The Apostles' Creed has been used by millions of Christians around the world since the fourth century. Even though it was not written by the original twelve apostles, every single line in the creed was affirmed by the apostles and earliest Christians. The twelve things it emphasizes are twelve important things we learn about Christianity in the New Testament. There are twelve things the Apostles' Creed teaches us:
1. God is not only our powerful creator, but is also our caring Father.
The first article gives us confidence in the power of God, because all creatures are dependent on him for existence. It also gives us confidence in the love of God, that no creature can separate us from our faithful Father.
2. Jesus Christ is our Lord.
The second article reminds us that we are not our own, but belong to Jesus who has made us his own.
3. Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit through Mary.
This third article is important because Jesus’ innocence from conception to the end of his life is what covers all of our sins. Since he was conceived and born like us in every respect, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15; 7:26, 27), he is able to redeem us from the curse of God’s holy law. Unlike us, and all babies who are born after the Fall (Genesis 3), Jesus was sinless from conception and birth.
4. Jesus suffered, was crucified by the Romans in the first century, and died.
In this fourth article, we confess that Jesus lived the perfect life and died the death that we deserved in order to save us from the wrath of God. In addition, we are reminded that the Christian faith is an historic faith—Jesus lived and died at the same time that Pontius Pilate, an obscure Roman governor, was ruling. This is not myth or fairy-tale, it is a faith founded on facts.
5. Jesus rose from the dead.
This fifth article teaches us that by his resurrection Jesus overcame death so that he could make us partakers in his death and resurrection. His resurrection from the dead is a pledge to us that we too will be raised from the dead as he was.
6. Jesus ascended into heaven and is exalted.
In this sixth article we affirm that Jesus is now our Advocate in heaven before our Father, pleading and interceding on our behalf and for our sake. When he ascended, Jesus also poured out his Spirit upon us, his church, gifting us with a down payment of what is to come.
7. Jesus will return in judgment.
This seventh article is an especially great comfort to those who are suffering and who face persecution. We affirm that Jesus will come to make every wrong right, and that his war will be the war to end all wars indefinitely. All of his people will then enter into glory and have everlasting joy and life.
8. The Holy Spirit is a person of the Holy Trinity.
The eighth article reminds us that the Holy Spirit is a person in the Godhead, just as the Son is God and the Father is God. We are also comforted by the fact that the Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ who is in heaven, and makes us more and more like him each day—gifting us with his benefits each Lord’s Day as we hear the word preached and taste the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
9. The church is universal.
This ninth article reminds us that God has since the beginning of time always gathered, defended, and preserved for himself his church. It spans across all ages and in many different places, and it is in this church that all of us Christians belong.
10. There is a fellowship of Christians across all times and places.
The tenth article concerns the communion of saints. We do not only belong to Jesus Christ, but we belong to one another—to all who share the name of the Triune God and call on the name of Jesus. Since we belong to one another we should readily share our gifts with those in need, and any abundance we have we should seek to bless and further Christ’s church on this earth.
11. Our sins are truly and really forgiven in Christ.
The eleventh article is perhaps the sweetest of them all. Because of what Jesus has done for us in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, God will no longer remember our sins against him and our neighbors. To all of you who believe in Jesus Christ alone, you are no longer under condemnation.
12. Our bodies will be resurrected. Heaven is for real.
The twelfth article concludes with a strong emphasis on the reality of our bodily resurrection. Too often we tend to think of the spiritual life as exclusively soul-related, but it is just as much bodily. Further, there is no greater comfort than to know that in Christ, soon we will be in total possession of perfect blessedness—such than no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived of. Heaven is for real, and we will be with the Triune God soon.