The first Christians were Jews first. Circumcised Jews. They wanted all new Gentile Christians to be circumcised Jews. The Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, opposed this teaching. It was enough to be Baptized to be Christian. The Gentiles didn’t have to become Jews, but just believe in Jesus Christ.
How do you know you are Christian? How do I know that I am Christian? It is a pretty important question. Today we heard in the Gospel.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
We are Christians if we love him and keep his word. Jesus is God. If we do not believe that Jesus is God, and keep his word then we cannot be Christian.
Jesus and the Father are One, in the Holy Spirit. We are Trinitarian Christians. We believe in One God. We believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons in One God.
This is what the Creed helps us to understand. The “Nicene Creed” is almost 1700 years old, and is based upon the earlier “Apostles Creed”, which may go back to the first generation of the Church. The Creeds help us to know who we are and what we believe as Christians. If you can say the Creed and believe it, and that Jesus is God, then you are a Christian. If not, then you are not Christian. You may be a good person, but you are not Christian if you do not believe that Jesus is God and you keep his word.
Who is a Christian? This is an important question today, and it was an important question in the first generations of the Church.
Many religions believe in God, but don’t believe that Jesus is God.
Let me give you an example. How many of you have experienced Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door. They are usually well-mannered. They bring their bibles and announce that they want to speak to you about God.
Now, you need to understand the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a sect that is less than one hundred years old. Some of their beliefs go back to 1870, but the general group came into existence around 1931, a little after the Mexican Revolution, and the same year American gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion in Chicago. Jehovah’s Witnesses are fairly new. They made up their own Bible, with their own translation. They do not believe that Jesus Christ is Divine; that he is God. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christian.
Neither are Mormons. Neither are Muslims. They may be good people. They are our brothers and sisters. But they are not God, because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as God and Son of God.
This is precisely the reason why we have our Creed.
Now, imagine with me the next time the Jehovah’s Witness come to your home. Why not place the Creed next to the front door? They come in and ask you to talk about God. You welcome them. You say, “Come in!” By the way, I just happen to have a summary of everything Scripture tells us about God right here. Come let us say this together….
“I believe in God……” So far so good….
“Only begotten son of God, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, Consubstantial” (Of the same substance).
Do not be surprised if they are reaching for the door by this time. They can’t finish the Creed with you. They don’t believe it. They came to teach you something else. You need to know your Creed. You need to know if you believe your Creed. If you don’t believe all the Creed, don’t be afraid to ask. That is why it is here, to help us to know who we are.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.