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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:God Almighty promised to be our Father
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's faithfulness
 
Added:2013-03-05
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


I Believe in God the Father                                  

Ps. 33: 2, 3

Ps. 78: 3

Ps. 89: 4, 5, 7

Ps. 104: 1, 7, 8

Ps. 107: 1

 

Scripture reading:       Psalm 148

Text:                              LD 9

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

LD 7 asked the question: “What, then, must a Christian believe?”

 

And you still remember the answer:

 

“All that is promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic and undoubted Christian faith teach us in a summary.”

 

There in LD 7 we confessed that the 12 articles of the Apostles’ Creed is a summary of the gospel.    Each of the 12 articles is gospel to us, glad tidings.

Also this first article:

 

            “I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

 

We will now unpack the treasures of the gospel contained in this article.    

 

When we confess, here in LD 9, that God the Father is “a faithful Father” to us, then His faithfulness as our Father refers first of all to His covenant faithfulness – His faithfulness in keeping the covenant which He made with us.

 

I proclaim God’s Word to you with the theme:

God Almighty promised to be our Father

 

We will note…

1.      That God the Father has become our Father

2.      That our Father is the Almighty

3.      That our Father is faithful

In the first place we note that…

God the Father has become our Father

 

“…the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who still upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and Father”.

 

In short:  I believe that God the Father is my Father, and He became my Father through Christ.

 

After the Fall not all men may call God “Father” anymore.   To the unbelieving Jews He says: You have the devil as father (John 8: 44).

It is only through Christ that He adopts us to be His children.   Only through our Saviour Jesus Christ does this article about the eternal and almighty Father become gospel to us.

 

This confession that God the Father almighty became my Father through Christ is indeed the sum total of salvation!   To receive God as our Father is to receive all riches in heaven and on earth.  

In the covenant God promises Himself to us.   He Himself has become our inheritance!  

 

Thus David prays to the Lord and says:

 

“Whom have I in heaven but You?   And there is nothing upon the earth that I desire besides You…God is…my portion forever” – Ps. 73: 25, 26.

 

God Himself is the portion of my inheritance!

And again David says:

 

“O my soul, you have said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” – Ps. 16: 2

 

And then, in the same psalm, he continues:

 

“O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; you maintain my lot.   The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance” – Ps. 16: 5, 6.

 

He rejoices in his inheritance.   And what is the portion of his inheritance?   Which property has been marked out for him?   “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance.”

 

“…In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” – Ps. 16: 11.

 

Brothers and sisters, we cannot even comprehend the extent of this wealth!    The infinite riches of the Father are more than we can imagine.   And His riches have become ours!   For He adopted us as sons; and that expression in Scripture – the adoption as sons – also means that we have became His heirs.  

Yes, His glory has become our riches.

 

In faith we can only say “amen”, while we await that great day when this glory will be fully revealed.   On the day of Christ’s coming the vastness of this inheritance will be revealed – the inheritance to have the eternal Father, the Almighty, as our Father!  

 

Yes, to confess: “I believe in God the Father almighty”, and to confess that this almighty God has become our Father through Christ, is the sum total of salvation.

 

It is the greatness of our heavenly Father that causes the gospel to be great.  

The gospel is so rich because our Father is so rich.  

The gospel contains the greatest promises because our Father is so great and good, so holy and almighty.  

 

Therefore, also, the glory of our Father’s almighty power has become our treasure.

We note that in the second place, that…

Our Father is the Almighty

 

There are theologians in our day, even theologians who call themselves Reformed, who say that God is not truly almighty.   They say that the concept of being almighty originated with the Greek philosophers, but that the Bible simply says that God is very powerful.   He is very powerful, but not without limits, they say.  

They come to this conclusion not because of any insight in holy Scripture, but because of their own calculation.   They say: Look how much misery there is in this world.   And then they picture to us the most terrible examples of war and pain and misery, and they ask: Will a God of love and compassion allow such things to happen?”

And then they answer their own question, and say: No, a God of love will never allow such misery and pain.  

And their only conclusion, then, is that God does not want all the misery and pain in the world to happen, but that He is simply not able to prevent it all!

 

And then they still try to comfort us, saying: But God is on our side, and He is very powerful, and most of the time He is able to help us!   Our comfort is then that we are not alone in our struggle against evil and pain and misery; God struggles with us!

 

But, dear congregation, all such human reasoning is pure blasphemy.

 

When we confess that our Father is almighty, and that His power is without any limits, then this confession is not the product of our imagination.

We do not imagine that our Father in heaven is almighty; we are not like a little child whose imagination is running away with him, who struggles to know the difference between reality and fiction.  

No, the Lord Himself has revealed this to us that He is the Almighty.

It is not our imagination; it is His holy Word.    

 

It is with this description, God the Almighty, that He revealed Himself to Abraham, saying: “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless” – Gen. 17: 1.

He revealed Himself in the same way to Jacob, saying: “I am God Almighty” – Gen. 35: 11

To Moses He said: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty…” – Ex. 6: 2.   And it is repeated throughout Scripture.   Altogether about 60 times we read that God is the Almighty.  

In heaven the angels and the saints and all the living creatures before His throne is constantly calling out: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4: 8 – 11).

 

What then does it mean that He is the Almighty?    What does the word “almighty” mean?

Those heretics, who say that there are limits to God’s power, propose that the word almighty does not mean all-mighty, but simply means: very powerful. 

So then, what does Scripture mean when it calls God almighty?   Does it only mean that He is very, very powerful?   Or does it indeed mean that His power is infinite, without any limits?

Let us look at a few examples.

 

The prophet Jeremiah says:

 

            “Ah, LORD God!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by

            Your great power and outstretched arm.   There is nothing too hard for

            You” – Jer. 32: 17

 

God who spoke and it was – who called all of creation into existence by the power of His Word – there is nothing too hard for Him.

 

The angel Gabriel declares to Mary:

 

            “…with God nothing will be impossible” – Luke. 1: 37.

 

In that context the reference is to the incarnation of the Son of God and the virgin birth.

Nothing is too hard for Him; nothing is impossible for Him.

 

            “…He does whatever He pleases” – Ps. 115: 3

            “Whatever the LORD pleases He does…” – Ps. 135: 6

 

He declares:

 

“…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” – Isaiah 46: 9, 10.

 

What does He say?   He says that the end is proclaimed by Him from the beginning.    Everything in history happens exactly according to His eternal counsel.   What He decided, that will happen.   Nothing can or will frustrate His plans.

He is able to make the future known, and to declare the end from the beginning, because nothing can stop Him or frustrate Him in executing His will; nothing can prevent Him from fulfilling His word or from doing everything as He decided.  

Because He is the Almighty, therefore He is able to say: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”.

 

He is more than able to do all His pleasure, for His power is without any limits.  

 

Beloved, this infinite power of God the Father is gospel to us, for this almighty God has promised to be my Father, your Father.   His almighty power enables Him to do whatever He has promised us.

 

Dear congregation, what then if I have to endure suffering and disappointments in this life?    What then if everything seems to go wrong, as if God Himself has forsaken me?    

What if trials and afflictions seem to ruin my life?   Is the almighty power of God then irrelevant for my situation (which seems to be hopeless)?  

 

No, it is exactly when our case seems to be hopeless, when we are in the deepest distress, and have no strength left to continue, that the Lord reveals His power.  

We believe, and confess, that for the sake of Christ He will surely use His power in such a way that He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this life of sorrow.  

 

As it is written:

 

“… all things work together for good to those who love God…” – Rom. 8: 28

 

All things?

 

Yes, brothers and sisters, it is a confession of faith, for we cannot prove this by simply looking at our circumstances.  

Our circumstances may often seem to contradict this truth.  

When everything seems to go wrong, and our troubles increase, then this confession becomes harder to confess.   

Then it becomes a matter of faith.  

When the blessings of the Lord seem to be withdrawn from us, then it is only faith that will continue to cling to the invisible promises of God – invisible promises that have been visibly sealed at our baptism for the strengthening of our faith.

 

Often the opposite of this comfort seems to be true when we see that ungodly men are enjoying prosperity, while the godly seems to endure nothing but trouble.  

 

Cain was so prosperous.   He went and built a city for himself.    He became powerful.   Cain had a great and skilful offspring, while Abel died without offspring.  

Cain has a long life on the earth; Abel not.  

Does that not contradict the covenant promise of God that the righteous shall live and inherit the earth?

Where is the benefit for Abel?   Can it be said that his cruel death will be turned to his benefit?  

 

Yes, it is when our small human minds struggle to understand, it is exactly when there is no visible proof of the fulfilment of the promise, that we simply have to believe the promise.

 

Abraham received the promise that his descendants will be as many as the sand on the seashore.   But the years went by and nothing happened.   In the end both he and his wife, Sarah, became too old to have children.   What happened to the promise?

Finally, a miracle does happen, and they receive Isaac.   But when Isaac start to grow up the Lord commands Abraham to slaughter Isaac!   How will the promise then be fulfilled?   How could Abraham make sense of it all?  

But he trusted in God, the Almighty, and acted in faith.  

 

Today we may look back and say, yes, God Almighty did fulfil all His promises to Abraham.   And we may look back and say, yes, it all turned out well for the man Job.   We may look back and say, yes, the Lord spared David’s life time and again, and carried him through all his anxieties and all the troubles that he sent him in this life of sorrow.  

But when we ourselves are in the melting pot of trials, we can only look up to our almighty Father in faith, trusting His Word, that for the sake of Christ He will surely use His power in such a way that He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this life of sorrow.

 

For His beloved children He turns even their death into victory!

 

He shall turn your misery into joy, and your weeping into thanksgiving.   Nothing will be too hard for Him.

 

This almighty power of our faithful Father is our comfort in all situations of life.   For His power is ever present in all that happens, even here and now in this life!   His almighty power upholds and governs all things, even here and now, according to His eternal counsel and purpose.

 

By His almighty power He did not only create heaven and earth, but also upholds and governs heaven and earth.

And He does not only govern the big things in this world in a general sense, no, He governs everything in the smallest detail.   Nothing happens by chance!  

 

Even the hairs on our head are all counted!  

 

Brothers and sisters, believing in this Almighty God who has become our Father through Christ, we are truly comforted in every situation of life.

We are content in every situation, knowing that we receive all things – riches and poverty, health and sickness, good times and bad times – from the hand of our faithful Father

 

Our almighty Father does not only foresee all things from all eternity, but He also decided and determined all the detail of the future.   He decided what shall happen and what not.   And only what He decided, that will happen – as we saw already in Isaiah 46, and as the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:

 

            “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the

purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11)

 

Brothers and sisters, this is not some fatalistic philosophy.   It is God’s Word.   It is our comfort.

 

He is almighty, all-wise, all-knowing, always in full control of all the complexities of everything that happens in heaven and on earth.  

Nothing is out of control – not even when the devil and evil men act contrary to His revealed will.   By His infinite power and wisdom He uses even their wicked works for His holy purpose.

God is fully in control also when the future looks dark for His people; when the enemies of the church rise up and His people are trampled underfoot; God will turn all our sorrows and adversities to the good of His church, and to the good of everyone who fears Him.

 

In the hands of our almighty Father we are safe.  

Under the fatherly care of this almighty God we are well cared for.    

 

Look at the birds of the air.   Consider the lilies of the field.   Even they are taken care of by our Father.   No matter how small and insignificant they may seem to us, God cares for each of them in the smallest detail.  

If the Father cares in such a way for birds and grass, how much more does He care for us to whom He gave His own Son!

 

“Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” – Ps. 55: 22.

 

What then does it mean when we confess that our almighty Father will provide us with all things necessary for body and soul?   Does He also provide for my body when I am diagnosed with cancer?   And does He provide for our soul when He sends us sorrow? 

Yes, we do not always understand His ways, and this life will indeed remain a life of sorrow.   But we know that it is our Father, the Almighty, who is in control, and in this knowledge we receive all things from Him who loves us: the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In Him we trust so completely as to have no doubt that He will provide us with all things that He knows we need for body and soul.   And He knows it better than we do. 

Sometimes my body needs illness and my soul needs sorrow, even when I don’t think so, or when I am not able to know the exact reason.  

 

But in the end our almighty Father will bring all things to completion and perfection on the day of Christ’s coming.  

Then there will be no curse anymore.   Paradise shall be restored.   He will dwell with us and be our God.   He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.   There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.   There shall be no more pain.

He will create new heavens and a new earth, for this Almighty God and Father, is also the Creator of heaven and earth.  

 

Yes, also this part of the article is pure gospel.   If we give close attention to the wording of this Lord’s Day, we will note that the Father as Creator is identified as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.    We read that it is the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who created out of nothing heaven and earth and all that is in them.  

In short: it is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who created all things.

 

Now, Scripture clearly teaches that it is the Father who created all things, and that He created all things through Christ.   The apostle Paul says: “God…created all things through Christ” – Eph. 3: 9.   And we read in Hebrews that God spoke to us through His Son “through whom also He (the Father) made the worlds” – Hebr. 1: 2.

God the Father created.   And He created all things through His Son. 

But still, our confession says more than that.   It draws our attention to the fact that the One who created all things is not simply the eternal Father, but: the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.   And this identification of the Father, our Creator, gives a different colour to all of creation!   For when He created this world His eternal love for us in Christ was not absent from His act of creation.   His love for us in Christ characterises all that He created!

 

Although Christ was not yet born at creation, the Creator was already then the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus.   In His eternal council God has already decided to send His Son to this world even before the world was created.   When God created heaven and earth He already decided to send His Son to die for our sins, and to adopt us as sons.

And thus it is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who created the mountains and the skies, who covered the fields with grass and flowers.   For the creator God has already fixed His eternal love on us, when He created the world as our dwelling place.  

It is through Christ that we know the Creator, and it is also through Christ that we know His creation.   We cannot properly perceive our Creator, or His creation, apart from His love for us in Christ.  

But before we continue to look at the loving care and faithfulness of our Father, we still have to note something else about the extent of His power.

We confess here in LD 9 that He created heaven and earth “out of nothing”!

These words say a lot!   

By these words every argument for a creation through evolution is defeated.   Evolution has to start with something.   Something has to evolve from something else.   But God created all things out of nothing!  

This one sentence also defeats all attempts to compromise the Biblical data in order to combine creation with evolution, so that you get a creation by means of evolution.   

The words “out of nothing” make any kind of evolution impossible.

 

And so these words in our confession, that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, is very important, especially in a time where so many try to compromise on this point.

 

This confession that the Father created all things out of nothing does not only refute any theory of a creation through evolution, it also reveals the extent of the infinite power of the living God.  

For what does it mean that He created all things out of nothing?

 

The apostle John speaks about the Word of God who acted in the beginning, and says:

 

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” – John 1: 1 – 3.

 

And in that passage the words “in the beginning” refer to the beginning of all creation.   All of creation, he says, was created in the beginning – nothing excluded.  

And of course, apart from God, all things that exist are created things and part of His creation.

In other words: everything that exists has been created by God, and all things have a beginning.   And that beginning refers to creation – Genesis 1.

 

No created thing is eternal.   Only God is eternal.  Our almighty Father is “the eternal Father”.    He has no beginning.   He was always there when nothing else existed.

 

And thus we realize that the words “in the beginning” refer not only to the creation of this world with the sun, moon and stars, but to all of creation including all visible and invisible things, all powers, the angels, and everything else that were created.

 

Can you picture that?   From all eternity there was nothing except God.  He alone is eternal.   From all eternity only God existed.

That tells us at least one thing: God is not dependent on His creation, and He does not need us.   He is not in need of anything.   From all eternity He has been self-sufficient – even without anything else existing.   God does not need creation.  

God doesn’t need us.   But we surely need Him.

 

That puts us in our place.   We are only creatures; and He is God.

 

Now, the fact that God created all things out of nothing, is confirmed when the apostle Paul writes of the Son of God, saying:

 

            “…by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible

 and invisible, whether thrones or principalities or powers.   All things were created

through Him and for Him.   And He is before all things…” – Col. 1: 16.

 

If He was there before all things, it means He was there when there was nothing.   All things that exist were created by the Father through the Son.   And He is before the beginning.

 

So then, God alone is eternal.   All created things have a beginning.   And that applies also to matter.   No matter, no dust, no element, no power or law of nature is eternal.   

 

There was nothing, then God spoke, and there was.  

 

Gen. 1: 1 comes before Gen. 1: 2.  

First God called heaven and earth into existence, creating it out of nothing.  And then, after calling heaven and earth into existence, the earth was without form and void.   And the second step was to form and fill it.

It is not the other way round, that the earth was without form, and void, and that God then created the world out of the formless mass of matter.  

No, there was nothing, then God spoke, and there was.

 

We know this from the rest of Scripture.

We believe in a God who “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” – Rom. 4: 17.  

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” – Hebr. 11: 3.

 

Brothers and sisters, this is His power!   This is the God who became our Father through Christ.  And His power remains, governing all things to His glory and to our benefit. 

He spoke, and it was.  

He speaks, and all of creation obeys. 

He shall speak, and all things will be made new.

 

Now, this Almighty God and Father, who became our Father, is also faithful to His promise.

 

We note that in the last place, that…

Our Father is faithful

 

I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.   I believe in Him and I trust in Him.   For: He made a covenant with us to be our God and Father, and promised us complete salvation through Christ His Son.

And therefore LD 9 ends with a reference to His faithfulness: “He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.”

Now, His faithfulness refers first of all to His faithfulness in keeping His promise.

 

In His faithfulness He keeps His covenant throughout all generations.

His faithfulness means that He is reliable, His words are firm and sure, we may put our trust in Him.  

 

The Hebrew word for faithful is often also translated: true, firm, sure, lasting, reliable.   That God is faithful means that He is as He said: I am what I am – true, firm, sure, lasting, reliable.

Those who trust in Him will never be put to shame.   He will do as He has promised.

And this trustworthiness or faithfulness of the LORD in relation to us refers first of all to His covenant with us which He keeps forever.

 

He is not only an almighty God, but also our faithful Father, who will make all His promises true for those who trust in Him.

 

And it is these promises of the covenant which was also sealed to little Amy this morning.   It has also been proclaimed and sealed to each of us.   God proclaims it to us even in this sermon.

Let us then also believe in Him and trust His word.

 

Dear congregation, the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will turn all things to our good.  He will save and renew us.   He will bring all things to completion and perfection.  He will restore Paradise.   He will remove every curse, as He has promised, and dwell with us and be our God.   He will wipe away every tear from our eyes on that day when Christ will appear in glory.   On that day all His promises will be fulfilled in glory.   There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.   There shall be no more pain.

 

And it is with our eyes fixed on this hope – all that He has promised us in Christ – that we continue from day to day to live by faith, receiving all things from the hand of our almighty and faithful Father.

 

He has promised to be our God forever, and is able also to fulfil His promise.

He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.  

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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