God as Father

I crossed the lawn going to the kibbutz office in Dovrat, Israel. My Hebrew studies would begin there the next day. On the way I watched a child chasing an Israeli soldier from the bus I was on. A ceasefire in the October 1973 war released soldiers to come home.

“Abba, Abba!” the boy called, and the man instantly twirled and lifted him in a hug. In that moment I felt Paul’s words in Romans 8:15-16, “You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

The Father’s love is a foundation in life and faith. As our creator he explains and sustains his paternity. He is the Father to Jesus who taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven …” Jesus assures us that, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” He also compared limited, but still caring, human fathers to the “much more” goodness of the heavenly Father. God is the ultimate Father; and Jesus is his eternal, thankful Son.

And the opponent of our souls knows this, so he hates both the Father and the Son. And he seeks to shatter our confidence both in fathers and fatherhood. Because fathers point to the truly “good, good Father”—as a chorus puts it so well—who brings us meaning, peace, and joy. In Psalm two this causes the nations to “rage” and “plot in vain” against the Father and his Son.

This rage is glimpsed as Jesus confronted a group of false, though professing followers. “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father” [Jn 8:38]. There are two fathers: one who is good, and one who is exactly the opposite. They represent opposed aims, values, and spiritual realities. There is God; and there is the devil.

Competing versions of paternity also emerge here. Jesus pointed to it as the ultimate affective divide: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” [v.42] And Jesus, God’s Son, invites us all to join the Father’s eternal family.

Yet Satan’s alternate paternity is blinding. “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil and your desire is to do your father’s desires” [v.44]. Two fathers: one good, the other evil. One loves, the other hates. One gives, the other takes. One is eternal, and the other is doomed to destruction. The contrast is absolute in every sense possible! And the collision reverberates throughout the world today.

In John eight Jesus listed features of Satan’s paternity. He is a murderer. He despises the truth and elevates “the Lie”—a singular in the original text. So if we trace “the Truth” and “the Lie” in John’s gospel we see a battle unfold. It is certainly rooted in Satan’s Edenic claim that creatures can be “like god” by “knowing [determining] good and evil” [Gen 3:5]. So, while Jesus treats his Father as our ultimate blessing, Satan usurps paternity and offers reverse values: he means to dominate and destroy. God, as Father, gives life. As in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Satan, on the other hand, devours all who follow him. Yet his destiny is in the wrath to come.

A product of this conflict is the decline of human paternity. Human fathers are spiritual targets. And today many men have lost their credibility through tragic irresponsibility. Which underscores this profound spiritual contest—both in the church and in the world today. Two types of paternity are offered: one selfish and the other selfless. Yet even in the failures of human fathers we get a glimpse of something higher. A strong and truly loving Father can be seen through repentance. Even with evil, selfish human fathers people inevitably know a different world exists—with caring fathers who love and nurture their children. God promises this in an ultimate measure. His word—both the living Word and the written words of Scripture—set us free from foolish ambitions of unloving fathers. And as we bow before “God the Father” we become his children. And we are embraced by “Abba” as one who truly knows and cares for us.

In this embrace we finally see how blinding hatred was birthed by our ambitions to “be like God.” The enemy’s hook is pride. While the Spirit gently but firmly invites us to “taste and see” how good the one, true God is. One who invites us to the gift of his beloved Son who died for us. Who is upside-down to all the perverse values of Satan. Who came as a sacrifice, ready to serve rather than to be served. Who lived in humility and despised all that a world-without-God claims to offer. Who embraced ultimate obedience in place of independence.

Jesus made a compelling case for me by comparing my human father—an ordinary and flawed man—with the unbroken and perfect Father in heaven. In Matthew 7:11—“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” My earthly father wanted me to grow into sound maturity. God’s goal is even greater. He invites us to follow his own eternal Son into a life of full and satisfying maturity.

There’s much more to be said. Just today, in my regular Bible reading, I was reminded of the Father-and-Son relationship in John’s gospel. Listen to John 17:24—“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” Nothing can be greater!

But if, by refusing to repent, we chase the “Lie” of becoming “like God” we miss the delight Jesus offers. Only as we bow, and say, “Jesus, please show me your Father!” will we start to discover who and what God as a father truly offers. It’s a glory rooted in the eternal love freely offered to all who will look, respond, and live.



  1. Mark Hale

    Thanks Ron for this Spreading Goodness about the Goodness of our Heavenly Father.
    Seems that this is being lost on believers more and more today. Believers tend to focus so much more on Jesus, we especially see it in church choruses and in prayers.
    Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is the author and provider of our Salvation through Jesus Christ.
    It will be a joy to be with our Heavenly Father eternally!

  2. R N Frost

    Thanks, Mark, for underscoring how important it is to elevate the Father. It’s not that we have a competition – as if 3 divine figures need shared attention – but that in the triune unity the Son always looks to the Father. And he calls us to do the same, especially in John 14. John’s gospel is so strong here! And you offer a good word.

  3. Alan Hlavka

    Thanks Ron for this treasure chest of heart endearing and healing truth. The transformative power of the Father and His love “…is better than life.” Thank you!

  4. Rick Mckinley

    Thanks Ron! I loved the affective call as Jesus points to the fruit of belief being love. Love for the Son and the Father! You have helped me so much in seeing that sin is the absence of Love for God and loving self over Love of The Triune God and others. Unlocked so much for me that is healing and saving. Love and miss you friend

  5. R N Frost

    It’s such a sweet surprise to have you respond here, Rick. You’ve been such a blessing to me over the years! So thanks for your good words, and for your life, of love for the Father. It’s all about our focus, isn’t it.

    One of these days let’s catch a coffee! I’ve missed you.

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