What Does It Mean That God Is Our Heavenly Father?

This Sunday we started a new sermon series called Knowing God. The theme verse is Ephesians 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” You’ll notice three quick things from this verse. You cannot know God apart from prayer, you cannot know Him apart from the trinity, and you cannot ever know all there is to know about God. His greatness no one can fathom (Ps. 145:3). Let’s look at a couple facets of God before we look at Him as Father.

Unity and Trinity

Unity means there is one God. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Jesus repeats this verse in Mark 12. We do not have to get to know three different gods or 330 million gods, the Bible teaches God is one in being or essence who exists eternally in three distinct coequal persons. God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a triune God. The early church father Tertullian is who first used the term “trinity.” Though you will not find this term in scripture, we see God as all three co-equal, co-eternal, and co-relational persons throughout. “Elohim” in Genesis 1:1 is one of the most common names for God. It is not singular but plural. We see God refer to Himself as “us” in Genesis 1:26, Genesis 11:7, and in Isaiah 6:8. In John 17, Jesus prays saying that He and the Father are one and also that He was with the Father before the world existed. God is both unity and trinity.

Spiritual and Personal

God is also spiritual and personal. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” God does not change (Mal. 3, Ja. 1:17). He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7), omniscient, and omnipotent. Jesus says the Father is holy and righteous. God is not defined by our standards, but God defines for us what is right and wrong, true and false, good and evil. His holiness also means God is love, merciful, gracious, compassionate, and longsuffering. We are the apple of His eye. He is jealous for our wellbeing, for His glory and our good. God did not need us, He wanted us. He is not some distant God. Neither Zeus, Brahma, Vishnu, nor Allah is said to be a God of love or a God you can know. The Bible talks about the face of God, the eyes of God, the mouth of God, the heart of God, the arms of God, the hand of God, the voice of God. The Bible says God sings, God laughs, God sees, God hears, God smells, God speaks, God sits enthroned in Heaven. He is a God you can know personally. Acts 17:26-28 says, “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being….”

Knowing God the Father

In the Old Testament God is called Father about a dozen times. In the New Testament, Jesus’ favorite term for God was Father. He uses this term 14 times in the Sermon on the Mount. What are the practical benefits of knowing God as our Father?

Purpose – It gives you a reason to get up every day. It reminds you that nothing happens by chance or accident. Our disappointments are God appointments and man’s rejection is God’s protection. God knows the good plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11).

Prayer – Jesus addressed God as “Father” in his prayers and taught his disciples to do the same. The first words of the Lord’s Prayer are “Our Father in heaven.” When we pray “Our Father” it reminds us of the precious relationship we have with God. We are a part of God’s family. We belong to God.

Provision – Matthew 6:8 says, “… your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” Verse 11 says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Then, Matthew 7:11 says, “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.” God delights in meeting the needs of his children. We don’t have to be anxious or worried. He will provide necessities just as He does for the birds.

Praise – “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). Work is based on performance. Worship is based on love. It is more blessed to give than to receive. If you live to be fulfilled, you will never be fulfilled. If you live to worship God, you will be blessed and find fulfillment.

Protection – Knowing God means you don’t have to wonder if there is anyone who cares about you or watches over you or who has your back. Even if we fail from time to time, our relationship with God is sealed and secure (Jn. 10:29). Though the Lord disciplines us, His wrath was poured out on Jesus for our sins. It will never be poured out on us.

Presence – There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. I know about the President. But his children know him and can come into his presence anytime. We can’t even get an appointment with the President! If we ran in his office, we would be shot! We can know God and come boldly before His throne of grace any time. God will never leave us nor forsake us.

Power – There is nothing too hard for God. He promises to hear and He has promised to answer. His holiness and righteousness give us assurance that someday every wrong will be made right. He is the judge of all the earth. Matthew 6:13 says, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Pardon – God has every right to punish us, but instead, in His mercy He chooses to pursue us and pardon us. In His mercy He extends goodness and grace to us. In Luke 15 Jesus told a parable so we would know what the Father is like. It is the parable of the prodigal son. The son left the father, wasted it all, and ended up with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. Sin promises freedom but brings slavery and bondage. The son finally came to his senses and went back to his father. When the father saw the son, he threw his arms around him, kissed him, and threw him a celebration feast.

God is creator of all, but only Father to those who have a relationship with Him. Picture a dad and son walking together.  Legally, the dad is the kid’s father.  But the child falls, gets hurt, and the Father reaches down, picks up the child and says, “I love you.” At that moment, he is more than his dad legally. He is his father experientially. You can know God as Father experientally.


Works Consulted:

Systematic Theology Garrett

Systematic Theology Grudem

Lectures in Systematic Theology Thiessen

Christian Doctrine for Everyman   Millikin

God the Trinity Cobble







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