Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. David Fagrey, Pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD
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 is in them, who likewise upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father, in whom I so trust as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life, He will turn to my good; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father.
QA 26 begins explaining the biblical basis of the first phrase of the Apostles Creed. To “believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” is to believe that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of the universe, and that He is a Father to me for Christ’s sake.
Before Jesus existed as a Man, He existed as the eternal Son of God (John 17:5). God the Father created all things through His Son (John 1:3). To create is to produce something out of nothing (Heb. 11:3). Once there was nothing except the Triune God in all His eternal glory (Psalm 90:1-2). Even time was created by God (Titus 1:2). By His almighty power, God spoke the space-time-matter-energy universe into existence (Psalm 33:6). The Fourth Commandment reminds us that God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh day in order to set a pattern for us to follow, so that we might imitate God in all of life (Exodus 20:8-11).
God the Creator also upholds and governs all things by His eternal counsel and providence. This will be explained further in Question 27. For now, we are simply told that God in Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3; cf. Neh. 9:6). Just as nothing could have ever existed without the creating power of God, so it is impossible that anything should continue to exist, even for a moment, without God’s almighty power, “since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25).
Wonder of wonders! The eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father! Since we are not natural children of God, the only way for God to become our Father is by adoption (this is explained further in Question 33). Because of what Jesus did on the cross for His people, all who believe in Him are adopted children of God and call God Father (John 1:12; 20:17; 1 John 3:1).
By God’s grace, I trust in my Father that He will never fail to provide everything that I need for my body and my soul (Matt. 7:9-11)–even in times of trouble and pain. God never promised to save us from suffering in this fallen world (John 16:33), only that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
Does God really send evil upon me? Yes, but indirectly. Though God controls all things, including evil, God does not do the evil (1 John 1:5). “He is not the author of sin–He merely permits it” (Ursinus). For example, in the case of Job, the Bible says his friends “comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). But it also says the Lord brought the evil upon Job indirectly by giving Satan permission to inflict Job directly. “Satan struck Job with painful boils” (Job 2:7). By God’s grace, I trust my almighty and faithful Father to do for me what He did for Job, turn evil to my good (Rom. 8:28; James 5:11).