The Fifth Question

I love the fifth question of the Westminster Larger Catechism, used in many places to train children in the ways of God. It asks, “What do the scriptures principally teach?” To which the children learn the response, “The scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.”

Notice how carefully this wording is framed. It doesn’t say that that the Bible teaches us everything there is to know about God. Nor does it say that the Bible teaches us that our knowledge of God is full and complete. Rather it says that the Bible teaches us what we are to believe concerning God.

Surely, there are limitations to our understanding of God. He is infinite and we are finite.  And, there may be things that we simply cannot understand about God.  But, God has given us His word to teach us what to believe concerning Himself.

For instance, Jesus teaches us to pray to “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Thus, one way we are to think about God is as a father.  And yet, there are surely ways that this has its limitations.  Like earthly fathers, God is the source of our life. But, God’s role in our formation is far greater than an earthly father.  Like earthly fathers, God is the authority in our lives. But, God’s authority in our lives is far greater than any earthy father we may have had.

Furthermore, thinking about God as a father may not fully be accurate.  For instance, is God really “male” (as we understand it)? How far does the analogy go? We can’t know for sure. But, Jesus has instructed us that God is “Our Father who is in heaven.”  We are not to believe Him to be our “mother.” We are to believe Him to be our “father.” We are to believe God to be like the masculine father who protects and provides and cares for his children.

God has told us what to believe concerning Himself.  Let us believe it.

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