Heidelberg Catechism Lesson 9

Q. 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “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 is in them;[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; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body:[3] and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage;[4] for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,[5] and willing, being a faithful Father.[6]

[1] Genesis 1 and 2; Psalm 33:6;  [2] Psalm 115:3; Matthew 10:29; Hebrews 1:3; John 5:17;  [3] John 1:12, 16; Romans 8:15–16; Galatians 4:5–6; Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1;   [4] Psalm 55:22; Matthew 6:26;  [5] Romans 8:28 and 4:21;   [6] Romans 10:12; Matthew 6:26 and 7:9–11.

Commentary

The confession: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth” is loaded with meaning, and is beautifully expanded by the Heidelberg Catechism.


First, it expresses our acknowledgement that God the Father is our heavenly Father on account of Christ, which is why the Lord Jesus teaches us to call Him our Father (Mt 6:9), and similarly the Holy Spirit encourages us to call Him our “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15). Now, the way we address a person (when we do so meaningfully) reflects our attitude towards the person and how we perceive the person views us. When we address God as our Lord, we are acknowledging that we are His subjects and that He has every right over us. But when we address God as Father, we are acknowledging that we are His children, and that as His children, we love Him, rely on Him and believes that He loves us and constantly have our good in His mind (as a father would his child; cf. Mt 7:9–11). What a tremendous privilege it is that puny and sinful creatures like us can approach God as our loving heavenly Father.


Secondly (but not in order), we confess that God is the Maker of heaven and earth. By this we are acknowledging that He made all things, and He made all things for His own glory. Now, this is a doctrine that has always been confessed since the beginning of the Church. God made all things out of nothing (ex nihilo). Nothing existed by themselves, and all of nature in its present form is made by God out of nothing. We are not denying that different species of dogs or cats or horses developed over the centuries through cross breeding and genetic mutation. But we do deny the theory of evolution, whether it is theistic or otherwise, that teaches that higher life forms evolved from lower life forms. The Bible is clear that God made heaven and earth (Genesis 1 and 2). He created the animals after their kind (Gen 1:20–25). He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from the rib of Adam (Gen 2:7, 22). Man did not take millions of years to become man through a series of chanced evolution or even God-directed evolution. God spoke and everything was made. This doctrine we declare to be truth, and we declare it without apology. Yes, it is by faith we believe, for “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb 11:3). Unbelieving scientists may ridicule our faith, but do they not also believe in evolution by faith, seeing that evolution is not observable or provable; whereas creation is not only revealed in the Word of God, but is imprinted in the hearts of men, for says Paul: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Someone who has not been taught or misled into believing evolution will naturally see that God exists.


Thirdly, we confess that God is almighty. By this we mean that God is all-powerful and sovereign over all things. He not only makes all things, but He brings all things to pass according to His wisdom and good pleasure. It is because God is our loving heavenly Father and is almighty, that we can have the confidence that God hears our prayers, is able and willing to answer our prayers; and that if He chooses not to answer our prayers as we prayed that He is right and His actions good for us. Also, because He is almighty, we have the confidence that that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). And so the child of God is humbly submitted to God his faithful heavenly Father in all and every circumstances that befall him.