Monday, January 14, 2013

The Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth

We are going through the Aposltes' Creed line by line.  Last week we discussed "I Believe" and "God."  The concept of God, by itself, is the unmade, first cause.  Now, we are going to get into the personal, Christian God.  We are narrowing down the scope now, as we read "the Father almighty."

Already we get a relationship, a parental relationship.  This is not an impersonal God, like a deist would believe, but a God that is personal and relational.  A father.  Why not a mother?  God does have motherly qualities, like when he is referred to as a hen gathering her chicks under her wings, but mostly, if we look through the Bible, we see fatherly qualities.  When the child falls off the horse, the father tells him to get back on the horse, where the mother says, "you don't have to get back on that horse again.  Come back in the house."

This doesn't mean that the Father is a God that constantly pushes his children into dangerous situations.  Let's look at our Old Testament passage:

“Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
“Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.
“For I proclaim the name of the Lord;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
“They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.
“Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you. (Deuteronomy 32:1-6)

We've talked the three roles of God before.  God made us, he created everything.  He also SUSTAINS everything--keeps it alive.  We see this in verse 6: made and established.  The Hebrew word for established is more like planting a garden, caring for it, watering it, so that the garden grows.  This is sustaining.  God's third role is, when we consider that we are fallen creatures, that he SAVES us.  We see in the last part of this passage that our Father has BOUGHT us.  This is, of course, a reference to the purchase of his people out of Egypt, but we have also been bought with the blood of Christ on the cross.

Let's look a little deeper at what this Father/Child relationship means:

The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’ (Deuteronomy 1:30-31)

See that this Father does not push us into dangerous situations.  He allows us to face dangerous situations, but he walks before us.  He fights on our behalf, and he CARRIES us, like a man carries his son.  This is what it means to be in a relationship with a Father God.

The next clause is "maker of heaven and earth."  Remember, one of the roles of the Father is maker, so we are not disconnecting the role of father from maker.  Where in the Bible does it say that God is maker of heaven and earth?  It's the easiest place to find!  Genesis 1:1: In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  We have talked extensively about God as creator, so let's transition into the next part of the creed.  Where else do we see "In the beginning" in the Bible?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1).  Are we talking about God merely saying "Let there be light?"  No, we are taking about something much weightier.  God's Word is something through which the whole universe can be created.  God's Word has to be something as substantial as He is, and indeed the Word IS GOD, too.  We are not talking about two Gods but two persons--one God.

This is complicated stuff, but look at what Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:7-9)

Jesus is saying here that he and the Father are one.  He also says in 14:1 for his disciples to believe in God AND himself.  He's not advocating two Gods but one.  He and the Father are one.  An author would understand this.  When we are creating a story on the page, we are not creating so much as birthing the words onto the page.  The characters seem to have a life of their own, but they are also made up of ourselves.  To know the characters in my book is to know me.  But whereas the printed words in a novel are dead, the begotten Son is alive.  He is alive and he is God.  He is heavy enough that the whole of everything was created through him.

Look at that word "through."  One of the most famous lines in the Bible is from that same passage in John: "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except THROUGH me."  All things were created through the Word, the Son, AND all things are redeemed THROUGH the Word, the Son.  We complain that God gave us only one way to Himself, through his Son Jesus Christ, as if he could have arbitrarily come up with another way or multiple ways.  Jesus is the only way because he IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY.  All things were created through him.  The only way to restore fallen creation is through that very same conduit.  Jesus Christ is the only capable conduit.

We will get into the details of Jesus next week, but have you noticed that the bulk of the Apostles' Creed is about Jesus?  This is no accident.  Look at our epistle reading:

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:9-12)

The testimony of God is this--the Bible, and it is all about his Son, Jesus--even the Old Testament.  The Son is the heaviest thing in the Bible, and he is the heaviest thing in existence.  So much so, that our faith depends on this.  We say we believe in the Father, and we should, but God the Father's testimony is about the Son, and so the Son is the most important thing to believe in.  When we have the Son, we have the Father, too.  When we try to have only the Father, we are grasping onto a false god, and we end up with neither.  There is no Father without the Son.  The relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (we will discuss him later!) is inseparable. To believe in the Son is to believe God the Father's testimony.  Have you ever had an obsessed friend who was interested in, say, baseball cards?  The fastest way to that friend's heart is to start liking baseball cards, too.  Well, the Father is obsessed with the Son.  Not the fastest way, but the ONLY way to the Father is to be obsessed with the Son, too.

It's all about Jesus, and we will discuss him next week.