Knowing God as Father

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At salvation, a believer undergoes a new birth into a new family with God as Father (John 1:12-13). For the child of God, knowing God as Father (who He is and what He has done and is doing for us) is the basis for understanding all Christian relationship and our call, purpose, and destiny.

(The Father) impels us to act up to our position as royal children by manifesting the family likeness (conforming to Christ), furthering the family welfare (loving the brethren) and maintaining the family honor (seeking God’s glory). This is His work of sanctification. Through this progressive deepening of filial consciousness and character, with its outworking in the pursuit of what God loves and the avoidance of what he hates, “we are transformed by the Spirit of the Lord into the same image (the glory of the Lord) from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3: 18). [1]

We know the Father through the Son.

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

For the believer, God is Father. God is love. The one who does not love does not know Him.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:8-9

Knowing God is much more than salvation. We are progressively sanctified as we obey. Our deeds should manifest our love and relation to Him as Father in obedience to His will.

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:16

As a loving Father He ensures provision of needs and superintendence of our growth and progress. He who has started a good work in you will bring it to completion.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.   Rom 8:28

Knowing God includes possessing a desire to partake of His divine nature, fulfill His will in our lives, and to walk in character and conduct in a way that pleases Him.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God…1 Thess 4:3-5

However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Gal 4:8-9

God Is Not the Father of All

God is represented as the Father of (all) that He has created. (This “fatherhood”) refers to the natural relationship between God and His creatures …Thus God is “the Father of lights,” the heavenly bodies (James 1:17). He is also “the Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9). He is particularly the Father of man, created after His image (Acts 17:26; Luke 3:8).

Yet, God is in a special sense the Father of His redeemed and saved people.

Although the hope of the gospel rests upon the fact of the fatherly love of God for mankind even in its sinfulness (see John 3:16; Luke 15:11- 32), still, only they who are actually saved through Jesus Christ are admitted to the privileges of children in the divine household. Christ taught only His disciples to pray “our Father.” He said to the unbelieving Jews, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). The spiritual and moral relationship destroyed by sin must be restored by gracious, divine renewal (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14- 16). [2]

Whereas the everlasting (attributes), power, and divinity of God are manifest in creation, His “Fatherhood” in spiritual relationship through faith is the subject of the New Testament revelation, and waited for the presence on earth of the Son (Matt. 11:27; John 17:25)… (This) spiritual relationship (of God as Father) is not universal (John 8:42, 44).[3]

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Matt 11:27

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He (Christ Jesus) has explained Him. John 1:18

God is revealed through nature as its Designer and Creator. He is revealed also through the Scriptures, which directly testify of Him, and through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to reveal Him (John 1:18) and to introduce men to Him (Matt. 11:27). God is to be recognized both as Creator and Father. The human mind seems to comprehend God as Creator more readily than it does as Father. It is more common to investigate the creative activities of God, therefore, than to consider His Fatherhood. [4]

The Creator possesses and owns all things, including man. God has created and formed man in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27) for an intended outcome of relationship with Him and a sharing in His glory. God becomes our Father, as the originator of the new birth and its eternal life, upon faith in the gospel.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

For those who reject God as Father (His authority and will for redemption) and dismiss Him as Creator of all, His Fatherhood has no value or worth. Wise in their own minds, these men inflated with pride become gods who are “evolving away” from revealed truth (in nature, Scripture, and even their own conscience) into a love of the world. The creature denies the Creator and worships itself. Without a new birth into the Father’s family, they will share the nature of the “father of lies” Satan; the originator of sin, death, and misery.

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:42-44

The Father’s desire and will is for all to come to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, such that no one is lost. As a loving Father, He has done the utmost for man by sacrificing His Son so that all who would receive Him would share His life, glory, and inheritance of riches forever. God’s will is to show His glory in kindness towards the lowly by adopting them into His family, and then raising them up through grace and love into the likeness of His Son. All love, glory, and obedience to the Father of lights!

And I will be a Father to you,

And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”

Says the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor 6:18

The Love of the Father

Man as revealed in Ps 8:3-6 is the particular focus of God’s care, thought, love, and concern. After the fall, man can only become what he was originally designed to be through the life of God. Man’s purpose was to rule over all creation and bring it under God’s dominion; instead, that task is being fulfilled by Christ Jesus. By grace through faith He will bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:9-11). We can only know the Father through our Savior. Christ values the Father’s love with which He loved Him as the greatest of His grace gifts to man (John 17:25).

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25

Jesus made the Father and His love known to the world by His death. And the Father made known His love for the Son by resurrecting Him to glory. Jesus’ purpose in revealing the Father was that Christians would continue to grow in that love (that the Father’s love for the Son may be in them) and to enjoy the personal presence of Jesus in their lives (that I Myself may be in them). [5]

Ever since the day of Pentecost, the Spirit has been teaching believers about God the Father… (Th)rough the Word of God, we can know what God is like. When men accept the Father, as He is revealed by the Lord Jesus, they become special objects of the Father’s love. Since the Lord Jesus indwells all believers, the Father can look upon them and treat them as He does His only Son.[6]

Other Scriptures regarding the love of God include: Rom 5:5,8; 8:28,39; 1 Cor 2:9-10; Eph 2:4; 1 John 2:5; 3:1; 4:8,16; 5:2.

The Importance of Knowing God as Father

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God (Packer, Evangelical Magazine 7, pp. 19-20).

The New Testament gives us two yardsticks for measuring God’s love. The first is the cross (see Rom 5: 8; 1 Jn 4: 8-10); the second is the gift of (membership in the family of God as a child of God, 1 John 3:1.) [7]

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1

The Core Identity of the Christian – A Member of God’s Family

What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father. But cannot this be said of every person, Christian or not? Emphatically no! The idea that all are children of God is not found in the Bible anywhere.

Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. [8]

Self-Examination of Our Spiritual Family Relations

Here are some questions by which we do well to examine ourselves again and again.

Do I understand my (spiritual birth into God’s family) and my adoption (as a mature son)? Do I value it? Do I daily remind myself of my privilege as a child of God? Have I sought full assurance of my adoption? Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me? Do I treat God as my Father in heaven, loving, honoring and obeying Him, seeking and welcoming His fellowship, and trying in everything to please Him, as a human parent would want his child to do?

Do I think of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, as my brother too, bearing to me not only a divine authority but also a divine-human sympathy? Do I think daily how close He is to me, how completely He understands me, and how much, as my kinsman-redeemer, He cares for me?

Have I learned to hate the things that displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which he is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve him? Do I look forward daily to that great family occasion when the children of God will finally gather in heaven before the throne of God, their Father, and of the Lamb, their brother and their Lord? Have I felt the thrill of this hope? Do I love my Christian brothers and sisters with whom I live day by day, in a way that I shall not be ashamed of when in heaven I think back over it? Am I proud of my Father, and of his family, to which by His grace I belong? Does the family likeness appear in me? If not, why not?

God humble us; God instruct us; God make us his own true (sons).[9]

What Is The Biblical Concept of Father?

The quote below signifies the Father’s desire and involvement in the lives of those who are spiritually born into His family. It also lays the groundwork to explain the abject failure of human fathers in modern society. Many fathers who see their duty completed by providing for the material needs of family (as important a role as that is) greatly miss the mark. Our heavenly Father should be the role model. He commu-nicates all the good He desires for us to grow and mature into through the Word. As believers, He gave us the gift of His life, for our eternal life, and in time desires for us to grow into the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus. This is the true definition of family.

Thus the concept of father, whether applied to God, man, the devil, or evil, and whether used biologically or spiritually…always expresses the notion of source… The richness and beauty of the biblical concept of father lies in that, being a source of another, the father imparts and communicates himself to this other. This idea of self- impartation and self- communication is as definitive of the concept of father as is the notion of source. A father gives of himself to that which he fathers, so what proceeds from the source participates in the source. He who is a father communicates something of himself to that which he fathers in such a way that the other has not merely his source in the father, but also the nature of the father’s reality. The other partakes of the nature of his father. This accounts for the close ties and deep affection between the source and that which proceeds from it (the child or son). [10]

One enters God’s family by being born of the Spirit. The process begins as the Spirit enters us with the gospel. At saving faith, the Spirit baptizes us into Christ and we are sealed into Him. The Spirit, which is given to us as a pledge to our future bodily redemption, indwells us with the power and wisdom of God. God is now our Father.

This birth, which includes the reception of the life of God (eternal life), unites the believer into Christ.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.   John 1:9-13

The full meaning of father, (which signifies) origin and also self- impartation, comes to ultimate expression in the NT in that fatherly act of God in sending forth His only begotten Son into the world of sin, death, cross, and hell. (God did this so) that …(those of faith) might be saved, and (in doing so He would)…send forth His Spirit into the Church and into the hearts of its members. The sum of this action is variously described as a creation in Christ (Eph. 2:10), a new birth (Jn. 3:5f.), and a being begotten again by the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23). Peter puts the whole purpose of God’s fatherly redemptive action in bold theological shorthand when he says that mankind “may… become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).[11]

A New Relationship

First, fatherhood implies authority. The Father commands and disposes. He calls his Son to initiate resolute obedience to the Father’s will.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me . John 6:38

I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. John 17:4

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. John 4:34

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19

Second, fatherhood implies affection… to the Father (John 2:15; 5:1-3) and to the brethren (John 2: 9-11; 3:10-17; 4:7, 21).

For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing… John 5:20a

 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.  John 15:9-14

Third, fatherhood implies fellowship (John 2:13, 23-24).

Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. John 16:32

And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him. John 8:29

Fourth, fatherhood implies honor. God wills to exalt his Son.

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You . John 17:1

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him . John 5:22

All this extends to God’s adopted children. In, through and under Jesus Christ their Lord, they are ruled, loved, companied with and honored by their heavenly Father. As Jesus obeyed God, so must they. [12]

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome… 1 John 5:1-3  

The Father as Head of the Family

In today’s society, it’s interesting that anything to do with the Father’s design of authority or headship is under attack. The mention of God as Father is likely to initiate a politically correct firestorm of venom towards one who espouses such an intolerant and outdated view.

The position and authority of the father as family head is expressly assumed and sanctioned in Scripture as a likeness to that of the Almighty over His creatures. Of course, it is seen to lie at the root of so- called “patriarchal government” (Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3).

(In the Old Testament) the father, as the head of the household, had the obligation imposed upon him of bringing up his children in the fear of God, making them well acquainted with the precepts of the law, and generally acting as their instructor and guide (Ex. 12:26; Deut. 6:20; etc.). Filial duty and obedience to both parents were strictly enforced by Moses (Ex. 20:12); and any outrage against either parent, such as a blow (21:15), a curse (v. 17; Lev. 20:9), or incorrigible rebellion against their authority (Deut. 21:18- 21) was made a capital offense. [13]

In the New Testament, Jesus acknowledged the continuing validity of the command in Ex. 20:12 for children to honor their parents (Mk. 7:9- 13; 10:19). Paul reiterated this (Eph. 6:2f.) and added that obedience to one’s parents is also necessary (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). He instructed fathers not to provoke their children to anger (Eph. 6:4a; Col. 3:21), but to discipline and instruct them (Eph. 6:4b). [14]

Man Is Lost Without God As Father

Because God as father is not only the source of man but a source that determines the nature of man, biblical thought regards it as wholly natural that the creature will honor its creator and that the son will acknowledge, honor, and thank his Father, and that the Son, through whom, by whom, and unto whom all things were created, will be acknowledged when He comes to “his own” (Jn. 1:11). Where this occurs, the son finds himself in the Father. Where this does not occur, sin is present, the son is rejecting his Father, and thereby repudiating both whence he came and what he is. For what he is is determined by his origin, his Father; and in repudiating his Father he repudiates himself. Father and son are so related that if the son loses the Father, he loses himself.

It is not as Father that God cares for the birds, and it is not as Father that God bestows His creaturely blessings on those who are not His children. The Fatherhood of God belongs to those who have responded to the divine love and have submitted themselves to (Him). God seeks people, not because He is their Father, but because He would become their Father.

The prodigal is a parable about the father, not about the son. The one element all three parables embody about the lost is belonging- the lost sheep belongs to the fold; the lost coin belongs to the housewife’s possessions; the son belongs in his father’s house. People, although lost, find their proper place in the house of their father. [15]

Adverse Child Development Outcomes in Fatherless Homes

Are fathers important? The most vital, protective, loving and potentially nourishing human relationship is that of a child with their father. No other relationship has such potential to fully establish the child in a sound mental and spiritual state than that of a child with its father.

Official U.S. data shows that the effects of children raised in fatherless households:

63 percent of youth suicides (5 times the average),

70 percent of youths in state-operated institutions (9 times the average)

85 percent of children with behavioral disorders (20 times the average)

The National Principals Association Report stated that 71 percent of all high school drop outs (9 times the average) come from fatherless homes.

Other research reveals that homes without the presence of a father produce children that make up:75 percent adolescents in chemical abuse centers (10 times the average)

85 percent of youths in prison (20 times the average)

Teens in single-mother households are 30 percent more likely than teens in married-mom-and-dad-families to engage in risky behavior like (sex), drinking, drugs, delinquency, and dropping out of school. [16]

Children are the ones who pay a heavy price for absent or negligent fathers. Most societal problems are rooted in this breakdown of the family. Statistically the greatest cause of child poverty is lack of two parent households. Incorrectly, social groups and government identify poverty (a result) as the root cause of evil of society. No one will admit the consequences from the true cause: the lack of stable, loving homes with both father and mother.

The Neglect and Failure of Christian Fathers

Christian families are falling apart through divorce at the same incidence as unbeliever families. How is this possible? If believers have status, power, and privileges as a member of the family of God, why are we so bad at it? Who is your role model? If anyone rejects the will of God to go his own way, then the likeness we grow into is not that of the Father’s family or His Son, but a false man constructed by our own sin nature. In general, Man focuses upon the material, seen world that is temporary and passing away. The effects of these choices are seen in the neglected children, who are at the “mercy” of the world, flesh, and devil. This is not the Father’s loving design or will.

For the most part, Christian men do not fulfill the spiritual role of headship in their marriages and families. The father/husband should be the spiritual leader, and yet, in many modern households this role may be assumed by the wife/mother. The pace of life today is untenable, and forming spiritually healthy relationships takes time. A man must desire and seek out truth, and a mentorship that comes from the teaching of the Spirit through the written Word of God. Christians today fail the discipleship test because of sheer ignorance of God’s will, which is found only in Scripture. The word of God leads to the will of God that leads to His work. Without the Father’s Word and will, we are making it all up on our own with undesirable outcomes; reaping what we are sowing.

The Father’s will for His children cannot be fulfilled apart from obedience to His Spirit inspired word. The children of God must be transformed into sons who are willing to be led by His Spirit in word and deed, in opposition to the cultural norms of a worldly society.

The Father produces His character in His children when they are abiding in Christ. Their hearts abide through the power of the Spirit. By faith and trust in the loving Father, believers come to know the love of Christ so that we will be filled with Him (His light, life, and love). This knowledge is the basis for growth into sonship. Sons partake of His divine nature (2 Pet 1:4; Eph 4:13, 24; Heb 12:10).

For this reason I bow my knees He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Eph 3:14-19

The church body is intended to grow up into such a Head for the world. From this, God supplies life and light to the world. The extent of growth and dynamic vitality of the life of Christ in ours is limited by “the individual saint’s fellowship with the Lord and with his fellow saints (Wuest).” The promotion of Christian wisdom, piety, and holiness is initiated by speaking the truth in love, and increased in growth and “building up” by the saints operating in love towards each other through their spiritual gifts and graces.

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Eph 4:15-16

The desire of God to fulfill His role as Father must be met by the believer’s commitment of diligence to know Him followed by the obedience of discipleship.

Cleansing from defilement and our ongoing sanctification requires enablement of the Spirit to separate from sin and flesh (1 John 1:9; Rom 6:3-11; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4:22-24). The goal is the holiness and godliness of Christlikeness.

“ And I will be a father to you,

And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”

Says the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor 6:17-18

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1

Men, our wives and children deserve nothing less than what the Father has designed. We will stand before our Savior and make an accounting for what we have done with all that He has gifted us with, but especially, regarding our headship in the family.

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 1 John 2:28

We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2b-3 

Knowing God as a Loving Father

Christians are his children, his own sons and daughters, his heirs. And the stress of the New Testament is not on the difficulty and danger of drawing near to the holy God, but on the boldness and confidence with which believers may approach him: a boldness that springs directly from faith in Christ, and from the knowledge of his saving work. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph 3: 12). “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us. . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb 10: 19-22). To those who are Christ’s, the holy God is a loving Father; they belong to his family; they may approach him without fear and always be sure of his fatherly concern and care. This is the heart of the New Testament message. [17]

The reality of a family relationship with God as Father should impact our character and conduct.

Number one is the principle of imitating the Father: “I tell you: Love your enemies. . . that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. . . Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5: 44-45, 48). The children must show the family likeness in their conduct. Jesus is here spelling out “Be holy, for I am holy”— and spelling it out in family terms. [18]

Number two is the principle of glorifying the Father: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mt 5: 16). Christians must seek to (walk) in a way that brings praise to their Father in heaven. Their constant concern must be that which they are taught to voice at the outset of all their prayers—“ Our Father. . . hallowed be your name” (Mt 6: 9).

Number three is the principle of pleasing the Father. In Matthew 6: 1-18, Jesus dwells

The purpose of our Lord’s promise of reward (6: 4, 6, 18) is not to make us think in terms of wages and a quid pro quo, but simply to remind us that our heavenly Father will notice, and show special pleasure, when we concentrate our efforts on pleasing Him and Him alone. [19]

Assurance of the Father’s Love

If God in love has made Christians his children, and if he is perfect as a Father, two things would seem to follow, in the nature of the case. First, the family relationship must be an abiding one, lasting forever. Perfect parents do not cast off their children. Christians may act the prodigal, but God will not cease to act the prodigal’s father. Second, God will go out of his way to make his children feel his love for them and know their privilege and security as members of his family. Adopted children need assurance that they belong, and a perfect parent will not withhold it. In Romans 8, the classic New Testament passage on assurance, 16,17, 29-30, 38-39 [20]

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To the Eternal Son the Father stands related as to no other being and finds in the Son the perfect and infinite object of His love. With this highest meaning in view the apostles speak of God as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; see 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 1:17). Thus also, although Christ taught His disciples to address God in prayer as “our Father,” He did not use that form Himself. He spoke of God as “My Father” and “your Father,” but at the same time He made plain that He distinguished between the relation in which they stood to God and that in which He Himself stood. [21]

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself… Eph 1:3-5a

The phrase, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” needs some attention (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3; Heb. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 1:6). God the Father is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ as He (the Lord Jesus) is seen in His humanity. He cried on the Cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” The Persons of the Godhead also recognize each other as co- equal deity and address each other as God. The Father addresses the Son, “Thy throne, O, God, is for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8).

In John 6:18, the Jewish leaders accused Him of making Himself equal with God because He said that God was His (idios) own, private, peculiar, individual Father, His Father in a different way from that in which He is the Father of believers. Here our Lord speaks of Himself as Son of God of the Father from whom He proceeds by eternal generation in a birth that never took place because it always was. Thus, God is the Father of the Lord Jesus as He (the Lord Jesus) is seen in His deity. Again, He says to Mary (John 20:17), “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God and your God.” [22]

Christ possesses this innate knowledge of God because He is God’s Son. Other people do not share this knowledge. They may come to a knowledge of God only secondhand, by way of mediation through the Son. This is not an innate knowledge, but is one that is experienced as people become disciples of Jesus. The Son knows the Father because He is by nature the Son; other people must become children through the mediation of Christ. [23]

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God. ’” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. John 20:17-18

…and He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father… Rev 2:27 (3:5, 21)

Christ never associated Himself with them by using the personal pronoun “our.” He always used the singular, “My Father,” (due to) His relationship being unoriginated and essential, whereas theirs is by grace and regeneration, e.g., Matt. 11:27; 25:34; John 20:17; Rev. 2:27; 3:5, 21). The apostles spoke of God as the “Father” of the Lord Jesus Christ (in the following Scriptures): Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3; Heb. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:3; Rev 1:6 . [24]

The Biblical Concept of Son

Difference Between Believers As Children of God Versus Sons of God

The believer’s relation to God as a child results from the new birth (John 1:12- 13), whereas adoption is the divine act whereby one who is already a child is placed in the position of an adult son (Gal. 4:1- 5). In the position of a mature son in God’s family, believers have not only an immediate status and privileges, but also an obligation and impetus to function as a son according to the grace, love, and will of the Father.

The difference between believers as “children of God” versus as “sons of God” is brought out in Rom. 8:14-21. The Spirit bears witness with their spirit that they are “children of God,” and, as such, they are His heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. This stresses the fact of their spiritual birth (vv. 16, 17, regeneration, and spiritual baptism into Christ). On the other hand, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” i.e., “these and no other.” Their conduct gives evidence of the dignity of their relationship and their likeness to His character. [25]

Huios, “son,” signifies primarily the relationship of offspring to parent (see John 9:18–20; Gal. 4:30); but it is frequently used in a sense suggestive of distinct moral characteristics. The moral characteristic in evidence here is that of being led by the Spirit of God. For the contrasting word teknon, “child,” see verse 16, below. [26]

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Rom 8:14

 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Rom 8:16

A Son Obeys the Father and Manifests His Character

In the Christian’s relationship to God, He is not only our God (2 Cor 6:16) who is holy (2 Cor 6:17), but He is our “Father.” God has a right to demand loyal allegiance from His children (“sons” and “daughters,” 2 Cor 6:18). Since He is the Almighty, we must remember that to disregard His Word means to incur divine discipline. Paul compared the church, here, first to a temple (v. 16), and then to a family (v. 18).

Huios expresses the dignity of the position into which the child is brought, and the character which is consistent therewith. In his standing a believer is a child of God; in his state he should be a son of God, and only as he gives evidence that he is a son of God can he really claim to be a child of God. The Lord Jesus brought out the special significance of huios in His remarks in what is called the Sermon on the Mount, e.g., in Matthew 5:9, 44, 45. [27]

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matt 5:9

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven… Matt 5:44-45a

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48

The disciples were to do these things, not in order that they might become children of God, but that, being children (note ‘your Father’ throughout), they might make the fact manifest in their character, might ‘become sons.’ [28]

A “doer” of the Father’s will manifests the family character of God through enablement of the Spirit and Word. Christ declares that these who are of faith are His brother and sister and mother as opposed to those who are blood relatives. The Son always was in obedience to the will of the Father (John 4:34). The Son sees obedience as a mark of family relationship (Mk 3:35).

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. John 4:34

For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.     Mk 3:35

Holiness As Evidence of Sonship

Righteousness and avoidance of sin is evidence of sonship (John 2:29; 3: 9-10; 5: 18). This adoptive relationship, which displays God’s grace so signally, itself provides the motive for this authentically holy living. Christians know that God “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,” and that this involved his eternal intention that “we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1: 4-5 KJV). They know that they are moving toward a day when this destiny will be fully and finally realized. “We know that when he appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is” (1 Jn 3: 2). What flows from such knowledge? Why, this: “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (v. 3). The children know that holiness is their Father’s will for them, and that it is both a means, condition, and constituent of their happiness, here and hereafter, and because they love their Father they actively seek (His will and pleasure). [29]

The Love and Purpose of Discipline of the Son

Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. Deut 8:3-6

My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord

Or loathe His reproof,

For whom the Lord loves He reproves,

Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Prov 3:11-12

…God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.    Heb 12:7-11

The clue to understanding all his dealings with them is to remember that throughout their lives he is training them for what awaits them, and chiseling them into the image of Christ. Sometimes the chiseling process is painful and the discipline irksome, (but then the above Scripture) reminds us of His intent, purpose, and love. Only the person who has grasped this can make sense of Romans 8: 28, “All things work together for good to them that love God;” equally, only he can maintain his assurance of sonship against satanic assault as things go wrong. But he who has mastered the truth of adoption (and our relation with the loving Father who is also our Redeemer, and Creator) both retains assurance and receives blessing in the day of trouble… (T)his is one aspect of faith’s victory over the world.

Meanwhile, however, the point stands that the Christian’s primary motive for holy living is not negative, the hope (vain!) that hereby he may avoid chastening, but positive, the impulse to show his love and gratitude to his adopting God by identifying himself with the Father’s will for him. [30]

God Is Both Our Abba and Father

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “ Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Gal 4:4-7

“Abba” is the cry of the infant, the simple, helpless utterance of unreasoning trust, the effect of feeling, rather than knowledge. It is an Aramaic word (cp. English “papa”). It was a form of address forbidden among the Jews to be used by a slave to the head of the family. “Father” (Greek and Latin, “pater”) is not a translation of “Abba.” It is another mode of address. It is relationship intelligently realized by the one who utters it, a word of filial confidence, communion, and obedience, answering to, and expressing, the enjoyment of the complacent love of God the Father. The two expressions together indicate the love (of the child) and intelligent trust of the (son)…(Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).[31]

Our Adoption As Sons

…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Eph 1:4-6

The term “children” in Romans 8:14-16 identifies our family relationship based on regeneration, whereas “sons” stresses our legal standing based on adoption. We are both God’s children, by new birth, and His sons, by adoption. [32]

In Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5, the word means “son- placing”—that is, the act of placing all believers as mature, adult sons with all the privileges and responsibilities of sonship. Every believer is a child of God in that he is born into a family of which God is the Father. But every believer is also a son—a special relationship carrying the privileges of one who has reached the maturity of manhood. [33]

In Rom. 8:15, believers are said to have received “the Spirit of adoption,” that is, the Holy Spirit who, given as the Firstfruits of all that is to be theirs, produces in them the realization of sonship and the attitude belonging to sons. In Gal. 4:5 they are said to receive “the adoption of sons,” i.e., sonship bestowed in distinction from a relationship (due) merely (to one’s) birth…

God does not “adopt” believers as children; they are begotten as such by His Holy Spirit through faith. “Adoption” is a term involving the dignity of the relationship of believers as sons; it is not a putting into the family by spiritual birth, but a putting into the position of sons. In Rom. 8:23 the “adoption” of the believer is set forth as still future, as it there includes the redemption of the body, when the living will be changed and those who have fallen asleep will be raised.[34]

Our adoption shows us the greatness of God’s love (1 John 3:1).

The Son of God – Knowing God As Eternal Father

An eternal relation subsisting between the Son and the Father in the Godhead is to be understood. That is to say, the Son of God, in His eternal relationship with the Father, is not so entitled because He at any time began to derive His being from the Father (in which case He could not be co-eternal with the Father), but because He is and ever has been the expression of what the Father is (cf. John 14:9, ‘he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father’).

The words of Heb. 1:3…are a definition of what is meant by ‘Son of God.’ Thus absolute Godhead, not Godhead in a secondary or derived sense, is intended in the title.”

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Heb 1:3

“The Son is the eternal object of the Father’s love (John 17:24) and the sole Revealer of the Father’s character (John 1:14; Heb. 1:3). The words, ‘Father’ and ‘Son,’ are never in the NT so used as to suggest that the Father existed before the Son; the Prologue to the Gospel according to John distinctly asserts that the Word existed ‘in the beginning,’ and that this Word is the Son, Who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us.’”

In addressing the Father in His prayer in John 17 He says, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Accordingly in the timeless past the Father and the “Son” existed in that relationship, a relationship of love, as well as of absolute Deity. In this passage the “Son” gives evidence that there was no more powerful plea in the Father’s estimation than that coeternal love existing between the Father and Himself. [35]

The declaration “You are My Son, today I have begotten You,” Ps. 2:7, is quoted in Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5. In Acts 13:33-34 the verb “raised up” is used twice. Acts 13:34 refers to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. By contrast, Acts 13:33 is associated with Psalm 2:7, a Messianic Psalm associated with the raising up of David to be king. Here, the phrase “today I have begotten You” does not refer to the incarnation or resurrection \of Christ. but to His exaltation and entrance into heaven at the end of His first advent. Christ is being raised and authenticated as the promised Messiah, who will be established in His rule over Israel and the world at the second advent.

…that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘ You are MY Son; today I have begotten You. As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way:‘ I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David. ’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘ You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.    Acts 13:33-35

The Unique Son of Man – Our Heavenly Brother

Use of the title falls into two groups, (a) those in which it refers to Christ’s humanity, His earthly work, sufferings and death, e.g., Matt. 8:20; 11:19; 12:40; 26:2, 24; and (b) those which refer to His glory in resurrection and to that of His future advent, e.g., (Matt. 10:23; 13:41; 16:27, 28; 17:9; 24:27, 30 (twice), 37, 39, 44).

While it is a messianic title it is evident that the Lord applied it to Himself in a distinctive way, for it indicates more than Messiahship. (It also indicates)… universal headship on the part of One who is Man. It therefore stresses His manhood, manhood of a unique order in comparison with all other men, for He is declared to be of heaven, 1 Cor. 15:47, and even while here below, was “the Son of Man, which is in Heaven,” John 3:13…

In His death, as in His life, the glory of His Manhood was displayed in the absolute obedience and submission to the will of the Father (12:23; 13:31), and, in view of this, all judgment has been committed to Him… (who) will exercise the judgment as sharing the nature of those judged (John 5:22, 27). Not only is He man, but He is “Son of Man,” not by human generation but… partaking of the characteristics (sin apart) of manhood belonging to the category of mankind. [36]


Knowing God as Father entails a child-like love of “Daddy” for all that He provides; concern and care for those who by faith enter His family. This relationship is never intended to stagnate at this point so that believers remain as “children.” His will is for all to grow into our position of sons and daughters. We have a family likeness by abiding in our Brother, Lord, and Savior Christ Jesus.

Knowing God as Father is an understanding of God and His will, plan, and desire for all of mankind. [37] The relationship of love, honor, and obedience between God the Father and His eternal Son is the model for all fathers to sons and daughters, and vice-versa. Christian fathers may only be successful in this role to the extent that we abhor the evil and cling to the good. We must separate from sin and defilement, and love others with the life of the Son as the Spirit teaches us through His word. Human fathers must protect the loved ones entrusted into their care and headship from their own (the father’s) sin natures.

The honor and riches that believers possess in the heavenlies is beyond comparison or comprehension. One who begins to grasp the facts of our position as children and the call upon our state as sons will spend ever increasing time in prayer and praise to our heavenly Father. Packer has stated it well:

(The Father) impels us to act up to our position as royal children by manifesting the family likeness (conforming to Christ), furthering the family welfare (loving the brethren) and maintaining the family honor (seeking God’s glory). This is his work of sanctification. Through this progressive deepening of filial consciousness and character, with its outworking in the pursuit of what God loves and the avoidance of what he hates, we are transformed by the Spirit of the Lord into the same image (the glory of the Lord) from glory to glory (2 Cor 3: 18).


[1] Packer, J. I., (2011-10-26), Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition, p. 249.

[2] Unger, Merrill, (1988), New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, “Father, God the.”

[3] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, pp. 228–229). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[4] Chafer, L.S., (1976), Systematic Theology, (Vol 7, Doctrinal Summarization), “Fatherhood of God,” Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[5] Walvoord, John; Zuck, Roy, (1985), Bible Knowledge Commentary, John 17:25, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] MacDonald, William, (1995), Believer’s Bible Commentary, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, John 17:25.

[7] Packer, J. I., (2011-10-26), Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition, p. 226.

[8] I bid.

[9] Ibid, pp. 225, 259-260.

[10] Bromiley, Geofrey, General Editor, (1988), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), 2nd Edition, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, “Father.”

[11] Ibid.

[12] Packer, J. I., (2011-10-26), Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition, pp. 230-231.

[13] Unger, Merrill, (1988), New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, “Father.”

[14] Bromiley, Geofrey, General Editor, (1988), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), 2nd Edition, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, “Father.”

[15] Ibid.

[16] Crouse, Janice Shaw, Phd, The Inherent, Irreplacable Value of Fathers,

[17] Packer, J. I., 2011-10-26, Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition, p. 228.

[18] The disciples were to do these things, not in order that they might become children of God, but that, being children (note ‘your Father’ throughout), they might make the fact manifest in their character, might ‘become sons.’ See also 2 Cor. 6:17, 18. Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 585). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[19] Packer, J. I., 2011-10-26, Knowing God, InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition, pp. 237-238.

[20] Ibid, p. 254.

[21] Unger Merrill, (1988), New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, “Father, God the.”

[22] Wuest, Kenneth, (1987), Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, electronic edition, Eph 1:3.

[23] Bromiley, Geofrey, General Editor, (1988), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), 2nd Edition, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, “Father.”

[24] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 228). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[25] Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 585.

[26] Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 585). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[29] Packer, J. I. (2011-10-26). Knowing God (p. 250). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[30] Ibid, p. 251.

[31] Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[32] Constable, Thomas, (2014), The Expository Notes of Dr Thomas Constable, Rom 8:16.

[33] MacDonald, William, Farstad, Art, Editor, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Rom 8:15.

[34] Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 14). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

[35] Ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 585–586.

[36] Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 586.

[37] The word man or Adam in the Old Testament includes both Adam and Eve, for man includes both the man and woman or the race that is humanity. The man cannot exist without the woman and vice versa.