Q&A: Our God as Father

Our God as Father

Why do the Scriptures call God our Father?

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Answer

There's something wonderful about how the Bible talks about relationship between humanity and God. The Bible certainly reveals that God has created humanity. We are his creatures, but much more so, there's the sense that God has created humanity distinctly from all of the rest of the created order, from the animals and the rest of the creation, that God has created humanity especially to be in relationship with him as his own children. This is somewhat subtle in the Old Testament. You see God creating Adam and Eve in his image, in his likeness, but you see actually in Genesis chapter 5 that just as God creates Adam and Eve in his image after his likeness, but also Adam as a son that's in his own likeness and image. And so there's this very clear analogy that God's created Adam and Eve to be his children. And yet, in Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve rebel against God, there's this awful reality that not only have they rebelled against the Creator and King of the universe, but they've rejected their Father who created them for that relationship of being his children, and instead, as sort of gets spelled out later in the Scriptures, they've essentially said, "We don't want to be like you anymore. We don't want to be in your family. We want to be in Satan's family and have him be our father." Just a horrific betrayal and devastating in the effects for humanity. And yet, God in his redeeming love, determines to rescue and reclaim his children. In the Old Testament you see glimpses of this in the idea of God specifically saying that Israel is his firstborn son and God making a covenant with David that David and his descendants are going to be his son and that he is going to be a father to them.

But this whole idea of God being our Father really comes to full flowering in the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, because when Jesus comes, Jesus is in this unique position of being the Son of God as a member of the Trinity, as part of God himself, and yet Jesus is also fully a man, fully a human person. And as a human being, Jesus perfectly lives out that human identity of being a son of God by being faithful to his Father and particularly by being faithful to the mission that his Father gave him, the work that his Father gave him to do, which was to die on the cross to redeem God's people and rescue them from sin. And so, the New Testament greatly expands on this idea with great clarity. It makes it clear in , for example, John 1 and in Ephesians that God has taken us to be his children, that God gives us this extraordinary privilege, that by being united to Christ, by putting our trust in Jesus Christ, all that Jesus has as God's son, we get to share in by again becoming the children of God. Paul describes in Romans 8 that we are certainly God's children, that the Spirit confirms to us that we are in fact God's children if we have indeed put our trust in Christ, that that affords us extraordinary privileges of having an inheritance in God and having this privileged access to call God Abba Father, to cry out to him and know he hears us, to know that he cares for us, and that he loves us and will protect us and provide for us, and that as God's children we have not only the experience of his love and the wonderful privileges, but also the responsibilities that children have to their father to be faithful, to honor their father and to share in the family business

Answer by Rev. Bill Burns

Rev. Bill Burns formerly taught systematic theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, TX.