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. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.John 5:19-20
I was at Queens Church in New York this past weekend, April 23-22nd, as part of a ministry team under the leadership of Robby Dobbs from CityRise Houston. Queens Church Pastor Larry Mayberry, his wife Lindsay, and the leadership team are building a fantastic Kingdom work. On Sunday, Pastor Larry baptized Harold, a 92-YEAR-OLD MAN, who recently gave his life to Jesus!!!! 92. Amazing.
Upon coming up out of the water Harold lifted his hands and began shouting joyfully. The sound was pure, unfiltered, raw joy. Beautiful. Afterwards, Harold told many people, “I have a new family I never had before. I have brothers and sisters. I finally have a Dad…I have never had one.”
God wants to be our Father.
We in leadership, and those of us who have been following Jesus for a while, really need to do much better job of calling God, “Father”, PLEASE. We must do a better, cleaner, clearer job of helping people learn the character of their NEW Dad. We must teach them to trust in our Father’s love and provision in ways that will liberate souls and slow lives.
Is our Father, God? Of course. Do we believe in one God and one God alone? Definitively. But the trajectory of Scripture from the Old Testament into the life of Jesus is marked by a new, fresh clarity of who God wants to be in our lives. Scant Old Testament references exist to God as Father (Deuteronomy 1:30-33 is an amazing example.). However, for Jesus, and the New Testament authors, Father is by far the preferred designation of God. Consider that in John’s Gospel alone, God is called Father 113 times and 111 of them are by Jesus.
Jesus wants people to know that God wants to be their Father.
Now, what I am about to say is next level biblical analysis. Jesus is God the Son. Boom. Shocking. Revelation to all of you. But believing that Jesus is the Son SHOULD further enforce God as Father. Look, come on, Jesus tells us the role His Dad has in His life in our John 5 text above. The Son only knows what the Father speaks. The Son only does what the Father does. The Father has given the Son all things.
Even when Jesus uses the name God, He is clearly referring to the Father. John 3:16 is by far the most famous verse in Scripture. Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” When Jesus says, “God,” to whom is He referring? Is it not the Father?
In fact, the vast majority of instances of “God” in the New Testament refer to the Father. Consider Hebrews 1:1-2, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…” To whom is the Hebrews’ author referring when he writes, “God”? Is it not our Father?
Salvation is about WWWWAAAAYYYYYYYY more than getting your sins forgiven. Jesus’ work on the cross to forgive you of your sins is the payment price of your adoption. But. You. Have. Been. Adopted. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God, and such we are” (1 John 3:1). “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
One of the GREAT blessings of being a child of God the Father is the blessing of being a son/daughter of God the Father! But if I do not soak in my Dad’s love, if I don’t set my mind on His perfection, if He is distant or blurry, then I am woefully deficient in the all the good, divine juice I am supposed to receive.
In Matthew 7:11, Jesus invites His followers to draw from the goodness of their new Father’s character. He says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Jesus contrasts the sinfulness of parents with the pure goodness of our Father. He is bragging on His Father’s ability to take perfect care of His kids. The Apostle James, after experiencing years of faithful care, writes to his followers in James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
Can we please call God, “Father” and lead others to deepening relationships with Him as His kids?
Admittedly, I get frustrated when listening to preaching and teaching that invokes references to vague God. Vague in the sense of no clarity on the reality that God wants to be our Father. So many of the benefits of our salvation freely flow in our being adopted sons and daughters of OUR FATHER. So many relational and family wounds can be healed as we soak in the love of our NEW Father. As we learn how to live with a Dad who perfectly cares, perfectly loves, and perfectly provides we can be brought to rest from the most chaotic of storms.
I am sorry that you may have to filter/edit teaching you receive in all the various forms through which you receive teaching. When the man or woman invokes God, listen carefully. If they are referring to your Father, then convert the word. Is there anything “wrong” with calling Father, “God”? I say yes, it can be wrong. Calling Father, “God,” is wrong when the one speaking does not clarify, does not help, does not lead their audience to depth of intimacy but continues to tread in the shallow waters of vague God.
Come on. Let’s be adopted sons and daughters of our Father.
My challenge to you, as you read the New Testament, is to make note of the HYPER prevalence of “God as Father” language. See for yourself. I am not making this up and I am not over-emphasizing a secondary point. I simply want you to live your life as Harold, the 92 year old who was baptized, proclaimed, “I finally have a Dad.”