The Lordship Catechism: “Who is God?”

Steve —  July 2, 2021 — Leave a comment

“Who is God?” – Exposition & Commentary

Proclaiming the Supremacy of the Triune God as Lord in all things

By Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers

In the Spring of 2021, a new catechism was launched – The Lordship Catechism. Like many catechisms before it, it contains echoes of previous catechisms. The authors and compilers, Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers, draw from many ancient, and traditional formulations of Christian doctrine.

This catechism is uniquely Trinitarian in nature and structure, connecting us back to the ancient, historic method that uses the Trinity as an organizing structure for studying Christian theology.

In this exposition and commentary on the question “Who is God?”, you’ll learn from Scripture about the supremacy of the Triune God as LORD in all things.

About the Applied Theology Project
The Applied Theology Project 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 through books, audios, videos, courses, and now–The Lordship Catechism!

Read the exposition and commentary on the Lordship Catechism answer to the question “Who is God?” below.

LEARNING TIP: Don’t miss the remarkable footnotes!

Lordship Catechism

Exposition and commentary by John Frame and Steve Childers

Question: Who is God?
Answer: God is LORD, the one and only Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things visible and invisible.

The essence of God’s revelation of himself in Scripture is that he is Lord. When God appears to Moses in the burning bush, Moses asks him what his name is in order to understand who God is and what he is like. God answers Moses, saying:

“I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you. Say this to the people of Israel: ‘YHWH (LORD), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’” (Exod 3:14-15).[1]

Throughout the Bible, one of the most significant ways God reveals his nature is by his many names. There are many groupings and distinctions between God’s names in Scripture. But God’s personal name Yahweh (YHWH in Hebrew, or LORD in English–often capitalized in Bible translations) is the most significant name of God in the Old Testament.[2]

This English name for God, LORD (Yahweh), the Hebrew name Lord (Adon), and the Greek name Lord (Kurios), occur over 7,000 times in the Bible. All throughout history, recorded in Scripture, we learn that God works in the lives of his people so they will know he is LORD.[3]

Through Moses, God said to Israel, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God (Elohim), and you shall know that I am LORD (Yahweh) your God” (Exod. 6:7).[4]

God’s revelation as LORD in the Old Testament continues in the New Testament when God’s personal name YHWH (LORD) is translated into Greek as kurios (Lord) as Lord and given to Jesus.[5] So, this same confession of God’s people in the Old Testament, that “God is LORD,” continues in the New Testament and today as “Jesus is Lord!” (Rom 10:9)

True biblical faith is knowing who God is and what God does as LORD.[6] This fundamental confession of God’s Lordship summarizes the main message of the Bible and calls us to center our whole lives on knowing, loving, and honoring God as LORD in all areas of life.[7]

The Scriptures teach that God is LORD over everything, but there are three specific ways God reveals who he is and what he does as LORD of creation, redemption, and restoration.

LORD of Creation

First, God reveals himself as LORD of Creation. The LORD is the one and only God who created all things that are visible and invisible, and who is now sustaining and ruling over all things he created, so that his kingdom paradise will come on the earth forever.

The Bible teaches that God creates and sustains the world and all things in it, visible and invisible, to be an eternal, utopian, cosmic display of his glory as he rules over everything as Lord. God also created us so we can reflect his glory, as we find our joy in him and the mission he began at creation. His mission is to fill the earth and rule over it as Lord so that the paradise of his kingdom will come, causing his perfect will to extend on earth forever.

However, evil entered the story through a real villain, Satan, who enticed humanity to sin. As a result we lost paradise, and God allowed Satan to set up his kingdom in this fallen world and to rule over it. The Apostle John writes, “The whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan now declares himself to be Lord and cries “Mine!” over all of God’s creation to rule over it for his evil purposes.

But the good news is that God, as Lord in Christ, is not only the Creator of all things but also the Redeemer of all things.

LORD of Redemption

The Scriptures teach that the LORD is the one and only God who redeems his fallen people and creation from their captivity to evil that entered the world through Satan when he enticed humanity to sin. Through God’s crucified and risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, God is redeeming his fallen people and creation from all their bondage to evil and sin. By the time of Moses, Israel had been held in slavery in Egypt for four hundred years. God begins answering their prayers for deliverance by first appearing to Moses. When God reveals his personal name YHWH to Moses through the burning bush, he reveals himself as not only the high and lifted up God who creates and sustains all things by his power, but also as the personal, faithful, covenant-keeping God of grace who promises to redeem and restore his captive people by his great power.[8]

As our Redeemer Lord, Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserve to die for our sin. Through his death, Paul writes, “He disarmed all rulers and authorities putting them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Col. 2:15). Then God raised Him from the dead, proclaiming his ultimate victory over evil and inaugurating his new rule on earth as Lord.

After ascending to the right hand of God the Father, Jesus continues God’s mission on earth by redeeming and restoring all things lost in the Fall as “far as the curse is found.”[9] In Philippians 2:9-11, the Apostle Paul describes why God exalted Jesus.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

LORD of Restoration

Lastly, God reveals himself as LORD of Restoration. The LORD is the one and only God who is restoring his fallen and redeemed humanity and creation by the transforming presence and power of his Holy Spirit. By his Spirit, God is already restoring his people to himself by giving them a new heart and a new birth. And at the return of Jesus, God promises to fully restore all things lost in humanity and creation so that all things will flourish under his rule as LORD forever.

When Jesus returns, he will reveal God’s Lordship by crushing Satan under his feet. (Rom 16:20) Paul writes, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:24-25).

At the return of Christ, God will reveal the full extent of his rule and overcome all enemies of his Lordship and honor. This promise of God’s future rule as Lord gives us a biblical vision of Jesus’ present rule as our ascended Lord, as he is now putting all his and our enemies under his feet.

Dutch statesman-theologian Abraham Kuyper (1880) states this biblical vision of God’s Lordship. “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”[10]

[1] There are three names that God gives himself in Exodus 3. The first name is in a long Hebrew form in the first part of Exod 3:14 ( אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה , “eh-yeh a-ser eh-yeh,”) translated “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14 is connected to the Hebrew verb הֹוֶּה “ha yah,” “to be,” and can also be translated “I AM WHAT I AM,” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” The second name God gives himself is a shorter Hebrew form taken from the first Hebrew word (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה , “eh-yeh,”) translated “I AM” at the end of Exod 3:14. The last name God gives himself is in a very short Hebrew form in verse 15, (יְהוָ֞ה , YHWH,) often pronounced “Yahweh,” and translated here as “LORD” in all capital letters. In context, this short name should be understood as an abbreviation of the first two names. The word LORD in Exodus 3:15 is spelled with all capital letters to indicate the divine name YHWH (Yah weh).
[2] By giving himself a personal name, God also reveals that he is a person and not an impersonal force or higher power. God’s name as LORD also reveals the oneness of His being. Unlike the nature of pagan idols portrayed as multiple beings, the LORD’S personal nature consists of one being. Theologians refer to the oneness of God’s personal being as one substance or one essence.
[3] Insights into the meaning of YHWH are not found primarily by studying the etymology of the Hebrew term, but more by understanding the historic contexts in which God reveals his personal name.
[4] Although Israel’s forefathers knew the name YHWH for God, they could not understand it’s fuller meaning because Israel had not yet been in captivity to Egypt in need of YHWH’s deliverance and redemption as a display of his faithfulness to keep his covenant promises. Prior to the fuller revelation of his name YHWH to Moses, God was known by more simple, general Hebrew names, such as El, Elohim, and El Shaddai. These names emphasized God’s power and might as their one and only Creator and Sustainer of all things who is high and lifted up.
[5] The Jewish religious leaders asked Jesus, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” (John 8:53) He replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM. So they picked up stones to throw at him (John 8:53, 58-59).” This violent response to Jesus’ “I AM” statement shows that the religious leaders understood Jesus to be saying he was equal to God, who gave himself the name “I AM (YHWH)” in the book of Exodus.
[6] And true faith trusts that God is who he says he is and God does what he says he does.
[7] Later, Moses writes the historic confession of true faith: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5).
[8] God said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:7- 8a). Bavinck writes, “From this point on the name YHWH is the description and guarantee of the fact that God is and remains the God of his people, unchanging in his grace and faithfulness.” From this time on God gives a whole new meaning to his ancient name as describing the God who keeps his covenant promises and delivers his people from their captivity. Bavinck, H. (2008). Reformed Dogmatics. God and Creation, Baker Academic, p 95
[9] This is a reference to the third verse of Isaac Watts famous 1719 hymn, Joy to the World: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” The first verse says “let earth receive her King.” “Earth will receive her King” when Jesus comes again to rule and reign as he redeems and restores all things lost because of the fall of humanity into sin.
[10] A more literal translation of Kuyper’s famous quote is “Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Sphere Sovereignty (p 488) cited in James D. Bratt, ed., Abraham Kuyper, A Centennial Reader (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998).

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