Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”
Answer. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father, on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body, and further; that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.
Lord’s Day 9, Heidelberg Catechism.
The eternal God is my Father!
That in essence is the confession of this Lord’s Day. What a momentous fact that is. How amazing is God’s work of grace whereby we can say: I believe. Almost with bated breath we add: I believe in God. And to that confession we make bold to add: This eternal God ismy Father.
Reflecting on that truth the fathers remind us that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They point out that it is only for the sake of Christ, God’s Son, that we are made sons of God, and thus are brought into the living union and fellowship with God in Father’s Family.
From this follows, according to this Lord’s Day, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is none other than the Almighty God, Who according to His eternal plan and purpose created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain. This same almighty God carriers out His eternal counsel in His providence, whereby He upholds and governs all things.
The blessed significance of all this gradually dawns upon our consciousness as we consider that this God is our Father, Who “will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body.” Yes, as I walk this vale of tears along the very path which He has appointed for me in eternal wisdom and love, and my flesh raises doubts and fears, I may still rest assured that He turns every evil to my advantage. I may rely on Him, come what may, for He directs all things to my salvation. “He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.”
One cannot help but stand amazed at the deep insight that our fathers had in the golden treasures of God revealed to us in the Scriptures. The church of all ages rejoices to behold these riches as they are summed up in the first article of our Apostolic Creed, “I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
We pause a moment with the prayer that as we explore these riches the Spirit of Christ may make this soul-stirring confession ever more our own.
“Abba, Father. “
Never dare we take this name of Father on our lips lightly or thoughtlessly. Only children have the right to call their parents father and mother. It would be an intrusion on their personal rights for someone else to assume that privilege. Although all the men, women, and children born in this world are creatures of God, and as such might be referred to as children, sons of God, yet that right and privilege has now been lost through sin. How anyone who truly realizes his own depravity and guilt before God can boldly assume for himself the right to be called a son of God, is more than I can understand. Too often the name of Father dies on our lips in the consciousness of our daily transgressions, to say nothing of our depravity. In our daily walk of life there is far more reason to plead, “In Thy wrath and sore displeasure chasten not Thy servant, Lord. Let Thy mercy without measure help and peace to me afford.” By our first birth we are children of Adam, conceived and born in sin. We have a depraved nature that reveals all the ugly traits of our spiritual father, the devil. Besides, we transgress all God’s commandments in every desire that arises from our depraved nature, in every thought that flashes through our minds, in every word that passes over our lips, in every deed or action we perform. We only increase our debt of sin constantly in all that we do, so that God has just reason to cast us off in His condemnation.
What wondrous work the Lord has wrought in us! He has made us new creatures, born of the Spirit with the life of Christ within us. Old things are passed away; for us all has become new. We have the Spirit of adoption, Who assures us that we are sons of God and heirs of eternal life. This same Spirit daily transforms us into the likeness of Christ, creating in us the cry: Abba Father. We confess, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should Abe called the sons of God.” The consciousness of this sonship is much richer in the new dispensation than in the old. The name of Father in reference to God appears only rarely in the Old Testament. It must have been somewhat of a surprise to Jesus’ disciples that He taught them to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” It was the Spirit of Pentecost Who brought a richer revelation of the intimate communion of life with our heavenly Father. The secrets of God’s heart are revealed to us through His Word in an ever increasing measure. Yet what secret can be more precious to us than the fact that the eternal God calls us His sons? This is possible only because:
He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is our Savior. His name means “Jehovah saves, ” for the covenant God saves His people from their sins through that one and only Name whereby salvation is made possible, Jesus.
Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed Servant of God. How dare we ever think of the trinity as a cold doctrine? For in the triune life of God pulsates the love that unites the three persons of the trinity in communion of life, and impels them to give expression to that love outside of themselves. God wills that all His glories must radiate in dazzling splendor in all the works of His hands, that all His wide and vast creation may serve to the praise of the glory of His grace in Christ Jesus. In the holy Trinity the Son is the image of the Father, the duplicate of His perfections. Therefore the Son is qualified, as only He can be, to reveal the glory of the Father, which is the glory that fills equally all three persons. The Son is the Word, appointed of God to devote Himself in love to God. He is the Christ, Who eternally stands before God as the chief Servant in God’s House. “I was there,” He says, “in the beginning of his (God’s) ways, before his works of old. . . . I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” (Proverbs 8). To Christ God gives an elect people, the church, making Christ the Head, and making us the members of His body. Or, to change the figure, we are sons in God’s family through our Elder Brother, the Firstborn, Jesus Christ. We are so intimately one with Him, that He cannot exist without us, and we cannot exist without Him.
This is My Father’s World.
According to the recurring testimony of Scripture* and the confession of this Lord’s Day, the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ made heaven and earth, with all that is in them.” Imagine that! Jehovah, the God of our salvation, created the heavens and the earth by Jesus.We need not pause here to consider that creation itself is a wonder, for God spake and it was, He commanded and it stood forth. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:2). But here we see in awesome wonder that the first creation was made with a view to the second. The first paradise was a picture of the heavenly paradise. Adam, our representative head in paradise, was a picture of the last Adam, Who is the Lord from heaven.
Our fathers do not fail to add that the Father of Jesus “likewise upholds and governs the same with his eternal counsel and providence.” This truth is drawn from Scripture, which teaches us that all things were made by Jesus, and for Him, and that by Him they all have their existence. (Col. 1:16-7). This was true already in the old dispensation, as is evident from the ever-recurring appearance of the Angel of Jehovah, Who is the Old Testament manifestation of the Christ. This becomes still more evident when Christ comes into the flesh to lay down His life for His own. He pays the ransom for sin by His bitter, shameful, and painful death of the cross, not only to redeem His sheep, but also to redeem the whole creation from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19-22). Wherefore God has also exalted Christ to a position of power and authority above all the angels in heaven, above all the demons of hell, and over all the creatures of the earth, including all the wicked. At the name of Jesus, our Savior, every knee must bow and every tongue must make the confession, “Lord Jesus Christ,” to the glory of the Father. (Phil. 2:11). Our Father sits on His throne in the heavens, in order to carry out His eternal purpose to bring many sons to glory through the death and salvation of Jesus Christ, Who is our Lord, ruling over us and in us by His boundless love. All things are ours, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. This is indeed our Father’s world. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ!” (Ephesians 1:3).
On Whom I rely.
Our Catechism speaks of this valley of tears, and of doubts that assault us while we traverse this valley. Scripture speaks of it as the valley of the shadow of death, which we enter when we are born, through which we wend our way as long as we live, and pass through its exit at death. It would be a valley of intense horrors of great darkness, without a ray of hope, if it were not for the fact that Jesus walked this valley and brought into it the dawning of a new day, a new exit to glory. Therefore we can speak of the valley of theshadow of death. But the shadow still hovers heavily over us. There are tears because of sin and because of the many sufferings of this present time; there are crosses to bear, there are trials and temptations that weary us.
But our eye of faith is directed toward our Father in heaven. We rely on Him, casting our cares upon Him, for He cares for us. What appears to be a great evil He turns to our advantage. When we complain that all things are against us He assures us that He is on our side, so that nothing can harm us. He holds us by His hand, directs us by His counsel, and after the weary night is spent, takes us into His glory.
He is Almighty God. He can do it.
He is our faithful Father. He will do it.