What do you believe when you say, ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth’? This is the twenty-sixth question of the Heidelberg Catechism. What does it mean for God to be ‘the Father almighty’ and the ‘Creator of heaven and earth’? Knowing what God’s word says with understanding, means that we can answer the question above. Reading for meaning matters, but an explanation is different than a conviction. Therefore, when we (Christians) say what we believe, we are not simply giving an explanation for why we believe what we do, we are convicted of its truth.
Imagine a teacher who wants to test her pupils understanding, the questions she will ask will prompt explanations, she might ask questions like, ‘how do you know?’ or ‘why do you believe that?’. But if she asked the question ‘why should I believe that?’ We may feel the need to be persuasive as possible, but our persuasiveness will only be as strong as our understanding and conviction of the truth. Therefore, when we (Christians) are asked ‘What do you believe when you say, ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?’ We not simply giving an explanation we are confessing our convictions and being a witness.
God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth
God the Father is the eternal father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created the heaven and earth and everything in them. God the Father rules his creation by His eternal counsel and providence. We experience this rule and providence in many ways, for instance when Jesus commands us to look at the birds of the air in the midst of our anxieties and see how God the Father upholds, rules and provides for his creation. In light of this we are to see, know and understand that our heavenly Father knows what we need and will provide. We trust in God the father as our father because we belong to him through the Son. We trust Him so much that we do not doubt He will provide whatever we need for the body and soul. This is what we know, believe and confess.
We also believe that God the Father will turn to our good whatever adversity He sends us in this sad world (Rom 8:28). He is able to do this because He is the almighty God and He desires to do this because He is a faithful Father. This we learn throughout all of scripture and which is wonderfully seen in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples.
‘And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’ (Matthew 6:7-13)
We see by hearing
God created the world out of nothing and we recognise that God created the world through the Son and for the Son (Col 1:16). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17) and ‘by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible’ (Heb 11:3). This is (in part) what we believe when we say ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?’ The faithfulness of God is experienced in our needs being addressed, in God working all things together for the good and because the truth is in us. More could be said about the Fatherhood of God and His rule over all creation but our focus here is on knowing what we believe when we say ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth’.