God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father.
The Jews of old wanted to kill Jesus because his actions seemed to cut across their long-held beliefs about God the Father and their traditions.
For example, He healed a man lame for 38 years on the Sabbath. He told him to take his bed and walk.
The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
The Jews were more interested in being religious and making up rules that God never intended. They were the Sabbath police. It had become their duty to enforce it to the letter. But, through this healing on the Sabbath, Jesus demonstrated it was made to be a blessing for mankind, but the religious dealers had turned it into a day of “do’s” and “don’ts” whereby the rules could be used as a basis for the priests to measure the “sin” of those they wanted to control.
But, the Creator of the Sabbath was in their midst and they knew Him not. Jesus attempted to clarify the purpose of the Sabbath by saying,
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2: 27, 28
Jesus spent much of His short life undoing the damage religious people had done. His main work was about revealing the true character of the Father, which no man had ever seen physically nor had they seen the Father by example. This was Jesus’ mission to declare the Father.
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17
Although the Father is “invisible,” Jesus came not only to die for our sins, but to reveal the true God, for He said to a curious disciple named Phillip,
“Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’”?
Understanding and knowing God the Father is critical in the plan of salvation. Jesus expressed this in His prayer to the Father when he said,
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
It is equally important to understand God the Father AND Jesus in order to have eternal life. It is not always what you know as much as Who you know! Otherwise, only the highly educated Theologians would have eternal life. God made the playing field level by giving the opportunity to “know Him” through a personal one-on-one experience regardless of position in life. Many do not know Him, because they do not search for Him.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Many don’t find because they don’t search with all their heart. It is not a casual search, but one with effort.
During the time of Christ, the character of the Father had been maligned, both by word and representation by those who thought they knew God. Yet, none had seen the Father at any time. Only Moses was allowed to see the backside of God. It is from this event, that Moses begins to understand the real nature of God…simply by looking.
Moses asked to see Him,
“Please, show me Your glory.”
Exodus 33: 18
God responded by saying,
“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 33: 19-23
When the Lord passed by, Moses was inspired to say,
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”
Exodus 34:6, 7
Can we not describe Jesus the same way? There is no difference between God the Father and Jesus who came to reveal the true character of God the Father.
But we must remember that judgement is also part of the character of God. There is more in the description of God. Moses continues,
“…by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation…”
Exodus 34: 7 (last part)
Those who have clung to their idols of self worship and sin are not “cleared.” Why? Is not God merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…?
So why are some not “cleared?” It is because they choose not to repent. Their desire is to focus only on the joys of a sinful world and the satisfaction of the carnal desires. Please do not take this too far and feel it is a sin to enjoy pleasure. God has set the boundaries of pleasure in His word so that His creation will not go down the path of the wrong kind of pleasure leading to death. The euphoric feeling given by drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and over eating are pleasures that is good for a moment, but leads to an miserable life.
God does not interfere with our choice to sin, but He does use the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. It is those who yield to the pulling of the Spirit that will find a new path to real joy and happiness. However, if a person elects the sinful pleasure of this world, then they have their reward only on this earth, which is a mere wisp of time.
It is the indulgence in self that will lead to pain and suffering.
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.
“…eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun.
God responds to this person with this mindset,
‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
Luke 12: 20
When that person dies, all his things go to someone else.
Another aspect of God’s character often missed by many is this: God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. Even the destruction of the wicked in the end time is called his strange act.
Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.
Our longsuffering God does not want anyone to perish.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
But God the Father offers eternal life for those who will believe and trust in Him.
For God (The Father) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
It is important to understand the character of God in this very popular verse. God loves. He demonstrates it by giving something to us that is very precious to Him. The reason? So that a person will not perish. This verse, in itself, provides the proof that there is no eternal place of torture. The penalty for not believing is to perish. It is NOT to live in a place of torture. Only the saved have eternal life.
The wages of sin is death….not life in a place of burning. Romans 6:23
It is the work of the enemy to paint the wrong picture about God the Father. As we see from the time of Jesus and even to this day, God is painted as a cruel tyrant whose anger is so great that He punishes people by unending fire.
But the life of Jesus and the clear teaching of the Bible shows a Father who loves his children and desires to save them from eternal death. He wants to give them life and pleasure, but the kind of pleasure that leads to joy and happiness. A born again Christian can begin this joy now. Like Paul, he or she knows that it is the return of Christ when the reward of eternal life is given to all those who believed in Him during this life.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:8
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
When I was young, I came to a point where I viewed God as this angry old bearded man, with arms crossed, and eyes fixed upon me just waiting for me to make a mistake so He could condemn me to hell.
So many today, as in the times of the Scribes and Pharisees, have a similar view of God the Father. We may also think the same way about most things God intended to be a blessing. We want to turn our religion into a burdensome list of things to do to or not to do in order to obtain the favor of God.
Many of us have put God the Father as the God of works, fire, and death of the Old Testament and Jesus as the loving man of grace in the New Testament. But Jesus, made it very clear that we may see God the Father in his own life.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
It is when we give our life and plans to God the Father and to Jesus that their same characteristics will be born in us and brought to maturity as we live by faith daily. Jesus prayed this might happen to us just as it did for the disciples.
I do not pray for these (disciples) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
John 17: 20,21
When the world will see the true nature of God through us, they will have the opportunity to see the true nature of God the Father in the same way Jesus corrected the errors of the time by His example.
It was Jesus who used the term “Father” when describing God. In this description, we can begin to understand the closeness between Jesus and the Father.
But, it was also Jesus who told us,
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
This verse has brought some confusion, but let’s read it in its context. What prompted Jesus to say this? Who was the audience? All of these questions are answered by context. Let’s read some of the verses before it.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
Matthew 23:1, 2
The subject was the religious leaders of the time–the scribes and Pharisees. They were very hypocritical and had selfish motives in their “religious” work.
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Matthew 23: 5-9
By reading the context, we can see that we are not to use the term father in a religious setting. God the Father does not want anyone to take His place nor interfere with direct access to the throne of grace. We can only come to the Father through Jesus.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jesus alone is our high priest. We are to be careful in our understanding of the work of men on this earth who would seek to take the place of God. Because Jesus is our high priest and understands us like no other human, we can come boldly to God the Father
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
But, it is no problem calling our parent father. Jesus told us,
“You know the commandments:…honor your father and mother.’”
Our earthly father, in the best setting, is a opaque picture of a loving Father in heaven. Both are connected with the powerful act of Creation. But, our heavenly Father far exceeds the love and compassion of our earthly father.
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!
We don’t have to look too far without seeing that God the Father is good in every sense of the word. One of my favorite authors summarizes this study well:
“Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature…
“…God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love. Though all these evidences have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God with fear; they thought of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,–one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men.”
Steps to Christ, p. 10-11, EG White