Greatest Father’s Day

5 09 2009

There have been some great Father’s Days. But what is the greatest?

Father’s Day, today, in 2009, has become another opportunity for the opportunist commercial world to capitalize on the spare—or not so spare—cash of the community. Father’s Day for many dad’s has sometimes been – a day of genuine joy. A time for dad’s to spend with their wife, and their children, or brothers and sisters and their families.

A few years back, the traditional sort of Father’s Day may have begun with breakfast in bed, a new pair of socks, or a tie, some chocolate, and a  maybe new set of garden pruning shears, or similar.  Cool.

However, the Greatest Father’s Day, may have been the day that the creation was finished, to the point of creating the man and the woman, and placing them in the Garden of Eden. Yes, here in this ancient event, we have the Father creating a home for his family. And what a home creation is!

Added to that is the Day that the eternal Son of God, became a human being, a son, like Adam. The Day that Jesus was born was certainly hailed as one of the Greatest Father’s Days ever.  Here, the second Adam came to do that which the first Adam, had failed to accomplish.

But perhaps, above all Father’s Days, was the Day in which the wayward members of the family—the human family, were reconciled through the profoundly strange events of the cross of Jesus Christ. The Day the Father over-reached Jesus, as it were, and in his love, and together with Jesus, and the Spirit, reclaimed, redeemed, and renewed the children in rebellion—this indeed was a Day of grace. And here, perhaps, the gracious Father was at his best – in dealing with our sin, the holy Father laid it upon his own sinless Son, Jesus, and there it was borne, and destroyed, in the mind, conscience, and body of the finest Son ever. This was an action of—from one point of view—unimaginable horror and loneliness. Yet, it was a deed of the deepest love ever known. It was a work of the Father, on behalf of his eternal family. It was the Greatest Father’s Day.

We could add to this the Day the Son of God, rose from the grave, victorious over death forever.  This happened as the Father, by the Spirit, raised Jesus from the tomb, alive forever more.

And we could add to that the Day the Spirit was poured out upon all flesh, to enable the great ingathering of the Family. All nations, coming home at last; the family coming home, washed, sanctified, justified, in the merits of Jesus—the great Elder brother of all those of faith.

Yes, there have been some good Father’s Days. Let us remember the Father—The Father—with us. May this Father’s Day be a good one for many.

Blessed be the God and Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ!





Geoffrey C. Bingham dies – (goes home!)

3 06 2009

Geoffrey Bingham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today Geoff Bingham died. He is one of the dearest of men, that I know. He has been a friend, a mentor, a joyful preacher and teacher of the Christian faith, a doctor of theology, a missionary to Pakistan, a former POW in Changi in WW2, and a prolific and notable Australian author – and one to whom many, many people are grateful for his help and encouragement.

In particular Geoffrey has taught the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God known there, he has taught the hope and joy of creation redeemed through Jesus resurrection, and he has – perhaps as well as any – taught the Fatherhood of God.

Geoffrey has been a theologian and preacher of the heart! He has left a rich legacy in New Creation Teaching Ministries. 

May the Lord comfort Laurel—his dear wife, and his family, and the many, many people who will miss him. Much will be written about him. As the years roll on, many will undoubtedly discover his writings, and do so with great joy.

That is my small comment, for now.  … thanks dear Geoff, thank you!





Pateriology: Study 8

4 12 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father

Prayer: ‘I ask… that they may all be one. As you Father are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me’. (John 17:20a, 21) Jesus

The Father—His Person and His Work—is a vast subject, which is indeed at the heart of the universe, and so of Trinitarian theology. It surely deserves to be given a higher priority in our churches, and—I believe—far more attention within our theological and bible colleges. This may yet happen. Last century, Barth, (and since the Reformation, Luther) and others have laboured to show that Christian theology is Christocentric. This has had a beneficial effect on the church. While at times subject to experimental overkill, and in some quarters, a play-off between doctrine and experience, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have nevertheless in recent decades been a positive factor in the renewal of the church. As can happen with a good crop, at the end of a season, some have suggested—with good cause—that these movements have in some respect ‘gone to seed’.  As Tom Smail once said: ‘Your Renewal is too small’.  For this reason, a rediscovery of the treasures of knowing the Father also, may indeed awaken the church to fresh waves of renewal, rich theology and worship.

 

Since this is the final study (in the current series of 8 studies, in 2008), for those attending the New Creation Teaching Ministry Thursday morning classes, there are a number of important points that should yet be clarified, or underscored.

1.     ‘Abba Father’ is Not a Metaphor but a revelation of what is essentially so. It is a revelation given by the Holy Spirit, where faith is present. Ian Pennicook writes:

“the cry ‘Abba! Father!’ is actually the cry of the Spirit himself. Christ came to effect adoption and because his work of redemption was accomplished, the Spirit of his own sonship was given to us. So I am suggesting that Pentecost brought in an amazing realisation of who God is and what redemption has accomplished. That does not mean that explanation and teaching was not required but it does mean that here was no ‘appropriate’ picture language constructed for the hearers. Instead a powerful revelation came to the church, which was born that day: God is Father! Ephesians 3:14-15 introduces Paul’s prayer: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. Far from ‘Father’ being a metaphor, the ‘Application of a name or descriptive term to an object to which it is not literally applicable’, quite the opposite is true. ‘Father’ is literally applicable to God alone, and then only to others by virtue of their being the image or reflection of the true Father”. 

2.     The Trinity is a Love Hierarchy (See John 14:28; 14:10, 10:30, 5:17-18; 7:29) The Father is the Divine Fountainhead (Fons Divinitatis), “in which the being of the Son has its source; the Father is God sending and commanding, the Son is God sent and obedient”  (C. K. Barrett) Over and against the heresies of tri-theism and of subordinationism, we need to assert that—rightly understood—the Triune God is hierarchical! This has implications for all of life, for humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. Consider the following paragraph, by Geoffrey C. Bingham:

“Some years ago a theologian in our city said he had ceased to read my books because my theology was hierthere was—and is—truth in the comment. I asked whether he or others had researched the idea of hierarchy—especially biblical hierarchy—and the frank answer was, ‘No. I don’t really understand hierarchy; and no, I don’t know of any material done on it’. I suggested that we might be missing out on an essential dimension of the truth if we did not at least inquire into hierarchy.”           

This is a large subject, unable to be dealt with at depth in these brief notes. However, we need to open things a little. If we first see that within the love-creation, there is hierarchy, then we may be open to consider the whole matter. In Genesis 1:16 we read:

God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

 The sun and moon—prior to the entry of sin into the cosmos—exercise ruling authority. The term ‘hierarchy’ usually evokes thoughts of an oppressive regime, where authorities are arrayed in steps and stairs, and the worst location, is at the bottom—eg. it is not good to be the family dog, or cat, on a ‘bad hair day’. This is not, however what is in mind. Rather, the ideas of flow and offunctionality and service are paramount, together with mutual indwelling—a combination of Jesus’ statements in John.

 

Superordination does not mean superiority

This oft-repeated statement of Geoffrey Bingham’s is hard for sinners and rebels to hear. It indicates the heart of the matter: Superordination does not mean superiority, and subordination does not mean inferiority. Further, Bingham says: One of the keys to understanding hierarchy is to see that the most prior within its order is the person who takes the highest responsibility and who must serve the most. Another key is the fact that each member of the hierarchy is in another. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:3 the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father. The Son is in the husband, and the husband in him.  The husband is in the wife and the wife in the husband, and in fact every member of the hierarchy is in every other member. This inter-dwelling of the members ensures unity, and works against the principle of oppression. 

                                                    

3.     Sonship and Inheritance: The Cosmic Dimension

The Father is creator—together with the Son who is co-creator. The family, the community of God, are placed in their home within creation. The entrance of sin however, outworks itself in alienation (due to guilt), anger, denial and disorientation concerning the whole plan of God. Many today live as if there were no plan, no future, and no point to life, except what we make of it ourselves. Not so for those who have faith. In Jesus Christ, they are redeemed and sanctified in order to participate within the new (regenerated) creation, including a profound homecoming and a grand inheritance—namely all things! (Romans 8:15-25;) Assurance from the giving Father who did not withhold his own Son, and has not abandoned us to our own miserable, little agendas, gives a person real confidence in God as Father, and as Love. The substantial nature of life, to come makes sense of creation, at last! For the creation itself anticipates glorious freedom. Bingham notes: ‘In almost every reference to sonship there is a forward looking to the end-time.  This end-time we call the eschaton, and so we say the sonship is eschatological.’  See for example, Ephesians 1:5 which speaks of adoption. And at the end of this great passage Ephesians 1:11, 1:14 and later 1:18 speaks of inheritance, as co-heirs with Christ.

The reality of adoption, sonship and inheritance refers to those who have come to maturity. A mature son is no longer a minor, under bondage to the slavery of sin. The new experience is of great freedom, even of embracing necessary suffering. The destiny is co-inheritance of the regenerate cosmos (Rom. 4:13).


   

 Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father, Paternoster Press, 1980, p. 202

 Ian Pennicook, The Father and his sons, PDF File, February, 2004, p. 6

 D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Eerdmans, 1991, p. 508.

 G.C. Bingham, All Things Are Yours, NCPI, Blackwood, 1996, p. xiii

 G.C. Bingham, All Things Are Yours, NCPI, Blackwood, 1996, p. 55

 Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father, Paternoster Press, 1980, p. 156

 G.C. Bingham, I love the Father, NCPI, Blackwood, 1974, 1990, p. 116





Pateriology: Study 7

26 11 2008

So Many Orphans

Globally, there are approximately 14 million orphans, with the vast majority (approx 9 million) living in Africa. These children are among the most vulnerable in the world. They have decreased access to education, healthcare and possibilities for future employment.  They are at increased risk of living in poverty, working in exploitative child labour, and becoming victims of abuse.

The plethora of reports from media, concerning human suffering, can desensitise or numb us to such news. Perhaps the shock and grief of this state of affairs, evokes helplessness before the enormity and complexity of it all.  Such horror, absence and neglect of genuine fatherhood, has roots in a sinful race.

The gospel teaches that God so loves the world, that he sends Jesus Christ into this world to bring salvation, where there is desolation, despair and loneliness. Jesus comes to effect redemption, and to work the Father’s triumphant grace and hope amidst all the pain, and evildoing that humanity knows. Nothing is too difficult for God. Our Father sends and brings his Word to bear upon our global pain. Christ comes, to the world, with—among all others—orphans in his mind and heart. It has been said that ‘to be an orphan is perhaps the most lonely of all states’. So many people – so much loneliness! So many resources to meet human need, yet so much inequity and unfairness and brutality, and sickness and squalor. Of faith in Christ, James writes that ‘religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world’ (James 1:27). The Apostles did not teach withdrawing from society (1Corinthians 5:10). Rather they exhort us to take up genuine service in the life of the cosmos. This involves resisting the godless ‘world system’, while exercising a diligent participation in the unseen kingdom of God.  This is life.

Destined For Adoption

Creation groans awaiting future freedom. The Father has in love, destined redeemed humanity for adoption (Rom. 8:23; Gal. 4:4-8). He chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, for adoption as his children (Ephesians 1:5).  Baxter Kruger writes:

Adoption! Adoption! Adoption! This is the first thought, the mystery the secret of the entire universe. This is why this world is here, why man, humanity, the universe, history exists. Delete this purpose and there simply is no creation, for there is no reason to call it forth nor to sustain it.

Jesus is Immanuel, ‘God is With Us’ (Matt. 1:23). Jesus said, ‘I am with you always’  (Matt. 28:20). The Lord has promised ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5; Josh. 1:5). John Wesley, once said, ‘The best of all is this, God is with us’. The mystery of the Gospel is that the Everlasting Presence comes to dwell within our world, our life, our lot, as human flesh, forever. He walks our streets and feels our pain:

Immanuel! Immanuel!

God in our flesh forever,

You walk our streets, and feel our pain

With love that none can sever.

Our eyes had never seen our God

Nor known that He would shed his bloo

I will not leave you orphaned

Jesus spoke of the ‘must’ ‑ the necessity of his death, and of his resurrection (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; cf. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). In John’s recounting of Jesus teaching, he spells out the conversations in greater detail. Jesus anticipates his resurrection appearances, and his ongoing Presence as God with us, by the Holy Spirit, following his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension:  Jesus said I am going to the Father (John 14:12c). He also said, concerning his care for his friends, the disciples, I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you (John 14:18).

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is for the making known of both God’s fatherhood, and Jesus Presence, as the everlasting God. Jesus did not leave the disciples to figure out the Gospel. He came to them, Risen from death. They were not left orphans. The Gospel comes to the world, to incorporate the isolated, lonely and abandoned into the family of God. The Gospel comes to rebels, to forgive the sin of unbelief, and of all anti-family, anti-nation ways, that all nations, might constitute the love community. The Gospel comes to us where fatherhood is absent.

Faith of the Fatherless

In an intriguing book Faith of the Fatherless, psychologist Paul C. Vitz examines the lives of many well-known atheists. Some who’s dad’s died when they were quite young including: Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus, Arthur Schopenhauer. Those with an abusive or weak father included: Thomas Hobbes, Jean Meslier, Voltaire, Jean d’Alembert, Baron d’Holbach, Ludwig Feuerbach, Samuel Butler, Sigmund Freud and H.G. Wells. Vitz discovers that most of these atheists had an absent or abusive father.

As a control group (similar era), Vitz considers some theists, and their fathers: Blaise Pascal, George Berkeley, Joseph Butler, Thomas Reid, Edmund Burke, Moses Mendelssohn, William Paley, William Wilberforce, Francois Rene de Chateaubriand, Friedrich Schleirmacher, John Henry Newman, Alex de Tocqueville, Samuel Wilberforce, Soren Kierkegaard, Baron Friedrich von Hugel, G.K. Chesterton, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Buber, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Abraham Heschel.

The results have been criticised as merely anecdotal and hardly scientific. However, they certainly indicate that earthly fatherhood matters!

Where fatherhood is absent

Sociologist Ronald Conway probingly evaluated the dynamics of Australian society, in 1971, and highlighted the long-term effects of a conspired ‘mateship’ as the major expression of masculinity. An anti-authoritian attitude has been perpetuated, which fails to adopt any substantial grasp of true fatherhood. A matriarchal society often forms, where true fatherhood is neglected. Many SNAGS (sensitive new-age guys) of today once took their brief for fatherhood from the mantras of feminism (often following Marx, Freud or both). The failure rate in marriage of 50%, and children scattered across the continent often in deep agony, indicates a lack of genuine perception.

Q. What type of society might develop where wise, creative fatherhood is practised?

The following points belong the John Piper.  He has, together with his wife and family, adopted a new child into their own family. He is a biblical theologian, who has reflected upon the whole matter of adoption, in the light of Scripture and experience. It may well be that churches, as the family of God, would benefit, from thinking more often in terms of adoption, (than say, in terms of nuclear families, primarily). This means embracing those who are new and different, and even difficult, in the love which is Christ’s, and extending the grace of true family, to the wider community. The message of faith, and new life in the Spirit, would, still, of course, be paramount. Here are Piper’s great insights:

Adoption of us by the Father (cf. Adoption of children by us)

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly (Gal. 3:13)

2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child (Gal. 4:4-6)

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15-16)

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit (Romans 8:14)

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father (Romans 8:16-17)

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned (Ephesians 1).

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations (Ephesians 2)

8. Adoption meant (for all Christians) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.

May these biblical insights, thoughts and suggestions, press us to know the Father, and to enjoy and embrace the adoption as Sons and daughters (technically we are all Sons, and simultaneously members of the Bride of Christ!!!), which the Gospel proclaims and bestows.

Geoffrey C. Bingham, I love the Father, NCPI, 1974, 2008, p. 65

Baxter Kruger, [God] Is For Us, Perichoresis Press, 1995, p. 4

Geoffrey C. Bingham, New Creation Hymn Book, No. 282 (1993)

Paul C. Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless, Spence, Dallas, 1999

Ronald Conway, The Great Australian Stupor, Sun, Melbourne, 1971 p.55   

John Piper, Eight Similarities Between God’s Adoption of Us and Our Adoption of Children, Micah Fund Adoption Enrichment Seminar, 2007.

See: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1991_Adoption_The_Heart_of_the_Gospel/





Pateriology: Study 6

20 11 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father 

If God were your Father…

Jesus once said to some who hated him: If God were your Father you would love me”.  The disciples saw the depths of love in Christ crucified and risen, as the full implications of God’s grace broke open to them. They confessed that their change was by God’s initiative. ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1John 4:19). It takes a revelation of the love of the Father, in Christ Jesus, to create faith in a person. This faith is a gift. So is repentance. The latter, is a change of mind and heart. It means turning from one way of life, to another, from anger, isolation and dislocation in the world, to fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It rearranges a lot of things in a person’s life!

As we reflect upon the life we once lived, namely being ruled by our passions (Titus 3:3-5) and selfish, ungodly desires – we can see that we were at one time, imprisoned under the powerful influence of the deceiver of the whole world – Satan.  Wherever there is guilt, and wherever there is restless passion he has the capacity to exercise power, utilising accusation and fear.

Authentic Fatherhood triumphs over satanic fatherhood

Our age has invested much hope into psychological insight and counselling, and at the same time, has often belittled the biblical view of the world.  For this reason, people often have difficulty in thinking in terms of God and Satan.

If however, we are to grasp the dynamics of life, in which we live daily, then we must come afresh to the biblical revelation, with faith and humility, seeking understanding. As we do so, it is to the teaching of Jesus, and the Apostles that we turn, in order to consider the personality and actions of the evil one, known from Scripture as ‘that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9). Consider, the following extract (by Geoffrey Bingham):

 “The Impediment to seeing the Father and the Son

Almost two thousand years have passed since Jesus displayed the Father. How is it then that humanity has not recognized the Sonship of Jesus and so the Fatherhood of God? It is because there is an impediment.

     On one occasion Jesus said to Jews who did not understand him:

 ‘If God were your Father you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? Is it because you cannot bear to hear my word . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God.’

 

He explained in simple but terrible terms,

‘You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’

     We see then that man must belong to one or other of two families; one of two father–son systems; one of two action systems, both having purpose. One is true, the other false. One is good, the other evil. Each is energized by its father. This is surely the picture of the New Testament. Those who do good and love the brethren are of God and the Father. Those who commit sin and hate the brethren are of Satan. God energizes and works His will through His children, who walk as dear children of God. Satan energizes his children of disobedience and wrath, and they follow him. It is interesting to note that Satan in his pathological desire to be like the Most High God, has also to be a father, and to seek to gather a family.[1]

      Paul says, ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.’ Satan, we are told, goes out to deceive the whole world. He is spoken of as the one who deceived the whole world. Those who are his are called ‘natural men’. Paul tells us that ‘The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness unto him.’ This is why Jesus says, ‘Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’

      We understand, then, that men do not see the ministry of Jesus the Son as the very action of the Father through him. Man is so far gone from his original sonship as to recognize neither the Father nor the Son. The acts and events of Christ are unintelligible to him until a revelation comes from God. Mercifully God gives this to human beings.”[2]

The Revelator

We can easily underestimate the indispensability of revelation. One cannot just simply sit down and figure God out! The Holy Spirit is ‘the Revelator’. [3] Any and all of the acts and events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, can and do serve as the medium, or means of revelation. It may be a new thing to realise that, not only in the cross, but in all things that Jesus did and said, the Father did, does and continues to do his works.

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10).

In all things, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them’  (2Cor. 5:19). Therefore in the work of Christ, wherever it takes place, we can study the works and involvement of the Father. We read of Jesus liberating deeds and life-giving words and in the gospels, and of His power exercised by the Holy Spirit, in the book of Acts, as well as of his work through the Apostles in the other letters of the New Testament. In the stories of the past 2000 years of human history, we learn of what Jesus has done, and thus, of the Father’s ongoing actions.

The Gospel Goes Forth Amidst a Battle

The Father was, according to Paul, pleased to reveal his Son in me (Gal. 1:15-16), so that he might preach him among the nations. The context of this breakthrough is amidst, and in spite of the hidden action of Satan’s blinding of sinful humanity. The Father has worked, and is at work now, to overcome Satanic deception, fear of death, and the imprisoning power of guilt and sin, through forgiveness and reconciliation. The gospel, or Word of the Cross is the power of God, the means by which a person comes into freedom (Rom. 1:16; 1Corinthians 1:18ff), and then the ongoing hearing of the voice of Jesus, sustains one in it. (John 8:31,36; Rom. 10:17).

Father and Son – Both, Servant and Lord of Creation

Thankfully, the Father persists to serve the creation with the gospel, for his glory. He is regal, wise, and deliberate. Sin and sinners are fully dealt with. When the power, penalty and the pollution of sin are all overcome in Jesus life, death and resurrection, then the evil one is disarmed. A justified person need not be bullied by accusations or temptations of Satan. This gives rise to true moral power. Blessings and benefits for a redeemed human race, and a regenerated creation thus flow forth (Matt. 19:28). The Father of grace and holiness is not irrational, dangerously wild, impulsive or vindictive.  Nor is his love-plan, a mere sentimental matter:

The Lord who is not the Father is demonic; the Father who is not the Lord is sentimental. Theology has erred in both directions.[4]

The Father brings his family home (Matt. 28:18-20) to rejoice in Him with all creation. His redeemed sons and daughters are called and equipped (Eph. 6:10-20) to be involved in that great purpose.


[1] Cf. 1John 3:11f.; John 8:44f.; Eph. 2:1-3; Phil. 2:12-13

[2] Geoffrey C. Bingham, I love the Father, NCPI, 1974, 2008, p. 59-61

[3] Bingham, I love the Father, p. 63

[4] Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, Chicago U.P., 1971, p. 287





Pateriology: Study 5

11 11 2008

Clarifying our terms – once again

1John teaches that God—the Father—is Love (1John 4:8). Scripture does not say ‘Jesus is Love’. Rather, Jesus is the Son of His Love (Colossians 1:13) or his Beloved Son; The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9), and at the same time, the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19). Our focus, here, is the Father.

Gregory of Nanzianzus (330-390 AD) said:

 I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendour of the three: not can I discern the three without being straitway carried back to the one”.

The Father – Patient and Kind

God is Love. Love is patient. Love is kind (1Corinthians 13:4a). That is, the Father is patient and kind. The One God and Father of us all, is kind, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6).

Therefore, all human iniquity, evil and guilt are dealt with, justly, and fully in the wisdom and holiness of God. They are never overlooked, swept under the carpet, or merely by-passed.

‘The Lord, the Lord, …keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ (Exodus 34:6a; 7)

The Father’s wrath and displeasure is provoked by evil, and this is a matter for deep reverence, genuine concern and holy fear – for the Lord is an avenger (1Thess. 4:6). It is also a cause for great rejoicing, for it is the Father, who by the atoning death of Jesus, justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5), thereby acquitting us, and as such, clearing – the guilty through the gospel. 

 The Father – Severe Toward Sin

Scripture reveals from the outset that the manner of God’s Fatherhood includes grace and judgment, kindness and severity (Rom. 11:22). Take careful note of God’s personal, gracious dealings with sinful people. The primal couple Adam and Eve­, doers or evil, received grace (Genesis 3:15-19; 21; 22-24); the murderer Cain, was preserved – ‘the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him’ (Gen. 4:15b). The heroic David, God’s chosen leader, a man after God’s own heart—was yet an adulterer and murderer. He knew very deeply the terror of guilt (Ps. 32:3-5; 51; 2Sam. 12:14); and the utter joy of a clean heart.  He was elected and secured in the most significant, most awesome standing in history (2Sam. 7:5-19) — his greater son was to be the Messiah-King. His family-line, his house, was the future ‘charter for humanity.’ Such grace.

Jeremiah, the prophet knew the anguish of preaching the righteousness of God, of calling others to faith and repentance, and yet himself being a sinful person: ‘Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing’ (Jer. 10:24). The Father wisely and personally deals with all human beings with mercy, yet with a holy firmness. The pages of the New Testament further reveal this Fatherhood, in the life of every person—amidst failure, fearfulness and rebellion. Some, like Peter, knew profound restoration (John 21:15-22), some died (Acts 5:5 ff.) The Father is ‘on our case’ as it were.  ‘God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day’ (Psalm 7:11). So, ‘make no provision for the flesh’ (Rom. 13:14).

Father Abraham – The Friend of God

And Stephen said: “Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ (Acts 7:2-3)

God’s gracious, glorious appearing to Abraham, and his call and election of him, (while he was yet an idolater) was with a view to his grand purpose for creation. This plan included displaying, and revealing his gracious nature as Father. It may seem obvious to say so, but God’s plan for Abraham is fatherhood. He said to Abraham: “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations”. (Genesis 17:4).

Abraham’s response to this gracious covenant-making God, who reckons righteousness to him as a gift (Gen. 15:6; Romans 4:3) is to be God’s friend (2Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Friendship is a powerful factor in all of life, and a rich theme through Scripture. In considering further, the relationship we have with the Father, the matter of friendship should always be kept in mind. ’What a friend we have Jesus….’ and in the Father.

We repeat that God’s Fatherhood is known and understood, through the ministry of Jesus, and not primarily through our parents, or other parents we know, or even our friends! God’s ministry involves a powerful, profound friendship:

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another (John 15:13-17).

Friendship is Informing the Other of what One is Doing

The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:17-19) 

Jesus said: ‘The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished’ (John 5:20). We are shown the plan for creation – so as to share in it! (Eph. 3:9-21)

The Enormous Power of True Friendship

The Father’s Friendship effects good changes in the lives of his family. Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4c). Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). The Father prunes. This is great friendship: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

Discipline – the Peaceful Fruit of Righteousness

Righteousness is doing right acts. Grace trains us to do this:

1. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the LORD your God disciplines you (Deut. 8:5)

2. He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? (Psalm 94:10)

3. … the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.  For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness (Heb 12:6, 10)

Read: Hosea 11:1-11 (…it was I who taught Ephraim to walk). This is an excellent picture of the Father, tenderly teaching a toddler to make their way on two legs. Very intimate, very joyous, very profound. 

Hosea 11

11:1 ¶ When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

 2 The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.

 3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them.

 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.

 5 They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me.

 6 The sword rages in their cities, it consumes their oracle-priests, and devours because of their schemes.

 7 My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all.

 8 ¶ How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.

 9 I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.

 10 They shall go after the LORD, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west.

 11 They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD.

 12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God, and is faithful to the Holy One.

 


Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology

Geoffrey C. Bingham, The Pastoral Power of Friendship, NCTM Pastors Study Group, 6th April 1992, p. 2





Pateriology: Study 4

11 11 2008

Doxology and Pateriology

All true theology is doxology. By faith, we can study Pateriology only as we worship the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are created for fellowship with the Father (1John 1:3; Genesis 3:8). 

Culture, Sin, Satan Bad Experiences Conspire

All nations are strongly influenced however, by their prevailing cultures.

The deep effects of sin and guilt, the activity and agenda of Satan and evil powers, unhappy experiences in family life and a culture’s suppression of truth, conspire to darken any true view of the Father.

However Christ is Victor, the Spirit is persistent, and the Father is pouring out his grace, heaped upon grace, – through the testimony of Scripture, and the power of the gospel – that we might, in Jesus the Beloved Son, truly know and worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

The Christlike Father

It was to Phillip that Jesus said: “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9).

Bishop Michael Ramsay once remarked: ‘God is Christlike and in him is no un-Christlikeness at all’. We could take that further and say, the Father is Son-like, and in him is no un-Son-likeness at all (ha… except of course that he is the Father!)

Martin Luther claimed that the only God he knew was the one who suckled on Mary’s breast.  He wrote: ‘… Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus (On the Councils and the Church, 1539). Luther does not to confuse the person of God the Son, with God the Father, but stresses the full deity of Christ Jesus.

The key to studying Pateriology is to always see the Father’s life and work, through the lens of Jesus, the Son of God (All that the Father has is mine; the Spirit will declare it to you – seeJohn 16:14-15). In other words, a good Christology, and Pneumatology, opens to us the love of the Father, and his works – Pateriology.

Teaching concerning the Father

1. Jesus mentions the Father 17 times in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28); many people miss this fact. The Kingdom of God is mentioned 8 times (cf. 17). We have spoken briefly of our inbuilt guilt-bias against the Father.

2. The ‘Father’ is spoken of over 120 times in John’s Gospel. So much material here warrants more thorough study, in relation to Pateriology.  Such study ultimately relates to all of Scripture.

The Father in all settings of life:

God did not become Father; he is the Eternal Covenant-Father; Psalm 103:13, says: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him’.  P.T. Forsyth describes this as:

“…one of those gleams of vision in which…Israel transcended its own genius [and] …uttered an intuition whose source was inspiration, and which in the fulness of time rose into revelation of God’s first and last relation to the world.

The Father of Holy Joy

Jesus knew the holy joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2), glory and love in the Fathers presence (John 17) and cross-necessity.

‘He is father of pity to human weakness, still more father of grace to human sin, but chiefly father of holy joy to our Lord Jesus Christ’

In the cross of Christ, Jesus loved the Father. It is this mystery, we can benefit greatly by studying the Father’s works, and thereby gaining bold access to him, by faith (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16):

‘We cannot put too much into that word Father. It is the sum and marrow of all Christian divinity. It is more than natural paternity spiritualised. It is a supernatural word altogether when the cross becomes the key. But we may easily put into it too little.’

Some of the Father’s Works

1.     All things are from the Father (1Corinthians 8:6; Gen. 1:1)

2.     He is the One for whom we exist (1Corinthhians 8:6)

3.     He plans an eternal family (Ephesians 3;15; Rev. 21:3)

4.     He plans the mystery of the cross (Ephesians 1:3ff; 3:10)

5.     He initiates the Cross (John 3:16ff; 2Cor. 5:19)

6.     He participates in the cross (Isaiah 53:6b; Matthew 27:46)

7.     He sends Jesus (Gk. Pempo = sends) mentioned at least 30 times in John’s gospel (John 6:57; John 20:21).

8.     He places all things in the Son’s hands (John 3:35)

9.     He works (John 5:17) and initiates for Jesus (John 5:30)

10.  He seeks worshippers (John 3:23)

11.  Together with him, he does what the Son does, (John 5:19)

12.  He has life in himself (John 5:26)

13.  He draws people to Jesus (John 6:44)

14.  He testifies on Jesus behalf (John 8:18, John 5:37): the Son

15.  He instructs Jesus (John 8:28).

16.  He commands the disciples to listen to Jesus (Mark 9:7)

17.  He speaks at Jesus baptism (Matthew 3:17) and transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and cross (John 12:28-30)

18.  He glorifies his own name (John 12:28)

19.  He sanctifies (John 10:36)

20.  He knows Jesus and is known by him (John 10:15)

21.  He has a ‘house’ with many dwelling places (John 14:2)

22.  He loves (John 14:21; John 16:27)

23.  He gives commandments (John 15:10)

24.  He gives what is asked of him (John 16:23) in prayer

25.  He glorifies Jesus (John 17:5)

26.  He indwells Jesus (John 1:18; John 10:38).

27.  He is with Jesus (and indwells all who believe (John 17:21)

28.  He bears hatred (John 15:23), and atones in His son, for us.

29.  He confers on Jesus a kingdom (Luke 22:29; Psalm 2:7-8)

30.  He raises Jesus from the dead (John 5:21, Ephesians 1:20.

31.  He will raise those who have faith in him, to life (2Corinthians 4:14; 1Corinthians 6:14))

32.  He gives all judgment to the Son (John 5:22)

33.  He makes promises (Luke 24:49)

34.  He gives the Promise of the Spirit (Acts 2:33)

35.  He protects his people (John 17:11)

THE PERSON: Who is the Father?

A. He is Creator-Father (Isaiah 64:8; Genesis 1:1)

B. He is Covenant Father (Malachi 2:10)

C. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3)

D. He is Holy Father (John 17:11)

E. He is Righteous Father (John 17:25)

F. He is Our Father (Matthew 6:9); he disciplines (Heb. 12:7)

G. He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 3:4) and the God of all grace.

H. He is Greater than the Son (John 14:28)

I. He is One with the Son (John 10:30)

J. He indwells Jesus, and indwells believers (1 John 2:24)

K. He alone knows the Day (Mark 13:32)

L. He will be all in all (1Corinthians 15:28), Our Father.

Fatherhood Universal, But Not Universalistic

All sons and daughters are tested, so as to begin to exercise true family dignity. We are called from servanthood, into sonship; we are called from drifting, and ill-defined spirituality, into a dynamic relationship such as Jesus shared with the Father. This will involve embracing the mandate of the first Adam to be fruitful and to subdue the disparate elements of creation, living now in the new power of the Second and Last Adam – Christ – who calls us to overcome (Rev. 21:7). We must not abdicate the high calling of Sonship.

‘While God is the Father of all people, all people are not the children of God

People of faith are joint heirs with the Son. ‘The true nature of sin …is anything which is unfilial’. No Father, no true family.

Cf. Islam: ‘The Difference is the Son’ (Daniel Shayesteh). Written by a former Iranian, Islamic fundamentalist, and politician. This book is very helpful in its title and its contents. for it helps us to see the vital importance of knowing God, the Father, through the Son. It also highlights the many deficiencies of Islam.

Discuss Implications in family and society


P. T. Forsyth, God the Holy Father, (NCPI 1897, 1987) p. 3

Ibid.

Ibid. p. 5

G.C. Bingham, I love the Father, (NCPI 1974, 1990), p. 142-143

A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 143  * I changed ‘men’ to ‘people’.








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