Saturday, October 6, 2018

Knowing God as My Father Series: He Is and Wants to Be Our Father (Part 2)

God's offer of Fatherhood – through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ – is one of the most basic and fundamental truths of theology. We cannot know God entirely without accepting His Fatherhood. In unconditional love, God has chosen to present Himself to us as our Father. He calls us and indeed makes us His children when we accept His offer of adoption into His family through His Son (read Romans 8:15, Greek "…you received a spirit of Sonship"). This fact is presented with overwhelming clarity in God's Word.

Old Testament – Father to Israel. Listen to this, Exodus 4:21-23: "[The Lord] told Moses, ‘When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh… tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, ‘Let my son go, so he can worship me.'" When God announced Israel was His son, He came to Israel's defense. If I were to paraphrase it, it will be like this: "Hey, that's My son! You can't treat him that way. I won't allow it!" That makes me so proud of having a Father like Him, smile deep inside me. I've been with students for about 8 years now, and I can tell you that there are a lot of hurting young people today. I realize how many of those hurt could have been avoided if a dad (or mom) would have stood up and spoken up for his own child. I bet some of you who read this have that anger toward your parent(s) who failed to protect you when you're growing up. Not so with God. When He claimed Israel as His son, He went immediately to Israel's defense.

When God talked to Moses, He did not tell Moses to announce His Fatherhood to the Israelites. Instead, He told Pharaoh, an outsider, through Moses, "Let my son go." Why? Why not? Because God is the Initiator in the Father-son relationship. If you go through the Book of Exodus, you don't read about how Israelites band together and ask God to be their Father. No! God was the One who makes the choice. Before Israel ever existed, God already chooses him. When Israel was still under slavery in Egypt, God loved him. "Israel is my firstborn son." It's like adopting a baby at birth. The adoptive parents are the ones who initiate the action, not the baby. God wants to be Israel's Father.

Many years later, God reaffirmed His promise of Fatherhood through David to his son Solomon, saying, "Your son Solomon will build my Temple… for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father" (1 Chronicles 28:6). David himself, a man after God's own heart, once blessed God and prayed: "Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever" (1 Chronicles 29:10, NKJV). God continuously reminding the children of Israel of His Fatherhood through His prophets too. Prophet Hosea wrote: "Yet the time will come when Israel's people will be like the sands of the seashore – too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,' it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God'" (Hosea 1:10). Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed God's Word: "I would love to treat you as my own children... I look forward to your calling me ‘Father,' and I wanted you never to turn from me" (Jeremiah 3:19). These verses and many more from the Old Testament are the proof that God wanted Israel to be His children and Him their Father. But in spite of God's repeated offer (almost ‘begging'), Israel never responded consistently to God.

New Testament – Father to All Who Have Faith In the Son. As God continued to reveal more about Himself and His plan of redemption, I see a significant change in His offer of Fatherhood. The offer first was made just to the Jews, then after Jesus came, God makes it all the more available to all who would accept His Son. For Jesus, "My Father" and "Your Father" meant the same thing (Matthew 18:10, 14). The passages in which Jesus referred to God as our Father are so many that it would be impossible to quote them all. Let me quote one verse that is very familiar to all of us: "Pray like this [Jesus said]: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy" (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus' teaching of God as our Father was continued as a central theme by the apostles. Paul's letter to the Romans, for example, begins: "May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace" (Romans 1:7). Perhaps one such greeting would not be enough to state the case. But similar greetings also appear in eight of Paul's other letters (see 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Titus 1:4). Because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, we have been reconciled (adopted) to God and "to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). God's offer of Fatherhood is now openly available to all who believe in Jesus. "See how much our Father loves us," writes John the Apostle, "for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). The bottom line is this: God is and wants to be our Father and us to be His children. Would you called Him Father?


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