Praying Hyde and the Father

1 11 2008

Praying Hyde and the Father (an extract, by G. C. Bingham)

“Early in the twentieth century the famous missionary John Hyde, later known as ‘Praying Hyde’, was one of the founders of the Sialkot Convention—then in North India, now in Pakistan. This Convention is still held annually, and I myself have preached in it many times, often to audiences of 6,000.

Praying Hyde was a man who knew what it was to be quiet and with God. Often he would separate himself from work, from others, and remain for days in prayer. At one of the first Conventions he was in his prayer tent, and it came time for him to speak at a session. Someone approached the tent to call him to speak, but silence met him. When he entered the tent it seemed that Hyde was in a trance. Certainly nothing could bring him to a conscious state. Time and again he was approached, but without success. Finally someone managed to impress him that he must come to the Convention Tent.

He arrived, on its edge. All eyes were fixed on him. He seemed not to see the crowd. He appeared still to be in his trance. Then he lifted eyes upward and said three times in English, and three times in Urdu, ‘Oh Father!’ There was a great hush over the congregation, but the effect of the prayer was electric. Some began to weep, some went into serene silence. Others, we are told, fell to the ground in deep emotion. Others began prayer as though it were a new and wonderful exercise.

So much for the experience. What was the outcome? The answer is, ‘Revival!’ From that moment a wave of reality swept across the crowd at the Convention. It spread into the district. The days that followed saw a rich and useful revival. Some claim that after eighty years the waves are still flowing. This may well be true. In three utterances Hyde had preached a magnificent sermon. He had unconsciously revealed the Father in all His glory, His compassion, His beauty and His saving grace. Hyde himself was a magnificent evangelist. He must have constantly communicated the filial nature of Christ, and the paternal nature of the God of the Scriptures.”

This story is in the book: ‘I love the Father’ (downloadable free on charge), on the New Creation Teaching Ministries web site: http://www.newcreation.org.au/books/covers/242.html

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Pateriology: Study 2

22 10 2008

STUDY 2
Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father

Available Studies

Last week we saw the general absence of studies in the Person and Work of the Father. A curiosity for sure! We noted that Christology, and Pneumatology were both readily available as topics for study. However to study Pateriology seems to be rarely done, within the church. The importance of Jesus words, concerning the Father, and his relating to the Father, as well as his Post-resurrection teaching to Mary Magdalene – My Father and Your Father – suggest this needs redressing. Sources of study can be found particularly in John’s Gospel, but also in the Sermon on the Mount. Add to this the witness of Paul, Luke, and others, to the Father, and we have much material. We also have the riches and insights of theologians, who love the Father.

What is to be done?

There is a story of a famous huntsman who, when asked about the best way of trapping a fox, replied: ‘Start trapping – the fox will teach you!’

We could say – start studying, The Person and Work of the Father, Pateriology – and the Father will teach you. Indeed, it is even better than that – surely. If the elusive fox can be our teacher, how much will our Heavenly Father, teach us the good things we need to know.

Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone. 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

Covenant Father; Covenant Son

In the Old Testament, we note that Israel knew God as Covenant Father, and Israel was the Covenant Son.

Some 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah wrote of their God:

For you are our father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our father; our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

Also Hosea 11:1

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

We can say that the One who had redeemed his people from Egypt had a close relationship of which the full revelation was yet to come.

The Incarnation – in these last days

The Father speaks and reveals himself by a Son, the Son:

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Jesus came, yet still people missed the Father – The Forgotten Father.

Jesus said to him, “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)

Even the close disciples failed to grasp the fullness of Jesus relationship with the Father, until after the crucifixion and resurrection. Indeed, it took the terrible cross, and the subsequent teaching concerning the Kingdom of God from the Risen Lord – during forty days – and then the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, for the new believers to be able to understand, that, God is … truly Father:

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

The revelation of the love and unity, and purpose at the heart of the crucifixion of Jesus, revealed the love of the Father, for his people.

Patripassionism

Now, we ask: Is there a grain of truth in that heresy Patripassionism?

Patripassionism confuses the Persons and Work of the Father and that of the Son. It claims that the Father suffered on the cross. However, it was Jesus, the Son who was nailed to the cross. The Father and Son are not the same Person. They speak to one another and have separate wills to engage, even when wholly united, as One in the work of the cross, and in all things. Heresy is usually going too far – an overstating of some point – in teaching to the detriment of other matters.

All Things Are Yours

But Paul writes: “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God”. (1Corinthians 1:21-23) Heresies are ours, to learn of error; they are also there, sometimes, because hovering nearby is a great question, looking for an answer. It is probably this: Did/does the Father suffer?

The Initiative in the Sending

The Father is not the Son; they are discrete persons. The Son has come down from heaven, and the Father has sent him. (A work!)

37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent. (John 5:37-38)

28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” (John 7:28-29)

The Motive of the Sending is Love

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1John 4:10).

God is willing to go to the length of suffering and dying to enter into fellowship with man. There is a misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of atonement that goes something like this: God is an angry God, angry at men because men have sinned, and he decides to condemn mankind; but Christ intercedes for man, and God’s vengeance is sated by punishing Christ instead. Although this is a travesty of the Christian position it has unfortunately been too often suggested by interpreters of the atonement as well as by their critics. But Forsyth, who said, “The doctrine of grace and the doctrine of the atonement are identical,” the true interpretation is that the atonement flows from grace, it does not “procure” grace. This extremely important insight means that our reading of the atonement is more like this: Because God loves men, he suffers on their behalf, bears himself the weight of their wrongdoing, and this restores fellowship, or reconciles. Grace is not something Christ earned for us from God; grace is rather something God gave us in Christ. “Do not say: ‘God is love. Why atone?’ Say: ‘God has atoned. What love!’[1]

Note then, that the Father atoned – what sending love!

And in this sending, atoning love did and does the Father suffer?

Father and Son Carry and Suffer the Misery of Ages

Jesus said: the Father and I are one (John 10:3). He also said, the Father is in me and I am in the Father (John 14:10). When we see the Cruciality of the Cross we see the action of the Father giving up his Son in love, and the Son honoring the Father. God, the Father, was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. We are often made aware of the sufferings of Christ. However, P.T. Forsyth draws our attention to the depth of the Father’s suffering too, saying: ‘And the Father suffered in His Son even more than the Son did’.[2]

There is an Eye, a Mind, a Heart, before whom the whole bloody and tortured stream of evolutionary growth has flowed. We are horrified, beyond word or conception, by the agony and devilry of war, but, after all, it only discharges upon us, as it were from a nozzle, a far vaster accumulation of such things, permeating the total career of history since ever a sensitive organism and a heartless egoism appeared.[3]

World War 1 was an occasion, to turn anew to the sufferings of God, the Father, throughout human history:

This misery of the ages, I have said, vanishes from human thought or feeling, till some experience like war carries some idea of it home. But there is a consciousness to which it is all and always present. And in the full view of it He has spoken. As it might be thus: ‘Do you stumble at the cost? It has cost Me more than you—Me who see and feel it all more than you who feel it but as atoms might. “Groanings all and moanings, none of it I lose.” Yea, it has cost Me more than if the price paid were all Mankind. For it cost Me My only and beloved Son to justify My name of righteousness, and to realise the destiny of My creature in holy love.[4]

P.T. Forsyth spotlights the love of the Father, for the Son, and calls us to consider this. (We are often very self-centred when we ask questions concerning the unfairness of life, and of our sufferings). He continues, along the lines that the Father, might say, concerning his Son, Jesus:

And all mankind is not so great and dear as He. Nor is its suffering the enormity in a moral world that His Cross is. I am no spectator of the course of things, and no speculator on the result. I spared not My own Son. We carried the load that crushed you. It bowed Him into the ground. [5]

The Father Takes the Initiative in Dealing with Sin

In 1 Peter 2:24 we read of Jesus that:

‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross…’.

There is a footnote to the text where other manuscripts include the words: ‘carried up our sins in his body to the tree’.

This is the action, or work of Jesus. But what of the Father’s work?

Isaiah 53:6 says of the crushing load of the suffering servant:

‘The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’.

This seems to indicate the Father’s action, of laying the sin upon his son, as Abraham took the knife to kill his son Isaac (Gen. 22:10). Only this time, there is not another ram in the thicket.

Further, Matthew 26:31 has it written of the action coming upon Jesus, and of the deserting flight of the disciples:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’.

It is the Father, surely, who takes the initiative here, to deal with sin, once for all, laying the burden, and its horrendous judgment upon the Son. This is a love-action, for the whole of creation, and it is also a severe action – that sin is dealt with. It must happen. The Father brings such complete judgment upon evil, that His dear Son is abandoned up for us all. He is utterly forsaken. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22) – the essence of these words really must be grasped. Geoffrey Bingham has written:

If he were not separated, then would sin have been really dealt with? If this alienation of the human spirit from God is the very essence of wrath, then was God’s wrath really poured out on the Cross upon sin, and was it borne by Christ, if he were not forsaken? The answer must surely be, ‘The wrath was poured out upon sin, and for man’s sake he was forsaken’… What we fail to understand is the utter desolation that is indicated by the cry. If to be forsaken is the utterness of suffering (and it is), then he actually has to suffer this. If some special knowledge tells him he is not essentially forsaken, then he does not suffer to the full. Let us understand this: he did suffer to the full. Failure to understand this cry is failure to understand the terrible nature of sin and the high wrath of the eternal God, who must destroy evil by His burning action of holiness.[6]

Jesus must know and bear the dreadful anger of God upon all sin, once, for all. It is only as a person by the Spirit, sees these facts that they can be truly at peace.

He must, as man, be taken from the Holy Presence and go out into the place of the damned. He must suffer it all, or not at all.[7]

Leon Morris concurs regarding this actual fact of forsaken-ness. The meaning of Jesus words, are that he was cut off from the Father.[8]

Another scholar, R. W. Dale would never allow that Christ only felt forsaken. He said,

‘I shrink from saying that even in my calmest and brightest hours I have a knowledge of God and the ways of God which is truer than Christ had, even in His agony. I dare not stand before His cross and tell Him that even for a moment He imagines something concerning God which is not a fact and cannot be a fact’.[9]

Forsyth alerts us to the wrecked world, where the mending requires something very deep:

Things are so profoundly out of joint that only something deeper than the wrecked world can mend them, only a God of love and power infinite, making his sovereignty good once for all, though mountains are cast into the sea. The only theodicy is not a system, but a salvation; it is God’s own saving Act and final judgment, incarnate historically and personally. The Cross of Christ, eternal and universal, immutable and invincible, is the moral goal and principle of nations and affairs.

If it seem ridiculous to say that a riot and devilry of wickedness like war is still not out of the providence of Christ’s holy love, it is because we are victims of a prior unfaith. It is because we have come to think it a theological absurdity to say that the Cross of Christ outweighs for God in awful tragedy, historic moment, and eternal effect a whole world ranged in inhuman arms. We do not really believe that it is Christ, ‘crucified to the end of the world’ (as Pascal says), that pays the last cost of war. That God spared not His own Son is a greater shock to the natural conscience than the collapse of civilisation in blood would be.

Again, Forsyth has nailed it. We too, in our day, have come to think it a theological absurdity to say that the Cross of Christ outweighs for God in awful tragedy, historic moment, and eternal effect a whole world ranged in inhuman arms. Theologians, preachers and churches – we have all too often failed to declare the whole counsel of God in this matter. We have been slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.

For civilisation may deserve to collapse, if only because it crucified the Son of God, and crucifies Him afresh. But if God spared not His own Son, He will spare no historic convulsion needful for His kingdom. And if the unspared Son neither complained nor challenged, but praised and hallowed the Father’s name, we may worship and bow the head.[10]

Hallowing the Father’s Name [Matthew 6:9]

We may worship and bow the head, before our Father, who has so spent everything – to redeem his renegade people. All this glorifies the Son, and he in turn, the Father. No length is spared. Creation rejoices.

‘Behold – see what love the Father has given us…’ (1John 3:1)

That we – the rebels – should be judged, healed, forgiven, sanctified, brought home, and called sons and daughters of the Father!

This suffering achieved the Father and the Son’s shared purpose for the world – together with all the Spirit’s help:

On the third day He rose with a new creation in His hand, and a regenerate world, and all things working together for good to love and the holy purpose in love. And what He did I did. How I did it? How I do it? This you know not how, and could not, but you shall know hereafter. There are things the Father must keep in His own hand. Be still and know that I am God, whose mercy is as His majesty, and His omnipotence is chiefly in forgiving, and redeeming, and settling all souls in worship in the temple of a new heaven and earth full of holiness. In that day the anguish will be forgotten for joy that a New Humanity is born into the world[11]

[1] Robert McAfee Brown, P. T. Forsyth: Prophet For Today, Westminster Press, 1952, p. 82-83

[2] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, NCPI, p. 169

[3] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164

[4] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164

[5] Ibid.

[6] Geoffrey C. Bingham, Christ’s Cross Over Man’s Abyss, NCPI p. 68

[7] Ibid, p. 70

[8] Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1965, p. 45

[9] R. W. Dale, The Atonement, 1902, p. xli

[10] I believe it was David Brainerd, 1718-1747 who was able to praise and hallow the Father’s name even as his own family members were murdered, as he was dragged in a tortuous manner across a prairie, for his testimony to Jesus; all in the service of bringing the gospel to the North American Indians in Delaware.

[11] P. T. Forsyth, The Justification of God, p. 164­­–165








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