“Apostles’ Creed V: What an Ending!” Ephesians 1:15-23 / Psalm 32:1-2 2 Corinthians 7:10 / Philippians 3:20-21

We are in week 5 of our look at the Apostles’ Creed – let’s review what we have covered thus far:

I believe in God the Father: “Father” indicates the personal relationship we have with God, because of Christ.

Almighty: Almighty – God is not your co-pilot or the man upstairs – God is almighty.

Maker of Heaven and Earth: God made everything in heaven, and on the earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord: Jesus is a historic person; Christ is a title, not a last name; Jesus is God’s only Son, and Jesus is our Lord, not just our Savior.

who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: The Holy Spirit came upon a virgin named Mary. Jesus is fully human, fully God.

suffered under Pontius Pilate: Jesus was betrayed, arrested, illegally tried, wrongly convicted and sentenced. He suffered under a local governor, just as the scriptures said he would.

was crucified, dead, and buried: Jesus was executed in the most disgraceful manner possible. He died, and was laid in a borrowed tomb.

he descended into hell: He was forsaken by his heavenly Father. He went to hell for three days.

the third day he rose again from the dead: We know about that – he was raised by God the Father.

he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: Jesus didn’t ride off into the sunset – he was taken up into heaven.

from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: Scripture tells us Jesus will return someday and we will be judged.

I believe in the Holy Ghost: We believe in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the triune God, the Trinity. Jesus ascended to heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to walk alongside us.

This week, we finish the creed:

the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.


What is the church to you? This section of the Apostles’ Creed tells us it’s important to God. The church should be our number one priority. The apostle Paul speaks of the church as a “bride, adorned for her husband.”

Let’s begin with the holy catholic church – we’ll get to the word “catholic” in a moment. Until the eleventh century, the Christian Church was “headquartered” in two cities – Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey) and Rome. There were some disagreements on the person of the Holy Spirit, and the two churches split into eastern (Greek) and western (Latin) parts. The eastern part became what we now call Orthodox and the western part became Roman Catholic. Even as this divide developed over a long period of time, both sides were still contributors to the words in the Apostles’ Creed.

One significant addition to the Creed was the word “catholic,” which means “universal.” The term was actually used by the eastern churches early on. At the same time, the version used by the western church simply read, “the holy church.”

When we recite the Apostles’ Creed, we say “I believe in the holy catholic church.” I have been asked this questions many, many times: “Hey, I’m not Catholic! Why do we say we believe in the catholic church? Are we talking about North American Martyrs?”

No, we are not – maybe you’ve noticed the lower-case “c.” The word “catholic” (lower-case c) means “universal.” Some congregations substitute “Christian” for “catholic.”

When we say, “I believe in the holy catholic church” we are referring to the worldwide, universal church. We are declaring that we believe in the unity of the believers in Christ who make up his church. The universal church of Christ is not confined to a particular building, or to one nation, or even to one denomination.

The church in which we believe, the holy catholic (lower-case c) church, is found throughout the world wherever Christians assemble. We demonstrated this last week when we made a promise on behalf of the universal church to help encourage and grow the faith of Lillie and Walker.

Listen to what Paul has to say, Ephesians 1: 15-23: For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Paul calls the church the Body of Christ. God uses the Church (amazingly enough, that’s us, folks!) to carry out Jesus’ commission to share the Good News with the world. Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed tell us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Remember, he is not here – we read that last week – Jesus had to go to heaven so he could send the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to help us.

Jesus is not here bodily, but we, his people are – we are his body; his hands are not here, but he will use our hands; his feet are not here, but he will use our feet; his voice is not here, but he will use our voices. We are his workmanship, called to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Maybe you’ve heard this before – “You and I may be the only Bible some folks will ever read – what are they reading?”

The communion of saints

Believe it or not, we are a communion of saints! Ever think of yourself as a saint? The word “saint” simply means those who are set apart for God’s purpose. Saints are not those who are sinless (otherwise there wouldn’t be any). But rather, saints are those who are forgiven. Gee, I guess that includes all of us, right?

The word “saint” includes all those who believe in God’s forgiving grace through Jesus Christ. Again, I hope you know that includes all of us. To such folks God gives new life and we become a reflection of the light of God.

In the Ephesians passage we read earlier, you may recall hearing the words “God’s people” and “his holy people.” I didn’t read the whole Bible, but as far as I can tell, the word “saint” does not appear in the bibles we have in our pews. For some reason, the editors decided to use “holy people” or “God’s people” instead of saints. Perhaps they were nervous about using such a term…

Again, based on the characteristics we just heard, saint not only includes the special people throughout history whom we hold up as “great” believers of the faith. It includes those “regular” people who have gone before us, and those who have yet to believe. Maybe there is someone sitting here this morning who has yet to believe, but is chosen by God to become a saint today!

It also includes you and me – WOW.

As we declare in the Creed, we are in “communion” with each other, and we will enjoy such unity forever with all believers.


The fact that we are part of the holy catholic church, and the fact that our communion is a communion of saints, is dependent on one great yet very simple idea – the forgiveness of sins. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:10-11: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

The Bible is God’s magnificent plan of redemption. Although we certainly have no righteousness of our own, the righteousness of Christ has been given to those whom he has claimed as his own. Thanks to the work of Christ, we have been declared righteous.

Let’s read our next passage, Psalm 32:1-2: Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Forgiveness is restoration, not probation. God doesn’t keep us hanging by saying, “Let me see how you behave in the next six weeks or so, then I’ll decide if I really want to forgive you or not.”

2 Corinthians 7:10: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.

1 John 1:9, which we heard this morning, encourages us as believers to confess our sins and by faith accept Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing. And as we know from the Lord’s Prayer, this forgiveness also includes our forgiving others as God has forgiven us.


Christ was raised from the dead – we also will be raised, resurrected. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul speaks extensively about our resurrected body – we are body and soul together. After Jesus was raised, he appeared in his resurrected body.

Listen to Philippians 3:20-21: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

The final words of the Apostles’ Creed are “…and the life everlasting.” Christ does not only give us joy and purpose for our lives here on earth, but also the promise of eternal joy. John 14:2 tells us Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and he will return to take us home to be with him for eternity.

How many times have we sung the last stanza of Amazing Grace: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.”

The church is God’s family, the bride of Christ, believers of all ages, set apart as uniquely God’s. The church is those who claim the forgiveness of sins, and who look forward to the day of resurrection.

This is what we affirm when we recite the last part of the Apostles’ Creed.

Oh, one more thing before we close – Christians have been standing and declaring what they believe for almost 2,000 years. And these 110 words are glorious. But alas, this Creed is empty without the sincere and passionate response of a life yielded in service to God Almighty.

When you recite this Creed next, how will it be for you?

Will you savor each word, each phrase, with a full and honest heart?

Or are these just empty words for you?

My brothers and sisters, let’s mean what we say when we say it!

Oh, I forgot one more word.