‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth’
This month Timothy Cross begins a journey through the Apostles’ Creed
The Christian faith begins, continues and ends with God – the one true God who made the universe and who has revealed himself in his Word.
The supreme goal of the Christian faith is the glory of God. Even the blessing of humanity is subservient to this purpose. So the true Christian looks to God – ‘I believe in God’- with resolute, steadfast faith in the Lord’s saving grace, wise providence and unbreakable promises.
But can the God of the universe really be known?
Looking up to the skies, the psalmist declared: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork’ (Psalm 19:1-2). He was speaking of God’s general revelation in creation. But, in the Bible, we have God’s even more detailed self-revelation.
Words are the verbal articulation of our thoughts, and the Bible is the very words of God, for ‘all Scripture is inspired by God’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The supernatural superintendence of the human authors of Scripture by the Holy Spirit ensures the absolute accuracy and reliability of this revelation.
Knowing God and knowing the Bible are inseparable. This is especially so because in the Bible we meet God’s Son, his Word in the flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s unsurpassed and unsurpassable self-revelation.
The inspired word bears witness to the incarnate Word, who said: ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).
‘I believe in … the Father’. The term ‘Father’ refers to the first person of the Trinity. Biblical society was patriarchal, so it speaks of God’s authority. He is the ‘Most High’ (Psalm 92:2) and to be revered and obeyed.
God as ‘Father’ also reminds us of the mutual affection between him and his children and his desire for their welfare. ‘As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him’ (Psalm 103:13).
‘Father’ speaks of the wisdom of God. Children look to their parents’ experience and wisdom for advice. The eternal God is infinite in wisdom, for ‘His understanding is beyond measure’ (Psalm 147:5).
Knowing and addressing God as ‘Father’ is a distinctive and distinguishing privilege of Christians alone. Christians submit to God’s fatherly authority and revel in God’s fatherly love. Jesus taught his disciples, ‘Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven …’ (Matthew 6:9).
But knowing and addressing Almighty God as ‘Father’ in intimate, filial relationship is only possible because God’s gracious initiative adopted us into his family.
‘Adoption’ is one of many biblical synonyms for salvation. The Bible makes it clear that by nature we were ‘children of wrath’ (Ephesians 2:3). We were out of God’s family and under his displeasure because of our sin. But when we were born again by God’s Spirit, we were adopted into his family.
When we put our faith in Jesus, our sins were forgiven, God’s wrath against us was turned aside and we became his children for time and eternity. So Christians have become members of the divine household! Having been brought into God’s family through Christ, we are safely under his fatherly care for ever.
But our Father is also ‘Almighty’! And something of his infinite might can be gleaned from the fact that he is ‘the maker of heaven and earth’.
The existence of the universe cannot be divorced from God’s existence. Scripture teaches that the existence of the world is due solely to divine creation: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1).
God’s creation of the universe, merely by speaking it into existence, is evidence that he really is God Almighty. And the fact that our Father created the universe has pastoral implications for the Christian. In Psalm 121:2 we read, ‘My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth’.
Our God is as infinite in mercy as he is in might! He disposes his omnipotent power for the blessing of his people.
Matthew Henry comments: ‘“He made heaven and earth”. And he who did that can do anything. He made the world out of nothing, himself alone, by a word’s speaking, in a little time; and “all very good”, very excellent and very beautiful; and therefore, however great our difficulties and inadequacies are, he has power sufficient for our support, assistance, help and relief’.
And so the Apostles’ Creed – that matchless summary of Christian essentials – begins by affirming the existence, fatherhood and creative majesty of the one true God.
Despite turmoil in the world outside and difficulties within, the Christian takes his stand on this glorious truth and says, ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth’.