He has spoken through the Prophets.
The first thing to notice here is that God is not distant but communicates with humanity. Throughout the Bible, God (through the Holy Spirit) made himself known. Sometimes He spoke directly to people and at other times He spoke to larger groups through a prophet.
A. The Prophets Write
Eventually these prophets turned their spoken messages from God into the written books that we now call the Old Testament. Many of these books included historical events that were not specifically messages from God. They did show, however, how God worked through the nation of Israel.
The Jews recognized that even these books which were mostly history were still inspired by God. They called the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings the “Former Prophets” (“former” meaning “earlier”). Books that most people consider more traditional prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 Minor Prophets) were called the “Latter Prophets.”
What this shows us is that the concept of a prophetic book is much wider than commonly thought. Even a book that did not contain a direct message from God to the reader was a work of a prophet if God was behind it. We call this process “inspiration.” Inspiration literally means: “God-breathed.”
So, when the church leaders who met to draw up this creed declared that God “has spoken through the prophets” they referred to the written Scriptures which included the Jewish Old Testament and Christian New Testament.
B. Deciding What God had Said
Not all religious books written within Judaism or Christianity were considered to be inspired.
This is discussed in an article in the GCC Guide to the Bible series, Origins. Some of these writings were considered valuable and reflecting proper beliefs. However, the consensus among leaders was that they did not rise to the level of inspiration compared to the other inspired books. Still other books were full of false teaching and were rejected entirely by the church leaders.
By the time this creed was written, (323 AD), the list of books that were considered inspired by Christian scholars was completed. This acceptance made it unnecessary to make a list at these councils since everyone already knew which books were in the Bible. Entire Bibles had even been copied and distributed.
C. The Authority of the Bible
The importance of putting this statement in the creed was that these early church leaders believed that they based their statements on what God had said. And the message of God was contained in the Bible. Therefore, we understand that the Bible reveals what God wants us to know about him and how He wants us to live.
Bob Caldwell, PhD, is Theologian-in-Residence at Network 211.