I Believe in God the Father Almighty
Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem coeli et terrae. believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
The first sentence of the Apostle's Creed is interesting to me. Of all the attributes, characteristics or traits the Church Fathers could have emphasized about the nature of God, they chose just two words - Father Almighty. The framers of the Creed were telling us that if we comprehend the meaning of those two words, we will know who God is.
The challenge is made greater because the phrase "Father Almighty combines two words that don't normally go together. Father goes in one direction, and Almighty goes in another. One of the common Aramaic words for Father in Jesus' day was Abba, a very intimate term that means something like, "Dear father" or "Papa" or even the word "Daddy" The word "Almighty" in the Old Testament translates the Hebrew word shaddai, as in El Shaddai, "Almighty God." That name for God first appears in Genesis 17 when God informs Abram (who is 99 years old) that a year later, his wife Sarah) will give birth to a son. The very thought seems so absurd that Abram laughed out loud. The Lord guaranteed the promise with his name — El Shaddai, the Lord Almighty. If we go all the way to the last book of the Bible, we find the name "Almighty" appearing several times. Revelation 1:8 is a typical example: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'"
So you have two words put together in the Apostles' Creed that summarize who God is — one is intimate and personal, the other speaks of his unlimited power. To call him "Father" means that he is a personal God who cares about me. To call him "Almighty" means that he is able to do whatever needs to be done. There are no limits with him.
This little phrase "the Father Almighty" gives us four grand and important - and if you are a Christian - comforting, spiritual truths to meditate on.
I. 1st WHEN WE CONFESS 'I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY' IT IS REMINDING US OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
- when the creed speaks of God the Father, it is deliberately reminding us of the doctrine of the Trinity
- the first thing that we learn from "I believe in God the Father" is that there is Trinitarian fatherhood in God
- God the Father is Father not simply by virtue of His creation of us and of the world
- He is eternally Father because of His eternal Son
- this point is made in John 5:18
- "This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." (Jn 5:18, ESV)
- claiming to be the Anointed One was heresy enough, but claiming to be on an equal standing with God was blaspheme to the Jews
- the Trinity is not a doctrine invented by the councils of men
- it is a doctrine that is forced on you by doing justice to the biblical text
- Jesus Himself articulated the Doctrine of the Trinity in what we've come to call The Great Commission
- "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mt 28:19-20, ESV)
- God is One and yet He has chosen to reveal Himself in Three Unique Personalities -- Father, Son, and Spirit
- ILLUS. Poet Marjorie Maddow Phifer described the Trinity this way: He stretched skin over spirit like a rubber glove, aligning Trinity with bone, twining through veins until Deity square-knotted flesh.
- why did God the Father incarnate Himself as God the Son?
- "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb 2:14-18, ESV)
- "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him," (Heb 5:7-9, ESV)
- "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." (Jn 14:15-24, ESV)
- "But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (Jn 16:5-14, ESV)
II. 2nd WHEN WE CONFESS 'I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY' IT REMINDS US THAT HE IS THE CREATOR AND THAT WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE
- believe in God the Father also stresses that God is a creational Father
- God is the Father of all of us by virtue of His act of creation
- when the Apostles' Creed speaks of God the Father, it is reminding us that He is the Creator, and because He is the Creator, we are all accountable to Him even as children are accountable to their father
- "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Ps 100:3, KJV)
- it draws a distinction between God and His creation
- God is not part of His creation
- He is not infused into His creation
- He originated it and He is over it
- that's what is being celebrated in Psalm 100
- ILLUS. Our Latter Day Saint friends have something of a Creed concerning God: "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may be." Now, in case you don't get it, that phrase teaches that once upon a time, God was just like us, and that some day, we will be just like God. Now, in case you don't know, it's just not Biblical!
- notice how the Psalmist puts it: "... it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves... "
- that's one of the most important lessons you could ever know
A. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND HIS CREATION IS MADE VERY CLEAR
- the croational fatherhood of God is clearly taugfrHfrtrreBtbte a. it is a doctrine that rules out...
- pantheism - A doctrine identifying the Deity with the universe
- polytheism - The worship of or belief in more than one god
- atheism - Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or god
- deism - The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation
- nihilism - An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence
- solipsism - The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified
- the creational fatherhood of God does not mean that all people are saved
- ILLUS. This is where the Unitarians error. They teach that God is the Father of all human beings, that we are all in a saving relation to God, that there are many ways into fellowship with God, and that Jesus is not necessary for salvation. Jesus may be a good example to follow, but He's just merely one of many ways to express one's loyalty to God.
- ILLUS. A major survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith. 70% of those who are affiliated with a religion, for instance, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. Mainline Protestants led the poll with fully 83% admitting that admitting that Christianity is not the only way to Heaven. Catholics ran a close second with 79% holding that view. Amazingly, even 57% of Evangelical believers acknowledge that Christianity may not be the only way to God.
- Jesus was very clear about the issue
- "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." (Jn 14:6-7, KJV)
- "The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn 6:41-44, KJV)
- all men - saved or lost - are all obligated to Him because He made us.
- and because we are obligated to Him we are accountable to Him
- "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Re 20:11-15, KJV)
III. 3rd WHEN WE CONFESS 'I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY' IT REMINDS US OF HIS GRACE-RELATIONSHIP TO US THROUGH CHRIST
- the Apostles' Creed speaks of the redemptive fatherhood of God
- not only is God a Trinitarian Father, not only is God a Creational father, but God is a Redemptive father
- when we confess / believe in God the Father Almighty it is reminding us of the Father's grace relationship to us through Jesus Christ
- it was a grace that was ours before the foundation of the 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: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his w,"/ (Eph 1:3-5, KJV)
- here is the "good news" of the Gospel of Christ
- the Judge, the Creator who made us, the One who holds us to account, and the One who has every right to punish us for our sins, has in His mercy, adopted us into His family through Jesus Christ
- through Jesus Christ, the Father, Creator and Judge becomes our Father, Redeemer, and Adopter
- and that is the best possible news that you could ever hear
- it is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone that the believing sinner is adopted by the Father
- "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (Jn 1:12, KJV)
- it's a gift of grace
- to those who trust in Christ, He gives the right for them to be called the children, the sons, the daughters of God
- "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Ro 8:15, KJV)
- you don't have it by nature
- and you don't have it inherently
- you receive that as a gift of grace, that is given in God's redeeming, adoptive mercy
- ILLUS. Picture this: A man has committed a horrendous crime, a crime that demands the death penalty. A judge, knowing the defendant's guilt, acquits him by giving his own son to bear the death penalty in the criminal's place. The judge's son is led to the execution chamber where his life is taken from him. The day after his own son's death, the judge publicly announce that he has adopted the criminal as one of his own children. Crazy, you say?
- ILLUS. J.I. Packer wrote: "When the Christian says the first clause of the creed, he puts all this together and confesses his Creator as both the Father of his Savior and his own Father through Christ. A Father who now loves him no less that He loves His only begotten Son. That is a marvelous confession to be able to make."
IV. 4th WHEN WE CONFESS 'I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY' IT IS STRESSING GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY
- we've talked about God as Trinity, we've talked about God as the creator father, we've talked about God as the redeeming Father
- when we confess / believe in God the Father Almighty we're also saying that we believe in the sovereign Father
A. GOD RULES THE WORLD FOR THE GOOD OF HIS CHILDREN
- "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Ro 8:28, KJV)
- "And we know," Paul says, "that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
- God can only do that because He is sovereign, because He is Almighty
- I need to quickly tell you four things about God's sovereignty:
- First, there are things God can't do:
- anything that is self-contradictory or against His character
- He can't be capricious, unloving, random, unjust, or inconsistent
- He can't fail
- Second, God's sovereignty doesn't make us robots:
- God's power is not limited by our free will - He will accomplish His will
- but neither does God's sovereignty over His world mean that we can't or don't do what we want to do, or that our spontaneous and responsible choice is an illusion
- Three, God's sovereignty is not undermined by the problem of evil:
- the existence of evil proves the absolute, transcendent moral distinction between good and evil, between light and dark - a distinction which cannot be sustained in an atheistic universe
- the Bible makes clear that God will triumph over evil in this moral universe
- the Bible also teaches that when we encounter the contradiction of evil in this world, we are to trust in God, and recognize the human source of evil, rather than "blaming" God d. Fourth, God's sovereignty is the ground of our hope and comfort in a fallen world
- the truth of God's almightiness is one of the most comforting truths that a believer can contemplate
- it is the foundation of all our hopes
- when the believer confesses / believe in God the Father Almighty we are confessing that God's all-ruling providence will eventually work all things to our good and His glory
- He rules the world, for the sake of His children, and we need to understand that we cannot rightly understand God at any point if we don not understand His sovereignty
- the sovereignty of God it is one of the most comforting doctrines in all of God's word
- it is the ground of our hope and comfort in a fallen world
- I know that Baptists are usually adverse to Catechisms, but I will tell you that there are some good ones that we ought to use
- ILLUS The Heidelberg Catechism dates all the way back to 1563 and was used by Reformed churches and schools. One of the questions in the Heidelberg Catechism asks the question: "What is your only comfort in life and death?" It then supplies the answer: "My only comfort in life and death is that I with body and soul am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for my sins and delivered me from the power of the devil and so preserves me that apart from the will of His Father in heaven, not a hair of my head can fall."
- that's God's almightiness - that's God's sovereign providence
- not a hair of your head can fall, apart from the will of the heavenly Father
- ILLUS. Take your hymnals and turn to number 43. This is a hymn some of you have been singing since you were five years old in Vacation Bible School, and you probably know it by heart. It's "This is my Father's world." Look at the third stanza. Maltbie Babcock, the Presbyterian minister who wrote this hymn, understood the comfort that comes from God's almightiness. The third stanza, "This is my Father's world, o let me never forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father's world, the battle in not done, Jesus who died shall be satisfied and earth and heaven be one." The great promise is that Jesus is going to be satisfied and He's going to bring an end to the wrong that oft seems so strong.
- and because God is almighty, even the pain that we experience in this life He will conquer and use to bring about His good purposes
O Father, You are sovereign and that truth is the charter of our freedom. Grant us faith to trust and believe, in Jesus' name, Amen.