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1.The Fatherhood of God

Our theme for this month is ‘Our Father in heaven’ and our messages throughout the month will reflect this theme. We thank God for revealing Himself to us as our heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Every child wants to have a father who loves him and whom he can call his daddy. He is very proud of a dad who cares for him and whom he can rely upon. It is heartening to know that we do not have only earthly fathers but have a Father in heaven that loves and cares for us even more than our earthly parents.

This morning we want to discuss very briefly ‘the Fatherhood of God’ and this is the title for this message. Reading through the Old Testament scriptures God is not commonly referred to as Father except in a few places. But the idea of His being a Father is implicit in many of the books. For example God called Israel His son: ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is My son, My firstborn’ (Ex. 4:22). He did not reveal Himself to Moses as the father of Israel but as the God of his fathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when He called him at the burning bush (Ex. 3:6). The reason God did not directly describe Himself as a Father in the Old Testament scripture might be because He did not want the people of that time to see Him as a human father who needed a mate to produce children. At this early stage of their relationship with Him they might be confused how God who they did not see could be their Father. He wanted them to know Him as their Father through their future experiences with Him and the fatherly role He would play among them. It was when Jesus came that He tried to enlighten His people about the Fatherhood of God. When Jesus started calling God His Father, it was a strange thing to the Jews who regarded it a blasphemy to call God His Father. Secondly, they misconstrued God to be like the pagan gods around them who was far removed and who needed to be appeased with endless sacrifices to gain their favour. With this mind-set they could not see Him as a loving and caring Father, merciful and longsuffering. But Jesus presented God to His disciples as a Father who loves them and who was close to them. In the model prayer, He taught His disciples to first acknowledge the Fatherhood of God when they prayed: ‘Our Father who is in heaven….’ (Mt. 6:9). When Philip one of His disciples asked Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father,’ His reply was: ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’ (Jn. 14:8-10). In Jesus Christ we see God because He is the ‘express image of the invisible God’ and ‘all the fullness of God dwell in Him.’

God is not our Father just because He created us. It is more than that. That He created the sea, the mountains and valleys does not necessarily make Him their Father. But He became our Father through faith in His Son and by the Spirit of Adoption whereby we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rm. 8:15). John wrote: ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (Jn. 1:12-13). This is what Jesus described as been born again in to the family of God. All the blood-purchased children of God have the right to call God their Father. But remember that we are not sons of God in the same sense as Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of the Father. But having been adopted into the family of God by the new birth, we are children of God by adoption and this qualifies us to be co-heirs with Jesus of the inheritance of God.

Being children of God we have brothers and sisters with whom we should share His love and be our brothers’ keepers. We have entered into a holy family and we should be separated from the world and be completely surrendered to God. We should love Him with all our heart, soul and spirit. We show our love for Him by keeping His laws and doing His will.

We may ask what the Fatherhood of God means to us. It means that we have a Father with whom nothing is impossible; a Father who can guide and protect us; who can supply our needs and give us eternal rest in His heaven. It also means that we are heirs of His inheritance in Christ Jesus both here and in heaven. We are a holy nation, a kingdom of priests and prophets who will sing His praise and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

We must know that it is not automatic to be a child of God. It is not by inheritance or merit but it is by grace after we have totally surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2.Knowing God through His Son

Text: Hebrew 1:3

Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person

In continuing with messages on our theme ‘Our Father in heaven’ I want to discuss how we can know God in a personal way. There is no doubt that He has revealed Himself to us in the things He created which we see around us.  But they do not give us the full picture of His Person and attributes. It is in His Son whom He sent into the world that we find the true revelation of the Father. In John’s gospel Jesus Christ is described as the Word of God who was with God from the beginning and that He was God.  Later we read that the Word became flesh, that is, He became Man, and dwelt with us. This means that Jesus during His earthly ministry was very Man and very God though He was called the Son of God. Paul wrote about Him that He is ‘the image of the invisible God’ and ‘the brightness of His glory’ (Colossian 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3). It is logical therefore to conclude that it is only through the Son that we can fully know the Father.  I want to spend some few minutes with you this morning to submit that we can know God fully only through Jesus Christ His Son.  Our topic for today’s message therefore is ‘Knowing God through His Son.

When Jesus told Philip, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’ could He have been using a figure of speech? An objective study of the life of Jesus when He came to live on earth will reveal that He was our Emmanuel (God with us). He exhibited all the attributes of the Deity that people marvelled at Him. His disciples wondered, ‘Who can this be that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’ (Mark 4:41). The officers sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees to arrest Him returned to say, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man’ (John 7:46). I will base this submission on the attributes of God found in Jesus Christ such as (i) Omnipotence, (ii) Omniscience, (iii) Divinity, (iv) Holiness, and (v) Divine Love.

Omnipotence: Jesus did many things which only God could do: He forgave sins (Mark 2:2), walked on the water (Mark 6:49-50), woke the dead (John 11:43-44 and Luke 7:14), hushed the raging of the sea (Mark 4:39). By forgiving sins He proved that He was God; by waking the dead He proved that He had power of life and death that only belongs to God; by walking on water and quieting the storm on the sea He demonstrated His divine power over nature. All the miracles He performed while on earth could only be done by God Himself. Thus it can be concluded that He shared in the omnipotence of God. Paul wrote:  ‘For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell’ (Colossians 1:19). See also Colossians 2:9. All the attributes of God are found in Christ Jesus.

Omniscience: Throughout His ministry we see Jesus displaying heavenly wisdom that could not be disputed. His teaching was full of power and authority and not like that of the Scribes and the Pharisees. He knew the thoughts of the people around Him before they spoke and He could not be entrapped by His opponents in any discussion. He knew that Lazarus the brother of Mary and Marta had died before anyone informed Him.  He knew where the donkey with its colt He would ride to Jerusalem was tied. He knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him and that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. These are just a few to show His deity.

Divinity: John opened his gospel by declaring the divinity of Jesus that He was from the beginning with God and that He created all things and that nothing was created without Him. This divine power He demonstrated again when He opened the eyes of the man that was born blind by making clay with His saliva with which He anointed the blind man’s eyes (John 9:1-7). On the Mountain of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw His glory when His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light (Matthew 17:1-3). Thus the Lord Jesus reflected the glory of God.

Holiness: Throughout His ministry on earth, He committed no sin. He challenged His persecutors – the Chief priests and the Pharisees when He asked them, ‘Which of you convicts Me of sin?’ (John 8:46). He replicated His Father in holiness. He was the Lamb of God with no blemish.

Divine Love: The bible sums up the character of God in three words – ‘God is Love’ (1 John 4:8). Jesus Christ typified God’s love when He came to the world. The bible records that He went about doing good and healing all manners of illnesses. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him (Isaiah 61:1-3). He fed the hungry, healed the sick and comforted the sorrowful. He was called the friend of sinners and the outcast. It was love that brought Him down from heaven and love that took Him to the tree to be hanged for the sins He did not commit. He prayed for those who murdered Him: ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do’ (Luke 23:34). This was sacrificial love. His compassion for the dying made Him to raise the son of the widow of Nain from death and weep at the grave of Lazarus.

From the above we can see that when Jesus told Philip ‘If you have seen Me you have seen the Father’ He was speaking plainly and not figuratively. He was called, ‘The Mighty God and Everlasting Father’ (Isaiah 9:6) in the prophecy about Him before He was born. He also told the Jews, ‘I and My Father are one’ (John 10:30). This was not an over-statement as He lived to prove His claim. In Christ Jesus, we see and know God. He is truly the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person.

What then are the implications of knowing God? There are many but I will mention just a few here: First, that we may know how great is His love toward us and be always thankful to Him. Second, that we may know how great and awesome is His power, so that we may fear Him and do His will. Third, that we may know how dependent we are on Him so that we will always seek His face, honour and serve Him. Fourth, that we may know the plurality of the Godhead and exalt Him in our heart. Fifth, that we will love Him as He loved us and our neighbours as ourselves. Sixth, that we may be obedient to Him and do what pleases Him. Seventh, that we may be holy before Him for He is holy.

 

 

 

 

3.The knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom

Text: Philippians 3:10-11 & Psalm 14

We are still on our theme – ‘Our Father in heaven’ and the topic for today’s message is, ‘The knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom.’ This important statement is often quoted but rarely acted upon.  There is no doubt that the Almighty God is too deep for our knowledge but how can we relate with a God we do not know? He has made Himself known to us through nature and the revelation of the Scriptures. But more importantly He wants us to have experiential knowledge of Him through our relationship with Him. This of course must be on-going so that we may grow in His knowledge. Moses the servant of God had already known Him through the miraculous works He did in the presence of the Children of Israel , yet not satisfied with these he asked God, “Please, show me Your glory” (Ex.33:18). Though God told Him he could not see His face because no man can see Him and live, He showed him His back so that he could see the reflection of His glory. Apostle Paul was a man who had great revelation of God through Christ, yet he wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11). To know Jesus the Son is to know God the Father because the Son is the express image of the Son and in Him the fullness of God dwells (Col. 1:15, 19).  Why did Moses and Paul ask for more knowledge of God? I believe it was because they had not yet entered into His glory. Knowing God better would prepare them for His kingdom. This is wisdom.

There are salient things we need to know about God such as His greatness, power, love, holiness and judgment. Let me briefly expatiate on them.

Greatness:  God is the Creator of heaven and earth and all the things in them. He owns everything including us and we depend on Him for our existence here and hereafter. When we realise how great our God is, we will know how to revere and fear Him.

Power:  God is almighty. There is no limit of His power. He said through Prophet Jeremiah  ”Behold. I am the LORD the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). Also the Lord Jesus said that “With God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26). The awareness of this makes us to trust that He can supply all our needs, keep and protect us.  It also makes us to fear and worship Him as God.

Love: God’s greatest attribute is love. Apostle John wrote that God is love. His love is demonstrated in all the things He gave us for our life and enjoyment. All that we have comes from Him. We have nothing of our own. He also gave His only Son to us to show us the way, the truth and the life and to reconcile us to Him through His death on the cross. It is written that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). It is only the wise who seek Jesus. Once we know that He loves us, we can always bring our needs to Him and love Him in return. Our love for Him will compel us to obey His laws which have been given for our own good.

Holiness: God is holy and He wants us to be holy. He said, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). If we want to have an intimate relationship with God we have to be holy. This means that we have to keep away from sin that can make us unclean. However, we can only achieve the holiness that is acceptable to Him if we are in His Son Jesus Christ who He is our righteousness.

Judgment: God is the Judge of all the earth. We are all accountable to Him because He created us for certain purposes and He will require from us the account of our stewardship. In doing this He will reward everyone accordingly. He has delegated the judgment of the world to His Son Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead. Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself and has given Him the authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man” (Jn. 5:25-27). When we realise this we will honour the Son and seek His favour. This is wisdom.

Generally, the knowledge of God will help us to order our lives according to His will so that we will be at peace with Him. It is only the fool who says there is no God. Such people make god of self and refuse to do the will of God who created them. The Psalmist says that they are corrupt and they do abominable things (Ps. 14:1). For this reason they are separated from God and they have no hope of entering His kingdom. The knowledge of God makes us to fear and serve Him, humble ourselves before Him and do His will. This is wisdom that guarantees our eternal rest with Him.

The question is do you have the knowledge of God? Is it the head-knowledge or the heart-knowledge that you have? Is your knowledge of Him enough to transform you into a child of God? We must seek the knowledge of God through the reading of His word and our personal relationship with Him. We need to consider Paul’s exhortation to the Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rm. 12:1-2).

 

 

4. God’s Fatherhood style

Text: Prov.3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as the father the son in whom he delights.”

We have been listening to messages on our theme for the month of February which is, ‘Our Father in heaven’. We were told that God is not our Father because He created us but that He became our Father through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins on the Cross of Calvary. John 1:12-13 tell us that, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  

Our topic for today’s message is, ‘God’s Fatherhood style’.  For those who have been regenerated and have God as their heavenly Father, they surely know that they cannot liken God’s fatherhood style to their earthly fathers’ because God’s style of Fatherhood has no parallel on earth. While an earthly father may love his child because of how he looks, his behaviour or intelligence, God’s love for His own children is unconditional. He will always love and be with them in whatever situation or circumstances they find themselves. He will never abandon them as an earthly father could do. The Bible makes us to know that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The Scripture tells that God loved us first before we loved Him. And because He loves us He will always fulfil His promises concerning us. He said that He will not leave nor forsake us but will be with us to the end. God is with us at all times even when we do wrong or when we are going through the consequences of our wrong doings. He is also with us when we are passing through trials and hard times. Remember Jesus Christ told His disciples in Jn.16:33 that in Him they would have peace but, in the world they would have tribulation. He said they should be of good cheer because He had overcome the world. So no matter what we may be passing through as children of God we have the consolation that our heavenly father is in it with us to provide strength to endure the hardship and give us victory in the end.

He will not indulge us when we misbehave as some earthly father may do but He will discipline us. Even though an earthly father disciplines his son as it seems best to him, God disciplines us for our own improvement, to make us grow so that we may partake of His holiness that results in the fruit of righteousness. In Heb.12:5-9 we are told not take lightly God’s chastening when He corrects us but to endure it because it is the children He loves that He disciplines.

Other Fatherhood style of God includes: 1.His unfailing promises. An earthly father may disappoint us but God will never disappoint His children. He will always fulfil His promises once the conditions attached to such promises are met and those that don’t have conditions He will fulfil to the letter. All that we need to do as His children is to trust Him.

2. He protects His children from the attack of their enemies by building a wall of fire around them. Zech. 2:5

3. He defends them during battles by fighting for them (Ex.14:14). Moses told the Children of Israel when they saw the Egyptians pursuing them as they got to the Red Sea, he said the Egyptians whom you see today, you will see them no more. The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace.

What then should we do for a Father who so loved us unconditionally irrespective of our weaknesses? We should love Him with our whole heart, put all our trust in Him and obey His word.

By Pastor Israel & Fran

 

 

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