Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.
For the past few installments of Creed: What Do You Believe?, we’ve taken a bit of a detour. We've talked about that which we cannot see and the armor of God, which is necessary to fight against those powers of evil unseen by the human eye, but very much felt by the spirit. Now, we move back to the Creeds themselves and continue to study what they say to us.
From the Father to the Son
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, the Apostle’s Creed says.
The Nicene Creed is a bit more poetic.
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…
It goes on, but for now we’ll stop there.
That First Bible Verse
Do you remember the first Bible verse you learned as a child? For most of us, it was John 3:16. For many of us, it was learned in the King James Version. I would venture to say that it’s the most easily recognized Bible verse in the world, even among those who claim no religious sympathies.
For God so loved the world,that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
As a Christian, everything—literally everything—we believe rests in the folds of this beloved verse.
God—meaning God the Father.
Loved—in the Greek, agapao. “To love dearly,” Strong’s says. A love so deep, it is attributed to God toward His children and to His Son, Jesus. John 3:25 reads: The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. Again, the word here is agapao.
Later in the book of John (10:17, to be exact), Jesus is recorded as saying, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.” It’s easy to see from these three verses (even though the word agapao is used a total of 110 times in the New Testament), the power behind this word.
This wasn’t just any ole love…like, I “love my new car,” or I “just love that TV show,” or “Don’t ‘cha just love chocolate cake!” No, this is a sacrificial type of love. The love of a Father toward His creation and the love of His Son toward those He would call brothers and sisters…and bride.
The World—Not the earth, but rather those who inhabit it. More specifically, those God knew from before there was time who would seek to love Him with the same passion and desire as He pours out on us.
That He gave—The word “gave,” in the Greek is didomi, which denotes “a gift.”
Allow me to say that again: a gift!
It Really Is Christmas!
My brother is the coolest, bestest Christmas shopper around. For years—and I don’t know if he still does this or not—he went shopping daily for Christmas gifts. Not that he couldn’t find it all the first time out. No. Rather, he took a day (or part of a day) to shop for one person in particular. He didn’t say, “Saturday I’ll go Christmas shopping,” then head out with a list of names and some “suggestions.” He took his time seeking out the perfect gift for those he loves.
One could always bet on a personal, perfect gift on Christmas morning if their name was on his list.
God’s Christmas gift to us is like that. He’s not just buying stuff and wrapping it willy-nilly, then slinging it under our holiday tree. He sent His Son…the best He could send. Giving up His Son was an act of such unselfish love and desire; it truly was and is a gift.
It’s Not Just Greek to Me
So, let’s get back to the beloved verse.
His only begotten—Monogenes. It means, “one of a kind.” Or, “the one and only.” Typically used by parents of their “only child,” it is used here to show God’s only Son that is of a divine nature with Him. Yes, we are God’s children—adopted sons and daughters—but Jesus and the Father are one. “God of God,” the Nicene Creed says.
Very God of Very God.
Next Installment: From the beginning, always and forever, Jesus.
Creed: What Do You Believe?
Creed: Going on the Attack Against Evil Forces