MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #2
THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD
December 9, 2009
Reading: Matthew 6:1-15
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" Matthew 6:9
Before we can have sons we must have a father and fathers come in all shapes and sizes; good fathers and bad fathers, some are loved and some hated, some we love to go home and visit while others are left behind as their children mature into adulthood, leave home at the earliest possible moment with no intention of ever returning. I thank God constantly that my father and mother were of the good kind whom I loved dearly and remember with joy the words of my father when he said to me, "I am very proud of you." I therefore have an advantage, I believe, over those who have never enjoyed a close relationship with their father for I can readily apply some of the qualities of a good father to my heavenly Father. When God says, 'I love you with an everlasting love' I have some basis upon which to understand what He means.
On the other hand, those whose relationship with their earthly father is strained or almost non-existent, take great comfort in the fact that their heavenly Father provides with abundance those elements of a good father that is/was missing from their earthly relationship. So, the Fatherhood of God to His children is, or should be, a matter of great significance to them. Unfortunately this filial relationship between God and His children is often relegated to the meaningless repetition of the so called Lord's Prayer on Sunday mornings-meaningless, that is, to many who repeat it parrot like.
During His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29) Jesus referred to His Father 17 times-"My Father" once, "our Father" once and "your Father" 15 times. The concept of God as Father is not new with the teachings of Christ but His relationship with individual believers is. The Old Testament presents God as the Father of Israel,
Of the many prayers recorded in the Old Testament never is Jehovah addressed as "Father" yet when His disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He commenced with "Our Father." When David or the prophets spoke of God as their Father it was always within the context of His people as a nation or in prophesy concerning Jesus, cp. Psalm 89:26-29; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8-9; Jeremiah 3:19-20. What a surprise this must have been to them especially when He included Himself in the address.
The Fatherhood of God is the axle upon which all New Testament doctrine turns. Everything that makes the New Testament better than the Old and which makes a difference between Christianity and Judaism is summed up in the Fatherhood of God. Father is the Christian name for God. If it were not for God the Father, Jesus would not be known to mankind as the Sent One, "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle (apostolos, one who is sent) and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him" Hebrews 3:1-2. The hub of the entire gospel message is John 3:16-17, "For God (the Father) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send (apostello) His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
Some churches emphasize God the Son in their teaching and discussions to the almost exclusion of God the Father. The same can be said of many that lay emphasis on God the Holy Spirit, particularly Pentecostal and so called Charismatic congregations no matter to which denomination they belong. To concentrate on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is not wrong unless it is to the exclusion of God the Father. "There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one" 1 John 5:7. Denominations, sects and cults are started because one person or a group of persons decide one particular doctrine should be emphasized over all others. Some are named after that doctrine, i.e. Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, etc.
One of the first things the Holy Spirit has taught me in my quest to know the Father is the reality that this is exactly who He is, my Father. The relationship I have with Him is a personal one; He is "my" Father. Somehow it is different to say He is "our Father" when, for instance, I repeat the Lord's Prayer which I did every Sunday morning in church. I can get lost in the "our" but not in the "my." It is like attending a church with a large congregation where one is scarcely known-I can get lost in the crowd and never be held accountable for my walk or lack of with the Lord. That is how I feel with the words "Our Father," I can remain distant in the numbers while still acknowledging God as my Father who is in heaven; how different when I see Him and acknowledge Him as "my Father." God has established a personal relationship with me, with me as an individual. If God is indeed my Father I must understand that in His love for me He will discipline me when I need disciplining both for my good and for the upholding of His faithfulness. He is a Just God, an attribute He does not discard because He is my Father. This is the same relationship all born again believers have with the Father yet they are all individual and personal. I have met several people who deny God because "God would never want to have a personal relationship with me." They believe in a god who created the heavens and earth but then released it to see what would happen. Such a god would not be interested in a personal relationship with something He created. How sad; this is exactly the purpose of God.
"Give me a father that is angry with my sins, and that seeks to bring me back, even though it be by chastisement. Thank God you have got a father that can be angry, but that loves you as much when he is angry as when he smiles upon you" C.H. Spurgeon - 1834 - 1892.
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing"