The first historical reference to the Apostles’ Creed, is by a man named Rufinus in 390 A.D. He relates the story that each of the twelve apostles, including Matthias who replaced Judas, gave one of the affirmations in the creed. There really is no proof for that theory. There is virtually no evidence that the apostles were involved at all. It was however written by those who stated the essence of what the apostles taught. By 200 AD, Tertullian refers to what is called the Old Roman Creed which is almost identical to the Apostle’s Creed. Baptismal candidates were asked questions from the creed; “Do you believe? Do you believe?” The word creed comes from the Latin, Credo (I believe). One of the earliest creeds found in the NT is the simple affirmation that “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3). This was in direct response to the first century Roman authorities requiring emperor worship. Each year Roman citizens had to declare “Caesar is Lord.” Christians could not do this and faithfully insisted “Jesus is Lord.” In Philippians 2:6-11 and 1 Timothy 3:16 we can read early creedal hymns.
“I BELIEVE IN GOD” – READ HEBREWS 11:1-6
The sum total of many people’s religion, including some churchgoers, is expressed in the words “I believe in God.” But what kind of God is He? It is quite common for people to respond; “it does not really matter what you believe about God so long as you are sincere.” However, if what you believe is wrong the consequences can be disastrous. For example, you can get up in the middle of the night, and go to your medicine cabinet and in all sincerity take a bottle that you think will help you. But what if you make a mistake and it turns out to be poison? Do you say, “It does not matter so long as you are sincere?” No! Of course it matters.
In our text this morning we are introduced to Enoch who along with Elijah was taken to heaven without experiencing death. Vrs 5 ends by saying; for before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. The question we should be asking ourselves is: How can I please God? The answer to this question is found in vrs 6 and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. This verse defines genuine faith by making two statements.
1) We must believe that God exists. Belief in the existence of God lies at the root of faith. There are strange ideas about faith circulating today. Many suspect that faith means believing without any evidence. They suggest it is taking a giant leap into the dark. That is not biblical faith! Biblical faith is always allied to evidence which confirms what we believe. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah because of the teaching in the gospels that prove he is the Messiah. We believe that he rose from the dead because the historical evidence clearly says that the tomb was empty. How could Christians believe that he was risen if a simple visit to the tomb would prove otherwise (Acts 1:3). Belief in God is allied to evidence. In Romans 1:19, 20 we are pointed to creation as a signpost to God. Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Furthermore in Romans 1:32; 2:14, 15 Paul also points to our conscience. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. Our conscience is a loud internal echo chamber of the voice of God.
2) Intellectual assent to the existence of God is not the sum total of biblical faith. We could justifiably assert that to say “I believe in God” puts us on exactly the same level as the Devil!! In James 2:19 we read; you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that –and shudder. The demons go beyond many church members; they believe and actually tremble. They tremble, but they do not bow! Faith is more than mere intellectual assent to a set of beliefs. In Acts 8:1 we read about Simon Magus. He “believed” when Philip preached the good news. His belief however did not transform him. He was not changed. In Acts 8:21 Peter tells him; “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.” When we speak about biblical faith it is not just believing certain truths about God but it is committing ourselves in trust and obedience to Him. The demons don’t do that and nor do merely religious people. Hebrews 11:6 does not just say that faith believes that God exists but that true faith earnestly seeks him. Lack of desire is not a sign of a healthy faith. We cannot be content with merely pitching up to church, reading a few verses of Scripture and offering up a few words in prayer. If the letters to the seven churches in Revelation is anything to go by Christ is not impressed by a lukewarm faith.
Lastly Hebrews 11:6 says that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. In Psalm 27:8 we read my heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. In Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. God rewards the faith that earnestly seeks Him out. What is that reward? When we seek God our reward is God Himself.