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    I BELIEVE(Questions 22-23)

    Christianity is one of many religions. In each religion there are special things that the people who follow that system believe in. And their beliefs set their particular religion apart from all others. Christianity is no different in that regard. We as Christians believe certain things to be true of God and Jesus that other religions may not believe to be true. In the same way, other religions hold truths that we Christians would say are not true at all. So the question is this-how do we know who is right and who is wrong? Is everybody right? Or is only one religion the true way to God? The Catechism begins to answer this question for us in this week's study.

    22. What must a Christian believe?
    All that is promised to us in the Gospel, which is explained by the Apostles' Creed.

    23. What is the Apostles' Creed?
    1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
    2. And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord.
    3. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary;
    4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell;
    5. The third day He rose again from the dead;
    6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    7. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    8. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
    9. I believe a holy catholic church, the communion of saints;
    10. The forgiveness of sins;
    11. The resurrection of the body;
    12. And the life everlasting.

    Those are alot of things to believe in, huh? It might sound complicated now, but as we break each part down over the next several weeks you will see that it is very simple and easy to understand. God made it this way because He wants you to be sure of what you believe. Speaking of which, let's take a little test to see how belief affects everything in your life.

    Try to think of something that you used to believe that you no longer do today. How about the boogeyman? Remember when you were a little kid, how you were so afraid that there was some kind of goblin hiding under your bed or in your closet. And because you believed it, because you were so sure the boogeyman existed, you did what? Well, you checked under your bed before you turned off the light. You made sure the closet door was shut tight. Maybe you had your mom leave on a nightlight so the room wouldn't be completely dark. Your belief in the existence of the boogeyman made you do all these things. But once you realized there was no boogeyman things changed, didn't they? Now you wanted the light off so you could sleep better. You didn't bother checking under your bed or in your closet because you found out the truth-there is no boogeyman. He is fiction.

    Now let's apply this to the Apostles' Creed. The creed gives us some basic things that we need to believe if we are to call ourselves Christians. We need to believe that God is our Father and Creator. If we don't believe that, then we are forced to say that we came from apes or evolved from a snail! We need to believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. If we don't believe these things about Jesus, then we have to admit that Jesus wasn't perfect and sinless. And if He wasn't perfect then He couldn't die for us-which means we are still dead in our sins. Do you see how one affects the other? How about this last one-that Jesus rose from the grave after three days. Do you think it is possible to be a Christian and still believe Jesus didn't rise from the grave? Of course not! If Jesus is still in the grave, then sin and death conquered Him and not the other way around. And if sin conquered Jesus you can be sure it will conquer us as well.

    What we believe will have a direct impact on how we act. In other words, if Jesus didn't rise from the grave, then I should just go out and sin up a storm because one day I will have to die and that will be that. If God isn't the Creator and Almighty, then I should go hide in my bedroom because there is no one keeping the world in check and something bad could happen at any moment. Do you see how what you believe will change the way you act? Just as your belief in the boogeyman made you spend your nights in fear, if you are not sure of what to believe about God you will also live your whole life in confusion and fear.

    This is why the Apostles' Creed is so important. It takes all the things that the Gospels teach and promise us and puts them into twelve sentences or articles. By understanding these articles we will see what all Christians have believed about God since the days of Jesus. It is called the Apostles Creed because these are the things the Apostles taught to their students and so on. The Creed also helps us in two other ways:

    1. To check out other religions that claim to be Christian(Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.) and to see if they are really true
    2. To check ourselves to see if we believe what is necessary for all Christians to believe.

    In the lessons ahead we will study each article of the Creed and learn more about the promises of God and what we can know to be true about Him and Jesus.

    1. What must we believe to call ourselves Christians?
    2. Name five of the ten important things the Creed says about Jesus.
    3. In what two ways will the Creed help us?
    1998 Pomona Youth Chapel/Pastor Tim Shultz