What we now know as the Apostles Creed descended from an earlier form of the creed, known as the Old Roman Symbol. The beginning of the creed dates from as early as the second century. We do not have any direct evidence that it was penned by any of the apostles, but it is an admirable summary of the apostolic teaching.
The fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name late in the Creed does not make Him an afterthought. He is not present here as a postscript. When we begin the Creed with the words I believe, this is only possible because the Holy Spirit has been at work. He is the one who quickens us into new life, and who is therefore the one who consequently enables us to believe any aspect of the gospel.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Summary of the Text
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). We see here in our text that the Spirit and the Word accompany one another. The word of truth, the gospel, the message of salvation, is the thing anointed, and the Spirit is the one who anoints it with Himself. He anoints the message by anointing the believing ears that hear the message. This is how we are sealed. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of promise. He is the one who was promised through the prophets, and the one who fulfills the promise, as well as the present comforter who renews the promise.
Not A Blind Force
Because the work of the Spirit is to testify to Jesus (Rev. 19:10), and the work of Jesus is to bring us to the Father (John 14:6), it is sometimes easy for us to start taking the Spirit’s “behind the scenes” identity for granted. But we must understand Him, and this begins with understanding that He is a Him. He is not an impersonal force, like electricity or something.
Throughout the New Testament, we consistently find the Holy Spirit referred to by the masculine personal pronoun, despite the fact that the word spirit is grammatically neuter. As a Person, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph. 4:30). It is possible to lie to Him, as Ananias and Sapphira did (Acts 5:3).
The Holy Spirit speaks commands and can be obeyed (Acts 10:19-21). The presence of the Spirit is a comforting presence (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit has a will (1 Cor. 12:11). There are many other such passages. Included in the Trinity, the Spirit is not an impersonal addition to the other two persons.
In God to God
Remember that there is only one God, and this God exists in three eternal persons. These persons are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We need to consider this triune God in two different ways. Note that we are considering Him in two ways; we are not considering two Gods. Theologians distinguish God as He is within Himself (the ontological Trinity) and God as He works in our midst (the economic Trinity). The following illustration is an illustration of His economic working.
“For through him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph. 2:18). The Father is the city we are driving to, the Son is the road we travel, and the Holy Spirit is the car. The Father is the harbor we are sailing toward, the Son is the ocean, and the Holy Spirit is the wind behind us in our sails. The triune God brings us to Himself along Himself by Himself.
The Earnest of Our Inheritance
Our text says that we were sealed by the Holy Spirit. This is said a number of times. “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:22). The word for earnest is arrabon, meaning down payment or earnest money. It means pledge, deposit, or guarantee. God gives us Himself as an earnest payment on our final inheritance, our final salvation. Someone might say that this does not prevent someone so sealed from going to Hell. Well, all right, but that means that if a sealed believer goes to Hell, the Spirit goes there with Him.
What good is a guarantee that guarantees nothing? God is not like a dishonest merchant who gives out lifetime guarantees, where the guarantee is only for the lifetime of the product. “It is guaranteed to work until it doesn’t.” “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 5:5). The verse after our text says the same thing. “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14).
The Spirit Glorifies Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit, and He is the one who enables us to believe everything that we should, in gladness rejoicing.
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:18–20).
What produces the same effect in the parallel book of Colossians? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). Put these two passages together. The Spirit is not the “fluid” that fills us. Rather, He is the agent who fills us with something else, the word of Christ. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly by means of the Holy Spirit . . .” We believe in the Holy Spirit, most certainly, but we believe from within Him.