The First and the Best

Our church catechism begins with the question, Who is the first and best of beings? It is taken from the Baptism Catechism which was published toward the end of the 17th century. This is also the easiest question in the entire catechism since it can be answered with a word: God. God is the first and best of beings, and this is a truth we need to know, believe, and remember.

For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. (Psa 96:9)

God is the first of beings. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17). Before there was any created thing, there was the uncreated God. He is the uncaused Cause of everything there is.

God is also the best of beings. In our thinking, someone might be first but not necessarily best. In fact, rarely is it the case that whoever comes first ends up being the best. Those who set records and establish precedent can expect that someone will come later and break the record or change the precedent. Not so with God. The very designation God tells us that he stands alone in his greatness. No one else and nothing else is even on the same plane as God.

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. (Isa 44:6)

Sometimes we talk about making God the priority of our lives, but this truth tells us that God is the priority of our lives, whether we recognize him as such or not. We either live in reality or we live in fantasy, and the difference depends on who or what we recognize as the center of our existence.

Our aim in life is to fight for faith in God. Everything we can learn from the catechism emerges from this quest to see God as the prevailing truth in all things. Everything else is a fantasy that simply cannot endure.

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