God the Father

God the Father

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Who, then, is the Father?

"And at that time Jesus answered and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes'" (Matthew 11:25).

God the Father is the supreme ruler of the whole universe. Everything in the heavens and the earth is subject to His authority (1 Corinthians 15:27-28). He is spirit (John 4:24) and possesses immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). Life is inherent within the Father. (To learn more, please request our free booklet Who Is God?)

He has absolutely perfect righteous character, and Jesus expressly told us to become like Him. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect," said Christ (Matthew 5:48).

Further, God the Father is the source of every blessing. A passage in Ephesians 1:3-10 makes this truth abundantly clear. The Father is the subject of these verses, and they show how He is generously working out His eternal plan for humankind. He has made known unto us "the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself" (Ephesians 1:9). We suggest that you study this whole passage carefully in one or more modern translations as well as the King James or New King James version.

What one word describes the character of God the Father perhaps better than any other?

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16).

Love is the foundation of the character and law of God. It is the basis of everything that God has revealed to mankind in the Holy Scriptures (Matthew 22:35-40). Eventually God, through His power, will overcome evil, forever banishing it from the coming holy city of God which will come down to earth (Revelation 21:1-27). Only those who have this kind of godly love will remain in the Father's presence.

Paul called love the greatest Christian attribute (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is the first fruit of God's Spirit that he mentions (Galatians 5:22). It is the bond of perfection, binding everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14). It is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

This word is used in the Bible to sum up the wonderful character of the Father. God is love.

But, lest we misunderstand, we must define our terms. In some instances the English language is not nearly as precise as the Greek. The word love is a case in point. In English love encompasses at least several attributes and feelings. In some ways it is one of the most abused words in the language. The Greek language, however, is much more specific. It uses at least four words for love, although two are not used in Scripture.

Eros encompasses sexual love—the love that a man and woman should enjoy within the marriage relationship. Storge is limited in its meaning to the love of parents for children (and vice versa) and the normal, familial love of siblings for each other. Philia is used in the Bible and describes warm and tender feelings between people. It can include physical affection that is decent and appropriate. But the Bible uses none of these three words to describe the Father.

Agape is the term the Bible uses to describe godly love, the love of God. Agape generously embraces concern for the one loved. It depicts unconquerable benevolence and goodwill. It even encompasses love for one's enemies.

God's nature and character are characterized by this kind of love. We can receive this type of love only from God Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ. Upon repentance we can begin to exhibit this kind of love through the Holy Spirit. Our Christian love must be patterned by agape. Read Matthew 5:43-48. Here we learn that the Father sends His rain on the just and the unjust, makes His sun shine on both good and evil and is kind even to the unthankful and evil.

We must learn to think as God thinks and do as He does—to love as the Father loves. In exercising this kind of love, we express the image of God (reflecting His character), even though we are still human. But we hasten to add that human beings cannot generate this type of love of and by themselves. It emanates ultimately only from God (Romans 5:5).

In what major way has the Father expressed this love (agape) for all people?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

From God's perspective, the world is not easy to love. Certainly the Bible tells us not to love its evils (1 John 2:15-17). Living in the world, we are all too aware of the many human problems that afflict every continent, island, region, city and village. But the Father is guided by His wondrous plan, not by the whims, foolish ideas and pervasive sins of mankind.

The Father began to rescue humanity from itself by sending His Son to earth. Jesus Himself said: "...I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32).

What is the relationship between God and Jesus Christ?

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).

"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son..." (Matthew 11:27).

"We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Colossians 1:3).

These passages describe a close family relationship.

So close is Their relationship that Christ could say, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). These two Beings share a close and deep bond with each other (John 10:15).

Perhaps more than any other apostle, John describes the relationship that Jesus Christ enjoyed with His Father. To gain a much clearer understanding, please read through the entire fourth Gospel and the first epistle of John with that one-of-a-kind relationship firmly in mind.

What is the motivating force that defines and guides this relationship?

"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again...This command I have received from My Father" (John 10:17-18).

"But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do" (John 14:31).

The world at large rarely equates love with obedience. Yet Jesus expressed His love to the Father by obedience. That same kind of love is required of all Christians. Christ said to His disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 15:10). Also John, the apostle of love, wrote: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

In what miraculous way did the Father express love to His Son?

"Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him [Jesus Christ], they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 13:29-30; compare Romans 8:11; Romans 10:9).

"...God...raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory..." (1 Peter 1:21; compare Ephesians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 6:14).

"Paul [is] an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)" (Galatians 1:1; compare Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

God the Father raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead. This is clearly confirmed in many scriptures. Remember, after our reconciliation to the Father through the blood of Christ, we are saved by His life (Romans 5:10). The book of Hebrews shows that He regularly intercedes with the Father on our behalf as our High Priest.

Who came to reveal or unveil the Father to humankind?

"Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27; compare Luke 10:21-22). One of the major reasons that Jesus Christ came in human flesh was to fully reveal the Father to especially called and chosen people (compare Acts 2:38-39).

Who is the ultimate source of all biblical truth?

"And the Jews marveled, saying, 'How does this Man know letters, having never studied?' Jesus answered them and said, 'My doctrine is not Mine, but His [the Father's] who sent Me'" (John 7:15).

"...I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things" (John 8:28; compare John 8:26; John 14:10).

Who initiates salvation?

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day [the resurrection]" (John 6:44; compare John 6:65).

Although it is certainly true that we can be saved only through the name of Jesus Christ and His actions on our behalf (Acts 4:12), it is also true that God the Father begins the salvation process. Even the original disciples were drawn by the Father (John 17:6-11). Jesus prayed all night to Him for guidance before He chose the 12 (Luke 6:12-13).

Of whom has this world always been largely unaware?

"Then they said to him, 'Where is your Father?' Jesus answered, 'You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also'" (John 8:19).

"O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known Me that You sent Me" (John 17:25).

This is why the apostle Paul called man's civilization "this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4, KJV). This is why "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19, KJV). Humankind has been blinded to the right knowledge of God and His plan for all of us—and the world suffers horribly as a result. A time is coming, however, when "the knowledge of the LORD" will cover this earth "as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).

To whom should we address our prayers?

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven; hallowed be Your name" (Matthew 6:9).

"So he said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name'" (Luke 11:2).

What is commonly called the Lord's Prayer is a model, or outline, prayer. Although it is certainly not wrong to repeat the prayer verbatim, a better practice is to include the elements Jesus Christ discussed in this outline in most of our prayers rather than repeating the exact words (see Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). The Bible discourages needless repetition in prayers (Matthew 6:7).

Did Jesus Christ follow the instructions He gave to His disciples?

"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour is come...'" (John 17:1).

The 17th chapter of John records a long prayer of Jesus Christ. Several times during this prayer, Christ shows that He is directing His prayer to His Father (John 17:5-25).

Is God the Father of Jesus Christ only?

"Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene], 'Do not cling to Me [touch me, KJV], for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God'" (John 20:17).

This important passage serves as a fitting introduction to the final section of this lesson: the knowledge of the purpose for human life. But, speaking of a Christian's time as a human, the apostle Paul's fondest desire for Christians was "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17).