February 12th, 2023
Last week I introduced a series of notes on the Nicene Creed. We recite the creed every Sunday in our worship service and I want to consider why we recite it and what it means. In this note, I consider the first word of the creed, which is two words in English: “We believe.” The creed is a confession faith: “we believe.”
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 10:9-10: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Notice the relationship between the two verbs Paul uses, confess and believe. It’s a relationship of heart and mouth, what we believe in our hearts we confess with our mouths. Believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord.
Confession is personal and public: we believe and we confess. The Greek word translated “confess” is homologeo, which literally means to speak the same words: homo (same) + logos (word). Our confession is a public expression of shared belief: we confess one and the same faith with one and the same voice.
Our confession is not a matter of personal opinion or belief. It’s not simply my faith, but our faith, and it’s “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). It’s the “good deposit” which Paul entrusted to Timothy and commanded Timothy to guard and entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others (2 Tim 1:14; 2:1-2). It’s our faith, yes, but it’s our faith which we received and guard and pass on.
The Nicene Creed is a confession of faith in the Triune God, who is revealed and made known to us in Scripture. But why do we need it or any other confession of faith, when we have God’s inspired and inerrant Word? Can (or should) we not simply confess, “Jesus is Lord” as Paul says in Romans 10:9? I will consider these questions in my next two notes.