Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | April 18, 2006

I Believe in God – Part One

It is a lamentable fact that many Christians are ignorant to and/or hostile towards theology.  I have learned this to be true in my short Christian journey (it'll be 12 years this coming May 15).  Recently, listening to the White Horse Inn (http://www.whitehorseinn.org/) they have conducted interviews at Pastor's conferences and Christian Bookstore conventions asking basic questions.  Questions such as: What is the gospel?  What is justification? Does anyone seek after God? The majority of respondents in both venues were unable to provide orthodox answers to these basic questions.  Some were even annoyed that these type of questions were being asked.  It is very common to hear Christians deemphasize doctrine and emphasize the relationship aspects of the faith (This was a theme referred to in my senior paper.  See 4/15/06, 4/16/06 and 4/17/06 posts).  Furthermore, I've even heard from members in my own church express a disdain for the pursuit of theology.  Why this animosity towards theology? When theology literally means the study of God, how could this be so offensive to people?

Well, to answer this question is beyond the scope of this entry series.  Maybe some other day we can take up this topic.  Nonetheless, the effect of this point of view has brought about alot of confusion in Christendom.  One thing that is very frustrating to me is the lack of consistency among Christians in the public square.  When I listen to non-christian talk shows or news shows that interview or take calls from people of faith there appears to be as many versions of Christianity as their are Christians.  Most representatives on these shows are unaware of the basic docrtinally categories, thus provide answers or responses that are absent of any foundation of basic Christian doctrine.  Its kind of embarrassing to see the greatness of the Christian faith being reduced to this level of incoherency. 

As a result, for the next coming weeks (maybe months) I would like to conduct an overview of basic doctrine.  More specifically Reformed Doctrine, of which I have found to be the most faithful to the Scriptures.  Before I begin I'd like to commend to you all a book by RC Sproul that provides an introduction to the primary doctrines that distinguish Reformed Theology from others (https://ecom.ligonier.org/ecom/product.asp?idProduct=WHA01BP)  (It is on tape also).

We will begin with ecumenical (or universal/catholic (not Roman Catholic)) creeds of the church.  There is unity here among Roman Catholic, Protestant (Reformed and Non-Reformed), and Eastern Orthodox Churches.  The oldest of the creedal statements is the Apostles Creed, which states the following:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to hell.  The third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the reseurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.

Question 24 of the Heidelberg Catechism points out that this creed is divided into three parts.  God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.  Here we see the implicit reference to the Trinity, which will be more explicitly referred to in the Nicene Creed.  Nonetheless, the purpose of this creed appears to provide a universal outline of a Christian profession of faith. 

Today we will take up the topic identified in the first sentence of the creed about God the Father.  The question and answer to Question 26 of the Heidelberg Catechism states the following: 

Question:  What do you believe when you say, "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth"?

Answer:  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, 1 who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, 2 is my God and Father because of Christ his Son.3  I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, 4 and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.5 He is able to do this because he is almighty God;6 he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.7

Scripture references noted above

1.  Genesis 1 & 2:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…  Exodus 20:11:  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy…Psalm 33:6:  By the word of the Lord the heavens were made and by the breath of His mouth all their host…Isaiah 44:24:  Thus says the Lord your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the Lord, am the make of all things, streching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone…Acts 4:24:  And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them…Acts 14:15: and saying, "Men why are you doing these things?  We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

2.  Psalm 104:  They all wait for You to give them their food in due season…  Matthew 6:30:  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith…Matthew 10:30:  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered…Ephesians 1:11:  Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…

3.  John 1:12-13:  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God…Romans 8:15-16:  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…Galatians 4:4-7:  But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might received the adoption as sons.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba Father!"  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son and if a son, then an heir through God…Ephesians 1:5:  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…

4.  Psalm 55:22:  Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never all the righteous to be shaken…Matthew 6:25-26:  For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they…Luke 12:22-31:  …And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?  If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters…

5.  Romans 8:28:  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

6.  Genesis 18:14:  Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son…Romans 8:31-39:…Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Who will seperate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulatio, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword…

7.  Matthew 7:9-11:  …If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

We can see from the explanation provided by the Catechism the overwhelming testimony from Scripture that God has created all things out of nothing (ex nihilo).  In our next post, we will continue with this same topic further expanding on this creedal statment.  We will defer discussing the attributes of God until we reach Article 1 of the Belgic Confession.    

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