We Have A Father In Heaven!
As we celebrate Father’s Day, we come face to face with the reality that not everyone has a father. My father died when I was 19 years old but sometimes I still miss him. We used to go hunting and fishing and I have often wondered what it would be like to have had my dad longer. I wonder what we would have done together, what our relationship would have been like and how our children would have related to him. Although I have been without a dad for longer than I had one, I am thankful that I had a dad who loved me and cared for me. Some people have a biological father, but that is as far as the relationship goes. He is absent, and seems not to care for his children. These are sad situations and my heart goes out to you if that is your situation.
This morning, although I think it is important to honor our fathers and it would be a good thing to challenge those of us who are fathers, I want to speak to all of us, those who have a dad and those who do not. I want to talk about the father we all can have, our heavenly Father. I want to talk about the privilege of having such a Father and about what a blessing it is to have a heavenly Father.
I. We Have A Father
A. Created By God
Is God your Father? As we contemplate this question, we realize first of all that the Bible speaks about God as Father in several different ways. A more accurate question might be, “in what sense is God your Father?”
The Bible speaks about God as the Father of all living things. He is the one who has brought them into being and so there is a sense of His being the father of all created things. There are a few Bible verses which convey this concept. 1 Corinthians 8:6 talks about “...the Father, from whom all things came.” In Acts 17:28, Paul speaking to the gathered crowd in Athens says to this pagan crowd to whom he was trying to communicate the gospel, “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
Although this idea of God as the father of all living things is in the Bible, it appears only a few times. It does not say anything about the intimate relationship which we think about when we think of a father. Although God is father of all people in this sense, He is not Father of everyone in the more intimate sense that we would like our Father to be.
Although absentee fathers are common enough in human families, it is not our heavenly Father who has absented himself from His children. It is rather we as His children who have wandered away from Him. So much so that Jesus identified the true father of the Jewish leaders and everyone else who is not a follower of God when he says to them in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil.”
So although God is Father of all in a sense of being creator, we have rejected His Fatherhood and have made ourselves orphans. How can we once again enter into a relationship in which God is our Father in a more intimate relationship?
B. Jesus And His Father
A more intimate relationship with God as Father becomes a possiblity because of Jesus. When Jesus was on earth, he spoke in the most intimate terms of his relationship with his Father. Jesus was a man and as a man, he spoke to God by addressing Him as God. Jesus was also God and as God He spoke to God as His Father.
We see this relationship in Matthew 11:27 where Jesus says, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” We see in this statement the closeness of Jesus’ relationship to God. In His relationship to His Father, Jesus had a sense of calling and responsiblity. They were working together in a task. When a father and son work together on a farm in a close way, they both know what the goals are and how they are to be accomplished. They can work together in harmony and peace. That is something of the picture we have here of Jesus and His Father. They knew each others hearts, they had the same goal, they were working in the same direction.
We also see some of the love and intimacy between Jesus and His Father when in the garden Jesus prayed as described in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus related to God as His Father in a wonderful relationship. We look at their relationship and desire such intimacy and closeness, but is it possible?
C. Our Father
There is an amazing verse in John 20:17. Jesus is speaking to Mary just after his resurrection from the dead. He says to her, “...Go...to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
What was He saying? He was pointing to the relationship he had with His Father. He was saying that there was a relationship there that was just His between Him and God. He was Son of God by heredity and by right. God was His Father in a very special sense. But he was not only pointing to the difference between His relationship to God and ours. He was also saying that the possiblity of a relationship of intimacy with God was now a possibility for us. He thus established the possiblity of being the children of God in more than a creational sense.
1.The Way To Become Children Of God
How do we enter into this more intimate relationship with our heavenly Father? Because of what Jesus did on the cross and in the resurrection, we are also able now to have a close relationship with God. We become children of God in this more intimate sense by faith in Jesus Christ. John 1:12,13 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” We become children of God and receive Him as our Father by being born again into His family. This is possible simply by believing in the name of Jesus and receiving Him as saviour.
2.The Privilege of Adoption
When we thus receive Jesus, we become adopted children of God. The Spirit of God enters into our lives and we enter into a relationship with God by which we can now call Him our ‘daddy.” Romans 8:15 assures us of this promise when it says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6 also speaks of it when it says, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 1 John 3:1 gives us further assurance, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
We are children of God! In Christ, we have the right to call God our dad. What a blessed comfort to have such a Father. Even though the enemy may sometimes whisper doubt into our hearts we really are children of God.
II. What Is It Like Having God As Father?
Being a son carries with it certain privileges. What are the privileges of having God as our Father?
A. The Freedom Of Sonship
Over the years, our children have been quite free to come into our bedroom at night to discuss whatever they wanted. When they were little, they would sometimes all crawl into bed with us in the morning. Later as they grew up, if they had been out in the evening and we had already gone to bed, they would sometimes come into the bedroom and let us know they were home, and tell us how their evening had gone. Once or twice, they had some friends over and when they came into our room, their friends came with them. One time, I think we had four or five young people in our bedroom, but I noticed that for their friends, it was not as comfortable as for our own children. That is the freedom of family.
One of the privileges of being children of God is freedom. Before we were children of God, we were slaves to sin. Because of sin, access to God was limited. In Christ, we are no longer slaves, and in our sonship, we have the freedom of access into the presence of God.
John 8:35,36 says, “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
We have the freedom of access and of belonging. That means that we have the freedom to go into the presence of God at any time and speak to Him about anything on our hearts. It means that we do not have to perform in order to measure up so that we will be favored. Like a child is accepted simply because it is a child, so we are accepted because in Christ we have become children of God.
B. The Compassion Of Our Father
I heard a grandmother say the other day that she just wanted what was best for her grandson. As parents, it would be a rhetorical question to ask, do you love your children? We love our children, we sacrifice for them, we care for them, we want what is best for them.
2 Corinthians 1:3,4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.“
The phrase “Father of compassion” reveals another of the great privileges of being children of God.
God has demonstrated his love for us supremely in sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. With such a demonstration of love, we are assured of his compassion at all times. He loves us, has compassion for us and our situation and comforts us in al our troubles.
“No suffering, however severe, can separate the believer from the tender care and compassion of his Heavenly Father.”
The verb is present tense which means that God comforts constantly and unfailingly, not spasmodically and intermittently.” The text also tells us that He does so in all afflictions
There is a picture of a child nestled in the powerful, caring arms of its father. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed, that picture encourages me. It is part of what having God as Father is about.
C. The Father’s Guidance
Sometimes the love we have for our children must be expressed with discipline and guidance. The pain of a spanking is sometimes needed so that our children will not experience the pain of a dangerous situation.
In the same way, our heavenly father guides us and sometimes that guidance takes the form of discipline. In Hebrews 12:7 we read, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”
A Father would spend much care and patience on the upbrining of a true born son whom he hoped to make a worthy heir. “The man who accepts discipline at the hand of God as something designed by his heavenly Father for his good will cease to feel resentful and rebellious; he has “stilled and quieted” his soul which thus provides fertile soil for the cultivation of a righteous life, responsive to the will of God.”
D. We Inherit Eternal Life
The right of inheritance is well established in most societies. Children will receive from the estate of their parents. What the children receive is the valuable assets of the parents.
Being a child of God also involves an inheritance. The valuable asset which God has is life and this is what we inherit from Him. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Life now involves all kinds of trials and hardships. As children of God, however, we have a great hope and that is the hope of an eternal inheritance.
Being a child of God is a great prvilege. How do we respond to God as our Father?
If God is not your Father in the intimate sense which we have talked about here, then invite Him to be. It is by faith in Jesus that God can be your Father.
If God is your Father, then there are several responses which we ought to have to our Father.
Just as we ought to honor our earthly fathers, so we should also honor our heavenly father. We honor our earthly fathers by speaking well of them, by accepting and trusting their care of us and by obeying them. The same is true of our heavenly Father.
We must speak well of Him and praise Him. Because He is not only our Father, but also our God, worship is the appropriate way to speak of Him.
Just as young children trust their parents care of them, so we must also trust that our Heavenly Father is caring for us. When Jesus was on earth, he spoke about coming to God with childlike faith. This means a trust that knows that God will do well for us. As we get older, we sometimes doubt His care. But He is our Father and He will care for us. Will we trust His care?
Furthermore, just as we are to obey our earthly fathers, so we must also obey our heavenly Father. His word teaches us what to do, will we follow?
As we today honor our fathers, let us rejoice in and honor our heavenly father as well.