What We Believe: IIa. God the Father (Part 2)
“God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.”
One of the glib truths often cited by people is that “we all have God as our Father, and we are all brothers.” There is an assumption that since God has created us, He also remains in a fatherly relationship to every person. It sounds so nice to our ears we just assume that the Bible teaches it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t what the Bible says. God is indeed a Father. First and foremost, He is the Father of Jesus, the Son, within the economy of the Trinity. The Bible reveals to us that those who stand in a right relationship to God are also His children. Jesus even taught His disciples to call God “Our Father” in prayer. Those who have their faith in Jesus Christ are adopted by God into His family (Romans 8:14-15). To do this, we must repent of our sin and rebellion against God and accept His way of salvation.
This is part of the meaning of the term “born again” as Jesus used it in John 3. Our original birth brought us into the world, but as part of humanity we came with a sinful human nature. (We’ll look at this topic more in a later post.) We aren’t just sinners by birth, though; we are also sinners by choice. We freely choose to pursue what we want rather than what God expects and commands from us. As a result, we are not part of the family of God, although we are a part of the human family. The “brotherhood of man” is a truth, but not one that brings us into a right relationship with God.
To our Western culture, this sounds bigoted, narrow-minded, and just plain wrong. If we say some people are not children of God, we may insult them or hurt their self-image. It doesn’t matter what is true, just what makes people feel good about themselves. People don’t want to face the consequences of their action, so they assume God will overlook “a few little faults” and let them into His family and into heaven.
It doesn’t matter how people feel about what the Bible reveals, however. If it is true that we must be “born again” to become part of God’s family, then we cannot find any other way to reach that goal. We cannot be part of a family whose Father we reject and openly defy. And frankly, why would you want to spend eternity with the One whose word you ignored and whose standards you broke whenever you chose?
Some might argue that even an earthly father can be reconciled to children who have rejected him or ignored what he wanted. Wouldn’t God be even more likely to want reconciliation? That is absolutely true. God has made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him through the work of Jesus. He won’t force us to be reconciled, though. We must choose to humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and accept His chosen means of reconciliation. Just as an earthly father can’t be reconciled to a child who refuses his advances, so God cannot be reconciled to those who reject His offer of reconciliation.
Now God does have a fatherly attitude toward all of humanity. He provides providential care for all, and He has made a way for all to become His children. But His fatherly attention is meant to draw us into a relationship with Him through Christ. Only then will He truly be our Father, as His Word reveals to us.