“What is the Apostles’ Creed?”The Apostles’ Creed is not found in the Bible. The Apostles’ Creed was not written by the apostles. Rather, it was written at least 150 years after the apostles had all died. It is called the Apostles’ Creed because it is supposed to be a record of what the apostles taught. The Apostles’ Creed is as follows:I believe in God, the Father Almighty,the Creator of heaven and earth,and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,born of the Virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, died, and was buried.He descended into hell.(the Nicene Creed does not mention this)The third day He arose again from the dead.He ascended into heavenand sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,the communion of saints,(See study below)the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body,and life everlasting.Amen.The Apostles’ Creed is a good summary of Christian doctrine. However, there are two primary concerns with the Apostles’ Creed. First, in regards to the phrase “He descended into hell” ( please see our study on “Did Jesus go to hell between Hi death and resurrection?”)Second, in regards to “the holy catholic church,” this does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today. The word “catholic” refers to universal. The true “catholic” church is all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Please see study on the universal church below.“What does ‘communion of the saints’ mean in the ancient creeds?”The word communion means “an act or instance of sharing.” When the Apostles Creed speaks of the “communion of the saints” it is not just specifically referring to the Lord’s Supper/Holy Communion in which believers come together to remember Jesus’ sacrifice through the bread and the wine. The communion of the saints is much deeper than this important sacrament.The communion of the saints refers to believers in the past, believers in the present and believers in the years to come sharing a common salvation in our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have passed from this world into the presence of Christ at the death of their body have the same salvation as believers who are alive today. Those who will come after us will have the same salvation we have.The communion of saints is all that each one of us as Christians have in common with all other believers. We have been forgiven through His death, and saved by His life, set free from the law of sin and death.Romans 5:1010 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.Romans 8:22 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.and passed from spiritual death to eternal life1 John 3:1616 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. We have all been permanently adopted as children of God by the will of God John 1:12-1312 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.We have become God’s handy work to do good works that He has prepared for usEphesians 2:1010 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.And we have all been given an eternal home in the New Jerusalem in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb, our Temple and our Light Revelation 21:22-2722 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory.25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honour into the city.27 Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. These are only a few of the blessings we have in common with all other believers.
“What is the difference between the universal church and local church?”To understand the difference between the local church and the universal church, one must get a basic definition of each. The local church is a group of professing believers in Jesus Christ who meet in some particular location on a regular basis. The universal church is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ worldwide. The term church is a translation of a Greek word having to do with a meeting together or an “assembly”1 Thessalonians 2:1414 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.12 Thessalonians 1:1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, (Greek Silvanus, the Greek form of the name. )and Timothy.2 Thessalonians 1:1We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This word pertains to the work of God in saving and sanctifying believers as “called-out ones.” Another Greek word that speaks of ownership and literally means “belonging to the Lord” is transliterated as church, but it is only used twice in the New Testament and never in direct reference to the church.A local church is normally defined as a local assembly of all who profess faith and allegiance to Christ. Most often, the Greek word ekklesia is used in reference to the local assembly 1 Thessalonians 1:1This letter is from Paul, Silas, (Greek Silvanus, the Greek form of the name.)and TimothyWe are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.May God give you grace and peace.1 Corinthians 4:1717 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go.2 Corinthians 11:88 I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost.There is not just one specific local church in any one area, necessarily. There are many local churches in larger cities.The universal church is the name given to the church worldwide. In this case the idea of the church is not so much the assembly itself but those constituting the church. The church is the church even when it is not holding an official meeting. In Acts 8:3 one can see that the church is still the church even when its members are at home. 3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.In Acts 9:31 describes the universal church, not just local churches.31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.Sometimes the universal church is called the “invisible church”—invisible in the sense of having no street address, GPS coordinates, or physical building and in the sense that only God can see who is truly saved. Of course, the church is never described in Scripture as “invisible,” Matthew 5:1414 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.Here are more verses that talk about the universal church:1 Corinthians 12:28; 15:9; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18