[B10] The Apostles' Creed: God's Care For His People

In answer to man’s cry of need, God gives abundant assurance of His fatherly love and care for each one of us. He assures us that He is not a God far removed from our perplexities and struggles. He is a God at hand. He thoroughly understands our needs. His name is Father. This is the pledge of His love and His help. Come, let us draw near the Father’s knee and devoutly listen to His words of cheer, and take them to heart.

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10. God’s Care For His People

Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. — 1 [Pet.] 5:7.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows — [St. Matt.] 10:29—31.

We have made a brief study of God’s general providence. We have seen, from the unmistakable evidence of His holy Word, that God is still in His world; that He rules, and overrules, all things to the glory of His great name, and the good of his creatures. But the necessities of the situation forced the consideration also of another, and, in some respects, a related subject, — the problem of evil. These might have sufficed to serve our purpose. It is contained therein that, in spite of the evil which abounds, without and within, God is watching over us, that He has our welfare at heart, that He is seeking and securing the largest possible good for each of his children. If God preserves and governs the world, He preserves and governs each part of it. The greater contains the less. But we are so constituted that while generalities may suffice, we much prefer particularities. The child may understand that the parents’ general assurances of love and solicitude include all the members of the household, yet the little ones long for the individual caress, the personally and directly spoken word of love. We are all but children of a larger growth and accumulated days. We all long, much as children do, for individual love and care. And the loving care which never fails, even when human love and interest can do no more than suffer with us, which continues to hold our hand through all the intricate paths, and trying experiences of life, and then goes out with us into the untried future, and still insures our safety and happiness, for this, for this above all, do we long. The assurance of such fatherly care as this God abundantly gives his children. Let us, then, for our further instruction and comfort, take up for consideration the subject of God’s care for his individual children.

God’s Care for Our Temporal Welfare

In the explanation of the First Article, we have been taught to confess not only that God has given to each of us body and soul, all our members, reason and all our senses, and still preserves them; but that it is God who gives to each one of us “clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” Is this a mere form of words? or does it express the faith of a simpler age, which the world has now outgrown? Truth compels the confession that many do not hold this faith, but it is equally true that many never did hold it. But this is not because men have outgrown these truths, it is because they have gotten too little for them. When men have become so infatuated with the laws and processes of nature that they lose consciousness of the Divine Presence, out of whose eternal and inexhaustible depths come the laws of nature, they are not larger but smaller persons. Their heads have become swollen in a certain way, but it is not because of a richer content; and the soul has become decidedly poorer.

Our very nature cries out in rebellion against the thought of our being fatherless, the sporadic offspring of nothing, without guardianship or help other than that which we, or others like us, can provide. It is hard for a being who thinks, and feels, and wills; whose whole nature is reaching out to lay hold of and sustain itself by grappling something greater, wiser, and better than itself; it is hard, I say, for such a being to feel that he is the sport of blind, unfeeling matter; that he is destined to be buffeted from pillar to post, and finally fall by the way unnoticed and unlamented. This is difficult because it is contrary to facts. Man was made by God, for fellowship with God, for dependence on God; and it is impossible to live a satisfying life without God’s fellowship and fatherly care.

Our own inner lives, then, the lives of all men, tell us that if we are to have any satisfaction in life; if our way is to be prospered, we must have the guidance and guardianship of an all-wise and ever-watchful Father; One who is father to our whole being. “With Thee is the fountain of life.” And separated from God our lives are like a stream cut off from its source, it soon dries up, or exists only in stagnant pools. This is true of our physical existence. In God do we live, and move, and have our being. No living thing exists apart from God. Life of every kind is a spark struck from the central flame, and sustained by contact with it. In man life is the breath of God’s nostrils. And He does not live apart from those who have received life from Him. But one may be ignorant of the full truth, and be living in disjointed relationship. This is the cause of man’s orphaned feeling, the source of all his woe.

Is not this the fundamental explanation of the cry of the Psalmist, and countless thousands of others:

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God; my soul thirsteth for God, the living God” (Ps. 42:1, 2).

Why does the hound-chased hart, full of the fever of fear and unusual exertion, dash for the brook? It takes no process of reasoning to lead it. The dire need of its nature impels it. Without water it will perish, and die a thousand deaths in the perishing. This striking picture is given for the purpose of teaching us a profound lesson. It impresses the truth that there are essential needs grounded in our very nature which incessantly cry out for satisfaction. There are times when we are wholly torn by doubts and fears, and we are never wholly free from them. Our souls are hunted and stalked by the fierce wolves and tigers of outward conflict; within there are insinuating and devouring passions. Then what? Our very nature cries out for help, for a light to guide the way, for a strong arm on which to lean, for some one of wisdom and power and sympathy to whisper into our ears the assurance that if we will lean on Him all will still be well with us. And this call is for none other than God. It may be the call of a lonely, ignorant, debased bushman of Africa’s unexplored land; but he is calling for God, no one else can help. It may be the call of a high-browed man of letters who, by tedious methods, has taught himself to believe that there is only law and ordered processes; but these, leaving him in the dark, and uncomforted, having failed him, he cries out in despair, and bemoans his fate. And his cry is for God, for He only can satisfy the life He has given. Is this not the meaning of that altar erected to the unknown God in cultured Athens? The mind needs God. Without Him it runs up against a stone wall, or an aching void, at every turn. The heart, in its tumults of emotion, and its agony of longing, needs God, — the fountain of living water. And there is no way of satisfying this ever abiding need of the whole life but in God, the living God. There are man-made substitutes a-plenty, but they cannot satisfy. Indeed, they only finally increase the sense of need which, for the time, they seem to satisfy.

In answer to man’s cry of need, God gives abundant assurance of His fatherly love and care for each one of us. He assures us that He is not a God far removed from our perplexities and struggles. He is a God at hand. He thoroughly understands our needs. His name is Father. This is the pledge of His love and His help. Come, let us draw near the Father’s knee and devoutly listen to His words of cheer, and take them to heart.

Do our fears begin to get the better of us, and make us feel that we are but the sport of adverse circumstances? Then let us remember that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand” (Ps. 37:23, 24). Does the devil suggest that God is too distant, and too busy, to care for us? Then let us recall the Father’s promise: “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10). And again, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). Are the times hard? Are our obligations many and heavy? Does the future look foreboding? Then let us listen to the admonition of the loving Lord:

“Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap, which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls…? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast in the oven; how much more will He clothe you?” (St. Luke 12:24, 27, 28).

Are we afraid that we are so small and inconsequential that we are lost in this vast universe with its teeming multitudes? Then let us listen to Christ’s own lesson of the minuteness of the Father’s care:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (St. Matt. 10:29—30).

Does the path before us grow dim, and lose itself amid the conflict of elements and apparent contradictions? Let us not try unnecessarily to read the distant future, but prayerfully submit ourselves to Him who says to each of us:

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eyes” (Ps. 32:8).

Are our burdens many and heavy? Do we feel our strength waning? Are our knees a-tremble? Then let us accept the gracious invitation of Him who says: Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden; cast all your burdens upon me; for I care for you; I will give you rest. My strength shall be made perfect in your weakness.

Our perplexity is often increased by what we cannot fail observing around us. We see evil-doers, workers of iniquity, multitudes of them, who are sleek and fat. They edge out those who are honest, upright, believing and prayerful. And yet they seem to prosper. But the Lord has an explanation for this. He often bestows such blessings as they are able to receive on these people in order to win them. If their hearts are not touched and opened to the higher blessings theirs is only a passing good.

“Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed… Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass” (Ps. 37:1—5).

There is a poem on the first of our texts, which has meant, and still means, much to me. It is by an unknown author, and of considerable length, but because of its precious Gospel truth I am going to pass it on. It is entitled:

“Your Father’s Care for You.”

“What can it mean? Is it aught to Him
 That the nights are long and the days are dim?
 Can He be touched by the griefs I bear
 Which sadden the heart and whiten the hair?
 Around His throne are eternal calms,
 And strong glad music of happy psalms,
 And bliss unruffled by any strife;
 How can He care for my little life?

“And yet I want Him to care for me
 While I live down here where the sorrows be.
 When the lights die down from the path I take,
 When strength is feeble and friends forsake,
 When love and music that once did bless
 Have left me to silence and loneliness,
 And my life-song changes to sobbing prayers,
 Then my heart cries out for a God who cares.

“When shadows hang o’er me the whole day long,
 And my spirit is bowed with shame and wrong;
 When I am not good and the deeper shade
 Of conscious sin makes my heart afraid,
 And the busy world has too much to do
 To stay in its course to help me through,
 And I long for a Saviour — can it be
 That the God of the universe cares for me?

“Oh, wonderful story of deathless love!
 Each heart is dear to that heart above;
 He fights for me when I cannot fight,
 He comforts me in the gloom of night;
 He lifts the burden for He is strong,
 He stills the sigh and awakens the song;
 The sorrows that bowed me down He bears,
 And loves and pardons because He cares.
 Let all who are sad take heart again;
 We are not alone in our hours of pain;
 Our Father stoops from His throne above
 To soothe and quiet us with His love.
 He leaves us not when the storm is high,
 And we have safety for He is nigh.
 Can it be trouble which He doth share?
 Oh, rest in peace, for the Lord does care.”

Our chief trouble, and a very serious one, is just this, — our faith is weak, we are not able, rather, not willing, to take God at His Word. We forget that to be God at all He must be the God of truth; and that He has ever revealed Himself as a God of infinite love and mercy. If we would only remember that, in this world of sin, confusion, and conflicting elements, it is impossible for us to understand what is best, and leave it all to our heavenly Father, who cares for us, each of us, with a whole-hearted, never-failing, care; and that in the end we will be able to look back and see that it was so, what a different life we would be living! Peace, the peace of God, would fill our souls.

Such a faith is possible, thousands have possessed it. But it must be cultivated; cultivated by prayer, by living in the Word of God, and through it in loving fellowship with Jesus, and His and our Father. We must learn also to take our moods, and temperamental emotions, in control. With the Psalmist, we must learn to put to our fears the question:

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” What is the cause of your trembling? Who are your enemies? What can they do? Can they overcome God? Is God dead? Is there any danger of His forsaking us? Shake off thy fears, O my soul. “Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Ps. 42:11).

God gave us our bodies. That He cares for the bodily welfare of each one of his children with a solicitous care no one will question who knows and believes God’s Word, no one who has lived in sweet personal fellowship with this Heavenly Father. And forever God is going to care for our bodies. He does not lose sight of them when they crumble back to their native element, the dust. After this purifying process, God is going to call them forth perfectly restored, made fit for heaven, to dwell with Him forever.

God’s Care for Our Spiritual Welfare

We are not going to discuss the relation of body and soul, or the relative importance of the one to the other. We will leave this problem to the physicists and the metaphysicians, if it will do them any good. But that God, as things now are, is more concerned about our souls than He is about our present bodily well-being, should be clear to every student of Scripture. He requires that, where necessary, the ease and comfort of the body, yea, the life of the body itself, be sacrificed for the good of the soul, our own, or those of others. Speaking of days of persecution, when the confession of God’s truth was considered a sufficient cause for taking a man’s life, Jesus says:

“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (St. Matt. 10:28).

This clearly teaches that a man must be true to the faith on which his soul’s welfare depends even if it costs him his bodily life. Because of sin the body must decay and return to its primal elements. And, if a temporary physical ill, however severe, must be endured in order to secure a larger, permanent soul-good, God requires that it be endured; yea, though our loving Father, He does not, at times, hesitate to, Himself, act the surgeon.

That God loves the souls of men, His Kingdom of grace here on earth, no one can question who knows the history of His dealings with men. Many have been the times when this kingdom was threatened and fiercely assaulted. And many have been the dark days through which it has passed. But God has ever shown Himself to be with it. What wonderful, far-reaching, interwoven plans has He not devised for its good. What marvelous wisdom, and power, and patience, and love He has ever shown in executing them.

The crowning and indisputable proof of God’s loving care for the souls of men is found especially in the truths of the Second Article of this Creed. There are related the great facts which are the historical interpretation of the Master’s words:

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

No one who has really lived through the experiences of Jesus’ intercourse with men, and heard His great intercessory prayer, and watched with Him in Gethsemane, and stood beneath His cross on Calvary, and experienced his part of the Pentecostal blessing, can ever question God’s loving care for His people.

But the question which we here especially want to settle for our souls is the one we have settled for our bodies; does God’s care for men’s souls extend to the individual? Does God care for your soul? my soul? Most assuredly He does. We do not need to go very far to be assured of this. How large a part of the record of God’s dealings with men, under both forms of the Covenant, is taken up with the story of the way in which He sought the welfare of the souls of individuals. God’s kingdom of grace is made up of individuals. He deals with them individually as they come into His kingdom, and as long as they are in it. Listen to the encouragement which the loving Lord gives, not to the multitude of his children in the aggregate, but to each one of them individually:

“Because he hath set His love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation” (Ps. 91:14—16).

The Lord of hosts, He whose will is the only power in the universe; He whose are the armies of heaven, and whose servants are all the creatures of this teeming universe, He is with us, with each of us. He is with us to strengthen us for our duties and our sufferings. He is with us to lift us up when we fall, to forgive us when we sin and repent, to comfort us in our sorrows, and to give us His great salvation.

Does not the mighty God, the Lord of hosts, call Himself the God of Jacob, the God of the solitary man? Jacob was a man of many shortcomings, especially in his early life. He was a bartering kind of a Jew who wanted to make a bargain with the Lord to serve Him if He would promise to give him the common necessities of the bodily life. But because He was God’s child, though a weak one, God revealed Himself to him in a wonderful way, went with him, forgave him, strengthened him, and led him, and saved him. The story of that distant day is given for our encouragement. It was a prophecy for all the future. What God was for Jacob He wants to be for you and me, a very present companion and helper.

After a while, when His discipline had accomplished its purpose, God said of Jacob:

“Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince thou hast power with God, and hast prevailed.”

And this was already in this life. So it may be, so God wants it to be, with us. It will result, however, only when we take God to be our Emmanuel, God with us, our constant companion, friend, and helper. Let us live close to God. Let us realize His abiding presence. “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Let us believe it, rejoice in it, profit by it. And we, too, each of us, shall prevail, and be princes with God, now and forever.

By God's grace, each week LutheranLibrary.org will present a new message on the basics of the Evangelical Christian Faith. Our guide is the Small Catechism, as expounded by Traditional Pastor Robert Golladay. May this series bless and inspire you.

Luther’s Small Catechism: Series B – The Apostles’ Creed

Publication Information

  • Author: “Golladay, Robert Emory”
  • Title: “The Apostles’ Creed”
  • Originally Published: 1917 by Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio.
  • Lutheran Library Edition: 2020
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0