Is there a higher, greater or more thrilling relationship than that of knowing God as our heavenly Father? Is there a more profound and awesome experience than the reality of being able to call the great Creator God, Judge and Redeemer “our Father”? Is there a more intimate, secure and stable certainty than trusting God as “our Father in heaven”? The truth that God’s Spirit witnesses with my spirit enabling me to cry “Abba Father” is both humbling and uplifting. It is the Fatherhood of God that unites us to each other as we are all adopted into his family of faith by grace. Jesus teaches his disciples to pray and recognise that God is our Father. We all share the privilege of being in fellowship with the “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).
In the context of Matthew 5-7 Jesus refers to God as Father on seventeen occasions. It is the main way he describes God in the sermon. It is the underlining foundational reality of the discipleship that has newly become their calling. It expresses the depth of God’s love, loyalty and commitment to his children. As a heavenly Father he knows, he cares, he provides, he guides and he loves in a way no earthly father could ever begin to do. Our great aim is to become like our Father in heaven as we press on in maturity (perfection) of a godly character. As our Father he has given us the resources of His word and Spirit as precious gifts to encourage us for witness. A witness that will point others to our Father as the source of all our good deeds that glorify him.
Our Father also wisely disciplines us. His care for our good and welfare means that rebuke, correction and fatherly wisdom will be needed. Knowing the Father’s will and obeying our Father’s call is vital as we respect and fear the Lord. Our sin will often spoil the intimacy of our relationship with our Father God. So coming to experience again and again his Father forgiveness and reconciling peace will be our free blessing from his hands. Remembering that as a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on us and as a perfect Father will encourage us to believe in his paternal goodness and grace. In Jesus the father heart of God is revealed in all its tenderness, gentleness and kindness. Jesus reminds the disciples that if they have seen him they have seen the Father (John 14:9).
Enjoying the company of our Heavenly Father is one of the great joys of our faith. Talking to him in prayer is a daily joy. Our hope to one day be in the Father’s house and presence motivates and inspires us now to please him in every way. Knowing that as a Father he has lavished his great love on us and given us the privilege of being sons and daughters as well as heirs with Christ means we are safe for time and eternity. Delighting in our Father’s love is for today and one day forever.
J. I. Packer sums it up with precise clarity in his classic book Knowing God:
You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy 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. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road