Luther’s Small Catechism – The Apostles’ Creed

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In God’s Law we hear that we are sinners deserving of death. Of this we have a limited natural knowledge. But when we speak about God and what He has done to save us from our sins, of this, we have no natural knowledge. The good news of our salvation is completely outside of what we can learn from nature.

Nature cannot tell us that there is one God with three distinct persons. Nature cannot tell us that God the Father sent God the Son into the world taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to live and die for the sins of all people. Nor can nature tell us that both the Father and the Son send God the Holy Spirit into the world through His Word and Holy Sacraments now to work this saving knowledge into the hearts of men. Nor can our natural mind fathom how these three persons, though distinct and not to be confused, are truly one divine being.

These things must all be revealed to us and God has done so throughout all of Scripture. Of the six chief parts of Luther’s Catechism, the Creed is the only one that is not taken word-for-word out of the Bible, but this should not alarm us. These statements of belief are not men’s opinions but are drawn out of Scripture to summarize God’s work of salvation in a brief yet thorough confession of the one true God.

As there is one God with three distinct persons, so there is one Creed with three distinct articles. It is impossible to teach everything that Scripture tells us about God. There are simply too many and wonderful things to say about Him. The beauty of the Creed is that it gives you a starting point for learning all the other attributes of God beginning with His grace and mercy, found in what He did and does for your salvation.

While the Ten Commandments show us that God is a just God, the Creed shows us that God is a merciful God. He knows that you cannot keep His Law perfectly, so He made plans for your salvation. And in the course of history, He carried out those plans. Since you cannot ascend to Him, He came down to you. Jesus Christ is God, and God sacrificed Himself for you on the cross a little less than 2,000 years ago. And though Jesus’ work of salvation is done, the Holy Spirit still works through God’s Word and Holy Sacraments (more on these in later columns) so that you may hear of and believe in Jesus. This is most certainly true.

(Inyo Register – June 4, 2011)