BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD
REVEALING GOD AS A LOVING FATHER
April 2, 2012
Before Jesus arrived, mankind knew of God as a superhuman force or Deity. The Jews came to know him by the name Yahweh or Jehovah and served him as their national or personal God. But Jesus came to reveal God in a new way – as a loving Father who seeks a personal individual relationship with each of us as sons. This is an important distinction. It is more than just believing in God or worshiping God. It involves being in a family relationship with Him. This is the revelation Jesus brought to mankind.
This distinction can be illustrated like this: There was a man named John who was abusiness owner and the father of three children. “Man” is his title. “John” is his name. But “business owner” and “father” designate a relationship. In other words, to John’s employees, John was an employer; but to John’s children, John was a father. While both titles refer to the same individual, the difference arises in the nature of the relationship – how the various people relate to, engage or interact with John. And obviously the children would have the more intimate relationship with John.
Similarly, “God” is a title. Mankind in general knows of the idea of a superhuman Deity and call him God. Whereas “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” is a personal name used by the people who seek to worship God personally. But “Father” designates a relationship that only sons would have with God. A relationship that is far more intimate than that of a mere believer or worshiper.
Jesus, as our older brother, knew the Father intimately and came to share that knowledge:
“All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.”
– Matthew 11:27
While Jesus was certainly willing to reveal the Father, to the people of Jesus’ day, the idea of God being their Father was new and revolutionary. They were used to worshiping God as a Deity, and as King and a Judge, learning about his “ways” and laws, but they could not quite grasp the idea of God as their Father. Even the apostles had difficulty. Jesus said to the Apostle Thomas:
“If you men had known me, you would have known my Father also; from this moment on you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him: “Have I been with you men so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father [also]. How is it you say, ‘Show us the Father’? ’”
– John 14:7-9
The apostles did not understand that knowing God as a Father required more than an intellectual exchange. It requires examining Jesus’ conduct and life experience and imitating his relationship with the Father in our prayers, in our conduct, in our faith, in our work and in our association with one another. (See our article “The Faith and Religion of Jesus” for an in-depth discussion of Jesus’ extraordinary example.)
It requires that we accept Jesus’ invitation to ‘follow him’ into the Kingdom of the Heavens. “Jesus said to [Thomas]: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6
When we understand the magnitude of the blessing associated with being a son and following Christ, and we embark on that course, the Father’s sends his spirit as “a token in advance of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). That is our anointing:
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:15-17
Then, the Son sends his spirit of truth to guide us into all truth:
“I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you.”
– John 16:12-14
The spirit of truth will assure us of our hope and give us wisdom and accurate knowledge as pertains to our hope:
“I continue mentioning you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the accurate knowledge of him; the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he called you, what the glorious riches are which he holds as an inheritance for the holy ones, and what the surpassing greatness of his power is toward us believers.”
– Ephesians 1:16-19
And if we are unsure, we are told to pray about who we are and what our hope is, and the Father will reveal to us the proper mental attitude:
“Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead. I am pursuing down toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.”
– Philippians 3:13-15
We are thankful for our heavenly hope and the inestimable privilege of being adopted as faith sons of the Father. (Romans 8:15) We enter the Kingdom of the Heavens with the confidence of sons, not the fear of mere believers or worshipers. We listen to his voice, and follow him wherever he may go. (John 10:27) It is the Father’s will that we all come to know him as a Father and share in the Kingdom as both sons and ambassadors, inviting still others to become reconciled to God as sons.
“But all things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation, namely, that God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Let not the Christ’s work be in vain. Rejoice in the hope, not as slaves or servants of God, but just as Jesus revealed, as Sons of the Father.
As always, we welcome your comments.
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