Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Meditating more on the Person of the Father in the creeds and confessions
1 Corinthians 8:6-7 "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled."
Yesterday we began considering the Person of the Father as He is described in ancient creeds and confessions. We meditated upon God the Father as He is expressed in the Apostle's creed, Nicene creed and Athanasian creed. These three particular creeds represent what the early Christians taught through the first five to six centuries of church history. Understanding our history is important, since we can trace how consistent we are today by how well we match the scriptures - which are the foundation of the Christian faith - and past generations of Christians in their attempts to do the same. Today we will conclude our meditation on God the Father through creeds and confessions by considering how He is expressed in more contemporary doctrinal statements.
God the Father in relationship to the Son and Spirit as One God
The Father, Son and Spirit are co-equal, co-eternal and share in the One Divine essence, with the Father providing the reference point for all the relationships with the Son and Spirit, whilst the Son and Spirit in their relationship with the Father perpetuate the fullness of Deity shared between all three Persons. All three provide an equality of framework with reference to one another, while being distinct Persons possessing the One, united, Divine essence that makes them each truly God. The following doctrinal statements or confessions summarize the identity and nature of God the Father...
1. In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding
We fast forward 1100 years later to the Baptist Confession of 1689, wherein we find the language of the ancient creeds contained within this early expression of the Baptists. It must be grasped that in starting with the Person of the Father, two other crucial doctrines are understood: the Deity of Christ and the Personality of the Holy Spirit. As we pray to the Father, we also assume contact with the Son and Spirit, since all three are the One God revealed in the Old and New Testaments. This particular confession uses an older term for "person", namely "subsistence". Without going into too much detail, to speak of each Person of the Trinity as being a "subsistence" means each is a center of consciousness within the Godhead. This expresses how God is ever-relating within Himself and how, by nature, He is the relational God.
2. God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.
This final statement about the Father from the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 brings us up to modern day. We are reminded that the Person of the Father is known in "truth" in salvation. The "truth" here has to do with what occurs in saving faith in Jesus Christ through the scriptures. The Deity, providence and Personality of the Father is connected to the first part of the statement on God contained within the BFM 2000. The only way God the Father can become "Father" to anyone is by salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
We journeyed rather briskly through 2,000 years of church history to see what ancient and modern Christians have confessed with respect to the Person of the Father. It must be understood that any such statements are secondary in nature when compared to the believer's ultimate authority - the Bible. Still, it is valuable to know what Christian of the past have confessed. To see how the Person of the Father has been confessed and embraced can aid in deepening ourselves in the entirety of the Trinity.