Yes and Amen: The Promise of a Father

Yes and Amen: The Promise of a Father

Yes and Amen: The Promise of a Father.

In Christ is found the Yes! to all God’s promises, and therefore it is through Him that we answer Amen! to give praise to God. As His Yes! and our Amen! ascend to God, we bring Him glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

YES: the answer in the affirmative.

AMEN: (Hebrew, related to the root word for truth); Yes! That’s right! We agree; This is absolutely truer; This is certain; This is trustworthy and assured; So be it; Let this be true; We heartily approve; We believe this with all our heart and soul.

“I shall be Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Since these promises have been made to us, my dear friends, we should wash ourselves clean of everything that pollutes either body or spirit, bringing our sanctification to completion in the fear of God”. (2 Corinthians 6:18-7:1).

“God’s Seed” in 1 John 3:9 – (Greek word “sperma“) – The seed of divine life introduced into a believer by the Father through the Holy Spirit; the provision of a new family name and identity; the miraculous infusion of the Father’s DNA, a new spiritual genetic framework within a believer; the transmission of new characteristics from the Father with a new heredity as a child of God; through His spiritual seed, God “fathers-forth” a new race in Christ.

“People conceived into life by the Father don’t make a habitual practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. His principle of life is at work in them. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to deliberately and knowingly practice sin. After all, they are children of the Father! They have His nature permanently within them! Whoever has been born of God will refuse to keep sinning, because they have been fathered by God Himself, and contain His nature. Here is how God’s children can be clearly distinguished from the Devil’s children: Anyone who does not demonstrate righteousness does not belong to God, nor does the one who refuses to love fellow believers.” (1 John 3:9-10.)

“Abba” in Romans 8:15 – An Aramaic word that is a child’s affectionate term for father; a title that directly addresses the father in a family setting, much like ‘Dad’ or ‘Papa’; a word that assumes a profound personal relationship between child and father; a believer’s term of honor and intimacy that refers to God as Beloved Father.

“All who are guided by the Spirit of God are indeed children of God. The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. You have received the Spirit of adoption, of full acceptance, enfolding you into the family of God. You received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as his own children. You will never feel orphaned, for as He rises up within us our spirits join Him in crying out ‘Abba! Father!’ In the bliss of our adoption we say ‘Beloved Father!’ For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as He whispers into our innermost being, ‘You are God’s beloved child.’ We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”  (Romans 8:14-16. )

“Imitate” in Ephesians 5:1 – mimic, copy, play a role, play an active part; in context, “imitate” means to take on God’s character and live into His thoughts and deeds and integrity.

“As God’s dear children, take Him as your pattern. Be imitators of God. Copy Him and follow His example, as well-behaved children imitate their father. Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as His beloved sons and daughters.”  (Ephesians 5:1.).

“Perfect” in Matthew 5:48 – whole, complete, fully mature, lacking nothing, well-rounded; in the context, “perfect” means completely moral; fully mature in character; well-rounded in virtue; lacking nothing in godliness.

“Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven, you are to be perfect like Him. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. Set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to  His. Grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character toward the ultimate goal of perfection. Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48.) 

So when Jesus instructs His followers to boldly pray “Our Father,” what kind of Father was He thinking of? What image of Father did Jesus want to communicate? If Jesus wanted His description of the Father to match up with His experience of the Father, wouldn’t it help us if Jesus defined what He meant by Father? If Jesus wants to unpack the Father for us, it’s time to drop whatever we’re doing and take heed. True to form, Jesus did leave us His picture of the Father by building on the Hebrew Bible and then expanding on OT Scripture in His words in the Gospel.

Father God in the Hebrew Bible. The term Father is used about a dozen times in the OT in connection with God, but only through comparisons and God’s self-descriptions. God is never directly addressed as Father, person-to-Person. Father was not used as a title in personally addressing God. Biblical scholar Kenneth Bailey said, “To say ‘You care for us like a father,’ or even ‘You are a father,’ is one thing. But to say, ‘Good morning, Father’ is quite different.” In addressing God as Abba, Jesus seemed to be building on those pieces of Scripture that implied a tender, compassionate, approachable God the Father. Scriptures like these:

  1. Even to old age and gray hairs I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4).
  2. “You saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child.” (Deut. 1:31).
  3. “When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms. But they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? I can’t bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest. All my compassion is aroused. For I am God, and not human – the Holy One among you.” (Hosea 11:1-9, NIV and MSG).

The Old Testament clearly does not portray God the Father as simply cruel, indifferent, unforgiving, or overbearing. Jesus knew this truth intimately, and so He uses the words of the Hebrew Bible to help form His picture of His heavenly Father. Interestingly enough, Jesus expands on this in the context of a gospel story, a parable intended to teach a lesson to the Pharisees.

The Father in the Prodigal Story. It has been suggested that Jesus wanted to communicate the nature of His Father in this pivotal parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Jesus here shares His own experience with Abba Father. He in  effect defined the meaning and substance of the Father in this parable. In Jesus’ mind, this is what His Father looks like. He in fact is redefining the inaccurate picture of the Father as an overbearing ogre full of power and authority, who loves to punish and threaten, who at times is distant and indifferent and other times a cruel taskmaster. Jesus paints a picture of the Father that contrasts with all that, a Father as Abba, a kind and forgiving God who wants what’s best for each person, a Father who genuinely cares for each person in the human family with an eternal love, who desires an intimate personal relationship with His children. Doesn’t Jesus’ picture of the Father here make you want to be His child? Consider the actions and attitude of the father in this parable:

  1. A father who didn’t take offense when personally rejected by his son and asked to split his inheritance before the father even dies;
  2. A father who patiently endured humiliation at having his own son waste his inheritance;
  3. A father who responded with compassion when his wayward son returns home penniless;
  4. A father who was actively waiting for his son to return, on a continual lookout for his defeated son, a father who seemed poised to show mercy;
  5. A father who publically degraded himself by running, which fathers aren’t supposed to do, to meet his son;
  6. A father who physically embraced his wastral son, saving him from the eventual village gauntlet;
  7. A father who continued to pour out grace and compassion by repeatedly kissing his renegade son. This is a reversal of the typical scenario in which the repentant son is expected to kiss the father’s hands or feet;
  8. A father who restores the prodigal son to full family status, giving him the father’s feasting robe, the family signet ring, and a pair of sandals that would distinguish the son from hired servants;
  9. A father who threw a huge village feast with a fatted calf, feeding at least 100 people. Instead of rejection, the father threw a celebration;
  10. A father who would absorb another public insult by leaving his post as the host at the feast in order to search for his ungrateful elder son;
  11. A father who patiently accepts the elder son’s unwarranted insult and bitter attitude.

This is how the Son pictures the Father. Who wouldn’t join His family? And to think that Jesus wants us to know the Father like He does. Jesus wants us to experience the Father’s love the way He does. Jesus wants us to know those aspects of His character, that He is filled with grace and compassion, forgiveness and patience. Jesus wants us to be the Father’s children. “Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that He has lavished on us! He has called us and made us His very own beloved children!” (1 John 3:1, Passion Transl.).