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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 9

07/06/2014

LORD’S DAY 9

Before you begin: Read Genesis 1,

26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth with all that in them is,(1) who likewise upholds, and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence,(2) is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father,(3) in whom I so trust as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul;(4) and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life, He will turn to my good;(5) for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,(6) and willing also, being a faithful Father.(7)
(1)Gen. 1:31; Ps. 33:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3. (2)Ps. 104:2-5; Mt. 10:30; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 115:3; Acts 17:24-25. (3)Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-7; Eph. 1:5; Eph. 3:14-16; Mt. 6:8. (4)Ps. 55:22; Mt. 6:25-26; Lk. 12:22-24; Ps. 90:1-2. (5)Rom. 8:28; Acts 17:27-28. (6)Rom. 10:12. (7)Mt. 7:9-11; Num. 23:19.

The scientists were claiming a major, break-through discovery; one that would change forever what we thought and understood about the origins of the universe. They had ‘discovered’ the sound of the ‘big bang’ – they thought they had heard a noise that was still reverberating around the universe to this day, – the sound, they claimed of the explosion that brought the universe into being. It was a profitable time too for the ‘talking heads’ of the media world as scientists and astronomers crowded into TV and radio studios to give their opinions on the news. It was during one such discussion that a wily commentator added, “Of course now that we think we know something of what happened at the time of the ‘big bang’ we still have a challenge, for what was there before the big bang occurred? And what made it happen?”

The Heidelberg Catechism in Q/A9, explaining the opening statement of the Apostle’s Creed, speaks directly to this issue. God is our Creator, our Sustainer and our Provider. There is no speculation in the catechist’s mind whatsoever. He relies on the Divine Testimony of One who was there when Creation happened, and who was fully involved.

God is the Eternal Father, – the Creator.
The Catechist never presents an argument for the existence of God. He simply assumes that anyone with any common sense will be aware that a created world required a creator, and that creator is God Himself. It is the same approach that the Scriptures take, for the Bible does not begin with a presentation of human logic or reasoning setting for the arguments for and against a deity, with the argument in favour of God winning the debate. Instead, Genesis opens majestically with the familiar phrase, “In the beginning, God…” Enough said. The authors of the catechism simply state that God IS, and leave us to fill in the gaps in the argument.
Neither does he present a list of the attributes of God. He contents himself with two great facts, that God is the Creator, and that he is a Father. From those two facts he draws out conclusions regarding God’s attitude to his creation. Note:
Before this world existed, the relationships between the members of the Triune Godhead existed. Here the catechist observes that God is the eternal father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the ‘eternally begotten of the father.’ The Nicene Creed states, “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds.” Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, You have been our dwelling place[a] in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

God made the world and everything that is in this world out of nothing. He spoke, and the world came into being. Genesis 1:3, Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. This is the part that the scientists can’t get their heads around. There was nothing. The earth was without form – and VOID. Nothing was there, and then suddenly there was light! How? God spoke!
God’s creation was not the end of his involvement with this world. Unlike the deists who believed that God created the world and abandoned it to it’s own mechanisms which he had designed, like a cosmic watchmaker might make a clock or a fine timepiece and then wind it up and walk away, knowing it will run the way he has designed it too, the Catechist notes that God is moment by moment fully involved in the affairs of this world. He rules the world as its King and Sovereign, and He sustains it, upholding it by his power. In his providence he has decided its history and ts future and its conclusion, and he has the power and ability to bring his will into being. Acts 17:24-25 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

He does all of this, so that His Son, the Lord Jesus will be glorified. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Because of this, in a sense God is the ‘Father’ of all mankind – only in that they were his creation, made in his image and thus beholden to him. But of course we understand that in his sin, mankind has rejected God, and become by choice the children of his father the devil. Ephesians 3:14-16 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[a] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.

God is MY Father! Now, to make all of those bold statements about God the creator would be edifying and God-glorifying, but the Catechist does not stop there, for all of that could apply to a god who has no PERSONAL relationship with his creation, such as that envisaged by the Greeks, whose ‘gods’ were transcendent and unconcerned about human matters. So the Catechist brings this statement right down to a personal level. This Creator God, in all his mighty power and authority is MY FATHER!
He is my Father by Adoption. Only Christ is the Son of God by right – God’s only begotten Son, but we who are redeemed have the right to call him our father, because we have been adopted into his family, through our new birth, ‘born of God’ – born from above. Galatians 4:5-7  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
He is worthy of my trust. Everything that I need, he will provide for me. That provision is both spiritual and bodily. God my father sustains my spiritual health, has given us His Son, and with that great gift we have everything we need for our spiritual good. Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? He also sustains me in my physical needs. He gives me, every day, my daily bread, and we are relieved from all our worries. Luke 12:22-24. Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?

Like any good father, he disciplines me for my good. Sometimes bad things happen to us. Sometimes these things are rightly described as ‘calamities’. They happen to good and evil people alike. Christians have their fair share of life’s calamities. When these things happen to us, we have such a trust in the goodness and faithfulness of our a Heavenly Father, that we know for sure that he will bring good out of whatever evil life brings. The Catechist knows that everything in life happens with God’s permission, and he does not debate that or dispute it, or attempt to deny it. He simply asserts that whatever evil God permits to befall us, will inevitably be for our future good, for our God, our Father in in control, and he has us in his hands, and we can fully and completely trust him. So:-

God, my Father, Cares for ME! He is a faithful father! Faithful fatherhood is becoming scarcer in modern society. God created the family to be the natural unit for the procreation and upbringing of children, but in today’s sexually liberal society, how many children grow up without the influence of a father who faithfully dwells in the home with the family, devotes his time and energy to loving and caring and providing for them, and stays with them through whatever life may bring? The problem of ‘absent fathers’ is one of the curses of our society. I was taking the assembly in our local school, and I hoped that I wasn’t getting in the way of the teachers, who seem so busy and have so many pressures. I asked the head teacher if she minded me coming in to speak to the boys and girls. She was adamant that I was needed. She explained, “It’s because you are a man! Lots of the boys and girls no longer have much contact with a man. There’s no father at home, they are warned to stay way from men, there are so few male primary school teachers… No – we need men to be role models for the boys, – and the fact that you are both a man and a Christian is just what we need!” The Catechist stresses that our Heavenly Father is a faithful father! He cares for us, he loves us, he keeps us, he chastens us, and he never leaves us, no matter what happens. He brought me into his heavenly family, and he welcomes me there, and is totally faithful in the role of father. What a comfort that is. Matthew 7:9-11 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Think about it.
What do you think is so comforting in simple acceptance of what God has said in his Word about how the world was created?
Can you truly say that God is YOUR Father? Explain how you became a member if God family? Are you in God’s family by right of birth or by adoption?
Think of times when God has been with you in difficult times. Try to explain what His presence meant to you and how that brought you comfort and peace.

Pray About It.
Thank God for his presence. Bring to your Heavenly Father all your cares and anxieties. 1 Peter 5:7. casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

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