Wednesday, February 03, 2010

0 Advice from Olevianus on Understanding the Apostles' Creed

In the recent publication by Reformation Heritage Books in the Classic Reformed Theology Series, An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed, by Caspar Olevianus, we find an extremely helpful and important pair of recommendations for studying and understanding the articles of the Apostles' Creed. Come to think of it, these guidelines are eminently helpful in understanding ANY point of doctrine.

Olevianus writes,
"The guidelines that we should always have in view when explaining and reflecting on the creed are as follows. First, not only should one's mind know the history in each article (such knowledge by itself is not saving, since we see in James 2[:19] that even the demons have it - and tremble), but the heart itself shoudl embrace in genuine trust the promise of God and the realization of that promise in and because of Christ that lies hidden in each article (Acts 13:32,39). Analyze each of the articles, therefore, as to its promise and realization, and you will find there the full richness of that wonderful κοινωνίας with the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that throughout the gospel is promised and granted to the believer (1 John 4:14-15).

The second guideline is this: in applying the promise, look to God's decree that a body and soul be fashioned and adapted to the Son of God, so that the things He accomplished would be done in the name of every believer. Indeed, they would be accomplished in such a way that the obedience presented in His person to the Father would, by the decree and gift of His Father, be as surely yours as if you presented them in your own body and soul. And they would be accomplished in such a way that He would give life to and glorify you by the same efficacy by which the λόγος brought from death to life and glorified the humanity He had assumed. For that is the decree of God, His unchangeable will, on which we can safely lean. (pp. 18-19, Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed, emphasis mine)
What a wonderful framework Olevianus has given here - the view of all the doctrines the Creed touches on in light of the promise of salvation, and the effecting of that promise in the believer's life, by way of the life, death and resurrection of the Incarnate Son of God. Olevianus is very particular here to speak of the attribution of Christ's obedience, in His humanity, to every believer - and that this attribution, or imputation of Christ's righteousness is OURS by God's decree. If we looked upon every doctrine in this light - that God has covered our sin, that Christ has taken it and become sin for us, that we are the righteousness of God in Him - we would have a most God-glorifying perspective on all that we learn in Scripture. Thanks be to God for this writer from our faithful elder brother.



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