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“This is most certainly true!”


The Five Installments: 

1) God is my Father Almighty;

2) God is Maker of Heaven and Earth;

3) God is my Preserver and Provider;

4) God is my Protector;

5) God does all this for me by His grace.

The Father of Grace


This is the final article of a series focusing on Dr. Martin Luther’s explanation to the First Article, the article which directs us specifically to the work of the first person in the Holy Trinity, God the Father.

So far we have examined the almighty nature of our Heavenly Father, including the work of His  creating heaven and Earth, and subsequently His role as the Preserver, Provider, and Protector of that creation. This writing will focus on our Heavenly Father’s grace—the undeserved love He bestows on us sinners, followed by our response to that love.

The statement “There but for the grace of God go I” is attributed to John Bradford, a sixteenth century English Protestant preacher who was imprisoned in the Tower of London by the Roman Catholic monarch, Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”). Bradford reportedly uttered these words as he witnessed other prisoners being led to their execution. He knew that it was only God’s grace that was preserving his life at that time.

The First Article
(About Creation)
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has created me and all creatures. He has given me my body and life, eyes, ears, and all my bodily members, my mind, and all my senses and still keeps them for me. God also preserves me by richly and daily providing clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all my property and all I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger. He guards and defends me from every evil. God does all this because He is my good and gracious Father in heaven, not because of anything I have done to earn or deserve it. For all of this it is my duty to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.
This is most certainly true.
(Martin Luther’s SMALL CATECHISM, Sydow edition, 2000)

How often don’t Bradford’s words apply to us as well? Think of all the times in our lives when, had it not been for God’s grace, we would have gone astray, experienced harm, or denied our Lord. Words of a familiar hymn come to mind, “Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,” and “I need Thy presence every passing hour; what but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?” (TLH #552:5-6)

Similarly, Martin Luther says of this article, “Whenever we escape from disaster or danger, we ought to remember that it is God who gives and does all these things. In these escapes we sense and see His fatherly heart and His surpassing love toward us” (Luther’s Large Catechism, Part II, para. 23). In the book of Lamentations we read, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (3:22-23).

However, if God’s grace were beneficial for our lives only on this Earth, it would be short-lived and hollow. That is why, when we speak of that grace, we rightfully connect it to the person and work of Christ. God the Father’s greatest love was shown toward us in the sending of His Son to be our Savior. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) There was nothing in us that was loveable when God bestowed His grace on us, and so we declare, “And all this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me” (Luther’s Small Catechism, Gausewitz edition, 1956).

Think again of John Bradford, who was burned at the stake as a martyr on July 1, 1555. The doubting might ask, “Where was God’s grace then?”

We too may have the same question when “bad” things happen to us. But what better evidence of God’s love do we have than the transitioning of a Christian into eternal life? “For to me, to live is Christ [by God’s grace], and to die is gain [by God’s grace]” (Philippians 1:21).

Reportedly, John Bradford’s last words were spoken to a young man being executed with him: “Be of good comfort, brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night.”

A word should yet be said about our response to God’s grace. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “In this way the heart would be warmed and kindled to be thankful, and to use all such good things to honor and praise God” (Luther’s Large Catechism, Part II, para. 23). In other words, in response to Christ’s love toward us, we will want to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.

“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your Spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Oh, how great is Thy compassion,

Faithful Father, God of grace,

That with all our fallen race

And in our deep degradation

Thou wast merciful that we

Might be saved eternally.

I will praise Thy great compassion,

Faithful Father, God of grace,

That with all our fallen race

And in our deep degradation

Thou wast merciful that we

Might bring endless praise to Thee.

(TLH #384:1&5)