How to Know God the Father as Lord of Creation
By Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers
In the Applied Theology series of courses, you’ll learn a Trinitarian theology of faith, hope, and love by understanding and applying to your life what the Bible teaches about: 1) Faith found in the Apostles’ Creed, 2) Hope found in the Lord’s Prayer, and 3) Love found in the Ten Commandments. You’ll learn from God’s Word that:
A mind that is renewed by faith and a heart that is aflame with hope results in a life that honors God by loving him and others deeply and well.
In Theology of Faith Course: Lesson 2, you’ll learn how to know and worship God the Father as Lord of Creation.
About the Applied Theology ProjectThe Applied Theology Series provides you accessible, affordable seminary-level teaching designed to help you learn how to apply theology to your life and ministry in practical ways – with the goal of helping you better know, love, serve, and honor God as LORD in all of life. Seminary professors John Frame and Steve Childers combine their almost 90 years of teaching and ministry experience to help you apply theology to life and ministry.
Read the transcript for Theology of Faith Course: Lesson 2 below!
Knowing the Father as Creator
By John Frame and Steve Childers
To know God means to know who God is and what God does as Triune Lord – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This requires us to know God’s attributes and acts. In this chapter our focus is on knowing God the Father as Lord of Creation. The Apostles’ Creed is divided into three major sections representing the person and work of the three members of the Trinity. The first affirmation is the most brief:
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
To understand God the Father, requires understanding God the Son and God the Spirit and the Father’s relationship with them. This is why the creeds and confessions written after the Apostles’ Creed amplified the Apostles’ Creed’s three major affirmations about the Trinity to show the oneness of God and the equality of the one Triune God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
For example, the Nicene Creed (381 AD) amplifies the Apostles’ Creed’s three major affirmations about the Trinity by presenting the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as one God and one Lord:
We believe in one God,
the Father Almighty …
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God…
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life …
The Nicene Creed also amplifies the first affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed by adding that the Father’s creation of heaven and earth includes all things visible and invisible. To help us better understand and apply this first affirmation, we’ll examine three biblical truths: 1) the Father’s name, 2) the Father’s nature, and 3) the Father’s work as Almighty Creator.
The Father’s Name
The Bible presents the unfolding mission of the Triune God as Creator, Redeemer, and Restorer of all things lost in humanity and creation because of the Fall. The Triune God’s mission is presented as accomplishing the Father’s will. The Scriptures tell the story of the Triune God’s accomplishment of the Father’s will like this:
• God the Father establishes his good and perfect will by creating all things
• God the Son accomplishes the Father’s will by redeeming all things lost in the Fall
• God the Spirit applies the Father’s will by restoring all things lost in the Fall
It is the Father, not the Son or Spirit, whose knowledge establishes God’s plan for the world and authorizes the tasks that the Son and the Spirit will carry out in his plan. By the supreme authority of his word, God the Father, as Lord of creation, establishes his plan and will for everything he creates, visible and invisible.
Most of the Old Testament references to God’s fatherhood refer to the entire Trinity, and not just the person of the Father (Deut. 32:6, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Acts 17:24-29). There are hints of the doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament, such as in the creation account: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26a), but the doctrine of the Trinity is not clearly revealed until the New Testament.
In the New Testament, the name “Father” becomes the regular name for the first person of the Trinity, the person who sent Jesus into the world. Jesus adds the personal name, Father, to God’s previously revealed personal name – LORD (Yahweh). The Apostles use “Father” in reference to a person of the Trinity that is distinct from the Son and the Holy Spirit. (John 1:14, 18; John 5:17-26; John 14:16-17, Galatians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:17, 2 John 9)
The name Father also reveals God’s inner life to us as Triune God. Within the eternal Trinity is a family relationship between the Father and the Son. On earth God the Son called the person he came to love, serve and honor, “my Father.” (John 14:31) Jesus said, “He (the Father) who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29).
The Scriptures teach that the Father loves and honors the Son by entrusting him to accomplish his will to redeem and restore fallen humanity and creation (John 5:20-30; 10:17ff.; 17:23-26).
The biblical analogy of Father conveys the astonishing kind of love that God has for all who are in Christ by faith – the same love the Father has for eternity for his one and only Son. The Apostle John writes, “To all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Through faith in Christ, we’re adopted into the life of God’s family. God the Father becomes our Father, and God the Son, becomes our brother.
As followers of Christ, we belong to God’s family. Knowing God as our Father includes seeing God as our creator, sustainer, authority, protector, and our tender, loving caregiver. J.I. Packer, writes:
If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
We who were once enemies and strangers to God are now in the high position of being his own beloved children. To be right with God the Judge is wonderful, but to be adopted, loved and cared for by God the Father is even greater.
The Father’s Nature – Almighty
God the Father is described in the creed as Almighty, meaning that he has all power. God’s almighty power is referred to as his omnipotence, from the root omni, meaning all, and the word potency, meaning power. The Bible teaches that God’s power is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.
He has unlimited strength and ability to accomplish whatever he chooses. The Father’s almighty power is being constantly exerted over every area of the universe, holding everything together, from the smallest atom to the largest planet and bringing about every event.
The term Almighty points to the biblical concept that God the Father is Lord, the sovereign King, the all-powerful one who reigns over all things visible and invisible.
This is the good news that the Almighty King, who sovereignly creates and rules over all things, is also our Heavenly Father. Therefore, when we experience suffering, we trust in our Almighty King who loves us like a Father and promises always to protect us and provide for us.
To help his followers know and trust in God as their Almighty Father just as he did, Jesus instructed them to pray to “Our Father in heaven.” Throughout Scripture, the image of heaven is God’s throne room where he sits and rules as king. So Jesus means for us to pray to God as our Royal Father who is also our Divine King, enthroned in heaven sovereignly ruling over all things.
In his Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus teaches his followers about the life and values of all who trust in God as their Father in heaven, he refers to God as Father seventeen times.
The Father’s Work – Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth
Since the second century, Christian creeds and confessions include the affirmation of belief in “God the Father Almighty” in his capacity as “creator of heaven and earth.” The Apostles’ Creed states:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
The Scriptures teach that God created the world out of nothing, and then he rested. But God’s work in creation did not stop at the beginning. Instead, as soon as God rested from his original work of creation, he immediately continued his work by sustaining and ruling over everything he had created. This is called God’s providence. (Prov 15:3, Ps 104:24)
When the Father created the world, he designed the way it’s supposed to operate. So God’s creation includes not only the natural laws which govern the physical and biological world, but also a creative order of laws and norms for the way things are supposed to be. The Father sustains and rules over all creation not only directly as Almighty King, but also indirectly through his image bearers, as they cultivate and develop his creation on the earth.
God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to keep developing his creation by multiplying and subduing it according to God’s creative order. As Adam and Eve learned how to apply these laws in all their spheres of life, God’s plan was to establish his kingdom on earth through their application of them, developing the whole domain of human relationships and societal organizations for his glory.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were cursed – along with all creation. But God did not abandon his mission to establish his kingdom on earth. Nothing could thwart God’s original plan to make his kingdom come and will be done on earth through his image bearers.
When we affirm our belief in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, we’re not only affirming our belief that the Father created all things in the beginning by his power. We’re also affirming our belief that, by that same power, the Father is now sustaining and ruling over all things in his creation to accomplish his original mission to establish his kingdom on earth.
The Father’s supreme authority extends to all creation – every person, sphere, and detail of life. There is no created thing or person that is not under his authority. Because God created everything for his purposes, no aspect of creation, visible or invisible, can be morally neutral.
So, everything either functions as God intends it to, and is therefore good, or functions apart from God’s intention, and is evil. This means that the Father’s supreme authority, now revealed in the Scriptures, includes his authority over not only religious or “sacred” matters, but also over “secular” matters like politics, education, and work.
Martin Luther beautifully summarizes the meaning of our belief in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth in these seven statements:
– I believe that God has created me and all that exists.
– He has given me and still preserves my body and soul with all their powers.
– He provides me with food and clothing, home and family, daily work, and all I need from day to day.
– God also protects me in time of danger and guards me from every evil.
– All this he does out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it.
– Therefore I surely ought to thank and praise, serve and obey him.
– This is most certainly true.
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