Thursday, June 30, 2016
Over the past two days we have been considering how God progressively re-wires the Christian's understanding of "father". We've noted that Satan has conspired to distort and destroy this concept among the human race. All of us have or had experienced fathers: whether good ones, bad ones, absentee ones or fathers who have passed away. Fathers function as an illustration and image of God to their children (see Luke 11:13). This function of being a "God-image" of sorts was unfortunately marred by the fall of man into sin. Many relational, social and psychological dysfunctions stem somehow from a mis-represented concept of "fatherhood".
In salvation, God's goal is to transform Christians not only in their spirit and heart, but also in their minds and understanding (Romans 12:1-2). The Divine design of Christian discipleship entails bringing to the Christian this revelation of God the Father from the scriptures. The Person of the Son, Jesus Christ, brings to us the presence of the Father (see John 14:8-10; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Person of the Holy Spirit brings to the Christian the Person of the Father by way of His progressive sanctification of the Christian (see John 16:8-12; Ephesians 1:17-20). Today we want to consider how the Scriptures bring to the Christian the paternal power of the Father.
The Bible brings to us the Paternal power of the Father
When we think about how God, in the Person of the Son and in the Person of the Holy Spirit brings to us the Person and Presence of the Heavenly Father, we discover that this truth is done so in connection with the scriptures. We find the full-orbed revelation of God in the Person of the Father unfolded in nearly 10 places in The Old Testament and over 140 places in the New Testament. To know the Father's Person and Presence entails experiencing His Paternal power through the scriptures.
Prior to salvation, man knows about God - but does not know Him. At salvation, God makes Himself known to the sinner by means of the scripture through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The "Himself" is with reference to "The Father". James tells us that the Father begets sinners in the new birth through the scriptures (James 1:17-18). The Apostle Peter likewise indicates that the Person of the Father uses scripture as a means of bringing about the New birth to sinners who, in turn, respond freely in saving faith (1 Peter 1:3-5, 23). The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 summarizes this point in its article on "The Father": "God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men."
Bringing together the importance of God the Father to the Christian life
Knowing the Person of the Father by the Spirit's working, the presence of the Father by the Son's revelation and the Paternal power of the Father through the scriptures, we find an accurate picture of the Father. Outside the work of the Spirit, the revelation of the Son and the words of scripture, the face of the Father is hidden. As we close out this study, let me offer three applications for Christian living that correspond to the three points brought out in the last few days:
1. Having the presence of the Father ensures that I never am alone, orphaned or without assurance. Only the Lord Jesus Christ, in His finished work at Calvary and His continuing mediation for the Christian in heaven can minister this profound reality.
2. Having the Person of the Father available to me as a Christian means I can enjoy all the benefits of adoption in sonship. The Holy Spirit ever reminds the Christian that they are a child of God through adoption (see Romans 8:14-16). My own sense of identity in a world where my earthly father no longer resides is securely anchored in the Person of God the Father by the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Having the Paternal power of the Father through the Bible gives me strength for daily living. The desire to pray and talk to my heavenly Father is fed by the scriptures. When I find myself under His Fatherly discipline, I'm reminded of His unfailing love (see Hebrews 12:4-5).