God our Father
August 26, 2018
The girl pours more tea into her father’s cup. And then her mother’s cup. And then she quietly pours her own in sadness and shame for what happened earlier. The Huns have invaded China. One man from every family must serve in the imperial army. The only man in her family is her father. But he is an army veteran, too old and weak in health to fight. So she tried to stop him in front of all the townspeople. But her action resulted in her father’s shame. And her father said to her, “Mulan, you dishonor me.”
So Mulan slams her tea cup on the table and defiantly stands up to her father and says, “You shouldn’t have to go! There are plenty of young men to fight for China!” Her father replies, “It is an honor to protect my country and my family.” “So you’ll die for honor?” Her father stands up and says, “I will die doing what’s right.” “But if you…” “I know my place! It is time you learn yours.” And with that, Mulan runs away from home, taking her father’s armor and sword to fight in his place and be someone of worth in his eyes, thereby setting us up for perhaps the greatest father-daugther movie of all time.
Fathers and their children. So much drama comes from that relationship, wouldn’t you agree? In both fiction and in real life, there is much to think about when it comes to fathers. But all of the drama and conflict and brokenness and tears only increases the gospel and glory and goodness and grace of our God, who is our Father.
To be precise, we are talking about the first person of the Trinity. Remember, our God is triune. Our God is one in substance and three in persons. We have therefore God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is a majestic and mind-blowing mystery. But it is true. And this part of the truth is awesome: We have a Father in heaven. Our God is our Father.
Now, let’s be clear here. The first person of our Triune God is not literally a father. The second person of our Triune God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, was not biologically born from the Father or created by the Father. Our Father does not literally have a gender. Our Father is not human (Numbers 23:19). But in terms of how our Father has chosen to communicate to us in his written word, he is a “he” and not an “it.” And he is clearly described as the Father.
And the million dollar question is: Why?
The answer is actually quite simple: for his glory. It is glorious that all three persons of the one Triune God has something to do with our salvation. Our salvation is trinitarian. We have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have the love of God. And we have the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
And though all three persons of the one Triune God are equal in power and in glory, and though our God is absolutely one, when it comes to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we as limited and finite human beings have to pick one and start somewhere. So by good and necessary consequence, let’s start with the Father.
God our Father, he loves you. Your Father in heaven loves you. You may not think so. You may not feel it or believe it. You may look at your life and think otherwise. You may think that your Father in heaven does not love you. But you are wrong. He loves you. He loved you in eternity. He loves you now. And he will love you forevermore. Your Father loved you in eternity - before he created the heavens and the earth. He chose you to be in the final Adam before the first Adam even existed. He always loved you in eternity. Your Father loves you now. For God so loved you, that he gave his only Son for you, that you would not perish but have eternal life. Your Father will love you forevermore. His love for you has no beginning or end. And one theologian offered up a mind-blowing logic as to why God will never stop loving us: “The best proof that He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began” (Geerhardus Vos). God cannot possibly stop loving you, because he never started loving you. You cannot stop something if that something never had a beginning. God our Father, he loves you.
You need to hear this. Too often we do a strange thing to our Father in heaven. We sometimes project things about our earthly fathers onto our heavenly Father. And as a result, we do not think rightly about God our Father.
Perhaps our earthly fathers were tough and lacking in compassion. Perhaps our earthly fathers were absent or aloof, away from home or too busy for us. Perhaps our earthly fathers were abusive or alcoholic, distant from us or disappointed in us, cruel or uncaring, angry or punishing. In other words, our earthly fathers were sinful.
And as a result, we might have broken relationships with our earthly fathers. We might have tremendous hurt or fear. We might have wanted to run away from home.
And we take all of that and project it onto our heavenly Father. And we therefore might think that our heavenly Father can be absent or aloof. We might think that our heavenly Father can be disappointed in us. We might think that our heavenly Father can be angry and punishing against us. We might imagine our heavenly Father saying to us over and over again, “You dishonor me.” We might believe that our heavenly Father does not love us. This is how believers might think about God their Father.
Brothers and sisters, dear saints, do not think this way. Do not allow our earthly fathers to shape our view of our heavenly Father and define who he is. God our Father is far above and beyond any earthly father. He is nothing like our human fathers. And imagine the best father you know. God our Father is infinitely better than that. If you have any false theology about the second person of the one Triune God, then I invite you to change your theology. And in your heart, I invite you to firmly believe that God our Father loves us so.
Our loving Father has adopted us. And we are now his children. You were once fatherless. You were once a spiritual orphan without a family, without a home. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:3-5). God saved you and adopted you. God calls you his child, his son, his daugther. You have his family name. You have his prepared home. You have his inheritance and treasure. In the spirit of 1 John 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
By the end of the movie, Mulan has to come home and face her father. She stole her father’s armor. She ran away from home. She impersonated a soldier, deceived her commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese army, destroyed the emperor’s palace, and… she saved all of China from the Huns. She is rewarded with the crest of the emperor, so that her family will know what she has done for him. And she is rewarded with the sword of the enemy, so that the world will know what she has done for China.
Mulan enters through the gate of her father’s house and comes to him with the crest and the sword. Her father is sitting on a stone bench, the same place where, before everything started to fall apart, he told her that she was beautiful. Mulan falls to the ground before the feet of her father and bows and says with all the emotions of a prodigal runaway, with all the sadness of a dishonorable daugther, “Father, I brought you the sword of the enemy. And the crest of the emperor. They’re gifts, to honor the family.”
The father holds the gifts in his hands and looks at Mulan as she closes her eyes and bows her head to the ground. But he casts his daugther’s gifts aside and comes off the stone bench to his knees before Mulan and embraces her with all of his love, saying, “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daugther.”
Dear children of God, listen to this gospel. God was a Father to Adam. God was a Father to Israel. And God is the Father of his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. When he was baptized by John the Baptist, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The Son fulfilled all righteousness. The Son lived a perfect life. But at the cross, the Son with his final breath cried out to the Father, saying, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Our Lord died because he called God his own Father. For John 5:18 tells us that the Jews sought to kill Jesus because he called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus was God, and Jesus was the Son of God the Father. At the cross, the Son took our place. The Son took our sins. The Son took our dishonor. It was as if the Father said to the Son, “You dishonor me.” Jesus rose again from the dead. We are united with him. His perfect life and righteousness has been credited to us. We have his sonship. God was a Father to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And now God is a Father to us. He has you for a son. He has you for a daugther.
And I dare say that the greatest gift and honor for God our Father is having you for a son. I dare say that the greatest gift and honor for God our Father is having you for a daugther. Can I say that our God casts all things aside and comes to his knees before us and embraces us with all of his love? Yes. Luke 15.
“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
John 13. Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” And understandably so. For how can God bow down to a mere mortal human being? It is amazing that our God Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
Can I say that our God casts all things aside and comes to his knees before us and embraces us with all of his love? Yes. For the honor is his (Philippians 2). The joy is his (Hebrews 12). The love is his (Ephesians 1). Though we were once dead, we are now his. The greatest gift and honor for God our Father is having you for a son. The greatest gift and honor for God our Father is having you for a daugther.
Praise be to God our Father! Our Father saves us (Colossians 1:12-14). Our Father draws us in (John 6:44). Our Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). Our Father knows what we need (Luke 12:30). Our Father will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Our Father gives us the kingdom with his good pleasure (Luke 12:32). Our Father forgives us (Matthew 6:9-13). Our Father is compassionate (Psalm 103:13-14). Our Father is accessible (Ephesians 2:18). Our Father is comforting (2 Corinthians 1:3). Our Father will never let us go (John 10:29). Our Father loves us (John 3:16). Our Father is the best (Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21).
Dear child of God, stop acting like a fatherless orphan if you are doing so. Perhaps you are living life like a fatherless orphan. Perhaps you are overly anxious about things. Perhaps you are dissatisfied or unsettled right now. Perhaps you feel helpless or abandoned. If so, I want you to know this: You have a Father. You have a Father. You are not an orphan. You are a child of God.
Dear child of God, live in a manner worthy of your adoption. Your adoption is a new identity, a new loyalty. Let us therefore love others as God our Father has loved us (Matthew 5:46-48). Let us therefore forgive others as God our Father has forgiven us (Matthew 6:14-15 ). Let us therefore be holy as God our Father is holy (1 Peter 1:13-21). And let us therefore overall put our sinfulness to death. For it is written in 1 John 3:9-10 these words: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
Dear child of God, pray to your Father in heaven. The Lord’s prayer starts with these fitting words: “Our Father in heaven.” Pray to your Father. Pray to him in the name of the Son. Pray to him with the help of the Spirit. Talk to your Father in heaven.
Dear child of God, do keep in mind orphanages and mission work involving orphans. Our Father in heaven loves the fatherless. We were once fatherless. James 1:27 says this, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
In closing, soon and very soon, we will be in the new heavens and the new earth. We will not literally see the Father, but we will literally see the Son. And we truly know the Father because we have the Son. Oh what a glorious gospel! Next time, we will consider the second person of the one Triune God, God the Son.