The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
|Introduction to the Nicene Creed
This creed is acknowledged by name in Article 9 of our Confession of Faith.
It expresses the truth of Scripture concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, and it was occasioned by various errors with respect to that truth.
In its earliest form the creed was adopted by the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) over against the heresy of Arianism. It was revised by the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381), which enlarged the confession concerning the Holy Ghost.
The Latin, or Western, Church added to the article on the procession of the Holy Ghost the words, “and the Son,” (Latin: filioque), a change which has been maintained since the Council of Toledo (A.D. 589).
Manipulating the Scriptures
One of the marks of the lie of Satan is falsifying the text of scripture and what it says. This is what the cults do with John 1:1, which is one of the many plain statements of Jesus' divine glory. It may serve to illustrate an important point.
John 1:1 says in English, " In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," (capitalization is used in the translation to emphasize the point of the original).
The text does not say at the end of the verse --and the Word was a god-- but "the Word was God." Changing God to a god is what the cults try to do with the verse.
Concerning this, 1) One of the most basic rules of understanding scripture and indeed of any text is that the same word means the same thing in the same context. There must be a compelling reason in the text or the context to say the same word means two different things in one place. The change from God to a god in the same verse in what is virtually the same breath is a false translation.
2) The Greek language does not contain the English indefinite article, the word "a." It has only the definite article, "the." The inclusion of the word "a" in English is solely determined by the context to make a sensible translation in English.
In the original and in its word order the text literally reads, "the word was with the God and God was the word." The first use of God has the definite article "the' with it to emphasize that there is only one God and that "the Word" was with Him, not alongside as a separate thing but in or to Him . The second use of "God" without the word "the" shifts the emphasis to underscore the divine nature of the Word, "the logos." God, not "a god," was "the Word." The text in the way it is written in the original emphasizes the divinity of the "the Word."
To translate the first reference to God by "God" in John 1:1 and the second by "a god" is done by someone who has a dishonest agenda, who wants to read his own doctrine into the text. This is the deceit of the cults. It is a deliberate false translation which has in view the subversion of the gospel by a false christ.
The text would emphasize that the "word," the logos, in the original was truly God. That is the claim of the text. The text goes on to say, "And the Word was made flesh , and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father: full of grace and truth," John 1:14.
The Nicene Creed: Historical Notes
1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ
One of the characteristics of false gospels and cults is a corruption of Christian doctrine and with that a falsifying of Christian church history. With respect to the doctrine of the Trinity set forth in the Nicene Creed it is commonly claimed by these heretics that the doctrine in the creed was decided by the recently converted emperor Constantine. Such assertions are a deliberate deceit perpetrated on the ill-informed. The doctrine of the Trinity was set forth by the church father Athanasius who was the leading theologian of the church in that era and at the council. For a treatment of Athanasius and his history go to Portraits of Faithful Saints: Athanasius
The cults who make these false claims are themselves usually Arian heretics who want to teach that Jesus is like God, that he is a godlike being, but not true and eternal God. The creed was written expressly to condemn the Arian error. The most notable of these non-Christian cults are the so-called Jehovah's Witnesses, followers of Russell, and publishers of the Watchtower.
There is a distinction to be made between an error and a heresy. An error is a misunderstanding of Scripture. An error becomes heresy when it is pointed out as error and false doctrine, and the one holding it persists, after having been shown his error, to continue in it willfully.
The point of the Nicene Creed, which builds on the Apostles Creed is to maintain faithfully the true, divine glory of Jesus Christ. The heart of the creed is the expression "...And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made." The Creed has John 1:1-3, 14 directly in view. Jesus is God come in the flesh. This is also the testimony of the rest of Scripture. He is Immanuel, "God with us." Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23.
This is Jesus' own claim. God in Exodus 3:14 reveals His divine name "I AM THAT I AM," and tells Moses he is to say, "I AM hath sent me unto you." Jesus in John 8:58 declares, "Before Abraham was, I am." In John 10:30 Jesus says, "I and my Father are one. " Jesus claims to be THE ETERNAL I AM, the living God. The unbelieving Jews understand exactly His claim. In John 10 they proceed to take up stones to stone Him, because, "thou being a man makest thyself God," John 10:33. When Jesus is on trial before the Sanhedrin, the council of elders, He is put under oath by the High priest, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God," Matthew 26:63. The point at issue in all of these confrontations is whether Jesus is divine. Jesus' answer to the high priest is, "Thou hast said," Matthew 26:64. This is an unmistakable "yes." That Jesus is God is therefore His own testimony concerning Himself. See also Hebrews 1:1-3
The further revisions of the Nicene Creed did not alter the truth that Jesus is divine in any respect. It is the historic confession of true Biblical Christianity.
2. The double procession of the Holy Spirit
The original form of the Nicene Creed left one aspect of the Trinity unexplained and that is the relation between the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Eastern church, which styles itself "orthodox" was, after these councils, constantly rent by controversies over the person and natures of Christ and did not develop in doctrine. The western Latin- speaking church at that time had peace and continued to grow in the word.
To this growth belongs the addition to the creed of the expression "and the Son: to state the relation between the second and third persons of the Trinity. That the Spirit proceeds from or is sent of the Father is taught in John 15:26 and in John 14:26.
At issue in this development is the plain teaching of Scripture that the Spirit is sent of the Son and breathed forth of Him as well as the Father. Jesus speaks also of His sending the Spirit and coming in the Spirit. John 15:26; John 16:14, 15. Jesus also breathes forth the Spirit after His resurrection, "he breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost," John 20:22. This sending forth of the Spirit is more than simply Jesus pouring out the Spirit on Pentecost. It is rooted in an eternal foundation within the divine life of God.
By this double procession God has communion of life within Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, knows Himself and has an eternal communion of life in love and righteousness. It is thus that, "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God," and God knows His own infinite glory, I Corinthians 2:10, 11.
This truth is also the foundation upon which rests the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son come in the flesh, is given the Spirit as His own Spirit and pours out the Spirit upon the church as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Mediator. Upon it rests also how it is that we by the Spirit have communion with Christ in heaven and by Him are brought into a communion of life with the triune God.
For Further Study