Simple Google searches about topics like creation and evolution, the virgin birth, and the Holy Spirit reveal that there are a lot of beliefs regarding those doctrines in our world today! It’s true that different doctrines, false doctrines, have been around for thousands of years, but never before in the history of the world has information and teaching been so easily distributed. It’s impossible to live in the 21st Century and not come across false teaching somewhere.
In Bible Study, we are working through the book of Second Timothy right now. In that letter, Paul had clear and strong words to Timothy, his young pastor friend, regarding false teaching. In the first chapter, Paul encourages Timothy to “follow the pattern of the sound words” that he had heard and to “guard the good deposit,” the gospel, that had been entrusted to him. In chapter two, Timothy is exhorted to “rightly handle the word of truth,” and to avoid false words that lead to ungodliness and spread like gangrene. That’s a graphic picture, but it speaks to the importance of “knowing the Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Each week at St. Paul’s we recite the Apostles’ Creed. This is a statement of faith that originated early on in Christianity. It began as a response to heresy, false teaching. It was a marker of sorts to distinguish true believers from those who followed different false teachings at the time. If you weren’t sure if a person, group of people, or a congregation, was truly Christian, you could find out by whether they would affirm the creed. It was also used in baptism. For those adults who were baptized at that time, the creed was presented to them in a series of questions to affirm their desire to be baptized into the true Christian faith.
Believe it or not, the same false teachings that were plaguing the world in the early years of Christianity are many of the same ones that we face today. Part of the reason that the Apostles’ Creed has endured through the centuries is that it has remained relevant for use against the same doctrinal attacks of the devil. So this summer, I have put together a sermon series to work through the teachings of the Apostles’ Creed. The Creed is not Scripture, but it accurately and concisely teaches what Scripture declares. Each Sunday this summer, we will study a text from Scripture that teaches a doctrine referred to in the Apostles’ Creed. It is my prayer that this study would renew our appreciation for the Creed that we confess every Sunday, that we would grow in the knowledge of the truth, learn how to rightly handle it, and understand better why this is still so important in the 21st Century.
Come to church this summer! If you find yourself on the road or at the lake on a Sunday morning, our audio technicians do a great job of uploading the sermons onto our website right after the service, so plan to set aside a time for your own “family worship” at some point on those days you can’t be here. I’m looking forward to this study and to walk with you through it this summer!