Today we beginning the conclusion of our series called ‘The Historical Church’ where we’ve focused on the marks of Church given to us in the ancient document from 325 AD called the Nicene Creed. In the first sentence of the last paragraph the creed says this, “And we believe in One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.” We’ve gone over the Church’s unity, the Church’s holiness, the Church’s universal nature, and today we turn our attention to the fourth mark of the Church: Apostolic.
The meaning of Apostolic is clear and given to us within the word itself. To say the Church is ‘Apostolic’ is to say the Church is founded on the apostle’s teaching.
The book of Acts makes this crystal clear in Acts 2:42 when Luke, the author, says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Here we see a summary of what the early Church devoted themselves to or continued steadfastly in when they gathered together. They devoted themselves to prayer, to the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper), and fellowship. But notice what’s on the top of the list here? “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” Above all they did, the central object in focus was the teaching of the apostles. This is why we say that the apostles’ teaching is the foundation of the Church.
This is clear to most of us I think and, clear as it may be, it does bring up a number of questions, questions that need answering.
Questions like: ‘Who were the apostles?’ ‘What did the apostles teach?’ and finally ‘Why is the apostles’ teaching so important?’ It is these questions that clarify what we mean when we mention the phrase ‘apostles teaching.’ I’ll zero in on these questions in the next few days as we conclude this series.