember that they said some say you are this person or that person. And Jesus said, “no, who do YOU say I am?” And remember it was Peter who said out you are the Messiah, the Savior, the deliverer, the Son of the Living God. And then listen to what Jesus said after that in Matthew chapter 16 verses 17 through 19.
(slide 4) 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17-19, NIV)
Not only Peter but also we also have the key of the kingdom of heaven, because this word that Jesus uses here is, this word, church, is a Greek word that is ecclesia. Say that with me, Ecclesia. This word, ecclesia, simply means the gathered people of God. And here’s what Jesus is saying. He’s saying that I am going to bless a people and I will build my church. I am going to bless them and they indeed will be a blessing to this world. God sent us Jesus, and then we embrace Jesus. Then we become in turn a blessing to others. Let me also be clear that by church I don’t mean buildings. There were no Church buildings for the first 300 years. These bricks and mortar, they will burn, right? They are nothing. They don’t last long. The church is not a building. We all learn that in Sunday school. I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together!
We have heard numerous times that people say, “I really don’t know why I need to go to church,” “I don’t understand why you go to church.” Right? There are so many people think going to church is one thing that they would never understand. So today, we are going to answer this question together. Let’s read it out loud. (slide 5) “Why do I REALLY need the church?”
Let’s read it together. (slide 7) 1. Only in the church can I discover my identity in Christ. Yes only in the church we can discover our true identity in Christ. Let me share a short video with you. This video is about a couple exchanging their wedding vows. (slide 8) The groom is sweating so heavily. Maybe he is so anxious. The part that I like the most in his vow is this part, “Kaitlyn, I am the luckies man.” And he said, “for better for worse, I will love you for the rest of my life.” And the beautiful bride started shedding tears. Isn’t that beautiful? In the wedding vows, we vow that we are exclusive to each other. I will love you forever and you will do, too. We would not share our love with anyone else but with each other. And you know what? In the Bible there is God gives us God’s wedding vow to us.“ Let’s read it all together. (slide 9) “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 1:19-20, NLT) Isn’t that a beautiful wedding vows that we could ever ask for? We are the people of God, and we are the bride of God. God is singing a love song to us calling us God’s bride, God’s wife. God says, “My church is my bride. And I am jealous for you. I will not share my love for you with anyone else. I will love you forever! Years and years later Apostle Paul added a phrase, Bride of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. It is that through our groom Jesus, we find our identity.
See what we need to remember is in the Biblical times, a woman did not have an identity without husband. I am not saying that’s right. That’s just the way the culture was when the Scriptures were written. A woman found her identity in her husband, it was through her husband she gained property, that she would have children, that she would have rights. A woman without a husband had none. So when the Bible says to the people of God that you are the bride of God, you are the bride of Christ, here is what the Bible is declaring, it’s saying you and me, the people of God, the church, it is in Jesus that we find our identity. In God, Only in Christ, we are able to find our identity. We are nothing without God. So we get to the last book of the Bible, the book of revelation. John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and an angel takes him to see what will the end of time look like. The angel said, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9b) God is so jealous for you. God doesn’t want to share your love with anyone else, right?
It is in the church, it is in the people of God that we find our identity in Christ. But there’s a second thing. Let’s read it together. (slide 8) 2. Only in the church can I discover my purpose in Christ. So, the Bible says that the church is the bride of Christ. But the Bible also says the church is the body of Christ that we are connected to one another as a part of body. It is a powerful image to describe us, the church, right? Would you read with me 1 Corinthians 12: 12-14? Ready? (slide 9) “12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.” When I went to MMDC last year, every evening we did puzzles. Some of us sat together and put the puzzles together. Once we had 1,000 pieces of puzzles. I would never try that many pieces of puzzle I were alone, but I did that time because there were other people who were doing the puzzle together. You know 1,000 puzzles a lot and each of them looks just the same. I had no idea where the 1,000 pieces would go. But you know what? Even single piece of the puzzle should be there to make the whole picture completed, make the whole picture beautiful. If we saw a piece of 1,000 pieces of Puzzle, we would have no idea what the puzzle would do for. But when we have the puzzle piece right at the place where it should be, we are finally able to see the reason the piece of puzzle exists. Right? Without the piece of puzzle, the whole picture cannot be completed. We are a piece of God’s church. Every one of us is a piece of God’s big, humongous picture. We are nothing when we are in the picture. No one knows what I am. But when I am in the place where I should be, the whole picture, the beautiful picture of God can be completed and we can see plainly why I am here. Without us, without you and me, the church of God cannot be completed, right? In Christ, we can find our purpose. Our purpose as part of church, as part of the people of God is to represent Jesus Christ to the world, right? God sent Jesus Christ to us because God cared about us. Now we need to let others know about Jesus Christ and to help others to start their relationship with Jesus Christ! That is our purpose in Christ. Can I get an amen to that? Dear my friends in Christ, we are the church. Whether we are free people or slave, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, we are one in Christ. Whether we are men or women, whether we are Americans or Koreans, we are one in Christ. Right? Having the same purpose in Christ to represent Jesus Christ to the world, we are one in Christ. Thanks be to God! Amen.