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A Tender Parent

An introduction to Christianity can be confusing. After all, we worship Jesus, who is the Son of God, but also God. Because He was God, He was able to live a perfect life yet died on the cross to bear the punishment for our sin, suffering the wrath of God. He was raised from the dead by God, yet claimed that He and the Father are one (John 10:30) and often referred to Himself as “I Am,” the identification of God in Exodus 3:14 (John 6:20, 8:58, etc.).

This is the mystery of the trinity that we identified the past two weeks. Our God is one, yet He has existed eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. They are all the same God, yet different persons with different roles. How do they differ?

It turns out that we already know much about the Father. In fact, any of the attributes of God that we have discussed in the preceding weeks rightly describe the Father. He is the God who is not limited by space or by knowledge and who does not change. The Father is both just and loving, abhorring sin yet delighting in us. His love for us runs deeper than we know.

He is the creator, present in the beginning. When the Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), the Father was present with the Son and the Spirit. Though all things were created through the Son (Colossians 1:16, John 1:3), it was the Father who directed the creation of the universe. Likewise, the Father is the one who has directed redemption. Jesus Himself testified, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). John agrees with this, stating that “we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). The Spirit was also sent from Him to us to complete the work Jesus began in us (John 14:26). The Father is rightly viewed as the prime director and planner behind all the plans of the trinity.

However, this does not mean that the Father is distant from us, leaving us to walk with only the Son and Spirit as He takes care of more important business. Agonizing over the events to come in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus referred to the Father as “Abba,” which was a term of endearment that signaled a degree of informality and familiarity. Amazingly, Paul identified that it was not only Jesus who had access to the Father in such a personal way. Those of us who are His children have the same privilege! In Romans 8:15, he wrote, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Similarly, in Galatians 4:6, Paul wrote, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”

In both of these cases, Paul uses this personal address to impress upon his audience the acceptance they have with the Father. We have been adopted as His children, and because of that, we are heirs with Jesus. God’s Spirit within us testifies that we have been accepted as His children and causes us to cry out to the Father. This is no small thing. The fact that we are allowed to cry, “Abba, Father,” identifies us as children of God, not slaves. Though we were captives and slaves to sin, we have now been lifted up and made a part of God’s family. The Father who created the world and directs the course of history toward the end He has planned is now our Father. If we accept the Son, the Father becomes to us not an impersonal being but a tender parent.

Have you accepted the Son? I want to invite you to do so! Comments and questions are welcome on Facebook!

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