This article speaks about God as the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth. It is part of a series of sermons on the Apostles’ Creed.

5 pages. Transcribed by Ineke van der Linden. Transcription stopped at 21:04.

Apostolic Confession - Maker of Heaven and Earth

One of the sayings of our own day and age (I think one you have probably heard) is this: “It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” I suspect all of us have heard that at one time or another. I wonder what you think about that statement. I grew up in the city of Pittsburgh which, amongst some other things, is known as the city of bridges. That’s largely because there are three really major rivers – two flowing to form the Ohio River – and there are just lots of bridges around Pittsburgh. One of the most travelled bridges is one that goes from the immediate downtown area across the Allegheny River and goes right through the middle of the stadium that the Pittsburgh Pirates play in and the stadium that the Steelers play in.

But that bridge wasn’t always so busy. In fact, there was a time in the 1960s where for a number of years the bridge stood only two-thirds finished. Evidently they couldn’t decide where the bridge should go. There were imminent domain issues, fighting in the courts about who could have what land. And it became because of that known as the ‘bridge to nowhere’! If you Google ‘bridge to nowhere’, up comes some sites talking about the bridge during that period.

One night the legend of that bridge took on some new dimensions when a student from a nearby university came driving along through the barriers that were in place and drove over the bridge and off the end, landing just where the river ended and the bank began. The student in his state of mind sincerely believed that that bridge was going to get him where he was going. There were evidently no skid marks at the end of the bridge – he thought all the time that that bridge was going to get them to the other side. Believe it or not, that student arrived without any injuries, when in reality he could have been very hurt, or even killed.

Sincere belief in the wrong thing – sincere belief in the wrong belief – can have disastrous consequences, and ultimately they can be eternal consequences. For you see, what we believe really is important, not just that we’re sincere. It is for that reason that Christians for centuries have been concerned not only about the fact that we do believe, but what it is that we believe in. One of the expressions of that concern has been the formation of statements of faith and of creeds which articulates what is the essence of the Christian faith. They do not replace Scripture in any way, but are an attempt to express what is taught in the Bible.

The Apostles’ Creed, which we have started to look at, is one of those expressions. As Dr. Ferguson has pointed out, no one believes that it was the apostles themselves who wrote this, but it does go back to the very early church. It is used in some church traditions, but I think some of you are in church settings where it is not used. Either way, it is a great springboard for us to look at what the Christian believes, and we are making our way through it gradually. (Transcription of audio file from 03:46 to 03:54 omitted.)We began a couple of weeks ago with “I believe in God”, and then we looked at “the Father almighty.” Today it is: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”

What is the first confessional statement, if you will, found in the Bible? Well, it’s this: “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth.” The very first statement in the Bible about God is that He is the One who made the heavens and the earth. That is an expression used in the Bible in essence to say He made everything! This is hardly the only time that this is stated in the Scriptures. There are a number of places that we find this affirmation, and one of those places is actually in the 45th chapter of Isaiah. Probably not the place we might turn to initially for such a teaching, but it is there and it is what we will look at.

Reading of Isaiah 45:9-12.

(Transcription of audio file from 04:57 to 05:56 omitted.) Verse twelve, the last one that we see in this passage, affirms what is in Genesis 1:1, and also what is said in the Apostles’ Creed. God declares through the prophet Isaiah (it is God Himself who is speaking here) that He is the One who made the earth, and that He is the One who made men to dwell on the earth, and it was by His creative hand that He stretched out the heavens and all the starry host. Another way to put this, I think, is that God the Father Almighty, God Himself is the Father of all things. He is the One who begat all that there is.

I suspect most of us know who our own biological parents are. For most of us there is no lingering question about our human origins, but some people are adopted. Sometimes folks who are adopted find out along the way who their biological parents are, and sometimes they don’t. And we are told that those who are in such a position of not knowing for sure who their biological parents are sometimes sort of have a nagging curiosity or a nagging doubt about their own earthly origin. I think that is understandable, but here’s my question: should there be doubts about our ultimate origin as a human race? Should there be doubts about the ultimate origin of the cosmos in which we are placed?

I raise the question because we know that for many there really is doubt. They wonder where we have come from; they wonder about our origins. One of the most famous doctors and researchers of our origins was a fellow named Charles Darwin, who wrote what became a famous book, The Origin of the Species. He put forth there a theory – a theory that in its essence was a view of how things came into being without God in the picture. But Darwin is not the only one who has pursued the questions of origins. We hear in our own news reports in our own day and age of scientists gazing through newer and bigger telescopes, looking into space to see what is out there, and sometimes they will say they’re looking for clues to our existence. They are wondering if there are answers out there for how we have come into being. We hear reports of looks in a sense the other direction into high powered microscopes, looking for details in the smallest of matters. And it seems that there is this never ending search around us for our origins, asking the question, “Where is it we have come from?”

But should this search be so hard? Should it be so hard to know and to recognise that the source of our existence is God the maker of heaven and earth? I think one of the most powerful statements of Scripture is that one found in the beginning of Psalm 19, where it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Most of us have undoubtedly had the experience of staring into a star-filled night. For me it was as a youth with a youth group at a camp in the state of Arizona. This camp was in a valley surrounded by mountains, and I can still remember looking up into the sky at night, framed by the mountains, and just seeing the heavenly host in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before then or since then. It is that sort of experience that when you are in the midst of it you feel so small and you find yourself almost with no words to say. It is such an awesome sight. It has been said that when we have that sort of experience, we are hearing a sermon from God. We are listening to Him preach and we are hearing Him declare that the reality that we see around has come from Him, and has come from Him alone!

But it’s not just the bright star-filled sky that cries out at us the existence of God who has created us; it is even a look at our own bodies that really has the same message. John Calvin, who lived in the early 1600s, wrote this (and it’s when he lived that to me makes this statement most interesting): “The human body shows itself to be a composition so ingenious that it’s Artificer”, its creator, “is rightly judged a wonder-worker.” That was in the early 1600s, and think about our knowledge of the human body now. We can really look at our body and see clearly the wonders of that great Wonder-worker.

I talked with a person last week who has a family member with type 1 Diabetes, and with that type of Diabetes the conventional treatment is to give Insulin when certain sugar levels are not right, and to give that insulin when one’s pancreas is malfunctioning or not functioning at all. To do so, one measures the sugar level (we all know someone who does this). And she said that scientists are working on a machine that would mimic the pancreas, that on its own would measure one’s sugar levels, even as one was eating, and automatically respond and inject insulin as it was needed. She said that some of the greatest minds are giving themselves to that and they are not there yet. And then she made this comment: ‘Isn’t it amazing what God created in the pancreas?” You see, even the pancreas declares the glory of God. Everything around us declares the answer of our origins, and on top of that God has given to us His own clear communication. In the Scriptures He comes and confirms what we see around us, that yes, He, God the Father Almighty, is the Maker of heaven and earth!

Why isn’t there universal acknowledgement of what seems so obvious? Well, I think the earlier verses in Isaiah 45 give us some hints and some insight into what is taking place. We read there: “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots. Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’” God speaks to the prophet Isaiah and says, “A lot of you have things backwards. A lot of you have things upside-down. You are the clay. I am the Potter, yet you want to question Me in what I have done. And you want to question My very work. You, in fact, are striving against Me!” The human race in its rebellion against God is a race that certainly does strive against Him. It refuses to acknowledge that God is God. It refuses to acknowledge that God is the maker of heaven and earth. You see that it is not information in the end that stands in the way, for we are surrounded by information at every turn. It is not a scientific issue. In the end the reason people do not acknowledge that God is the maker of heaven and earth is because of a spiritual issue. They are rebelling; they are striving against God. It is amazing sometimes to watch what ends some folks would go to to not acknowledge that God is in the end the maker of heaven and earth. They have set their hearts against the Lord in this matter.

So we have a Potter and we have clay – and in such a relationship, who belongs to whom? Does the clay belong to the Potter, or does the Potter belong to the clay? Well, the answer put that way is obvious: the clay belongs to the Potter. And in the same way, we belong to God. He is the One who has formed us; He is the One who has made us. And in that final day, God will have His say about each of us. But in the meantime, it seems as though something is really wrong; that is, something is upside-down. It is hard to tell that we live in a world where people know that they belong to God. Why is that? Well, through creation we do belong to God, but through sin and rebellion and the work of the devil we are lost, we are separated from the Lord, and in a sense we have been stolen from Him. Jesus Himself talks about there being thieves and wolves and robbers who come in and rob His flock. In ways we will never understand, God is keenly aware of the separation and loss in His relationship with that which He has made.

Have you ever been robbed or had something stolen from you? Odds are that most of you have. If I told you how many times I have been robbed you would be shocked. I hope it has not been your experience. But no matter what has been taken, it is an unpleasant experience to have something taken from us. And if that something that’s been taken is special in any way – if it’s something that we have made with our own hands or created – it is even more disconcerting. And there is a sense where what God has created has been stolen from Him. I think we’ve all heard stories of someone having something taken, maybe from their home or from their person or in a work setting or somewhere else, only to later discover that someone else has it in their possession, and that person who has it in their possession says, “Well, it’s mine now. I paid for it. I got it through legitimate means. I’m sorry, it’s mine now.” And the story goes on to hear that the original owner says, “I want that”, and he wants it enough that he is willing to purchase it, to buy it back. To purchase back what in reality had been theirs in the beginning. The whole Bible account is about a God who made the heavens and the earth, who lost His rightful role, in a sense, to that creation, and then about what He would do to reclaim what had been lost. To do what He could to reclaim what had been taken from Him.

And what is it that He would do? The early part of history we know is actually the unfolding of God’s plan to bring into this world His own Son, into a world through a particular people that He chose and He would set apart – that’s the story given to us in the Old Testament. And then we are told that at just the right time in history, Jesus Christ came. Paul put it this way: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman”, and Jesus came into the world. But for what purpose? He came to pay a price. He came to pay a ransom. He came to buy back that which had been lost and had been stolen. And the price that He was willing to pay, the price was His very life! To suffer and die on a cross – to take there the punishment for the sin of those who had turned and rebelled from Him. In explaining this to Christian believers, Paul put it this way: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”

It really is an amazing story. It is an amazing story that to know that the One who has made us was willing to buy us back at such a price. And it is the gospel story. We believe that God is the maker of heaven and earth, but in the end the most important thing we can believe and know is that we can become His reclaimed possession – not only in this life but ultimately in the life to come – as we give ourselves to Him, as we trust in Him and believe in Him.

Dr. Ferguson in our church services is working his way through the book of Revelation. He has told us over and over again that the book of Revelation is filled with pictures – it is filled with pictures given to the apostle John through visions. And as the apostle Paul writes it, those pictures are getting passed on to us. And they are mostly (not totally, but they are mostly) pictures of heaven. And one of those great pictures is found in the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation – a picture of 24 elders who are bowing down before the Lamb of God, and those elders were singing. And this is what they were singing: “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed”, You purchased, You bought back “a people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” My prayer for each of us is that we might know that we are counted among that people – that we are counted among those who have been ransomed and redeemed as the people of God.

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