Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is fitting that this newsletter comes out on Trinity Sunday as we move our attention to the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest creed in the history of the church, coming from some time around the second century. It used to be understood as the “Old Roman Symbol.” In ancient warfare, when men would run at each other with swords and clubs, and it was a mess of limbs, blood, and guts, the practice was to have one poor fellow hold the flag. This way everyone knew where their side was gathered and fighting. If he got lost, a soldier could run for his flag and know that he was finding friends on his side of the fight.
The Apostles’ Creed is the same way, in that it was meant as the creed to show where God’s people were gathered, because God’s people believe, teach, and confess this faith. Though it might not have been written by the apostles themselves, this creed brings with it the doctrine that the apostles themselves taught. Thus, it was also the creed that converts would confess at their baptism, as is still now the case.
And at its core this creed is Trinitarian, that is, it confesses the mystery of the Trinity. God is three in one and one in three, the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Spirit incomprehensible, the whole thing incomprehensible. Indeed, we don’t get the mystery of the Trinity until we have the incarnation of Christ, because now we have this man, who says He’s the Son of God, more than that, is God Himself, yet prays to God, says that His Father is God, and then promises to send a Helper to His disciples, who is also God, called the Holy Spirit. (If this is making your head spin, don’t worry, that’s a good thing, it means that you’re thinking about this the right way.)
Yet, the incarnation also reveals to us how the Trinity chooses to relate to His people on earth. The Father sends the Son, who dies for the sin of the whole world and then ascends to the Father. Both Father and Son then send the Holy Spirit to create faith in the hearts of sinners and bring the Father and the Son to give sinners forgiveness and eternal life. The Trinity also teaches us how we then, having been redeemed by the death of the Son, now go to the Father. We go by the Holy Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. The incarnation both reveals this mystery and opens the door so that the Triune God can come to you, and you can come to the Triune God. Though this mystery is incomprehensible, though you are separated from God by your sin and His holiness (that rejects sin and distances Himself from it) God still comes to you. In the person of the Son, God wraps Himself in the flesh that veils His holiness to suffer and die for you, a lost and condemnable sinner. Having ascended, the Son, with the Father, sends His Holy Spirit to speak to you in the forms of God’s Word read and preached, the Word combined with water, and the Word combined with bread and wine, to create, sustain, and strengthen faith in you with the news that your sins are forgiven by the once and for all sacrifice of God the Son on the cross. With this Holy Spirit created faith, the Holy Spirit then takes you through the Son to Father that you may pray, praise, and give thanks to Him, and one day receive eternal life, staring into the eyes of your Triune God face to face.
The whole Trinity is doing this work of saving you. They’re all involved, they’re all in your corner, doing everything that has to be done to get you to where He is, to get you to the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. When you confess the creeds, whether Apostles’, Nicene, or Athanasian, you confess the Trinity in unity, and unity in Trinity, at work to save you and bring you to Himself.
Your servant in Christ,