That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. - 1 Corinthians 15:4
This statement of belief was one of the earlier creedal statements in the New Testament. Quite possibly believers who repeat phrases like this, say it in unison or memorize them. From the days of the Apostles till now the Church has had creeds and statements of belief that summarized Biblical statements bringing them into a simply form. Because of illiteracy and lack of access to written materials most of Church history was oral where letter and Scriptures were read aloud. Therefore the use of creeds to orally believe and repeat was essential. Most evangelical denominations accept and use the Apostles Creed which is the oldest longer creed. The Nicene Creed was formed in the Council of Nicaea in 325 where leaders of most of the Churches were represented. The main reason for the council meeting was to address the false teachings of Arianism. Arius was a presbyter (elder) in Alexandria in Egypt who taught that Jesus was created and not God in the true sense. This error in the Church followed the same thinking of many Gnostic false teachings, that matter was evil so God could not truly become flesh or dwell bodily in flesh.
Here is part of the Nicene Creed: "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man." Some believers see this council as the turning part of the Church and that apostasy happened right afterwards. This is for the fact that Emperor Constantine granted religious liberty and special favour to Christians in the Roman empire at this council. There are many books and modern evangelical authors that speak so negatively of this time that one would think it would be evil to even say the Nicene Creed itself. Yet this creed was laying the solid foundation for the testimony of the Church and how to deal with false errors and sects. In modern times the amount of groups that have arisen that continue in Arian doctrine is shocking. Many larger cults in our day teach Jesus was just part of God's creation, including Jehovah witnesses that boast that Arius himself was a great witness to the truth. There are also many modern pentecostal type groups that have declared there is no Trinity and Jesus is God alone. Though there have been groups that have existed that were break away groups, many of them were not healthy and had false doctrines or errors that were corrected by such Church councils as Nicea. The Church has never been perfect, it has been assaulted and mixed with the world during seasons of compromise, yet the physical gathering of God's people still exist till today, carrying many of the early Church traditions and Spirit. Though the Church is separated into many streams and wineskins it still is unified by many things including ancient statements such as the Nicene Creed.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon