Creeds and Sacraments
67. Are creeds of faith
a. "Creed" comes from Latin credo
meaning "I believe" (fist words in the Apostlesí Creed). It contains:
b. Importance of creeds:
brief statements of belief to summarize
major points of faith
interpretations and clarification of
Biblical doctrine, but cannot claim divine authority
Some Christians dislike creeds and
confessions because they object formalism, but every church has some kinds
of creeds, sometimes called statement of faith.
c. Historic creeds:
They guide church members in understanding
the central truth of the Bible.
They unite a diverse church body in
a common doctrinal purpose.
They serve as an authoritative standard
to settle disputes in times of controversy. They distinguish heresy from
orthodoxy. [Heresy (meaning an arbitrary or self-determined choice separating
one from the unity of the Church) is a self-chosen view in essential matters
of faith, one that contradicts with the traditionally received orthodox
They defend against abuses such as
misuse of church property by those who have different beliefs.
They act as a banner or a symbolic
declaration to the world of its identity.
68. Why are
a. Definition: religious organization
with a distinctive set of doctrines and system of governance
Apostlesí Creed (2nd century) and Nicene
Creed (325) are universally accepted by all orthodox churches. According
to Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther, the Apostlesí Creed remains the best
condensed statement of Christian faith and the most reliable way to learn
the heart of faith.
Important historic creeds: Westminster
Confession (1646) of the Presbyterian Church (widely accepted by conservative
churches), Augsburg Confession (1530) of the Lutheran Church, Helvetic
Confession (1562) of the Reformed Church, Thirty-Nine Articles (1563) of
the Anglican Church
b. Origin: Denominations were formed
when groups of Christians congregate and organize themselves in different
cultures and different periods of history.
c. Why did God permit denominations
It is true that to non-Christians,
the existence of denominations show a lack of unity.
Different denominations vary in:
non-essential doctrines, such as Calvinism
in Presbyterian and Reformed churches, and Arminianism in Methodist and
Evangelical Free churches
style of worship, such as the emphasis
on dignified worship in Anglican and Lutheran churches
Christian life emphasis, such as the
emphasis of holiness in Methodist churches
activities, such as the emphasis in
missionary work in the Alliance churches
d. Proper attitudes towards denominations:
Through their diversity, denominations
fulfil the function of serving and nurturing Christians of varied cultural
background and various personal dispositions.
e. Ecumenism: a movement to unite
different denominations, example, World Council of Churches
What all Christians hold in common
(such as the Bible and the Apostlesí Creed) are much more crucial and decisive
than the points on which denominations differ. As Didache (an important
2nd century Christian document) says: "In the bread to be consecrated,
many grains go to form one loaf." All true Christians are brothers and
sisters in the body of Christ.
It is important to not let sectarianism
leading to pride and self-congratulation of distinctive features of oneís
own denominational tradition and rejection of others.
69. What are
means of grace? What is prayer?
a. Means of grace are those activities
within the church that God uses to give more grace to Christians. Some
prefer to designate only baptism and the Lordís Supper as the means of
grace. Some include prayer, teaching of the Word, worship, church discipline,
giving, spiritual gifts, fellowship, evangelism, personal ministry to individuals.
Yet the usual result is that a vibrant
denominationalism is replaced by an ineffective ecumenism where teaching
and moral standards are lowered to the lowest common denominator.
b. Prayer is personal communication
c. Purposes of prayer:
(1) Prayer expresses our trust
in God so that our trust and faith in God can increase.
It is not a way to make our needs known
to God because God knows everything (Mt 6:8).
(2) Prayer is fellowship with God
so that our love for God can be strengthened.
(3) Prayer is a means by which we
learn to be grateful, remembering that everything comes from God.
(4) Prayer is a means by which we
can relieve our burdens before God.
(5) Prayer is a way through which
God allows His children to be involved in His work.
d. Effect of prayer: Prayer does change
the way God acts (Jas 4:2; Lk 11:9-10; Ex 32:11-14; 2Ch 7:14)
e. Proper attitudes in prayer:
(1) Pray according to Godís will
(Jn 15:17; 1Jn 5:14-15; Mt 6:10; 26:39): His will can generally
be known from the Bible such as His commands and promises. Also, the Holy
Spirit gives us guidance in our prayers (Ro 8:26). In cases when we do
not know what Godís will is, we should ask for deeper understanding and
then pray for what seems best to us.
(2) Pray with faith and real confidence
of answer (Heb 11:1; Mk 11:24; Mt 21:22; Jas 1:6)
(3) Pray continually over time (Gen
32:26; Lk 6:12; Mk 14:39; Mt 18:1-8)
f. Components of Prayer:
(1) Praise for Godís greatness
and nature (Mt 6:9; Lk 24:52-53; Rev 4:8)
(2) Thanksgiving for Godís blessings
(3) Confession of own sins (Mt 6:12;
1Jn 1:9; Jas 5:16)
(4) Petition for self and for others
70. What are
b. Types: Protestants accept two
types of sacraments: baptism and the Lordís Supper (as only these are commanded
by Christ). Roman Catholics added 5 more: confirmation, penance, extreme
unction (anointing a dying person with oil), holy orders (ordination to
priesthood), matrimony (marriage).
"Sacrament" comes from Latin sacramentum
which means a secret now revealed or a symbol.
It is a holy ordinance (ceremony or
rite) where the grace of God in Christ is represented.
c. Characteristics of sacraments:
(1) a visible symbol to help believers
to understand and to remember Godís salvation in Christ
(2) those who partake the sacrament
in faith receive the grace of closer fellowship with Christ, of spiritual
growth and strengthening, and of increasing assurance of salvation
(3) a way through which believers
express their faith and obedience to God: Though sacraments are not a necessity
for salvation (1Pe 3:21) yet these are commanded by Christ and deliberate
neglect of them is similar to all wilful and persistent disobedience to