Life-Everlasting.net

The Fatherhood of God

A Bible Perspective

Introduction

The idea for this paper came from a sermon of Alistair Begg who preached on this topic on father's day (21 June 2015)[1]. I have taken notes from his sermon and conducted my own study of the topic and written a brief synopsis of the fatherhood of God.

Our understanding of fatherhood stems from our relationship with our own father which but gives a poor example, however, good your father is. This limits and is often prejudicial towards understanding of what true fatherhood encompasses. However, it is from our knowledge and understanding of the fatherhood of God that gives true understanding of fatherhood; his fatherhood towards his son and the relationship of the son, the Lord Jesus Christ to his father, is the perfect and full example of fatherhood. 

We learn of God the Father by what he has done for us and the two relations: God the Father towards with his son, and God the Father, towards his people. That Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her is remarkable, and it is this that brings down to us the understanding and truth of the breadth and depth of fatherhood.

God the Father is not the Father of everyone, spiritually speaking

It is easy to find evidence that God the Father is not the father of everyone, spiritually speaking. The question then could be, is the God the Father the father of anyone?

By nature man does not know God; indeed men are born alienated from God. Paul puts it emphatically this way: "that at that time [speaking of a person who is saved] you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12 NKJV). Here the key is the fact we are born without Christ, and without God. The natural man adores the physical and conscious world, but abhors the spiritual world of the God. The natural man is "alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18b), banished from His divine presence (Genesis 3:23,24), which brought him into darkness (Ephesians 5:8). Notwithstanding, the Jews thought that they had God as their father. In John chapter 8 they declare to Jesus that Abraham "is our father". However, Jesus points out that a son would do the works of the father (Exodus 20:12 etc.), but on the contrary, neither the scribes nor the Pharisees listen to the truth which was embodied in Jesus Christ[2]. Therefore they were not doing the works of their father. Indeed they were planning to kill him and so Jesus declares that since Abraham did not do this they could not possibly be sons of Abraham (John 8:40). They then declare that God is their Father, but Jesus shows that that this cannot be true, for if indeed God was their Father, they would believe Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus finishes his debate with the following statement; "He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God" (see John 8:39-47), thus proving the argument the Jews did not have God as their father.

This provides evidence that some are not of God, and in general, all men and woman are born without God as their Father. Indeed it is beyond comprehension of an unsaved person to perceive the boundary between God the Father and themselves. The truth, as Jesus Christ stated is one cannot access God on our own terms or on our own timeframe.  Jesus declared to the Pharisees twice: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44 NKJV) and "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." (John 6:65 NKJV).

One the other hand it is a given in all of Scripture that for a righteous one, that is, one who has faith in God (for only by faith can one approach God), that God is our Father. Jesus begins the prayer he taught his disciples: "Our [my emphesis] Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9) setting out the fundamental truth the believer's Father is God. Paul begins his sermon in Athens with the general remark: "For we are also His offspring", pointing out that humans are the offspring of God, a fact the Greeks understood, but who had missed the fact the divine of whom Paul speaks was Jehovah (Acts 17:28). Malachi in admonishing the Jews provides two truths: 1) Have we not all one Father? Aand 2) Has not one God created us? (Malachi 2:20). These two statements are one and the same; the Jews had one Father – Jehovah, the creator of all, however, they were divorced from him, and scattered because they preferred to worship wood and stone rather than the one true God (Ezekiel 20:32).

 

We need to be born again to become a child of God

The question is, if we are separated from God from birth (Ephesians 2:12) and only by the power of God can we approach God (John 6:65), how are we able to become a child of God?

The answer is by the supernatural power of God. The boundary between man and God is a gulf so wide no human at any time has been able or will ever be capable of crossing of his instigation. It is God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, that crossed that boundary, so He, the Father, can draw us to himself. The process is called being born again, and involves the process of regeneration.

This is where the liberal church has deliberately, I believe, miss-informed Christendom, leading her into the abyss, putting aside the truth for a lie. Being born again, cannot and never will take place by taking a whole or part of a human and making it better[3]. Thus the doctrine of regeneration is not a slow process of turning a bad man or woman into a good person (no one is good but God)[4], from the inside out. Like any conception, it is not the child that provides the germ that grows into a new person, but the parents. This is well articulated in John chapter three, a subject that the same apostle writes about in his letters. Nicodemus, an intelligent and educated man, who stood on the outside of the commonwealth of Jehovah, did not believe Jesus when he was told he had to be born again to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3-8). Nicodemus wanted to know how (John 3:9) and Jesus responds by stating this was a supernatural thing: Jesus Christ first had to die, to be a propitiation for the sin of the world, making way for anyone believing on the Son to be born again; thus being saved (John 3:14,15). Those that thus receive Jesus Christ, that is they believe on him, God gave the right to become the children of God (John 1:12). Put another way; "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him" (1 John 5:1 ESV).

But how a child of God: by adoption. On being born again we are also adopted as a son or daughter by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). Thus as adopted sons and daughters we can call God our Father. Indeed, this is more than a cold royal greeting; Paul tells the Romans that we have received the Spirit of adoption, and thus we are able to use the diminutive "Abba Father" (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), like a young child does when speaking to his or her father. This is our union with Christ, for if we were children of God there would be no need of adoption, but since we are not; by grace we who by nature are alien from God, and by the new nature from new birth, are adopted, as son's and daughter. Praise be to God!

Note that it is not what we do: our holy endeavours or baptism cannot cause adoption. To sum up: at just the right time, God sent his son (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach[5]), who was incarnate, that is human (evidenced by the fact he was born of a woman), who was the redeemer, that now receives those who believe in him as sons, so we are no longer slaves, but sons.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV)

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  Galatians 4:7 NKJV

There is one other observation made by Alistair Begg. Being born again is better in some ways than justification, for a judge, who can justify us, never invites the ex-prisoner home for dinner, yet God brings us into his own home, and adopts us as His sons and daughters.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. John 14:23 NKJV

Thus we have a relationship with God our Father as adopted sons and daughters, and moreover, we can, and do call him "Abba Father", a relationship impossible to be known by the world, indeed is invisible to the world.

 

The benefits of having God as our Father

Alistair Begg provided four benefits, which I have not been able to add to. These are:

a) The Father's Intimacy

God is not the grand master of the universe whom we fear with trepidation; such trepidation that we dare not even pronounce his name Yewah. We call him Abba Father, something an unsaved Jew has no concept of. The son called his Father Abba Father in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36) and by the Holy Spirit, we also can call him Abba Father. Furthermore, God and His son has promised to make His home with us (John 14:23) – he dwells within us (a mystery revealed to the church):  Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Note the plural "we" in this verse – it is both father and son whom we have an intimacy with.

b) The Father's generosity

God gives us good gifts – not one will be bad, or irrelevant or useless or broken or of poor quality. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11 NKJV, see also Luke 11:13). Indeed His generosity is overwhelming – with the Bible using the term "lavish" (Ephesians 1:8) – He lavishes His affection on his own: for God is willing and able to bless us.

c) The Father's security

Something the world today hopelessly lacks is security – security in safety, security of income, security in mind, security of eternal destiny, yet God demands we cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7) because He cares for each one of us, individually (See also Matthew 10:10, Luke 12:7).

d) The Father's future

Our Father has set forth a plan for our future for we shall be crowned with an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). That is, we will be provided with a position that cannot be taken away from us – it is imperishable. It is incorruptible, in that by nature it cannot be corrupted as our earthly bodies have been, but rather it is one that never fades. It is a sign of victory, as conquerors; for we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us (Romans 8:38).

e) The Father's identity

Our identity will be with that of the Father; this is the reality of a person born again. The Father knows my name for God is not some cosmic force that has wound up the universe and now is seating waiting to see how the experiment runs, but rather an intimate Father, who knows me by my name.

 

Conclusion

The accomplishment of establishing a believer as a son is the grand evidence of the grace of God. It is the reality of our identity in grace. We are brought into the family of God where He became my Father, at the moment of new birth, which is regeneration, possible only because Jesus Christ died for our sins. In this we see the amazing depth of the love of God and hence we can sing in all reality: How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure[6]. How did this come about on our side? This is explained by Paul to the Ephesians. On our side we heard the truth, that is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by believing in him, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Praise be to God.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-14 NKJV

[1] Alistair Begg (21 June 2015) The Fatherhood of God, TruthForLive, USA < https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/fatherhood-god/ > accessed 6 July 2015

[2] See John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."

[3] This is what the parable of the old and new wine skins illustrate (Matt 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37,38): a human by nature is evil; taking a part of while of him and trying to perfect him or her will always fail, liking tying to patch old clothes with new upstretched cloth (Matthew 9:16). Every spiritual cell of a natural man is contaminated – it cannot be made new. We must be born again, from God.

[4] Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19.

[5] The anointed one: Matthew. 1:1, 18; Mark. 1:1; Jn. 1:17; 17:3; Acts 2:38; Romans 1:1, 3, 6; 1 Corinthians 1:1ff; 2 Corinthians. 1:1ff, Ephesians. 1:1ff;  Colossians. 1:1ff.

[6] Stuart Townsend (1995) How Deep the Father's Love for Us http://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/song/how-deep-the-fathers-love-for-us/ (accessed 16 July 2015)

David L Simon (16 July 2015)
God\The Fatherhood of God