Posts Tagged 'God the Father'

Mystery of the Trinity, Part 2

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There is one Trinity, made up three separate and distinct Persons, who are one. Sound baffling? It should. The Trinity is not easy to understand but the Bible does reveal aspects of each Member of the Trinity to help us understand it better.

The Father: He’s the Creator

In the opening verses of the Bible, we learn something of great importance about God: He is a Creator.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 | TNIV)

God is the uncreated Creator of our material universe. When we think of the scope and majesty of universe, and even of the earth on which we live, we are humbled by God’s amazing creation. And yet He is greater than what He has created. So great is our Creator-God, that not only did He create our material universe, but He also sustains it!

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15 – 17 | TNIV)

Those three verses tell us even more about our Creator-God: He has a Son, and the material universe was created through Him and for Him! Everything that is; everything that ever was; and everything yet to come is a result of God working through His Son.

Our God is the Creator, and He is the loving Heavenly Father. In describing our “invisible God” this way, we mortals are supposed to be getting the slightest glimpse into the nature and character of the first Person of the Trinity. He is the Father and He creates. He created us and with infinite care He created the world around us. When you think about our world, it’s perfect for us. Looking at nature, you can see the hand of God. In fact, that’s one of the purposes of the nature: to manifest God’s power and His care.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 | TNIV)

That’s an incredible verse. Since the dawn of creation, the universe and the world around us has revealed something of the mind of God for those who would take time to notice. Paul told the Corinthians that God cannot be known by reason alone:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21 | TNIV)

Yet God can be known. The thing we learn about God the Father is that He doesn’t force anybody to get to know Him. Man must receive the knowledge of God that is available to Him. Creation exists, not just to keep man alive, but to show Him something of his Creator. One Bible scholar wrote this about creation:

Creation exists as an invitation to dialogue with God.

That’s an excellent way to put it. Certain aspects of creation teach the curious individual something about God, namely, God’s eternal power and the Godhead. We’ve all heard the phrase “greater power,” and that’s precisely what nature shows us about God. The more the curious, critically thinking man looks at nature, the more he becomes aware of how small and powerless he is and how completely dependent upon that greater power he is.

As to the Godhead, when human beings consider the majesty of creation – the world and the universe – they realize that they are not alone. It’s not about aliens, though. It’s about the fact that the universe didn’t come into being by itself and that it is superintended by a great divine power. The universe reveals something of God’s character. Nature, in all its wonder is perfect. It reflects God’s perfection.

In poetry and song, the Bible portrays God the Creator as the God of nature. Man somehow understands this. Think about what the psalmist wrote here:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1, 2 | TNIV)

He looked to the mountains and the mountains focused his faith on God. The psalmist saw something in the mountain that brought his mind to bear on God and God’s power of deliverance. That’s what Paul was getting at in Romans. Nature was designed by God to at the very least show man that there is a God and to reveal certain aspects of His divine nature and character. While nature can’t save anybody, it can point a sinner in the right direction.

The all-powerful God

In Isaiah 40, we are reading pure prophecy; everything in it was about the future of the citizens of Judah. From the prophet’s vantage point, the coming Babylonian captivity was so certain, he wrote as if it had already happened and they were about to released.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:2 | TNIV)

The “hard service” Isaiah referred to would be the 70 years of exile in Babylon; an exile brought about because of their sins. Remember, it hadn’t happened when Isaiah wrote this. The prophet is writing as if had happened and was coming to an end. It’s a literary technique he employed to teach his readers some things they needed to know about the nature and power of God.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. (Isaiah 40:12 – 15 | TNIV)

The main point is that God is greater than His creation. He is greater than man because He would exile an entire nation because of their sin. He would use another nation as His tool of discipline. But look at this group of verses. They show the unbelievable magnitude of God’s power in relation to His what He has made. Nobody could have done what He did and no matter how hard we try, man can’t quite comprehend how God did it all.

In the Book of Job, we read something very similar. Job has nothing to do with the Babylonian captivity, rather, it has to do with the arrogance of men who presume to understand God and understand man. You’re always on very shaky ground presuming that you’ve got God figured out or that you can know another man’s heart. Job was suffering greatly and he essentially blamed God for that suffering – he was sure he was being treated unfairly. But his friends all blamed him. In the end, though, everybody was wrong.

The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”. (Job 40:1 – 5 | TNIV)

Job realized that he was “unworthy” to even talk to God. What made Job feel that way were the things God had said in the previous two chapters. Things like this:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4 – 7 | TNIV)

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? (Job 38:22 – 24 |TNIV)

Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? (Job 39:1, 2 | TNIV)

You get the idea both Job and Isaiah were trying to get across. God is so much great than that which He created. As you read those verses, you get the impression, and rightly so, that God not only created all there is but that He watches over creation. In Jeremiah, there is recorded for us a prayer the prophet prayed:

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all; you reward everyone according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 32:17 – 19 | TNV)

God the Creator and the Father is truly all-powerful, and we should stand is silent awe of that part of His character.

Merciful Father

But you shouldn’t get the impression that God is only all-powerful. He so much more than that. God is also a merciful Father.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4 – 7 | TNIV)

God is “rich in mercy,” meaning that He has more than enough mercy to go around. He will never run out of it. Hodges gives a decent definition of “mercy:”

God’s mercy is the divine goodness exercised with respect to the miseries of His creatures, feeling for them, and making provision for their relief, and in the case of impenitent sinners, leading to long-suffering patience.

God’s mercy is astounding. For believers, the Father feels our misery and He provides what we need to relieve our feelings of misery. For the unsaved (“impenitent sinners”), God’s mercy is expressed in patience. What a beautiful picture of mercy. Leaving Hodges, here’s a Biblical description of what mercy looks like:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8 – 12 | TNIV)

God is love, but sometimes He gets angry. But because He is full of mercy, His anger dissipates. He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t treat us as we deserve to be treated. That’s mercy! But tucked away in those verses is a profound truth some people don’t like to talk about. God’s love is NOT indiscriminate. His great love is reserved only for those who fear Him. Yes, God loves His creation. As the Creator, why wouldn’t He love what He made? As our Heavenly Father, He loves those who “fear” Him; those who revere Him and respect Him and, sometimes, fear Him.

The first Person of the Trinity is “the Father.” He’s the perfect Father.

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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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