The Freedom of a Father's Love
by Scott Stake
God is our Father. What a profound and amazing thing! Through the gospel, we are adopted into God's family and have a Heavenly Father! This is something I've been meditating on quite a bit for the past month and would love to invite you to consider with me.
For some, when you hear the word "father," you feel delight, joy, anticipation, and love, particularly if you come from a home with a good father. For others, however, God as father may conjure up feelings of fear, anxiety, or even anger, because you may have experienced neglect or even abuse from your father. Still for others, God as father may bring up no emotion at all or a sense of betrayal, because your dad simply wasn't around and you had no relationship with him.
Regardless of our background, the gospel offers us hope and redemption as we see an amazingly good and perfect father who loves His children. In fact, Jesus speaks of God as father over 160 times, and then the rest of the New Testament expounds upon this incredible way that we relate to God over 50 more times!
But what does it really mean and how should we think about and relate to God as our father? As much as I'd like to go through each passage, here are a few key truths related to our adoption as sons and daughters that we can meditate on this week.
We Are Loved
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." -- 1 John 3:1a
The first important truth for us to remember is that God loves us! Think about this for a moment. What did it take for us to be adopted? When the Apostle John thinks upon what it took for us to be adopted into God's family, He is overwhelmed with joy and awe and encourages believers to "See!" or "Behold!" this amazing love.
Listen to the words of famous hymn "How Deep the Father's Love for Us:"
How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
If you or I ever doubt God's love, we can look to the cross and see God's love on display--He wounds the Chosen One to bring many sons and daughters to glory.
We Are Free
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. --Galatians 4:4-7
A second truth for us to ponder is that God has given us freedom to enjoy Him, relate to Him, and live for Him. Through adoption, our Father rescues us from enslavement to sin and gives us freedom, joy, and acceptance in Him. Rather than a slave who acts out of fear trying to please his master, we can freely and affectionately relate as sons and daughters to God as our Daddy. And this all comes through the Spirit, who stirs up within our hearts a deep personal, affectionate, and authentic experience of God as our Father!
So, if you're feeling enslaved or fearful, remember that you have now been adopted into God's family to enjoy freedom, grace, and acceptance in Him. He's not a master who is abusive, condemning, or harsh, but a Father who loves, accepts, forgives, and frees us to enjoy Him and all that He has for us.
We Are Provided For
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? -- Matthew 6:25-26
Another truth for us to meditate on is that God provides for His children. I'm not sure about you, but there are many times where anxiety creeps in and I focus more on my needs than on God's supply. Yet, Jesus reminds us that if God as creator always provide for His creation, then certainly God as Father will provide for His children. So, instead of fretting and worrying, God calls us to trust, ask, and rest in His provision.
But this is easier said than done, isn't it? Knowing this, Paul instructs us to look no further than the cross as demonstration that God not only loves us but will provide for all of our needs. Romans 8:32 states, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" In other words, if God were willing to provide His Son to address our spiritual needs, then He certainly will provide whatever physical, emotional, or financial needs we have as well.
The Work Of The Spirit
Now that we've meditated on a lot of truth related to God as our Father, one last thing that's very important to mention is the work of the Spirit in our experience of this truth. It's one thing to know and understand the status of our relationship with God, but it's another thing to personally feel the Father's love and acceptance. And God wants His children to not only know they are adopted but also to feel like sons and daughters. And this must be a work of the Spirit!
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in talking about this experience of adoption says, "Thomas Goodwin, that old Puritan, puts it this way, "Picture a man walking along the road with his little boy, holding hands, father and son, son and father. The boys knows the man is his father and that his father loves him, but all of the sudden, the man sweeps the boy up into his arms, embraces him, and kisses him. Now the boy is actually no more a son when he is being embraced and kissed than he was before. The father's action has not changed the status of the son, but oh the difference in the enjoyment of the status!"
Through the power and presence of the Spirit, "I'm praying for you and me to experience that "divine hug" from God as our Father this week. That we would not just know that God loves us, frees us from sin, and provides for us, but that we would also feel His love, His acceptance, and His grace in us and fresh ways.