Friday, July 29, 2005

Fatherhood of God

Have a while to read this one guys. But I think you will like it, also read my previous post I want to know what you think.

Fatherhood of God

Gal. 4:6-7 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Names of God

Anytime someone comes into an encounter with God and learns something new about Him the give Him a new name to represent that newly discovered trait. It is not that God is changing but that He is showing different areas of His being to His people. When God does this His people describe Him using that trait. The people of Israel rarely would use the term Yahweh, meaning God, because it contained too much power. In the Gospel of Mathew, the writer decides not to use the term out of respect to the Jews he was writing and witnessing too. That is why we read “kingdom of Heaven” instead of “kingdom of God.” So throughout the OT God was given many names, but I believe His favorite name must be the name Father. In the Gospel of John alone Jesus uses the phrase “Abba” meaning father 156 times. Even with all the names already given to Him what could be a greater name than the one used by His own son. You see we can call Him Elohim (Creator), we can call Him Jehovah-ra’ah (a caring shepherd), Jehovah-jireh (the Lord who provides), Jehovah-shalom (the Lord of peace), Jehovah-rophe (the Lord who heals), and we can even call Him Jehovah-nissi (the Lord is my banner, the one who goes out before me). Yet, even with all these glorious and worshipful names we must never forget to call Him Abba, Father, Daddy.

Fatherhood before Christ

God as a father was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and by the time of Jesus’ incarnation there was extensive use in religious circles, but when Christ can the term took upon itself a much more embracing, and spiritual meaning. There were several issues that had to be addressed before a true sense of God’s fatherhood could be seen. First, we needed to truly understand the perfection of God. Second, we needed a sense or correspondence to God without sin. Third, we needed an immediate and unbroken fellowship with God, and be able to find mutual kinship with Him. Each of these issues was realized in the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.

The Son’s Father

Now let us turn our attention to Him who has and continues to experience the fatherhood of God. The term father if nothing else must mean at its core “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As God the Son, Jesus has a greater relationship with God the Father that any man could ever realize. It was unique, experiential, and all consuming. The filial consciousness, consciousness of sonship, guided Jesus’ thoughts throughout His life. This relationship is the key that gives Christ the authority and foundation for His saving office of humanity. We know that from a young age Christ had this sonship consciousness, if He had not always had it. The first comment out of Jesus’ mouth in scripture testifies to this fact. “Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?” Some translations read “about my Father’s business?” Christ ministry began with these words from God “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Through the temptations He guarded the relationship and through his teachings He testified to the knowledge from His Father. AS His ministry came to a close at the transfiguration the word “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” gave Christ a renewed assurance as the prospect of death became imminent. Even in His death the sonship consciousness never leaves Him. Jesus tells His disciples just before His betrayal “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” Even though His Father was sacrificing Him for the sake of the redemption of mankind the idea of sonship is still unbroken. The One who offered Him up was the same One Christ leaned on in His crucifixion. While on the cross we read the words that would be a nightmare to any father, if that father were not completely sovereign. His “only begotten Son” is on the cross dying one of the world’s most grueling deaths for sins He never committed and cries out “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (One of the few times Christ does not refer to God as Abba) But even in this the filial, sonship consciousness is not broken. There is no sense of sin, and immediately after the initial impact subsides Jesus cries out “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” Jesus ended His life in the same way it had begun, proclaiming that kinship with His Father that inspired His life even when all the forces of Hell and God’s wrath were unleashed onto His body and Soul at one time He still cries out “Abba, Father!” This lifelong relationship can leave us saying only on thing: “Surely this man was the Son of God!” May that be our prayer that no matter what is happening around us our hearts will cry out to the One that made and saves us and say “Daddy, into your hand I commit my spirit and everything that I am. I life and in death I want to always know you as Father above all else.”

The Son’s fellowship with the Father guides Christ’s every deed. In John 8:29 Jesus says “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” Just before the Christ tells how He pleases His Father, “…I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 8:28) The life of Christ is a completely realized fellowship of heart, mind, soul, and strength between God the Son and God the Father. Christ is the Shemah incarnate. Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is who Christ is; this is the Son’s relationship to the Father. They have a relationship of pure love given out of every part of His being to God the Father.

The relationship to the Father makes Christ who He is. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matt. 11:27) So it is clear that the relationship between the Son and the Father is much greater than the relationship with the rest of creation. Even though Jesus has the authority to make the known to other He keeps that authority for Himself. Those He shows the Father to can’t show the Father to others except by showing them the Son!

The sonship of Christ did not occur with the incarnation. Christ was still God the Son before He took on the flesh of humanity. This is clearly shown in the prologue of the gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:1-2). There are other verses that also testify to this such as John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I Am.” And John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” So it made quite clear that Christ existed before the incarnation in the same relationship to God the Father.

The Father reveals, orders, and upholds. The Son perceives, trusts, and obeys. All glory that is given to the Son comes from the Father. “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1) The Son was given glory to give glory back to the Father. Christ submits His own well to the will of the Father. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Fatherhood of God to Believers

Jesus also consistently teaches that God if the Father of the disciples. To know God as Father it must be experienced through the sonship. God is always the Father, but we are not always His sons, at least not in an experiential sense. Scripture teaches “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be hold and blameless in His sight.” (Eph 1:4) We become sons of God through Jesus Christ. “Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John1:22) “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal. 4:4-5) And of course Jesus clearly proclaims this in John 14:6 when He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by me!” In Matt. 11:27 Christ proclaims, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” It is because of this we offer the invitation of “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

When we accept Christ we change our relationship from enemies of God and slaves to sin, to sons of God, freed from sin’s bondage, and our sin nature is transformed to a regenerate nature. “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal 4:6-7)

Slaves are not heirs. Enemies are not heirs. In most cultures, daughters are not even heirs. Sons are heirs. They inherit the kingdom of God and become kings themselves. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” (Rom. 8:17) We are children of God and heirs of His kingdom. And we will live as such for eternity.

My favorite place to visit in Washington, D.C is Arlington National Cemetery. The summer after I graduate High School a group of us went on a road trip and stopped in D.C. for a day. While there I actually got into an argument with the people I was with because they didn’t want to see “a bunch of graves.” They won out, but it is because they just didn’t get it. It’s not a bunch of grave. It is the heroes of our nation. The interesting and amazing thing about Arlington is that almost all of the graves are the same, Corporals and Sergeants, Generals and Privates all buried with the same honor and respect as the next. This is the only country in the world where a General can be buries beside a Private in a fashion that shows no preference. You wouldn’t even know there rank if not for what is written on the markers.

That is what being a son of God is about; there is no preference. From the chief of sinner to the most righteous of men, God will call each believer His son and no one will ever know the difference, not even by the markers on our grave.

What kind of Father is God?

I want to take and explore a few of the characteristics of God, especially as it applies to His children. I won’t go into great detail for time sake so if you would like more information contact me later.

Our Father is wise. “Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33) You thought it was from the Proverbs or a Psalm didn’t you? If our Father is a wise father we can trust Him to make wise decisions for our life as His Spirit guides us.

Our Father is a loving father. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:8-10) Our Father’s love means that He gives out everything that He is for His sons.

Our Father is full of grace. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:22-24) Because of His grace our father has stayed His wrathful hand, He has sacrificed His only Son, and He has justified His adopted children.

Our Father is a comforting father. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distress it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3-7) Enough said.

Our Father is a Holy Father. “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” (Heb. 12:10) He has completely separated Himself from sin and helps us to do the same.

Our Father is a jealous father. “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) He seeks out and protects His glory above all else because He is the only one that deserves glory. It is not vanity that He demands worship, but out of His holiness and love. You may be saying “But love is not self-seeking.” No, love is not self-seeking, but it does seek to make its lover joyous. I was listening to a John Piper sermon a while back and he said lovers do no continue to tell one another of their love for each other out of duty; they of their love for each other because it would be incomplete without expression. This is same reason God demands worship, because unless our love is expressed it is incomplete. Until we share that love through speech, song, movement, and with everything else that we are our relationship with the Father will be lacking. Our Father must demand our love and we must express that love to Him because He is the only being in the universe worthy of any glory.

Finally, our Father is a patient father. We were born sinners and deserved death from the moment of conception. Yet God in His wondrous love and grace has stayed His hand until such a time as He so wills to bring His sons home. We see this best in the tale of the prodigal son. “Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' ”‘My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

This is who our Father is: wise, loving, graceful, holy, jealous, and patient. May we have the same sonship consciousness that Christ has made us worthy to receive. You may have known God by many names. Some of them may not even be good and true names. You may have called God insulting and belittling names because you blamed Him and were angry with Him. Now, I simply ask you to call Him one name, Daddy. Whether you are a son that has gone astray and has been feeding with the pigs or a son that has not yet met his real Father, He is watching for you. Maybe you are the other brother, and you have become complacent with the blessing of God as you stay in the House of the Lord. As a son of God we can not afford to become apathetic to God’s grace. As an heir to the kingdom we have a vested interest in advancing God’s possessions (His children) and the other brother was not doing his part. Whatever you need to do to meet the Son, Jesus Christ, so He can show you the Father, do it now. Or if you are driving later this week or year or whenever it might be and you hear the voice of your Father saying “Come home” do it that very moment. The Holy Spirit seeks out the children of God and shows them the way into His presence. Sonship comes with so many rewards and triumphs, but best of all is that when God sends you through the refining fires He is right there with you just as He was His only begotten Son on the cross.

In God we Trust,

Jason Vaughn

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