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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

What Do You Believe about God the Father? {Lord’s Day 9}

by William Boekestein posted March 3, 2022

This article is part of our weekly series, “Our Life’s Comfort: One Year of Being Shaped by the Scriptures.” Read more from the series here.

(26) Q. What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father for the sake of Christ his Son. I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends upon me in this vale of tears. He is able to do this because he is almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

A 30-year-old musician was driving home from a recording rehearsal. Reflecting on his feelings of loneliness and despondency, he sang these lines to himself: “It’s hard to believe that there’s nobody out there. It’s hard to believe that I’m all alone.” The lyrics became part of a popular song. But the prospect of those lines is terrifying.

Without the biblical doctrine of “God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,” we would all have to say, “There’s nobody out there! I’m all alone!” That’s a hard belief.

The Bible teaches us to believe differently. The first article of the Apostles’ Creed affirms that there is a God. We are living in the world that he has made and sustains. And we can know him as a loving Father!

What Do I Believe about God the Father?

It is possible to become so accustomed to the phrase “God the Father” that we fail to realize how discordant its words are. God is majestic and transcendent. Fathers are familiar and close. So how can God be our Father?

The answer isn’t first about us. Our relation to God doesn’t define or domesticate him. The fatherhood of God isn’t merely a reflection of his function in redemption; fatherhood is his essence. The first person of the Trinity is the “eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” John Calvin asked this question: “Why do you call Him Father? It is with reference to Christ who is His eternal Word, begotten of Him before all time, and being sent into this world was demonstrated and declared to be his Son.” Not as an afterthought but as a consequence, Calvin adds: “But since God is the Father of Jesus Christ, it follows that He is our Father also.”[i] Being bound to Christ by faith puts us in the same special relation as Jesus to God the Father. Not only is there a great somebody out there. But he “is my God and Father for the sake of Christ his Son.”

And our Father is almighty. God is omnipotent, all-powerful. When God promised Abraham a son in old age, he asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). But don’t misunderstand the word almighty. We don’t simply believe that God’s strength is theoretically unlimited but that he actually exercises his might over everything. He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).

Scripture identifies certain emphases in the Father’s works. God is the creator. Yes, because the divine persons collaborate in everything God does, creation is a triune work. The Father created through Christ (John 1:3) as his “Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). But creation is the Father’s special work. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). For the writer to the Hebrews, creation is the first example of what it means to live by faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:3).

God is also the provider. Lord’s Day 10 focuses on providence so we’ll be brief here. But it is important to keep creation and providence connected. God the creator isn’t simply our philosophical answer to the mystery of the origins of the universe—the uncaused cause. We believe that the creator God continually sustains the existence of all he has made; “to be created implies dependence.”[ii] He “still upholds and rules” everything “by his eternal counsel and providence.”

How Does This Knowledge of God Help Me?

How can we—who fear that there’s nobody out there, that we’re all alone—gain comfort and direction from the truth of God’s fatherhood?

God Is Willing and Able to Help Me

The Lord tells his people whom he created and formed, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is. 43:1). God retains authority over everything he has created; nothing can conquer his purposes for us. “Even in this vale of tears,” the adversity believers face is for our good. And God is willing to help us because he is a faithful Father. “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,” he says (4).

Jesus reveals the tragedy of disbelieving in “God, the Father, Almighty,” of insisting that we are all alone. If we reject a providing God, we will still set our hearts on something; we will run after things that never satisfy. But there’s no reason to; our father knows what we need and delights to care for his beloved children (Luke 12:29–30).

God Is Worthy of My Obedience

We are not merely dependent on the creator; we are also accountable to him. The fourth commandment uses the doctrine of creation as a ground for obedience. We must honor the Lord’s Day because “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day” (Ex. 20:11). Creation isn’t simply the reason we should rest. It is also the reason we should work. In his providence God equips us with whatever we need to live fruitful lives to his glory.

And we will account for how we live. “The great significance of the opening statements of the Bible lies in its teaching that the world had a beginning.”[iii] God alone is eternal (1 Tim. 1:17). The world will have an end (2 Peter 3:10). “The origin unfolds into consummation, and the end is already in the beginning.”[iv] In the end each of us will stand before God to be judged by how we have used the light he gave us. Creation teaches us to prepare for that day by trusting in God through Christ, enjoying him and his countless gifts, and behaving wisely in his world.

How important is knowledge of God’s fatherhood? “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”[v] Because the Bible gives us a better understanding, Christians begin confessing the faith with the beautiful truth of our creator Father.

[i]  James T. Dennison, ed., Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume 1, 1523­­–1552 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), Calvin’s Catechism (1545), Q&A 22

[ii] Fred Klooster, Our Only Comfort, 1:276.

[iii] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939),130.

[iv] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1977),442.

[v] J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL.: IVP, 1993), 201.

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