The Fatherhood of God

FATHER’S DAY is upon us, as we take time out to honor our father’s in the flesh it seems appropriate to look at how Scripture describes God as a Father.

It may surprise you to learn that the Old Testament portrayal of God as Father is quite rare. He is referred to as the Father of the nation of Israel [De 32:6; 1Chron 29:10; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9; Mal 1:6; 2:10]. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” [Isa 64:8]. It speaks of Him as the Father of certain individuals, [2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Psalm 68:5; 89:26], and in other places, the idea of Fatherhood is present although the term is not used [Ex 4:22; De 14:1; 32:5, Isa 1:2; 8:18; 9:6; Hos 1:10; 11:1].

As we survey the New Testament, all that changes. The frequency of calling God the Father increases dramatically. Most likely because Jesus said, “Our Father which art in Heaven…” when He taught His disciples to pray, [Mat 6:9]. Jesus, rightfully so, calls God “Father” nearly 200 times in the gospel (over 100 times in the book of John alone). Another word for Father Jesus used was “Abba,” found only 3 times in the New Testament [Mark 14:26; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6]. In Vine’s Expository Dictionary it says about “Abba”, “It approximates to a personal name, in contrast to ‘Father,’ with which it is always joined in the NT. This is probably due to the fact that, abba having practically become a proper name, Greek-speaking Jews added the Greek word pater, “father,” from the language they used. Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.” (Vines, W.E., Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005 print page 1)

Should we call God “daddy”?

I’ve noticed a trend among some to refer to God as “daddy” as an attempt to make God sound more familiar to them. They suggest that since the Aramaic word “Abba” is used by children and our nearest English equivalent is “daddy” we have liberty. Their reasoning is flawed since the term is used by older children and adults alike. I’m not a fan of that. Although He is called our Father, we still ought to honor Him with respect, He is still the Almighty God.

God is our Father

There should be no doubt that God is our Father. As the Creator of all things which includes mankind, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” [Gen 1:27], He is our Father. Let us never forget that. Our Father, the Creator, provides for His creation, despite our sin toward Him, in this we ought to be very grateful. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Because of His goodness over all mankind through His creation, some make the mistake of thinking that this will equate to salvation. For that we need to consider God in another sense, as a Father through adoption.

God, our adopted Father.

Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4-7 that through Christ we may become children of God through adoption, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” It should be understood that some shall NOT be adopted by God to become their Father, and shall NOT inherit the promises. The question becomes, how do we receive this adoption?

Just a few verses earlier, Paul wrote, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” [Galatians 3:26-29]. Friends, don’t miss that. We can all become children of God, He can be our Father by faith when we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Godly Attitude About Reading

WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING? How come people don’t understand God’s will? We tend to tell people what is good in our own minds, rather than finding out what truly is good.

In life, there are two kinds of attitudes, a right one and a wrong one. God has said that we should have an attitude that desires to read His word. Reading the Bible is an important task. It is so important He had it written so we can understand His will, and His commandments. 1Co 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Also in Eph 3:3-5 “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:” We need to read or hear, we need to know, what God’s Word says, for it reveals His will for us. Everybody’s destiny will be determined by whether we understand and obey those words, the Bible.

To meet fulfilling this command we need to have the right attitude. It is our attitude which will determine whether we understand. In Matthew 13:3-8, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught about different hearts or attitudes toward the Word of God. The seed, which is His word, fell on the wayside, some among rocks, some among thorns and some upon good ground.

In 13-15, we find the meaning. Some cannot understand because of closed ears, eyes, and minds, Jesus explains. It states, Mt 13:13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” It’s possible, with a wrong attitude, to read the word of God and be wrong because we’re not seeking to discover what He wants, rather we seek to find what we want to find.

Jesus applies the prophecy from Isaiah to the religious people of His day. They had preconceived ideas about the Christ, since Jesus did not fit their beliefs, they rejected and crucified him. Why did they not understand? It was neither because God’s word was incomprehensible nor because the teacher was incapable of teaching. The reason was because of a wrong attitude? Their preconceived ideas of a savior, didn’t match with the word of God about His Anointed one. Neither will we understand if we approach Bible study only to prove what we already believe, or want to believe.

What you or I do with Scripture is dependent on our attitude. We need a plan. We need a way to start off with a right attitude. Your attitude determines your understanding which springs to action and it is action the Lord seeks.

Set up a time where you can read your Bible, take time to reflect and think of what is God trying to communicate rather than searching to make His word fit your belief. Determine what is involved with obeying His commands, and then plan to do it. Will you be like those in Acts 17:11?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Will you also learn from these people at Berea who searched the Scriptures daily? The people searched. This is what we do at Franklin St. Church of Christ.  Join us by reading, studying, and practicing the commandments of God. Let us find this right attitude.

Daniel Surges