Consolation in Creeds

The consolations of God - Seventh in a series

We protestants over the centuries and today “confess” our faith by saying together the ancient creeds as part of worship. This is to nourish our hearts through recommitment of our minds to Truth.

In one of these, the Apostle's Creed, we state,

I believe
in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe (numbers added)
1. in the Holy Ghost;
2. the holy Catholic (universal) Church;
3. the Communion of Saints;
4. the Forgiveness of sins;
5. the Resurrection of the body,
6. and the Life everlasting.

There are two I believe’s in this creed: The first comprises some important points that a Christian must accept about God and Jesus; the second begins a list of commonly held beliefs.

Two of these points in the second part, numbers 2 and 3 , seem not to fit.

Yes, we know that (1) all Christians must believe in the third Person of the Trinity, (4) if we confess and repent of sin we are promised forgiveness, (5) our bodies will be resurrected as Christ's was, and (6) we will live forever.

It does take FAITH to believe these things, for they are outside of our natural realm of experience.

But we can SEE the (2) church, can we not? At least we can see those near us and read about those in other lands. And what is the (3) communion of saints if not the simple experience of fellowship among believers? So, is there a need to STATE that we have FAITH in these?

Is there more in these phrases, holy catholic church and communion of saints than meets the eye? Yes, and as we understand what each means and believe in them, we will be consoled. More on this in the next post.

God's Consoling Presence Part 2

The consolations of God - Sixth in a series

Perhaps the best example of a man earnestly desiring God's presence is the story of Moses, when Israel was in the desert, after her miraculous deliverance from slavery under Pharaoh.

Moses was on Sinai fasting and receiving the 10 Commandments and laws for 40 days and nights, and the people grew anxious and lost faith. They pooled their jewelry and Aaron, Moses' brother who had assisted him in confronting Pharaoh, fashioned a gold calf for them to worship. Well, the cow was a sacred animal in Egypt, where, as a nation, they had resided for hundreds of years.

Moses took the stone tablets that had been engraved with the Law by God's finger, and traversed down the mountain. When he saw Israel dancing before the golden calf he threw down the tablets and they shattered. (Ex 32:19-25)

After a firm and somewhat violent reprimand of God's people, Moses returned to Sinai and fasted another 40 days and nights— again neither eating bread nor drinking water (Deut 9:18-19) — before interceding for the people. He reminded the Lord of the promises he had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so God relented from destroying Israel in his wrath.

The situation was righted to an extent, so that the people might continue on their journey to the Promised Land, however, God stated that he would NOT go with them. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned (Ex 33:3-4).

But Moses had sought the Lord on behalf of Israel, and God relented: My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." (Ex 33:14)

Moses expressed what all Christians should say: If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence. (Ex 33:15-16) Why take even one step if God is not with us? What would be the purpose? What might be the outcome?

Again, God wrote his Law on two tablets, and told Moses to put them in an ark to protect them. (Deut 10:2)

Moses came down from the mountain, his face shining, and taught the people God's law and they set about constructing the tabernacle for the proper worship of the Lord. It all came to pass just as Moses had told Pharaoh: Let my people go that they may worship me. (Ex 7:16; 8:1; 9:1; 9:13; 10:3)

God made known his presence by a cloud or fire above the tent of the congregation:

When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Ex 40:34-38)

So the people of God journeyed to Canaan, yet none of those who rebelled and worshiped the golden calf and argued against entering the land when Caleb and Joshua brought a good report (Num 14:28-33) were permitted to enter. Neither did Moses enter (Num 20:12). But that is another lesson.

Even so, Israel in the wilderness was blessed, for they had the presence of God. It was enough consolation for a lifetime.

God's Consoling Presence Part 1

The consolations of God - Fifth in a series

God is in all places at all times. We learn as children that he is omnipresent and exists eternally, outside of time. So, what does it mean when we say or read that his presence is with a person or nation? Or that the Lord casts people away from his presence?

The Bible has many instances of the word Presence or face of God. Jacob named the place where he wrestled with God, Peniel or presence. (Gen 32:29-30)

Psalm 114:7 instructs us to tremble at the presence of the Lord, and Psalm 100:2 says, …come before his presence with singing. David begs the Lord after his sin with Bathsheba, Cast me not away from your presence and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Ps 51:11) God proclaims to Judah, the nation, I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence… (Jer 23:39b)

These diverse passages teach that God's presence can be terrifying, yet much to be desired, and it is possible for man to be removed from it. The theological truth is that God is omnipresent but our experience or perception of it is fine-tuned by many influences.

There is an expression, "If you feel far from God, who moved?" This implies the person has lost faith and therefore feels far from God. But is this always the case? That person may be in the midst of a great test of faith.

True, we may feel far from the long suffering, good Presence (Ex 34:6-7) because of our own blindness and sins, or try hiding from the Lord, to no avail, of course. (Gen 3:8; Jon 1:3) True repentance is then required for reunion with Him. (2 Cor 7:10)

Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. (Ps 83:16)

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Ps 73:28)

When God's presence is a wonderful consolation, then his omnipresence is, too.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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