Question 13. When you confess the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, are you elevating men over women and endorsing male domination?
No. Human power and authority are trustworthy only as they reflect God’s mercy and kindness, not abusive patterns of domination. As Jesus taught his disciples, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). God the Father sets the standard by which all misuses of power are exposed and condemned. “Call no one your father on earth,” said Jesus, “for you have one Father — the one in heaven” (Matt. 23:9). In fact God calls women and men to all ministries of the church.
Gal. 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Eph. 5:21 “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Question 14. If God’s love is powerful beyond measure, why is there so much evil in the world?
No one can say why, for evil is a terrible abyss beyond all rational explanation. Its ultimate origin is obscure. Its enormity perplexes us. Nevertheless, we boldly affirm that God’s triumph over evil is certain. In Jesus Christ God suffers with us, knowing all our sorrows. In raising him from the dead, God gives new hope to the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is himself God’s promise that suffering will come to an end, that death shall be no more, and that all things will be made new.
Ps. 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.”
1 Pet. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
2 Pet. 3:13 “But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Rom. 8:21 “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Job 19:25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
Question 16. What does it mean to say that we human beings are created in the image of God?
That God created us to live together in love and freedom — with God, with one another, and with the world. Our distinctive capacities — reason, imagination, volition and so on — are given primarily for this purpose. We are created to be loving companions of others so that something of God’s goodness may be reflected in our lives.
Gen. 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’”
Gen. 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Question 17. What does our creation in God’s image reflect about God’s reality?
Our being created in and for relationship is a reflection of the Holy Trinity. In the mystery of the one God, the three divine persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — live in, with and for one another eternally in perfect love and freedom.
Luke 3:21-22 “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”
John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
John 5:19 “Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”
John 17:21-22 “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Question 18. What does our creation in God’s image reflect about God’s love for us?
We are created to live wholeheartedly for God. When we honor our Creator as the source of all good things, we are like mirrors reflecting back the great beam of love that God
shines on us. We are also created to honor God by showing love toward other human beings.
Ps. 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.”
Matt. 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Question 21. What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is the image of God?
Despite our turning from God, God did not turn from us, but instead sent Jesus Christ in the fullness of time to restore our broken humanity. Jesus lived completely for God, by giving himself completely for us, even to the point of dying for us. By living so completely for others, he manifested what he was — the perfect image of God. When by grace we are conformed to him through faith, our humanity is renewed according to the divine image that we lost.
Is. 65:2 “I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.”
Phil. 2:8 “He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.”
Col. 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
Rom. 8:29 “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.”
Question 22. What do you understand by God’s providence?
That God not only preserves the world, but also continually attends to it, ruling and sustaining it with wise and benevolent care. God is concerned for every creature: “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). In particular, God provides for the world by bringing good out of evil, so that nothing evil is permitted to occur that God does not bend finally to the good. Scripture tells us, for example, how Joseph said to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).
Rom. 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Ps. 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Ps. 145:17 “The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.”
Question 24. What difference does your faith in God’s providence make when you struggle against bitterness and despair?
When I suffer harm or adversity, my faith in God’s providence upholds me against bitterness and despair. It reminds me when hope disappears that my heartache and pain are contained by a larger purpose and a higher power than I can presently discern. Even in grief, shame and loss, I can still cry out to God in lament, waiting on God to supply my needs, and to bring me healing and comfort.
Ps. 42:11 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”
2 Cor. 4:8-10 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”
Ps. 13:1-2 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”
Job 7:11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Question 27. Does your confession of God as Creator contradict the findings of modern science?
No. My confession of God as Creator answers three questions: Who?, How? and Why? It affirms that (a) the triune God, who is self-sufficient, (b) called the world into being out of nothing by the creative power of God’s Word (c) for the sake of sharing love and freedom. Natural science has much to teach us about the particular mechanisms and processes of nature, but it is not in a position to answer these questions about ultimate reality, which point to mysteries that science as such is not equipped to explore. Nothing basic to the Christian faith contradicts the findings of modern science, nor does anything essential to modern science contradict the Christian faith.
John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”
Question 35. How can Jesus be truly God and yet also truly human at the same time?
The mystery of Jesus Christ’s divine-human unity passes our understanding; only faith given by the Holy Spirit enables us to affirm it. When Holy Scripture depicts Jesus as someone with divine power, status and authority, it presupposes his humanity. And when it depicts him as someone with human weakness, neediness and mortality, it presupposes his deity. We cannot understand how this should be, but we can trust that the God who made heaven and earth is free to become God incarnate and thus to be God with us in this wonderful and awe-inspiring way.
Mark 1:27 “They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Mark 4:41 “And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
Matt. 28:18 “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”
Luke 22:44 “In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.”
Job 5:9 “He does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.”
Question 37. Was the covenant with Israel an everlasting covenant?
Yes. With the coming of Jesus the covenant with Israel was expanded and confirmed. By faith in him Gentiles were welcomed into the covenant. This throwing open of the gates confirmed the promise that through Israel God’s blessing would come to all peoples. Although for the most part Israel has not accepted Jesus as the Messiah, God has not rejected Israel. God still loves Israel, and God is their hope, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). The God who has reached out to unbelieving Gentiles will not fail to show mercy to Israel as the people of the everlasting covenant.
Is. 61:8 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them.”
Jer. 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
2 Sam. 23:5 “For he has made with me [David] an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure.”
Rom. 11:29 “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Question 51. How will God deal with the followers of other religions?
God has made salvation available to all human beings through Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. How God will deal with those who do not know or follow Christ, but who follow another tradition, we cannot finally say. We can say, however, that God is gracious and merciful, and that God will not deal with people in any other way than we see in Jesus Christ, who came as the Savior of the world.
Rev. 7:9 “And there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”
Ps. 103:8 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
John 3:19 “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”
Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.”
Question 52. How should I treat non-Christians and people of other religions?
As much as I can, I should meet friendship with friendship, hostility with kindness, generosity with gratitude, persecution with forbearance, truth with agreement, and error with truth. I should express my faith with humility and devotion as the occasion requires, whether silently or openly, boldly or meekly, by word or by deed. I should avoid compromising the truth on the one hand and being narrow-minded on the other. In short, I should always welcome and accept these others in a way that honors and reflects the Lord’s welcome and acceptance of me.
Rom. 15:7 “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Matt. 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Eph. 4:25 “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”
Acts. 13:47 “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Rom. 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Rom. 13:10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”