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No Creed
By: Robert Berendt (published November 27, 2014)

The word "creed" means a summary of articles of religious beliefs. We can think of the Apostles Creed, or Nicene Creed as examples of statements of belief that have been noted by those groups. Various groups have adopted creeds that differ from one another and in the past, those creeds were defended with great vigor and sometimes with the sword. We learn of the religious wars of the past between Catholic and Protestant and we learn of wars within each of these groups as well. Much blood was shed because one group wanted to promote their creed above all others. We can see a similar result of this sort of thinking in the terrible violence between the Sunni and the Shiite factions of Islam. It is no wonder that people have come to believe that religion is at the root of much of the evil, unrest and war in the world. Records have been kept of missionaries who sacrificed much to promote their particular church. It seems that during wars, the soldiers on one side are blessed and prayed for by their priests while the soldiers of the other side are also being blessed and prayed for by their priests. Those priests might all have been Catholic or of some other faith. Our minds can grasp the irony of the situation and it is obvious that something is dreadfully wrong.

There can be no doubt about the wishes of the Father and Son. God is always and only first (Exod. 20:2,3). Nothing is to take the place of God in our worship and definition of that which is holy. No buildings, figures of stone or wood, images or pictures are to be part of that which we specifically worship. Some say they cannot worship God without something more than just spiritual. God inspired men to write that he is not to be thought of as something made of stone (Acts 17:24-29). He does not dwell in temples or churches and things that come from the mind and imagination of man are not pleasing to Him. God made it clear that humans were not to make for themselves "gods" of silver or stone in their worship of Him. They were to make an altar of earth for their sacrifices. God knew Israel would be travelling, but He went on to say that if they ever did make an altar of stone, they were not to build it of "hewn" stone, because if they used a tool on the stone to shape it, God would consider that profaning the altar. Moses commanded the people of Israel to build an altar of whole stones on which no iron tool had been used when they were in Israel (Deut. 27:5,6). God wanted them to write the law on those stones. Joshua was one of the leaders God was pleased with and he was careful to follow the instruction from Moses in the altar he built (Josh. 8:30-32). He wrote a copy of God's law on those stones. The system of beliefs or creed was clear and intended to be closely followed.

In our modern age, some sincere people have begun to think that in order for the church to grow, concessions need to be made to bring as many as we can into the fold. Modern Christianity has almost lost sight of any creed - that is a written system of what is expected in the behavior of Christians. Just come as you are is the motto - as long as you do come. There are a number of smaller offshoot groups who still insist on adhering to the Scriptures, but a growing number believe that the definition of right and wrong, good and evil or sin in general is to be discarded. The thinking is that if there is no such thing as sin, God would not be angry and punish evil doers, because they do not exist. People would not feel guilty before God. As some have said - "due to Jesus' sacrifice, everyone's sins of yesterday, today and tomorrow have already been erased." Although their intentions may be honourable and genuine, the outcome of this way is to deny the existence of sin. The thought is that many, many more people would then become Christian. It is hard to imagine that no sin exists when the Bible uses the word over 100 times in the New Testament alone. It is in the New Testament that Paul wrote that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). He did follow that up by saying that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. This whole chapter points out that it is unthinkable that we should continue in sin since we know Jesus died for us (Rom. 6:2,11). We are to become dead to sin - that is stop doing that which God defines as sinful and that which brought about the great price that needed to be paid for our sins. "Go and sin no more" was Jesus' admonition (John 5:14,8:11). Sin is the breaking of God's law (I John 3:4-8). John also noted that anyone who sins is of Satan. It cannot be made clearer than this.

Thinking people came to the conclusion that if there was no definition of right or wrong, people would not have to defend their religion. Some believe religion is the cause of the lack of peace and some believe that if there is religion, it ought to be open and willing to accept any and every other form of belief. Modern Christianity has made the removal of all creeds a creed in itself. We begin to worship in a way not designed and stated by God. We are deluding ourselves and in fact worshipping human reasoning. That is what vain philosophy has become - the worship of the human mind and intellect.

Building wonderful church buildings, devoting ourselves to selfless acts of serving and giving, constancy in attendance, dutifully singing the church hymns and being sure to compliment our pastor are not the way we are to serve God - IF those deeds are done with the thought that somehow they will save us or gain some favour from God. We are told that where our treasure is, our heart is also (Matt. 6:21). The giving of our treasure and financial support for the church and the work being done is right and good, but not if our thought somehow makes that into part of our worship with the thought that it makes us good. Our actions are needed, but with the attitude that is pleasing to God. He demands much more than our treasures, He demands our lives (John 12:25). We must want to be saved and God wants to save us, but that salvation cannot come from anything we do - our salvation originates with and depends totally upon God in our lives. Having said all of that, we ought to respect the church, and all that goes with being organized - but that is only our "reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). Paul wrote clearly and forcefully that we are to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice - that is totally and with all our heart, soul and mind. That, Paul stated, is not going above and beyond, it is only reasonable that we do this. We are not to be conformed to this world and its values, but we are to prove what the perfect will of God is - that transforms and changes our thinking (Rom. 12:2).

There is a danger in those with ability, thinking more of themselves than they ought to (Rom. 12:3). There is a danger that we may forget how to worship God and allow our worship to be reflected in the vigor with which we sing or serve, the devotion to the church and the lengthy prayers we make. Vigor, music and prayers are good - but they are part of our heartfelt thanks to Jesus Christ for rescuing us from certain death. We are to bow down to God and not to anything made by our hands or out of our minds. There is to be a creed, a very strong one, but it can only be valuable if it is founded on the clear words of God. Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which the apostles built and on which we continue so serve (I Cor. 3:10,11). He is the Son of God and we follow Him though it may mean suffering the loss of everything in this life (Phil 3:8,9). Paul acknowledged the importance of "not having my own righteousness" but that which comes from God through faith. Having no creed is deadly - just as deadly as the wrong creed. We are to come out of the creeds of this world and walk with Christ.

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