What we now know as the Apostles Creed descended from an earlier form of the creed, known as the Old Roman Symbol. The beginning of the creed dates from as early as the second century. We do not have any direct evidence that it was penned by any of the apostles, but it is an admirable summary of the apostolic teaching.
We have confessed our faith in God the Father, and looking ahead we saw that He is the Father of Jesus Christ. We are not confessing faith in some kind of an abstract definition. And yet, like all particular persons, God the Father has attributes and characteristics, which means that we do have to get into some definitions. The first one mentioned here is that He is the Almighty.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Summary of the Text:
The Creed was originally written in Greek, and the word here rendered as Almighty is pantokrator, meaning omnipotent or almighty. This is an attribute of God that is an overarching description, and that same word is used in various places in the New Testament (2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 1:8; 4:8). But as we arrive at this description of Him, we have to be careful not to detach it from what Scripture reveals to us everywhere else.
The Divine Attributes:
When talking about God, we do have to talk about His attributes. There is no other way for finite beings to discuss an infinite being. And in addition, we know that this is lawful for us to do (and not impudence) because the Bible does it all the time. And so we must recognize that these are attributes that can distinguished from one another, but never separated. For an illustration we can easily distinguish height and breadth. A child can do that. But separating themselves would be another matter. So we can distinguish God’s power, and kindness, and holiness, and love, and so on. But we cannot separate them; they are all one in the divine simplicity.
That said, we need to distinguish certain aspects of God’s being that He delights to share with us and others that He does not share. In fact, He cannot share them with us in the very nature of the case. He communicates His holiness and His love to us, for example, but not His omnipresence.
When God communicates His love to us (Rom. 5:5), for example, He is making countless finite creatures more like Himself, and this is a process that will continue on forever and ever. We will always have head room, always have room to grow. But there are certain characteristics that God could not share without creating a second God alongside Himself—which is absurd, as nonsensical as a four-side triangle.
Admonishing the Sophomoric:
So this leads to a predictable question. If God is Almighty, well, then, can He make a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it? This assumes a false understanding of what the infinite power of God actually means. Of course He cannot make a rock like that—there are many things the Omnipotence cannot do. God cannot be tempted (Jas. 1:13). He cannot lie (Num. 23:19). He cannot undo His own omnipotence. God cannot do anything in violation of His own nature or character. Putting it the other way around, God can do absolutely anything that is consistent with His nature and character.
As C.S. Lewis said somewhere—quite trenchantly—nonsense doesn’t stop being nonsense just because we are speaking it about God.
The Place of Logic:
And here is another place where some rarified theology is of immense practical importance. Some people object to reasoning like this because, they say, “logic doesn’t apply to God.” But if that is the case, then we should all eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. If logic does not apply to God, then “I will never leave you nor forsake you” could easily mean “for now,” or “unless I change my mind.”
The foundation stone of logical reasoning is what is called the “law of identity”—A is A. Other laws accompany it—A does not equal not A, the law of non-contradiction. But before your eyes glaze over, let me ground this in the express word of God. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).
But we still have to be careful how we talk about this. If logic is subordinate to God, and subject to arbitrary change, then we are all in this terrible spot. But if logic is senior to God, and He somehow submits to it, then this is the will and voice of another God, the true Most High God. And that is absurd. So what this means is that “right reason” or “logic” is an attribute of God. When we are talking about consistency, we are reflecting what God is like, and that means what God is everlastingly like.
Our Refuge and Strength:
Now let us go back for a moment to the Fatherhood of God for a moment. It striking that one of the few places in the New Testament where the same word for Almighty is used has a close relationship to the Fatherhood of God, just like in the Creed. “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:18).
When the Bible talks about the power and strength of God, it overwhelmingly does so by describing His might on behalf of His people. The strength of God is not abstract doctrine given to us for the entertainment of abstruse theologians.
Boil this down. What this means that you in the will of God outnumber absolutely everybody. “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, Neither did their own arm save them: But thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, Because thou hadst a favour unto them” (Ps. 44:3). And if you would see the right arm of God, then you must look to Jesus Christ.