Melanesian Chapel

Your Faith And You – Part 1

Fr Nigel Kelaepa

‘Your Faith and You’ program is a series of teachings put together by the ACoM Board of Mission through the Evangelism office to help and strengthen church members in our spiritual journey, especially during these times of challenges and uncertainty.

Let us begin with a word of prayer.

Holy God, faithful and unchanging.
Expand and enlighten our hearts and minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your faith and love,
that we may truly worship and follow you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
One God, now and forever.

In this first edition, we would like to introduce to you basic and foundational statements and teachings of our Christian faith, as revealed to us in Holy Scriptures and as taught by Jesus Christ to his Church. We want to help Christians better understand and know our faith as Christians and why we believe in those foundational truths of this faith of ours. 

Fellow Christians, we live in challenging and difficult times in the modern world of today, which is not aligned with the Christian standards we follow and live by, and where detrimental influences of every kind abound and try to attack us and our faith from every side. These bad influences try to lead us away from living the Christian life and from following the standards that our Lord God wants us to live by. As St. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God — what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”

Yet the sad truth is that we are being attacked on every side by a kaleidoscope or explosion of options and choices that confront us daily and seek to lead us astray and away from our faith in the Lord and from living according to his standards, instead of those of the world. And because we do not understand our Christian faith that well, we become weak in our faith and are open to bad influences and are easily misled along the wrong path, into following the way of the world, and to the extent of listening to many wrong and heretical teachings that are coming out today and that detract from the foundational truths of our Christian faith.  

So in this first session we would like to introduce to you the basics and foundations of our Christian faith as revealed to us in the Bible, and especially as they are stated in basic statements of faith known as the Creeds. 

The word ‘Creed’ comes from the latin word ‘Credo’, which means ‘I believe and trust’. A creed therefore, in our context as Christians, is a summary of our Christian faith, handed down over many centuries up until today. From the earliest days of the Church which we read about in the Book of Acts, the Christian community that was formed around the Apostles of Jesus and especially after their passing on, developed short, simple summaries of the Christian faith, that became known as the ‘Creeds’.

Two creeds in particular were developed in the early centuries of the Church, which have remained important to the Church and are regularly used in our worship today. The first is known as the Apostles Creed, and the other is called the Nicene Creed.

Let us now look at these Creeds one by one. Later we will read the creeds prayerfully so that they continue to resonate and remain in our minds and hearts as we say them with holiness and reverence.

Melanesian Prayer Book

First, the Apostles Creed.

In the early centuries of the Christian church, People who were preparing for baptism, known as Catechumens, learnt a short summary of what Christians believe. One version became accepted as the Apostles’ Creed, because it was believed to include the essential teachings of the first and earliest followers of Jesus Christ, namely the 12 apostles. Into this faith of the apostles Christians were baptised into the body of Christ in those days and times, and as they still are, today.

The Apostles’ Creed, therefore, is a summary of what the Church teaches, and what Christians believe together as a community of faith, rather than it being just a detailed statement of individual and personal belief. When we say the Creed, from wherever we are praying and worshipping, at whatever day or hour we are worshipping, we are all bound together as Christians throughout the whole world, as the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The word ‘Catholic’ here means ‘Universal’. In the prayerful utterance of the creeds, we are united together as the one holy, catholic or universal church, in the one faith and lordship of our one true God, revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Such unity cuts across whatever different boundaries, traditions, beliefs or practices that each Christian denomination may have; for every time we say the Creed, we join Christians past and present, and yet to come, from all over the world, and from whatever denomination, in proclaiming our one and common faith together.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
in accordance with the Scriptures,
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the fellowship of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Secondly, let us look at the Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed is a more detailed summary of what the whole Church believes about the great doctrines of the Christian faith. It begins with the statement: ‘We believe …’ The Nicene Creed uses the same threefold structure as the Apostles’ Creed but goes into more depth and detail. It was first adopted at the Council of Nicaea, a place in what is now modern Turkey, in the year of our Lord 325, by a gathering of church leaders and bishops, when the church was then still only one church, and especially as it begins to try to address wrong teachings or heresies that were being spread around by some people and even leaders of the church at that time.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven.
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

What a powerful statement of faith that is brothers and sisters! We know that within the church universal, divisions have taken place over the centuries up until today, but what is more amazing is that all the major Christian traditions continue to acknowledge and accept the words of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed as containing core truths of their faith, and affirming these in their worship and teaching.

Every time we come to say the creeds it is vital to reflect and remember how it is that we come to believe them. It is by the grace and mercy of God that we have come to faith and are able to say and explore these words. It is not through human cleverness or ingenuity. God has revealed himself through the Scriptures and in the wonders of Creation. God has revealed himself most clearly through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. God makes himself known personally to each believer through the work of the Holy Spirit.

In our second edition, we will break down the truths in the Nicene Creed together and go through them more deeply to unwrap the foundations of our faith as contained in the creed. We close with a word of prayer.

Holy God, without you in our lives, we are not able to know you, nor please you.
Grant us the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit,
So that in all that we think, say and do, we may glorify and honour your holy name,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Read; Your Faith And You – Part 2.

Fr. Nigel Kelaepa, ACoM Mission Secretary