(There is) one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6).
A good part of my life I had a certain picture in mind of God and what He was like. He was sitting on His throne and really far away. This heavenly Father (with maybe a white beard) was a little stern, and distant, but loving underneath. This love was masked by other more important qualities and duties — such as keeping track of things I did wrong. I didn’t think about the implications of God as a Father, even though I was familiar with Jesus’ teaching on prayer that started with “Our Father who is in heaven.” Later I realized I had to rewrite in my mind what it meant for God to be a Father.
I have four sons, and when they were children there were things I needed to explain because they were young and had no concept for certain things. I remember before we went to the beach telling them about it. I had been many times, and there were countless things I could explain as they asked questions. I said there was a lot of water that seemed to go on forever, but there was sand on the edge of the water, etc. When they went to the beach, they discovered how sand gets in everything, the water tastes like salt, and there are new shells all the time washing up on the shore.
This is what a parent does — explains things to their children. God in a similar way explains Himself to humankind. Another way of putting it — He reveals Himself in many ways to the world so He can be known and worshipped.
On His throne
A couple ways God the Father makes Himself known is as a Good Ruler and Judge.1 In the book of Daniel, Daniel has a vision of God on His throne. This is not the only time in the Bible God is associated with a throne, a rule, a kingdom, and power.2 “As I watched thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow” (Dan 7:9).
God the Father is also the source of all things. Through Him all things originate and have their being.3 As the Apostle Paul writes, “yet there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:6). And he Acts he states, “The God who made the world and everything in it, he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands … he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of the existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live … For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28).
If we understand more about God as Father, then we understand how He rules — like a good Father. “It is a profound observation, for it is only when we see that God rules his creation as a kind and loving Father that we will be moved to delight in his providence.4
As a Father
God is a generous Father.5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously” (James 1:5). “A Father gives life, begets children … For if before all things, God is eternally a Father then this God is an inherently outgoing, life-giving God.”6
He is a Father who shows compassion. “As a father has compassion for his children so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him” (Ps 103:13). God is one who loves and demonstrates goodness, mercy, grace and faithfulness. When the Bible says God loves the world and sent His Son, He is doing so as a Father. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is a Father who is generously compassionate. He is one who desire the redemption of all people.
God the Father is a gracious reconciler. He works to reconcile all things to Himself — to make all things good and new.7 A message throughout the Bible is one of reconciliation. Because of sin entering the world in the fall of humanity, sin and death reign — which includes separation between God and humanity (Gen 3). Since God is Holy and humankind is in rebellion against God, humankind cannot be in His presence. The only way for humankind to be restored and have life eternal is for this barrier of sin to be removed. Humanity must be made pure and then there can be reconciliation between God and humankind. God the Father is one who generously and compassionately initiates reconciliation. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ … that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18).
A Better Picture
In the first blog post, The Trinity: Puzzling or Understandable?, we began discussing: though we cannot know everything about God, we can still know many things. For, God has explained or revealed Himself. This explanation has implications for our own life. It frames our picture of God, how we pray and how we interact with others.
Knowing God as Father means many things. God is relational and loves me as a good Father. My picture of God now starts with Him being a generously loving, compassionate, and reconciling Father. This is who I know, worship, turn to and pray.
When I pray, I pray to this Father. I pray to the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. I can go to Him, talk to Him and know He is always good, faithful, just and true.
The Father is our model for how to treat others. He is overflowing and generous. In a similar way we can love others, share our gifts and resources — just as the Father has shared His life and world with us. The Father is God and from Him is all life-giving love. This is how He has explained and revealed Himself to us.
1 Isaiah 6, God the Father is the Holy One who sits on the throne. He is the One who is the perfect measure of all that is good and true. To Him the court says, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” J. Scott Horrell, “Father Who Draws Near,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “Thus in the economic trinity the Father serves as the source of the standard for defining right and wrong.”
2 NET Bible, note on Daniel 7, 2018, http://netbible.org. God the Father is often portrayed on His throne and the one who reigns. In Daniel 7, in a vision Daniel sees the “Ancient of Days” on His throne. It also can be translated as “One who had been living forever.” J. Scott Horrell, “Father Who Draws Near,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). And He is sitting on a “judgment” seat. He is God who reigns, predestines, and has dominion over all.
3 Acts 17:24-29; Exodus 20:11. God made the heavens and the earth and sea and all that is in them. J. Scott Horrell, “Father Who Draws Near,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “Together these texts illustrate a functional economic priority of the Father in Trinitarian dealings with creation with little, if any, exception … God the Father is declared the divine Source of all creation and of all human life” (the fons totius divinitatis). And Ephesians 1:1-11, states that the Father is the one who gives us all the spiritual blessings, who also chose us. Specifically the Father is the fons totius divinitatis. NET Bible, note on Ephesians 1, 2018, http://netbible.org. He is the source of all things for bestowing these blessings. Paul saw God as both the Father of believers and the Father of His Son. God has already blessed believers in the ways the apostle proceeded to identify. This blessing happened before creation. The section is a prayer of all that God has done. It says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:3). From God the Father is the praise, is the one who has poured out. J. Scott Horrell, “Father Who Draws Near,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). In eternity and not in time, the Son and the Spirit have their being from the Father. “God is the unoriginate member of the Godhead, even as the Son is said to be eternally begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.”
4 Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 24.
5 In John 17:1-3, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He calls God the “only true God” and Father. Romans 1:7 and other greetings refer to God as Father. In the Apostle Peter’s epistle to the scattered church he writes, “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled by his blood” (1 Pet 1:2). This idea of God as Father is prevalent throughout the Scripture. Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 56. “The very nature of the triune God is to be effusive, ebullient and bountiful; the Father rejoices to have another besides him, and He finds his very self in pouring out his love.” Reeves demonstrates that the very fact that God reveals himself as Father, displays the kind of God the triune God is. Because the triune God is one in nature, all are personal, and life giving.
6 Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 24..
7 Merrill F. Unger, “God the Father,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, ed. R.K. Harrison, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 403. “The hope of the gospel rests on the fatherly love of God for mankind even in its sinfulness.” J. Scott Horrell, “Father Who Draws Near,” unpublished class notes ST102 (Dallas Theological Seminary, October 2019). “As all things originate in the beginning with God the Father, so all things return to him in the end of world history.” He is throughout history reconciling all things to Himself. 1 Cor 15:24-28.