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The Fatherhood Of God

When Paul said, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family (Fatherhood, R.V.M.) in heaven and on earth is named... " he indicated that the conception and expression of fatherhood predated the creation of either angelic or human beings. In the relationships of the triune God we see Fatherhood manifested in its original and highest form.

In tracing truth relating to the Fatherhood of God we shall first of all consider Him as

THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

This truth finds great prominence in New Testament revelation. That the Father is the eternal Father of the Son is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures, but is specially emphasized in association with the historical manifestation of Christ on earth and His subsequent return to His Father's right hand. As he moved through this earthly scene the lowly Man of sorrows must have found deep comfort in knowing that He had His Father's love and care.

In Matthew 11.27 we have an important and significant claim made by the Lord Jesus. "All things have been delivered unto Me of My Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him". The Father knows the Son absolutely. The Son knows the Father absolutely. They know each other in the perfect knowledge of Deity. The Father is God: the Son is God.

When Christ said to certain of the Jews, "My Father worketh even until now, and I work", His words conveyed one meaning only to His hearers. He "called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5.18). The Son was of the same essence as the Father. On another occasion the Lord Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10.30). These words appear in a context which shows that the Son was not only equal with the Father in nature but also in attributes and purpose.

Though equal, yet the Son was lovingly subject to His Father. This subjection had a remarkable emphasis in the experience of Christ when He was in Gethsemane. Bitter, heavy sorrow bowed the blessed Man as there "the suffering Saviour prays alone". The blood-like sweat gives evidence of the agony. The Cross is near. Soon He will be nailed to the Tree to suffer indescribable pain. Soon He will be made sin. Soon He will know that His God has turned away from Him. Soon will come the crushing blow forsaken. The cup to be drunk had bitter contents. And yet, amazing subjection, "0 My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26.39). Did ever subjection have a more glorious manifestation? Created beings do well to observe and to learn.

Writing to the Ephesians Paul said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ..." (Ephesians 1.3). To the Corinthians the apostle said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth us..." (2 Corinthians 1.3,4). Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy begat us again unto a living hope ..." (1 Peter 1.3). These expressions reveal a very precious link between the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and ourselves. He is interested in us. He has worked and is working for our good. We now proceed to examine some truths concerning God as

OUR FATHER.

After the Lord had been raised from the dead He very graciously revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene. And He gave her a message, "Jesus saith to her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto My brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and My God and your God" (John 20.17). We observe that the Lord spoke of "the Father" and "My brethren". But He makes a significant distinction when He says, My Father and your Father, and My God and your God. Why not our Father and our God? Were not the Lord and His disciples brethren? The joy and satisfaction which we may find in all that we learn about God as our Father must never be allowed to cloud our understanding that between the divine Father and the divine Son there is a relationship which is not shared with any created being; that God is the Father of the Son in a way that He is not our Father; that Christ is the Son only begotten.

God becomes the Father of men and women, boys and girls, when they believe on His Son and know the experience of being born again. The relationship thus established is abiding and eternal. John in his Gospel wrote, "As many as received Him (Christ), to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born ... of God" (John 1.12,13). In his first epistle, John says, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are" (1 John 3.1). Only those who believe on Christ have the right to claim this glorious relationship. It is entirely contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures to say that a person becomes a child of God, and that God becomes his

Father, in virtue of some rite or ceremony. To those who do believe there comes the assurance of the Spirit's testimony, "Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Romans 8.15,16).

Another aspect of this abiding relationship to God as Father is presented by Paul in the epistle to the Galatians. He Says, "Ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3.26). This is followed in chapter 4 by an explanation of the great change which came with the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Under the law, men and women were in the relative relationship of infants, differing nothing from bondservants even though they were heirs. "But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God" (Galatians 4.4-7). Great indeed are the privileges and prospects of sonship.

We now draw attention to a line of truth connected with the Fatherhood of God in which the relationship is conditional. In 2 Corinthians 6 Paul gives important teaching in the matter of separation. His basic statement is "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers". He then lists certain things and persons that are incompatible righteousness and iniquity, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, believer and unbeliever, temple of God and idols. Between these the line of separation must be drawn and maintained. To those who would be in the will of God there comes the clarion call, "Wherefore, Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6.17,18). Here it is not a matter of being sons of God through faith in Christ. Obedience and separation are demanded. In these days of serious confusion, of lowering standards, of ecumenical trends, the importance of scriptural separation requires much emphasis. The authority of the Lord Jesus demands it. Love for Him compels it. We go forth unto HIM. The promise to the obedient ones is precious, "I will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to Me sons and daughters". To you, to Me: let us ponder these words.

The Lord Jesus taught, "Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5.44,45). We can see in this teaching that we may be manifested as sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians Father. In this context sonship implies likeness. "Ye shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect".

Very valuable present practical blessings and privileges can

be enjoyed by those who know God as their Father. We think first of

THE FATHER'S CARE.

Examining again the teaching of our Lord we find statements such as,

"In praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6.7,8).

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matthew 7.11).

"Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Matthew 6.31,32).

Human beings have always manifested a deep interest in the needs and appetites of their bodies. Material things have had great prominence in their outlook. This is why so many have fallen prey to the materialistic philosophies of men. The child of God is taught to consider the relative value of things and to give to spiritual things a primary place. His heavenly Father has a perfect knowledge of all his needs and He will never fail. The trusting child is not anxious.

In our Father's dealings with us we may be permitted to pass through experiences which are not pleasant to the natural mind. Earthly fathers chasten their children for their good. Sometimes mistakes are made. Our heavenly Father is never wrong. He chastens for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. It is always for our good. "Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12.9).

FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER.

True spiritual life will include the enjoyment of fellowship with our Father. When speaking to His disciples just before going to Golgotha the Lord Jesus gave an encouraging but conditional promise, "If a man love Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" (John 14.23). Love for the Lord is here seen in its true light. The Lord made it very plain that He saw the love of disciples for Him in their obedience to His authority. How can any person say he loves Christ if he does not keep His word, if he is disobedient? The claim is contradicted by the failure to do what the Lord tells him. Many have made strong claims of loving the Lord Jesus but they have refused to obey His commandment to be baptized. We all may be hesitant about obeying things which the Lord has commanded. Let us search our hearts. "If a man love Me, he will keep My word." With those who give the true response of love the Father and the Son will make their abode. This opens the great possibility of fellowship with the Father. John wrote in his first epistle, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1.3). Fellowship with the Father is not unconditional. He is love. But He is also light. We shall not find Him in the paths of darkness. Where shall we find the light? We find it in God's word, which is truth. Neglecting the word we lose the light, and fellowship is impaired.

ACCESS TO THE FATHER.

One of the privileges of children of God is access to their Father. Our heavenly Father encourages us to come to Him and to speak to Him. For this He has made full provision. Christ is the Way. No one cometh unto the Father but by Him. Through Him we have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. He is in God's presence as an Advocate with the Father for God's children. If we sin. we can come to our Father through Christ, and know the peace of forgiveness. In our general need we can come to our Father, realizing that He is good and that His ear is open. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103.13).

There is another side to the truth of approach to the Father. To the woman from Sychar the Lord said, "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers" (John 4.23). We worship the Father not as "our Father" but as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the opening of the Revelation, John says, "Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood; and He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto His God and Father ..." (Revelation 1.5,6). Let us examine carefully the privileges and the responsibilities of approach to God to worship Him who is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.