Welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. On this episode, we are returning to our friend—Martin Luther—one of my favorite texts of his Luther’s Small Catechism. Early on, he is walking through the petitions of the Apostles’ Creed, and he has something wonderful to say about that first line—that first declaration—that “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
Well, this is what Luther says: “I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that he has given and still preserves to me body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason and all my senses; and also clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and child, land, cattle, and all my property; that he provides me richly and daily with all the necessaries of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves and guards me against all evil; and all this out of pure paternal, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine; for all which I am and duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him.” And then as Luther does with all of his catechism questions, he ends it with “this is most certainly true.” And you can almost see Luther putting the exclamation point on the piece of paper as he says, “This is most certainly true.”
Well, this is a beautiful piece of theological literature. I hope you go find it and I hope you read it and think about it and even meditate upon it. It’s beautiful. It tells us how God cares for us, that he created me. Luther here is thinking of kids, and he’s saying he created you body and soul, right? But then he says, “eyes and ears and all your limbs.” And he’s helping kids think about who they are. And then he says, “And he’s also giving me clothing and shoes.” I love that line, this practical Luther reminding us that when we look down and see shoes on our feet, we are reminded of God’s provision for us, of God, the Father Almighty who made all things.
He talks about having land and cattle. We might change that today. I’m sure there’s many of our listeners out there who might be on a farm and have cattle, but most of us have other possessions than cattle. But nevertheless, we are reminded that God as Creator is behind all of these things. “He provides me richly,” Luther says, “and daily with all the necessaries of life. But above that, he also preserves and he guards me against all the evils and all the temptations that will come my way.” And Luther says that all of this, all that this mighty God, Creator of the universe, does for us is out of pure, paternal, divine goodness and mercy. He’s telling these kids of Wittenberg and he’s telling us centuries later, we have a loving, good, merciful heavenly Father, a Father who loves us.
And Luther says, “All of this makes me duty bound;” duty bound to do four things. Are you ready? Here they are: (1) To thank him. Let’s be thankful for our shoes. To thank him. (2) To praise him. Let’s be renewed in our devotion and our commitment to worship God. (3) Let’s serve him. And of course we serve God by serving others, don’t we? And then, (4) let’s obey him. Let’s obey what he tells us in his Word.
Well, I’m sure that you faithful listeners to 5 Minutes in Church History have already resolved to read church history this year. You should also consider resolving to listen to some thoughtful and edifying podcasts. We have a number of them here at Ligonier Ministries, and you can follow these podcasts in your favorite podcast app. I’m Steve Nichols. Thanks for joining us for 5 Minutes in Church History.