St. Paul’s, as a Lutheran congregation, joins the vast majority of the world’s Christians in confessing the Nicene Creed—along with the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed.
This great confession of faith tell us that:
--God is one yet three—the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is unbegotten, the Son is begotten by the Father from all eternity, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
--The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity—the Son of God—became human in Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully human. He became our brother, sharing our human nature. This is perhaps the most unique thing about Christianity—the belief that God came into our world and took our humanity upon Himself. As the ancient Church fathers said, “The Son of God became a son of man, so that we sons of men can become Sons of God.”
--Jesus Christ, God and man, suffered and died upon the Holy Cross for our salvation. “He bore our sins in His own body upon the tree.” (I Peter 2:24) As the Lamb of God, He offered a pure and perfect sacrifice to take away our sins. On the cross, He took our place and experienced the wrath of God that our sins deserve. When He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34), this shows us that He experienced the pains of hell—abandonment by God—so that we can taste the sweetness of heaven. This is the greatest expression of divine love: “God shows His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
--Christ descended into hell. He did this not to suffer further—His suffering was completed on the Holy Cross, when He cried out, “It is finished”(John 19:30 ) The descent into hell is rather an expression of His victory. Just as General Grant entered Richmond to show that the Union was victorious, so Jesus enters the enemy’s “capital” to show His triumph over sin, death and the Devil.
--Christ rose again from the dead. The resurrection reveals the victory that Christ won over the powers of evil on the Cross. The resurrection shows that death has been defeated and disarmed, and that we who are united to Christ by faith share in His victory.
--God sends the Holy Spirit upon us. The Spirit enables us to believe in Christ. The Spirit comes upon us in our Baptism to cleanse us and to make us children of God. The faith that the Spirit gives us—and not our own works—brings us salvation.
--Jesus will come again. We look forward with eager anticipation for the return of Christ our Saviour. Until He returns to bring all things to their fulfillment, we also look forward, beyond death, to living with Him in heaven.
--Jesus has established a church. We exult in the fact that Christ has united us with other believers in the holy Christian church. This is Christ’s family—belonging to it brings us strength and joy. The holy Christian church is not “organized religion” (which sounds a little too much like “organized crime”), but rather , in the words of Blessed Martin Luther, “the mother who bears and nurtures each Christian through the Word of God.” The church is not an organization or an institution, but our Mother and our Family.
--The church is “the communion of saints”. We are united in one fellowship with those who have gone before us in the faith. “We have come to the spirits of just men made perfect”. We have continuing fellowship with the blessed dead. We sing with them, we worship with them. As the communion liturgy says, “Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all ALL THE COMPANY OF HEAVEN, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name…” When we worship, we join with all those who have gone before us. Those who are grieving the loss of a loved one can take great comfort from this continuing connection.
--Christ has given us two holy Sacraments—baptism and holy communion. In baptism, we are reborn as God’s children. We are washed in Christ’s blood, forgiven, and made into new creatures. Every day we remember, relive, and renew our baptism—every day we walk in the new life that God gave us through the water and the Word. In Holy Communion, we receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The Sacrament brings the cross into our lives, and unites us with the death of Christ. It is our Passover. Even as the Passover meal made the deliverance from Egypt real for God’s ancient people, so the Lord’s Supper makes our deliverance from sin real for us today. This is the nourishment that we need for our life’s journey!
Please join us on that journey…at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Amityville!