Do you have a right mind-set when thinking about God the Father?
There is a phrase you have probably heard at the end of every church service you’ve been to – ‘the love of God the Father’, but is that how you really think…?
One of the challenges of the Christian faith is that although we believe in God, we find it very hard to grasp what he is actually like. He’s an eternal, infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing spirit – all concepts that it is impossible for our human minds to fully understand.
To help us to know him, God revealed himself to us in the Bible and as part of that, in a fuller sense through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Jesus became a real man, lived, died and rose again for his people. We therefore find it a lot easier to relate to Jesus, God the Son, than to the other two persons in the Trinity. Sometimes, this can lead to a misconception about what God the Father is really like.
How often have you thought of the Father as the austere, severe, creator and ruler of the universe? The God who gave 10 commandments, demands perfect obedience to them, sits in heaven as a judge and decrees that all who break his laws should die?
This leads to the idea that Jesus rescued his people from God the Father who wanted to punish them. Or of the Lord Jesus through his atoning work on the cross convincing God the Father to be merciful.
However, this very much distorts reality and is a wrong view of the relationships within the Trinity. We must never think of there being any disagreement or discord between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact they are perfectly united and this is true of the love they have to their people. They each have different, although equally important roles in the plan of salvation and work this out together [Note 1].
For God so Loved the World
So, let’s focus on the love of God the Father and dispel the myth that he is an austere, uncaring, remote, vindictive God.
Firstly, think of that most famous of verses –
‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16)
This tells us that God the Father ‘so loved the world’. Not only this, but that he willingly gave his ‘only begotten son’ (the Lord Jesus) to work out our salvation for us.
Secondly, remember what God the Father said more than once about the Lord Jesus –
‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.’ (Mark 3:17; Matthew 17:5)
Think about this relationship of perfect love and unity between God the Father and God the Son. How much the Father must love his people in order to have given his ‘only begotten’ and ‘beloved son’, to suffer, bleed and die for them.
It’s true, God the Father is the ruler of the universe. He does demand perfect obedience. He must punish sin. But never fall into the trap of thinking that he is not also a God of love and that we are only saved because the Lord Jesus somehow stepped between us and the Father. It may be easier for us to relate to Jesus, but the message of the Bible could not be clearer – God the Father loves his people just as much as the Lord Jesus does.
‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…’ (1 John 3:1)
‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.’ (1 John 4:9)
[Note 1] Whilst in this article we have focused on the love of God the Father, it is important to remember that God the Holy Spirit is just as involved (in a loving way) in our salvation. God the Father chose his people (the elect). The Lord Jesus (God the Son) in willing obedience to his Father redeemed this people that God the Father had given him to save. God the Holy Spirit applied the work of redemption through the work of regeneration. See this article from Ligonier How the Trinity Works Together in Salvation for a fuller but succinct description.[A00071 – 27/04/2018]