The Apostles Creed is made up of three short paragraphs, one each for each ‘person’ of the Trinity. So what does the Creed have to say about the Trinity?
First it identifies the three ‘persons’: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit, which is a more easily-understood term for modern ears). Christians do not worship three gods — far from it. We worship one God with three… aspects, so to speak, or three ‘persons’ as the theologians put it.
So who are the three ‘persons’ the Creed talks about?
First, the Father: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” God is a God who reveals Himself as Father: He cares about us, tends to our needs, listens to our concerns, is strong, wise, compassionate, loving. This can be a difficult concept for those who have had less-than-ideal human fathers. This Father is a true father who is always near, will never leave, and will always love. He wants — and works for — the best in each person.
God is also a Father in the sense of producing new life: He is Jesus’ father, and He is spiritual father to all who believe in Him. Jesus taught His followers to address Him as “Abba,” a Hebrew word for “Dad” — intimate and personal, not someone distant.
At the same time God is also ‘almighty,’ meaning worthy ruler of all. And rightfully so — being Creator of all. Whatever one may believe about the origins of the universe, it is not unreasonable to think of the universe as being the result of a mind and heart far greater than our own.
Second, the Son: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.” Jesus’ parents were Mary, a teenager and virgin, and God. He was born into the Jewish tribe of Judah and adopted by Joseph, a carpenter. Joseph, a descendant of the great King David, was (however distantly) in line to the throne of David, and therefore so was Jesus. Having both human and divine origin, Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
“Christ” is a Greek word meaning Messiah — it is a word to describe Jesus’ mission, and is not and was never intended to be Jesus’ last name! Lord is an old-fashioned word basically meaning one with ownership and power, one who is to be obeyed, and one who takes responsibility for those under him.
Jesus’ life ended in his early 30s when He was tortured and nailed to a cross, giving up His life to pay for the sins of all people and to open the door to eternal life for everyone who chooses to walk through it. Three days later He walked out of the grave alive, proving that everything He had said about God was true, and also proving that love — God’s love — is stronger than death.
Third, the Holy Spirit: “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” The Spirit is ‘God within us,’ the aspect of God that lives inside believers. He guides people into God’s wisdom and truth and consistently points the focus onto Jesus and to God. The Nicene Creed adds these thoughts on the Spirit, which I find helpful in describing Him: “the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets…”
Any questions or thoughts?