That word alone brings forth a variety of responses and emotions, largely of course depending on the quality of your relationship with your earthly father. For some, the word “father” stirs up in their minds memories of safety, security and strength as they mentally rehash a father who bore the title well. For others with contrasting memories of a father who was harsh, cruel or even abusive, the very notion of “father” is met with varying intensities of disappointment and anger.
And yet there is Scripture, dragging up that word for us to consider God as “father”.
What must be said of God if He is a Father? What kind of Father is He? Is He a good Father that compassionately invites His children into His presence with welcoming arms, or is He cruel, making it right to run from Him in terror? Let us together dive into these questions.
I will start by saying that before all things God is a Father. If this assertion strikes you odd, consider that before God ever spoke a star into existence or made a man in His image, there was the Triune Godhead existing in perfect harmony (Father, Son and Spirit). It is sufficient to say that before God made the light and darkness on day 1 of creation and took on the title “Creator”, He eternally bore another position: “Father.”
Michael Reeves, in his book Delighting in the Trinity, notes this: “Since God is, before all things, a Father, and not firstly a Creator or Ruler, all His ways are beautifully fatherly. It is not that this God “does” being father as a day job, only to kick back in the evenings as ‘plain old God.’ It is not that He has a nice blob of fatherly icing on top. He is Father. All the way down. Thus all that He does He does as Father.”
Considering His Character
So how do we best determine the character of God as Father? Let’s briefly look at the eternal relationship between the Father and Son.
In Scripture, between God the Father and God the Son we see:
- The Father has loved the Son “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24)
- The Father, from that heart of love, gives to the Son (John 3: 35)
- The Father, from that heart of love, reveals His ways to the Son that they may be in harmony together (John 5:20)
- The Father, from that heart of love, makes a declaration to all who would hear how He loves His Son and how pleased He is by His Son (Matthew 3:17)
But this love is not a love extended in one direction. The love is reciprocated, as the Son makes it very plainly clear how He loves His Father. Consider:
- The Son’s desire to testify to the world of the love He has for His Father (John 14:31a)
- The Son’s desire to do exactly what the Father sent Him to do (John 14:31b)
- The Son’s desire to be sustained more by obeying His Father than even being sustained by food (John 4:34)
- The Son’s desire to draw close to His Father in prayer (Luke 5:16 for example)
It seems plainly clear from Scripture that this Father loves His Son. This Father delights in, rejoices over, celebrates and gives to the Son. And the Son…He loves His Father by fulfilling the will of His Father, by testifying of His Father, and by intimately communing with His Father. Indeed, this is a harmonious relationship between Father and Son!
What does the Trinity have to do with me?
If you’ve read this far, some fair questions may exist in your mind: “Why make this list, and in doing so highlight the relationship between the first two members of the Trinity? Why go through the work of painting their relationship for us to read? What does THEIR love have to do with God and ME?”
To that set of questions, consider these words from Christ in John 15:9: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” To this statement one may rebuttal that this only testifies of God the Son’s love for me, but doesn’t say ANYTHING of God the Father loving me. Consider then Christ’s words in John 14:9-10, as Jesus testifies to Philip this truth: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.”
Jesus is saying that He and the Father are one in heart, that God the Son is the full revelation of God the Father.
In other words, if you’ve seen Christ then you’ve seen the Father. Furthermore, if you’ve seen the love the Father has for the Son, then know that through Christ that is the quality of love extended to all of God’s children. Consider that just as the Father delights in the Son, so He delights in all of His children. Just as the Father gives to the Son, so the Father lavishly gives to all of His children. Just as the Father has loved the Son before the foundation of the world, so too has He loved all of His children before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
John Calvin says this in his commentary on John’s Gospel: “The love with which God loves is none other than that which He loved His Son from the beginning…that we might be partakers of the same love and enjoy it forever.”
Our Perfect Father
Christian, you are loved by the Father the same way that He loves His Son. You are delighted in, rejoiced over and celebrated always by this Father. Furthermore, this is a GOOD Father, who watches over, safeguards and keeps His children. It’s not merely that He bears the title of “Father” well…He bears it perfectly.
And how long will God be a good, loving and compassionate Father toward His children?
“Everlasting”. For all time, enduring through all things. In other words, nothing could separate you from His beautifully fatherly nature.
Isn’t that good news to consider this Christmas season?
Pastor Nathan Fox
PASTOR OF STUDENT MINISTRIES
Nathan began in 2016 and enjoys reading, watching or playing sports, taking walks with his wife Ashley, and going to Fresh Market to “sample” candy!
Hear Nathan’s story on The Alongside Podcast – CLICK HERE.