The idea of a creed is interesting – it simply means I believe. From the early days Christian’s had creeds and it is believed that some of Paul’s loftiest language in his epistles are the beginnings of early creeds. There were early statements of belief that catechumens and new members recited. These were things that you were required to believe and confess. The first creedal declaration Christians probably made was “Jesus is Lord”.
Creeds have been attacked for awhile for a variety of reasons. It is how you believe, not what you believe, some say and forcing creedal statements upon folks is somehow a form of slavery. It is interesting that recently folks have accused a church for being a cult because it asked for a statement that people believe certain things. The baptismal liturgy I guess is cult like as are confirmation vows, ordination vows and other promises Christians make. A working brain will witness to you a fact that vows and subscriptions of confessions and creeds take place precisely to prove to world and the church and the vow taker that we are NOT a cult.
Anyway it is interesting to go back and look at how the old timers dealt with we think is a relatively new issue. JT Mueller was a prof at one of our Seminaries and he wrote this back in 1924 –
The Creed of Jesus – part 2
As Christ taught salvation by grace through faith alone, so He also rejected the doctrine of work-righteousness. Man, being totally perverted by sin, cannot work out his own salvation. John 3, 6. . No one can come to Christ except the Father which sent Him draw him. John 6, 44. If any man would come to Him, it must be given to him of His Father. John 6, 65. The self-righteous Pharisee, who trusted in his works and
despised others, went down to his house unjustified. Luke 18, 14. All self-righteous Pharisees are blind guides, who strain at gnats and swallow camels; who make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within are full of extortion and excess; who appear righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matt. 23, 24-28. They are serpents, a generation of vipers, who cannot escape the damnation of hell. Matt. 23, 33. Rejecting Christ and building their hope of salvation upon work-righteousness, they will perish . in their sins. John 8, 21. 24. In these words Christ most emphatically condemns the pharisaic doctrine of justification by works. Since man is utterly lost, the purpose of Christ’s coming was to work out for sinful mankind a sure and universal redemption and to invite sinners to partake of it freely. John 6, 51. He came into this world that sinners might have life, John 10 10 · 15 13 ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ giving His life for the sheep as the Good Shepherd, John 10, 11. Of Himself He laid down His life. John 10, 18. That was the work which He had come to finish. John 4, 34. He must accomplish all things that are written by the prophets concerning the ·Son of Man, being delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, mocked, spitefully entreated, spitted upon, scourged, and put to death. Luke 18, 31-33. All this was accomplished on the cross, where He cried
out with a shout of victory, “It is finished!” John 19, 30. Certainly Christ’s creed embraced the vicarious atonement. Faith only in the Redeemer who died for man is the sinner’s way of salvation. John 17, 3. To Him all that labor and are heavy laden must come for rest. Matt. 11, 28. Those who come to Him He will in no wise cast out. John 6, 37.