We all believe in one true God,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Strong Deliverer in our need,
Praised by all the heavenly host,
By whose mighty power alone
All is made, and wrought, and done.
And we believe in Jesus Christ,
Son of man and Son of God;
Who, to raise us up to heaven,
Left his throne and bore our load;
By whose cross and death are we
Rescued from our misery.
And we confess the Holy Ghost,
Who from both forever flows;
Who upholds and comforts us
In the midst of fears and woes.
Blest and holy Trinity,
Praise shall aye be brought to thee! — Translated by Miss C. Winkworth.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little — Isaiah 28:10
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. — 1 Timothy 4:13
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. — Titus 1:9
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. — I Timothy 6:3-5
In these days, much is said concerning creeds as though they were of the least possible importance. Some so-called Christian ministers evidently think, with the unbelieving poet, that a man’s creed must be right who lives a respectable and decent life, forgetting the restraining power that men of right creeds have on all about them. The Gospel is a creed—an imperative, intolerant, God-ordained creed. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.’’ These are the words of Jesus, and they imply the existence of a creed —of something to be believed. Men with no moral convictions are the men without creeds. Men who excuse sin and make it trivial in the moral universe are the men without creeds. Men who think God is careless, indifferent, and oblivious concerning the violations of the divine law are the men without creeds. Men who make myths about heaven and hell, resurrection and judgment, are the men without creeds. While they maintain respectability and good conduct, the men who are worldly, self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking, and selfish are the men without creeds. Genuine Christian character independent of the Christian creed is nearly impossible. Jesus was a creed-maker. Hear him: “Ye believe in God”—the God of the Scriptures, the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternally self-existing God. “Ye believe in God’”—the lawmaker and administrator of the material and moral realms, the watchful, faithful, loving friend of all men. This faith in God is the first article of this creed. And the second is like unto it: “Believe also in me.” Believe in me as the Messiah, whose coming has been foretold from Genesis to Malachi; in me, of whom Moses and the Psalms and the prophets all testify; in me, the only begotten Son of God, the I Am of the Old Testament, equal with the Father, self-existent from all eternity, the Redeemer and Saviour of humanity. The Lord Jesus had no idea of character without creed, and it would seem that there must be something wrong with a man’s head or heart who denounces against creeds.
This present hour needs that God’s people “should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Furthermore, as John Wesley says, “we are to contend earnestly, yet humbly, meekly, and lovingly, for the faith, for all fundamental truths, once delivered by God, to remain unvaried forever.”’ This is no time for laxity and latitudinarianism. The imperative duty of this eventful hour is to refuse to waiver “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end,” “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth are no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”’ These, and such as these, are men with creeds. They are the men to stand up against the tide of irreligion, unbelief, and carelessness of God and his truth that wrathfully or insidiously would undermine the bulwarks of our faith and hope. A ministry that is really and truly evangelistic will stand upon this ground and, under all circumstances, will proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus. Such a ministry will not spend time apologizing for the truth or simply defending it. Still, it will stand out boldly, take the aggressive, and always be ready “with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s word.” There can be no possible substitutes for such methods and for such a ministry. The more pronounced, definite, evangelical, experimentally practical, and biblical the minister’s views, the more evangelistic he will be and the better adapted to all the necessities of these extraordinary times.
We must not lose sight of the great truth of the Gospel. At the same time, it involves using the intellect, even the greatest powers of the greatest intellect. While it requires a definite creed based on the word of God, it also takes cognizance of the affectional nature of man. “With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.” Some people with superficial culture and timid natures believe that a Christian should be a bit of ice—clear ice, it may be, but devoid of emotions. They have not the remotest appreciation of the experiences of Jesus and John and Paul or of the unnumbered millions of holy souls that have ached and throbbed and agonized for sinners in danger of eternal doom and have exulted and sung and shouted over victories won. To live without emotion, to suppress all manifestations of love and joy, to be good without a creed, to be a proper, impossible thing instead of a sympathetic soul, to be a polished marble statue instead of a living man, seems to be the height of possible attainment. These are the people who would have driven the Syrophenician woman away from Christ; who would have sent the man home from his neighbor’s house without bread; who would have stood by the grave of Lazarus with never a sigh heaving the breast, or a quiver on the lip, or a tear brimming the eyes. These people would not have rejoiced with the woman who found her lost money, the man who discovered his wandering sheep, or the prodigal’s father when his poor, wayward, sinning boy came home. Thank God, the Gospel is complex and comprehensive, meets the wants of all men, and appeals to all the powers, capabilities, and faculties of our natures. It is not a poor, one-sided, unsymmetrical, deformed thing, like a post in the ground to which young twigs are tied to keep them straight; it is an inspiration, an influence, an energy, an attraction, a divine manifestation of truth, pity, compassion, love, combined with omniscient power for the uplift of the soul and the salvation of the race.
By Bishop W. F. Mallalieu
Updated 2023 Nathan Zipfel