Fatherly, Divine Goodness and Mercy

Text: First Article, Pt. II

The Latin title for the Second Sunday in Lent is Reminiscere. It means, “Remember,” and it comes from part of Psalm 25 where it says, “Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy lovingkindnesses; For they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: According to Thy mercy remember Thou me For Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” (Ps. 25:7-7, King James Version) This makes us especially think of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel reading. She begged Christ’s mercy for her demon-afflicted daughter, freely confessing she did not deserve it. The Lord heard her cry and had compassion on her daughter. During the season of Lent, we also cry out to God in repentance and faith; and we ask Him to remember His promise to forgive our sins by His grace. As the Catechism says, “for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.”

We ask God to remember us in the confidence that He will, indeed, remember and forgive us. He will do this out of His own fatherly, divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in us. It is the same divine goodness and mercy that causes our heavenly Father to provide not just for our souls but for every need of our bodies, as well. We pick up today where we left off last week. We confess in the First Article of the Creed that God our Father is the maker of all things. In addition to making us and all things, our God continues to provide for all our needs.

I.

We said last week that the division between those who are of God and those who are of the world becomes pretty clear in this first article. The world says that there is no maker of heaven and earth, but that all things came into being by happenstance. The Scriptures teach, and nature itself witnesses, that there is a Creator: the Triune God. God created all things out of nothing in six days, simply by speaking. Man, He formed from the dust of the earth as a potter would something of clay. Beyond this, we also confess in the First Article that God our Father didn’t just make everything and disappear. No, He continues to be intimately involved in His Creation, ordering and providing for all things – even us.

There are some who believe that God did create everything as Genesis teaches, but then left creation to run on its own as a watchmaker would a watch. In fact, they were Christians who came up with that idea. In school we learned about Isaac Newton; He was one of the first to suggest it. But what does the Bible have to say on the topic? “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:15-16) Elsewhere, it says, “He covers the heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth; He makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.” (Ps. 147:8-9)

God’s gracious provision isn’t just for the birds and wild animals, but by His grace He extends it over us. This is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:26) The answer, of course, is yes. Our heavenly Father doesn’t just provide for the creation, He provides for us. Everything that we need for the body, He provides. In fact, let’s read the second paragraph of the meaning and see what sort of things God provides.

He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.

http://catechism.cph.org/en/creed.html

Our God is even so loving that He provides for those who don’t (or do not yet) believe in Him. In short, our God supplies for our every need of body and soul.

II.

Our heavenly Father also, “defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.” We confessed this already in the Psalm. We spoke, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (121:1-2) It is true that life in this fallen creation is difficult and dangerous. Our God remembers us, however, and He works all things for our good. He defends us from danger through the Kingdom of the Left – our government, our military, our firefighters, police, and emergency medical services. They serve as hands of God in our daily lives. In confirmation class, we learn that is why we obey the Fourth Commandment. God teaches us to honor those who are above us in station, for it is really God serving us through them. This includes our parents, too.

When we confess that God guards and protects us from all evil, we also enter into the spiritual realm. St. Peter teaches us that the devil prowls around us like a roaring lion. If he could, Satan would devour us, too. Here is where our Lord enters in. By the ministry of His holy angels, we are defended from the assaults of Satan and his minions. Through their work, though hidden from our eyes, God defends us against the devil’s evil and mischief. So, also, does our God protect us from evil by sending us faithful pastors and teachers. Through their faithful preaching and teaching of the Word, God works to strengthen and nurture our faith, so that no place would be given for the devil and his crafty doctrines.

III.

These things, and many more, our God does for us. He provides for our every need of body and soul. He guards and protects us from all danger and evil. Even when, according to His will, we do suffer things that are adverse to us, He is still there working them for our benefit. We can say in confidence, with St. Paul, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) There remain for us two questions to answer. Why does God do all this? And, How should we respond to all these things? Let’s answer them both together by reading the rest of the meaning from the Small Catechism.

All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

http://catechism.cph.org/en/creed.html

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