Big Idea: Anchor your life on who God is.
I’m really excited that we’re working through the Apostle’s Creed this summer. Philip Schaff, in his Creeds of Christendom, writes of the Apostles’ Creed:
As the Lord’s Prayer is the Prayer of prayers, the Decalogue is the Law of laws, so the Apostles’ Creed is the Creed of creeds. It contains all the fundamental articles of the Christian faith necessary to salvation, in the form of facts, in simple Scripture language, and in the most natural order—the order of revelation—from God and the creation down to the resurrection and life everlasting.
It’s clear. It’s concise. It contains everything that’s essential without any extras. If you understand the Apostle’s Creed, then you’ve grasped the essentials of the Christian faith and puts it into a concise story that we can remember and follow. It will ground you in basic Christian truth shared by Christians everywhere.
I really want to encourage you to memorize the Apostle’s Creed this summer as we go through it. I think you’ll find it really helpful for your life.
The Apostle’s Creed has four parts:
- God the Father
- God the Son
- God the Holy Spirit
- The Church
Today we’re going to begin with the first of these four parts: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” We begin, in other words, with the doctrine of God.
“What is the most important question that someone in today’s society needs to have answered?” asked a businessman.
“That’s easy. The most important thing for modern secular people to understand is who God is,” answered theologian R.C. Sproul.
“Not whether God is?”
“No, the critical issue is God’s identity. God’s existence is not obscured today, but his nature and personality certainly are.”
He had another question. “Well, what do you think is the most important question that Christians need to have answered?”
“That’s easy, too. The most important thing for modern Christians to understand is who God is.”
Sproul then concludes: “There is a famine in the knowledge of God in general and the knowledge of God the Father in particular.” “A flea could wade in the depth of knowledge about God in the mind of the average Christian,” he says. It’s time to change that. And it all begins with understanding who God is.
You can bank your life on God. Our stability comes from who God is. We can root everything on him.
Here’s the weird thing. I was driving along the Gardiner and was overcome with the height of all the buildings in downtown Toronto. I’ve driven through that same spot hundreds of times before but have never had that thought before. Here as the thought: I can’t believe all those buildings are standing. Stories after stories, crammed together, and they all stand there. None of them are swaying. None of them are wobbling. They are all standing secure.
Why? Because the most important step in building a skyscraper takes place before you even see the building. The most important step is anchoring that building to a solid foundation. If that building has a strong foundation and keeps its center of gravity below the ground, it will never topple. This is the most important step in building a skyscraper: anchoring it firmly to a solid foundation.
The same is true with us. How do we build lives that don’t topple? The most important step is to anchor our lives a solid foundation. And here is that solid foundation: who God is. According to this part of the Apostle’s Creed, God is three things:
- God is Father
- God is Almighty
- God is Creator
What does this mean for us? Anchor your life to three truths about who God is:
God is Father
God is completely beyond our understanding. No eye can look upon him. No mind can comprehend him. No person can rival him. God is so glorious and holy that we belongs to a whole other category than we do. He is Creator; we are created. All of heaven and earth will bow down before him. He is incomparable. God himself challenges us in the passage we just read: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25).
God is completely other — and yet the creed begins not by talking about that, but instead talking about God as Father. What does it mean that God is Father? Two things:
God is Father in relation the Trinity
Before Creation, God the Father was still Father. That’s because God is one but exists as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is beyond our understanding, but Scripture teaches:
- There is only one God
- There are three divine persons
- The three persons are coequal and coeternal
This is, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it, the differentiating doctrine of the Christian faith.
So before this world began, God was already Father. That’s why Jesus could pray so often to his Father and say things like, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5).
Why is this so significant? “The Trinity means that God is, in essence, relational” (Tim Keller). At the center of the universe is self-giving love. From eternity God has existed in relationship. God as Father means that God is fundamentally relational.
God as Father in relation to us
That’s God as Father in relation to the Trinity. But then there’s God in relationship to us. Here’s the amazing news that the Bible gives us: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Helmut Thielicke remarked that the world seems a dreadfully “unfatherly place.” On the other hand, Scripture assures us that heaven is the quintessential fatherly place…The only way to pass successfully through this hostile world to our destiny with our Father is in union with Jesus Christ through faith. (John Crocker)
I love that the creed begins here. It begins with God, and it begins with the idea that God is relational. One of the reasons that God created us is so that he may relate to us as his children. God knows you by name. He delights in you. He cares for you. You can access God freely because you have special rights as his child.
When we confess that we believe in God the Father, we’re confessing that God’s love lies at the center of the universe — a love that includes all those who have received Jesus as Savior. That’s where the Trinity comes in: this community of love that existed before Creation conspired to save us. You can’t understand our salvation until you understand God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planning together to rescue us from our sin.
Anchor your life on this truth: God is Father. Because he is Father, you can rest in his love. Because he is Father you can trust him. You can trust him even when you don’t understand him, even when his ways seem different than what you would expect. Anchor your life on the fact that God is Father to those who trust in Jesus.
God is Almighty
Not only is God our Father, but he’s Almighty. This means he can do whatever he intends to do.
No, God cannot do everything. For instance, he can’t contradict himself. He can’t do something illogical. He can’t act contrary to his nature. But God accomplishes all that he wants to do.
His power is not limited by anything beyond his own character and being. God always works to bring about what he intends to do, and not a single molecule in the universe can thwart him or frustrate his purposes. (Michael Bird)
You see that in the passage we just read.
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
In verses 12 to 26 of this chapter, Isaiah makes some bold statements about God:
- He is the wise and watchful Creator — we’ll get to that in a minute.
- He Lord over nations and over world leaders. Kings and queens and presidents and prime ministers are nothing compared to him.
- He alone is God. He has no rivals.
God can do anything. He is over everything.
This is so reassuring. I had an overwhelming day this week. I walked home weighed down by a number of things: by someone’s life I can’t control, the decisions this person is making and the direction their life is taking. I was thinking about the challenges of planting this church: the difficulties, the hurdles, even some of the opposition. I was thinking about some of the personal challenges that we face: aging parents. I could go on. My powerlessness as a person hit me in full force.
I felt powerless because I am powerless. But then it hit me as I was walking through the Metro parking lot in Liberty Village: God is not powerless. I can anchor my life on that. My life was beginning to wobble until I anchored it again in God the Father Almighty.
We can rest on the fact that God can do whatever he wills to do. Nothing can stand in his way. He invites us to pray to him as well, giving our concerns and anxieties to him. Anchor your life on the fact that God is Almighty.
God is Creator
What does it mean that God is Creator?
It means that you and all of this around us is…
the intentional plan and unique, personal design of a loving Creator God … To confess that God is Creator is to confess that we are not cosmic accidents, devoid of ultimate value. We came from somewhere significant and we are headed toward a destination of importance. (R.C. Sproul)
It means that this world does not operate according to mechanistic rules, nor is it a watch that God has wound and then left to run on its own. It means that everything has been created by God and is being run by him.
It means that humans are endowed with dignity, because we were created in God’s image. Our dignity doesn’t come from what we do but by who we are.
Nehemiah 9:6 says: “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
Again, in Isaiah 40 God tells us:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
We can be filled with awe and gratitude because all of this is a gift from God. None of it is random. All of it can be traced to his good hand.
Friends, what will give your life the stability it needs? You need to anchor your life on who God is. We need a big picture of who God is. It will do your life much good.
Unfortunately, in our efforts to make the Bible interesting and relevant, we try to normalize God. We become experts at taking something lofty, so unfathomable and incomprehensible, and dragging it down to the lowest shelf. We fail to account for the fact that God is neither completely knowable nor remotely manageable…
Once we have marveled at his magnitude and mystery, we are able to achieve the deep intimacy that grows out of a true appreciation for who God is. Instead of treating him as an equal, we approach him with reverent awe. Only when we’ve been awestruck by his majesty can we be overwhelmed by his love. (Drew Dyck, Yawning at Tigers)