INTRO: This Father’s Day let me offer this truth: the greatest Father of all is our Father God. That is, God is purposely and rightly referred to as “Father,” in both Scripture and experience, rather than any other term. Second, God, even in His Divinity, relates directly to human fatherhood and presents an attainable challenge to all fathers. Finally, God is not a “metaphorical father” to me or to you, but, is in fact, our Father. This Father’s Day message is a both devotional and doctrinal in nature, hopefully speaking to us on being better fathers, understanding the true nature of the Divine, and understanding our relationship with God our Savior. Please PRAY with me and we will move into our message.
I. GOD IS PURPOSEFULLY CALLED FATHER IN SCRIPTURE.
A.Feminists and self-titled “progressive Christians :Here are 4 position points they hold:
1.) Both the introduction of the faith and the Bible occurred during a “male dominated” or patriarchal society.
2.) To reach the world in this day and time, Scripture must be “gender inclusive.” Genesis 1:27, which says, “So God created man in His own image; He created them in the image of God; He created them male and female.” In Jn. 4:24, Jesus said, “God is Spirit.”
3.) Some Scripture already uses feminine images to describe God’s loving nature. Is. 42:14 says, “[When the Lord comes, He says,] I have been quiet and restrained Myself. But now, I will groan like a woman in labor. . . .” Is. 66:13 says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you. . .”
4.) Calling God Father can be a negative thing for some people.
These are all genuine issues, but not unanswerable!
B. Let me offer responses.
1.) Jesus was not bound by “male-dominated culture” in His approach to life. He had female disciples (i.e., Mary Magdalene) and socialized with women (i.e., Mary and Martha, etc.). Referring to God as “Mother” if it were true and necessary, wouldn’t have bothered Him. To Jesus: truth was always more important than culture.
2.) The language of Scripture can only legitimately be altered if it is certain the alteration does not change doctrinal truth.
Rom. 8:14, “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.” Could “sons” be legitimately changed to read “children?”
Rom. 8:16,“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
God is consistently referred to as masculine from Genesis through Revelation. There are 26 passages where “feminine images are used to describe God’s loving nature.” It is always clear they are used simply as metaphors, never to address God in title or name!
Changing the gender terms for God finds no Scriptural or experiential acceptance in any case.
A friend said, “We have never been given permission to do so.” He was right.
4.) Referring to God, period, is a negative thing for some people. Should we then stop mentioning the term “God” altogether? Of course not. It is true that some human fathers have soiled the name “father.”
C. Throughout Scripture God has chosen to reveal Himself as “Father.”
GOD IS THE PROGENITOR: THE ORIGINATOR OF EXISTENCE. (ILLUS: human process of procreation, which is conception of a human child. female carries the egg (substance necessary to produce a child). It is not alive and she cannot make it so. She must become pregnant. On the other hand, the male alone has within himself the ability to “impregnate” or initiate life to substance in the woman’s egg. It is the male who determines the gender of the child, and when the child is born, it carries his “image” even though it was formed in the womb of the woman. .” In Creation, God is the Initiator, He determines the purpose of all things, and though He is reflected in His creation, He is transcendent, or outside His creation as well. In matters of giving life, this is always and only a masculine trait. To call God anything but the “Father” of creation is inaccurate and misleading.
II. THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD IS THE PERFECT MODEL FOR HUMAN FATHERHOOD.
1.)Fathers cannot be God – but we can certainly learn from God and practice His character in our behavior as parents. 1.) Fathers should teach compassion and love toward all people. Matt. 5:44-45, 48: “But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the [children] of your Father in heaven. For He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. . . .Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
2.) Fathers should discipline their children with wisdom and a righteous purpose. Heb. 12:6, says: “for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every[child He receives.” A good father disciplines with firmness, but Eph. 4:4 teaches us further: “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
3.) Fathers should invest time and effort getting to know their children so they can guide them wisely. Prov. 22:6 says: “Teach a youth the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
- So fathers – and mothers, as well – can be the best parents they can be by learning from the fatherhood of God. But how do they learn the Lord’s ways? Spend time in the Scripture, spend time with your children, and teach God’s word to them. So, as I said, God relates directly to our human parenting and His ways act as a challenge to us to be the best we can be!
III. GOD IS, IN CHRIST, OUR FATHER IN THE MOST INTIMATE SENSE.
A. Jesus referred to God as Father over 170 times in the Gospels and in a personal sense! Would we be correct, however, if we believed we had a true parent/child relationship with God? I believe Scripture teaches we can do that.
1.) In the Old Testament, God is called our Father in several forms. Gen. 1:27 says He is our Father through creation, “God created [people] in His own image.”
Is. 64:8, indicates that God is our Father in guiding our lives, saying, “You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are the work of Your hand.”
Ps. 68:5-6 says, “God in His holy dwelling is a father to the fatherless….”,
2.) In the New Testament, the relationship with God grows even more intimate.
John 14:23, “Jesus answered, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him/her, and we will come to him and make our home with Him.”
Jn. 20:17, “But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father – to My God and your God.”
Matt. 23:9, Jesus says, “Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven.” This means God is our Ultimate Authority in our lives.
Paul wrote in Rom. 8:15-16, “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s [children}. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!” The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.” Paul reiterates this in Gal. 4:4-7.
In 2 Cor. 6:18, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”
1 Jn. 3:1, “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!”
Today, let’s honor and be grateful for our fathers. For some, whose fathers have gone on ahead, think on his memory, and thank God for his life. For those whose fathers may have been “less than perfect,” remember, you have within yourself part of his DNA. Forgive him and move forward, so that you might live in freedom and love yourself. Most of all, use this day to honor and give thanks for God, our Father. In Him we are all blessed!