Is God Your Father?

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“Is God really your Father?” That looks like an trick question, but it isn’t. However, it is a loaded question that isn’t all that easy to answer. Roman Catholics and a great many Protestants believe that God is the Father of all people. There seems to be some Biblical support for this idea:

‘In him we live and move and exist.’ As some of your own poets have also said, ‘We are his children.’ (Acts 17:28 NIrV)

In a sense, God is the Father of people because He created all of us. Malachi 2:10 provides us with that bit of truth –

People of Judah, all of us have one Father. One God created us. (NIrV)

Over in the New Testament, the apostle Paul taught something very similar –

In him we live and move and exist.’ As some of your own poets have also said, ‘We are his children.’

“Yes, we are God’s children. So we shouldn’t think that God is made out of gold or silver or stone. He isn’t a statue planned and made by clever people.” (Acts 17:28, 29 NIrV)

God is the creator of all people. That essential Biblical truth was taught to the Jews in the Old Testament and to the Gentiles in the New. But that isn’t the end of it. Charles Spurgeon wrote this of the Fatherhood of God –

Believe the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to His people. Abhor the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God, for it is a lie and a deep deception.

He’s right about that, of course. The very sad fact is that most people have become “children of the wicked one” because they have chosen to live in sin.

The field is the world. The good seed stands for the people who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (Matthew 13:38 NIrV)

You can’t “belong to the evil one” if you are a child of God. The great Biblical truth of the fatherhood of God is that He is indeed the Father of those who belong to Him. We are made children of God in the relational sense by faith.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again because of what God has done. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children as well. (1 John 5:1 NIrV)

The teaching of “the universal Fatherhood of God” is an outright contradiction of Christ’s own teaching. Only those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are actively living for Him have a right to call God their Father. That very nice person who lives down the street, who is kind and courteous to all, cannot call God his Father if he is not born again. Our Lord put it this way –

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me. I came from God, and now I am here. I have not come on my own. He sent me.” (John 8:42 NIrV)

Love with corresponding devotion to Jesus Christ is the evidence that a person is under the Fatherhood of God. Knowing about God or even claiming to love God does not make Him your Father. That’s the essence of Jesus’ teaching in John 8. He declared this in John 8:12 –

Jesus spoke to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Those who follow me will never walk in darkness. They will have the light that leads to life.” (NIrV)

The relationship between Jesus and the Father is such that they are really inseparable. That’s why Jesus could say something like this –

If you knew me, you would know my Father also. (John 8:19 NIrV)

That assertion is probably the most striking one Jesus ever made. He was speaking to “nice people,” highly educated, respected, very religious people. They were sure that they knew God; they thought they understood His ways. They thought they were His children. However, their rejection of Jesus Christ showed that they really didn’t know God at all. The only things they knew for sure were their own ideas about God.

If these religious people really loved God as they claimed to, they would have loved God’s Son. Merrill C. Tenney’s remarks on this issue are worthwhile noting –

Love for God is a family affair; it involves loving all whom the Father has sent. This love should especially be manifested toward the Father’s most beloved representative, his Son.

Just so. So is God really your Father? Are you in love with Jesus? How do you know for sure? Love for Christ shows itself in the following ways:

Love for Christ is manifested by trusting Him

You can’t say that you love God without having faith in His Son. Specifically, you must trust in what the Son did for you on the Cross. You must know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He bore your sins to the Cross, was punished and died in your stead, taking away all your guilt. You have to believe He did all that and you have to claim your position in Christ as a genuine child of God. All that takes faith. All that takes an attitude of trust toward Jesus.

When a man works, his pay is not considered a gift. It is owed to him. But things are different with God. He makes evil people right with himself. If people trust in him, their faith is accepted even though they do not work. Their faith makes them right with God. (Romans 4:4, 5 NIrV)

Love for Christ is manifested by listening to His Word.

But because I tell the truth, you don’t believe me! (John 8:45 NIrV)

If you love Jesus, and thereby you love God, you will pay attention to the Word of God. James Stephenson wrote –

Where there is love there will be a joyful reception of His words into the heart.

Does that describe you? Is your Bible covered with dust? Or is it well-read? Do you struggle to stay awake during the sermon? Do you think Bible study is a waste of time? If God is really your Father, you’ll love His Word.

We live in a world that is very hostile to the Word of God. What does that say about the state of our nation? The vast majority of people today do not know or do not acknowledge the truth of God’s Word. People today are too busy trying to live in a “politically correct” manner instead of living in the light of the objective truths contained in the Bible. Pilate was like that. He famously uttered those words, “What is truth?” Here was a man who was so bogged down in the politics of his day he could no longer recognize the truth even as it was standing there in front of him.

It’s sad but true, but most people today live in a world of lies and delusion, of distortions and falseness. For those religious people listening to Jesus and for far too many of your neighbors, truth is a foreign language they do not understand.

Love for Christ is manifested by a desire for fellowship.

When you love someone, you want to be with them. When you love someone, you can’t wait to see them. Are you that way with Jesus? Is prayer a burden to you? When was the last time – not counting grace – you spent time in prayer?

But there is more to fellowshipping with Christ than praying. The truth is, fellowshipping with other believers is also fellowshipping with Christ. A true child of God prefers the company of other true children of God. Does that describe you? Do look forward to fellowshipping with other Christians? What kind of people do you like to spend your time with the most? How you answer those questions speaks volumes about what you think of Jesus.

In 1545, William Turner wrote this famous verse –

Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.

We say it like this today –

Birds of feather flock together.

People in love with Jesus love to spend time with Him and with others like Him.

Love for Christ is manifested by talking about Him

If you love Jesus, and if God is really your father, then you’ll talk about Him. It’s human nature to enjoy talking about things we’re interested in; things we spend the most time thinking about. What do you spend time talking about? Your favorite sports team? The latest blockbuster in the theater? Your children? There’s nothing wrong with any of that “small talk,” by the way. But there’s this –

So be very careful how you live. Do not live like people who aren’t wise. Live like people who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. So don’t be foolish. Instead, understand what the Lord wants.

Don’t fill yourself up with wine. Getting drunk will lead to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything. Give thanks to him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15 – 20 NIrV)

That’s how you should be living. It’s not that Paul wants you to run around singing at each other necessarily, but God the Father and Jesus the Son shouldn’t be too far from your thoughts. It’s good to talk about spiritual things. It builds up the faith and encourages the heart.

Love for Christ is manifested by willingly suffering for Him

If God doesn’t punish you when you need it, as other fathers punish their sons, then it means that you aren’t really God’s son at all—that you don’t really belong in his family. (Hebrews 12:8 TLB)

As Leon Morris observed,

It is the universal experience of children that life means discipline.

So much so that if there is somebody who has never been disciplined, then, that person is “illegitimate.” Verse 7 actually clarifies verse 8 –

Let God train you, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. Whoever heard of a son who was never corrected? (Hebrews 12:7 TLB)

In the Greek, “train you” is in the emphatic position, meaning that’s what you’re supposed to remember from this verse. Suffering should never be looked upon as misery, or by chance, or bad luck for the Christian. Difficult times show that God is teaching you and disciplining you. It sounds so trite, but God uses difficult times to teach His children something.

If God is really your Father, you will be tried and tested because you are His heir – a legitimate child of God.

Love for Christ is manifested by a desire to be like Him

Christ suffered for you. He left you an example. He expects you to follow in his steps. You too were chosen to suffer. (1 Peter 2:21 NIrV)

Without regard to the bit about being “chosen to suffer,” Christ is our example and if God is your Father, you’ll want to live your life the way Jesus did. In living like Jesus, you’ll be living like God. That’s how you should want to live because that’s how God wants you to live –

God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. (Romans 8:29 NIrV)

Is God really your Father? He’s not everybody’s Father. The Fatherhood of God is exclusive to those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Don’t believe otherwise.

 

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