God is our Father
- Psalm 68:5-6 – “A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”
- Isaiah 64:8 – “O Lord you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.”
- Matthew 6:4,8 – “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
- Matthew 6:26 – “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
- Matthew 7:11 – “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
- Matthew 18:14 – “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any one of these little ones should be lost.”
The apostles affirmed God’s Fatherhood
- II Corinthians 6:18 – “I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
- Ephesians 3:14 – “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father…”
- I John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
It is notably rare to find God portrayed as a Father in the Old Testament (15 times). This stands out even more when one notices how much Jesus emphasized the Fatherhood of God. “Father” was his primary title for addressing God. He used it some 65 times in the Synoptic Gospels and over 100 times in the gospel of John.
Little children and others used “Abba” when they addressed their earthly fathers but only Jesus used this term of intimacy as a designation for God. There is no evidence in Jewish literature that Jews addressed God with this term.
And “Abba” is still found three times in the New Testament.
- Mark 14:36 – “‘Abba, Father,’ he cried out, “everything is possible for you…”
- Romans 8:15-16 – “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
- Galatians 4:6 – “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Evidently Greek-speaking Gentile churches in Galatia and Rome continued to address God as Abba. But they only used this title for God because Jesus had used it and taught his followers to do so.
Restored to Fatherhood by the Spirit
The passage in Romans and Galatians offer a deeply significant point for our times by connecting the ministry of the Spirit of God with truth about the Fatherhood of God.
Many today live with a fatherhood deficit or a damaged view of fatherhood. This can have a troubling effect on someone’s life. But what we learn in these Scriptures is that spiritual transformation specifically focuses on restoring one’s need for fatherhood in deep and meaningfully intimate ways.
The inner work of the Spirit with the human spirit centers on our need for fatherhood. Ponder the powerful implications of these words: “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” and “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Rather than allowing yourself to be consumed with the failures or absence of a human father, turn to the affirming work of the Spirit of God as He ministers to your spirit to bear continual witness (present tense) to your identity as God’s children (from the spiritual cradle to the physical grave). Let the Spirit restore the comforting truth of Fatherhood as “by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
- “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1)
- “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
- “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10).
- Hebrews 12:5-11 – God is treating you as his own children
Thought for earthly fathers: “A man’s children will be fathered diligently when they are loved in the context of a much greater love.” (Douglas Wilson)
Audio message: “Answer the call to Fatherhood”