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Your Heavenly Father Knows
by David A. DePra
Jesus Christ came to reveal God to us as our FATHER. Not
only does the very term immediately necessitate RELATIONSHIP, but it also defines to us
what KIND of relationship: A LOVE RELATIONSHIP.
We know that God is to be many things to us. He is to be our provider, healer, salvation, light, strength, refuge, and creator. He is all of those and much more. We have seen how He is to be our GOD in the literal and active sense. But the relationship God most wants to have with us can be boiled down to the simplicity of Him being our Heavenly Father.
Have you ever noticed that when Jesus preached to His disciples about God as both His Father and ours, it was BEFORE the Cross? God was already our Father before the Cross. Yes, after the Cross, WE are more able to enter into that relationship with Him -- because of the change that He has wrought in US. But God Himself didn't need a change of mind, attitude, or heart, to become our Father. He already was our Heavenly Father, going back to Adam. Such was His love from the beginning.
Notice how the book of Hebrews shows God to be our Father, even in the context of Him chastising us for straying out of His will:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourgeth every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons. For what son is he whom the Father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live. For they verily, for a few days, chastened us after their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:5-10)
There are several points brought out in the above as to the
purpose of God's chastisement upon us. First, the word, "chastise." In Greek, it
means, "to train a child." It comes from the very Greek word for
"child." It is therefore fully used with the father/child relationship in mind.
But notice the most important point of Truth in the passage: The reason which God
chastises us as our Father is in order that "we might be partakers of His
holiness." Even in His sometimes difficult chastisements of us, God is doing it for
When God does correct us it is because He loves us -- FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES, HE CHASTISES. In other words, and this is again reflective of His heart, when God acts in a way toward us that we might wrongly interpret as "punishment," it is not. God ALWAYS chastises with the motivation of LOVE. It is for the purpose of correcting us back on course into His will. What God is doing He is doing for our eternal good.
Of course, WE must respond to this chastisement by doing what Hebrews says: "Be in subjection to the Father and live. We always have the option of refusing to submit to the chastisements of God. We can decide that we will take possession of our own lives.
It is somewhat amazing how whether we submit to God's correction to us as son affects our revelation of Him as our Father. If we do submit to Him, and allow Him to have His way with us, we will see Him more and more as a loving Heavenly Father. But when we DO NOT subject ourselves to Him, we tend to view His chastisement toward us as the punishment of a HARSH GOD who is angry with us. What is our vision of Him so affected?
Because we always see God through our heart attitude, not through doctrines or theological arguments. If we resist God, we will see Him as being unfair and mean. If we submit to Him, we'll see Him as loving and kind. Our submission opens us up for knowledge of the Truth.
Just look at the relationship between a earthly father and son. When, as a child, you got mad at your earthly parent, it was usually because they were blocking your will. So, to you, they were mean. It would only be years later that you could look back and say, "They really did know best." So it is with God. He ALWAYS knows best. But until we submit to Him by faith FIRST, we aren't going to be able to see Him as loving. Because we make Him our enemy, we'll see Him as one.
Once we realize that God is our FATHER, it opens up possibilities that our previous view of Him as merely "Almighty God" could not imagine. A Father who is perfect love is always going to be out for the best interests of His children. He will have one goal in mind -- that we may live -- and do it unto His glory. He will have, as His goal, that we may know Him and experience Him forever. This is expressed by the relationship of the Father to His sons and daughters.
If we stop and think of it for a moment, it is quite an awesome thought to imagine that the very God of the universe would call Himself our Father. It is an amazing thing to grasp, that we could actually have a relationship with God that is compared with the relationship that is intended between an earthly father and a son, for that is an intimate personal relationship, based not on command or demand, based not on fear or threat of punishment, but based on the LOVE which is eternal.
"Your Heavenly Father Knows"
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals God as our Father. We see in His words the revelation of a Father who is concerned about everything we do. We see a Father who is even aware of our needs before we are aware of them.
But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them, for your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matt. 6:7-8)
In these words of Christ, we see much about the
Father heart of God. Jesus is telling us that yes, we should ask God for all that we need.
But we should not feel that we must continue to repeat, over and over again, the same
request because we think that it will be more persuasive to do so. This gives us more than
simple direction for prayer: It says something about the character of God, and His love
towards us. It is saying that God is such a loving Father toward us that we can afford to
believe that making our needs known to Him is enough. Why? Because He makes the effort to
already know about them. He simply wants US to realize them, and for us to realize that HE
is the source for the provision. Jesus is giving us a picture of our Father which
removes the burden from us of thinking that unless we take the initiative, God won't pay
any attention to us. Jesus says, "You need to
realize your need, and that your Father is the provider. Once you ask Him to supply your
need, you can rest assured that He is of such a character and love that you don't need to
be anxiously or fearfully repeating it over and over again. He KNOWS it already, and is
more than willing to provide for you. Trust Him to have heard, and to be acting according
to His Highest love for you."
The Father which Jesus revealed was just that close to us. He knows our need before we ask, and is so much on the scene that we need not grow over anxious as to whether He cares enough to hear us. He loves us as our Heavenly Father.
This does not means that it is wrong of us to ask the Father more than once for the same thing, or that He will not hear us if we are anxious about it in our asking. It is just a simple comfort from Jesus to the effect that it isn't OUR anxiousness and repetitions in prayer that are somehow "twisting" God's arm. He ALREADY knows what we need. We can believe and rest in that Truth.
"Fervent" prayer is not fearful, anxious prayer. It is based on my faith in a God who ALREADY knows, and ALREADY cares for me, and will center on my seeking to discern HIS will.
Taking No Anxious Thought
In Matthew 6:19-34, we see Jesus revealing God as our Father
once again. He shows in specific terms exactly how much God both KNOWS and CARES for us.
Once again, this is not merely "sound advice" Jesus is giving to us about how to
take our needs to God. It is also a revelation of the Father heart of God toward us.
For instance, we are told NOT to lay up treasures for ourselves upon the earth, but instead in heaven. (6:19-21) Jesus goes on to tell us that we should take no "anxious thought," about the basic necessities of life. But the fact is, if God did not care for us, such that we can trust Him, we would be FOOLS to follow this counsel of Jesus.
Really? Sure. Just imagine how foolish it would be to trust someone who has no intention of helping us. Remember. Jesus is not here talking about some far-out request we might make of God. He is talking about basic needs. He is telling us that the proper adjustment is to trust God for these. So if we go ahead and trust an untrustworthy god, we would be fools.
It gets worse from there. If Jesus is telling us to trust God for basic needs, even though we may not see how He will provide them, what kind of Saviour do we have if God is NOT to be trusted in this way? A pretty wicked one. Imagine telling someone that they can rely upon you and all the time knowing you have no intention of helping them. What could be more cruel.
The fact is, either what Jesus said is true, or it isn't. If it is true - if God does care - then we need to trust Him. We would, as Jesus said, be fools not to trust Him. But if it isn't true, then we'd be fools to trust God. Indeed, we then have a Bible which is filled with vain promises.
The ONLY way in which the words of Jesus can be sane, is for God to be exactly as Jesus reveals Him --- our Heavenly Father, who cares for us and will not let us down. He knows our needs ahead of time, and will provide for them.
Serving God or Mammon
Beginning in verse 24 of the same chapter, we have the
statement, "You cannot serve God and mammon." What exactly is
"mammon?" And what does it mean to "serve mammon?" We need to
understand this, because it is really the opposite of walking with God as our Heavenly
The word for "mammon" came to mean "riches," and the context does lend itself to that. However, the root of the word really means, "that which was to be trusted in." So in other words, mammon is really anything that I might put my trust in, other than my Heavenly Father. This could include myself, riches, talents, another person, or a group of people. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both; that we are not going to be able to eventually keep from coming to hate the one and loving the other.
Now to understand exactly what Jesus is saying, we need to notice the very next word after the statement, "You cannot serve God and mammon." What is it? "Therefore ... ". He then gives us "the therefore" of His statement. He tells us to "take no anxious thought for our lives." So in putting this together, we have "You cannot serve God and mammon, therefore take no anxious thought for your lives."
Do we see what He is saying? He is telling us that 'taking anxious thought for our lives" IS "serving mammon." It IS. Because if we were trusting God, we wouldn't be "taking anxious thought." We'd be trusting Him. It is only when we are serving the wrong master that we get into the realm of fear and anxious thought.
The Greek word translated "anxious" here is an interesting one. It means, "to be drawn in different directions at once." The implication is obvious. Serving God and mammon IS a matter being torn in two directions at once. And as mentioned, it WILL result in taking anxious thought. So clearly, anxious thoughts about basic necessities are indeed symtoms of serving God and mammon. They are a sure sign of being double minded.
Jesus is not telling us to stop thinking of the things that matter to us. He is not saying to stop thinking about possibilities, or to never plan ahead. He is saying that God is of such a character as our Heavenly Father, that if we would see it, it would result in our completely trusting Him -- to the point where any "anxiousness" would cease. We would see Him as the loving, caring, and involved Father that He is.
We see this in the natural with children and their parents. The parents are looked to as the providers of those who cannot provide for themselves. When the children know this and are confident of it, they do not take any anxious thought at all about where the next meal will come from. They simply trust their father or mother to have it under control. They know they are loved. So it is to be between us and our Heavenly Father.
Seek First the Kingdom
Jesus then goes on to relate to us the Father's care for the
birds of the air, who do not sow, reap, or gather. He tells us of how much more value we
are than they. He tells us in another passage that not one bird can fall to the ground
unless our Heavenly Father knows about it. Jesus also gives the example of the lilies of
the field, and the fact that being anxious about our stature or height will not change a
thing about it. He is showing us the folly of worrying about things that we not only
cannot change, but about that which the Father already knows about and has provision for.
Then Jesus makes the pivitol statement:
For your Heavenly Father KNOWS that
you have need of all these things. But SEEK YE FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33)
Jesus tells us that the reason we can afford to seek the
Kingdom of God and His righteousness FIRST, and take no anxious thought about all else, is
that our Heavenly Father knows we need all else, and that He will add it to us. Jesus
In this we see an automatic principle of the kingdom of God. Seek first the kingdom, and the righteousness of God, and you will have everything you need as a by-product. But if you choose to serve mammon, then THAT will be your basis for provision. What you need will not be provided by God. It will be provided by your master, mammon.
Mammon provides lots of people with lots of stuff. No one ever said that serving mammon will result in poverty. It might result in great wealth and provision. But it is all temporal. God wants us to seek the kingdom of God, and we will have HIS WILL. It will be enough, and it will be eternal.
We have such a Father in heaven that we are able to absolutely base our life on the fact that if we seek Him first, in every way that presents itself to us, that He will add to us all that we need for this life. It is a guarantee, and has the authority of the Father heart of God behind it.
Sons and NOT Slaves
God draws a continual contrast between the fact that, in Christ, we are no longer slaves, but instead sons of God. The main note that is struck by this contrast is that God seeks a love relationship with us - not a fear relationship, typified by being a slave.
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you FRIENDS, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
Jesus doesn't use the term, "sons," but the
application stands. Also, Jesus is not our father, but our relationship with Him is also
of LOVE. The whole passage is contrasting our real relationship of love with Him, over and
against one of fear.
A slave is not on intimate terms with his master. He obeys the master only because he HAS to. He really doesn't LOVE the master, and the master's interests are only put at the center of his life because of the FEAR of punishment if he does otherwise. But a "friend," would show a love relationship. "Friend" speaks of an intimate relationship, based on trust and LOVE.
Jesus is showing that His heart's desire is NOT that we remain in obedience to Him because we FEAR not to, as a slave would with his master, but that we would allow Him to have His way in our lives because we "know what He is doing," that is, we are close enough to His heart that we will obey Him out of sheer LOVE for Him.
This is the kind of relationship that cannot be "faked." This isn't just a case of walking around with a "pasted-on" smile, and praising the Lord, all the while I am fearful of Him, and resistant to Him on the inside. It is a relationship which is real - based on intimate knowledge of a Person. It is a relationship based on love.
Finally, the epistles contrast this business of SONSHIP over and against the slavery relationship as a continual theme:
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to FEAR AGAIN, but you have receive a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cryout, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:14-16)
That term, "Abba, Father," as most people already
know, is one of the most tender and personal terms of endearment there is. It shows an
intimate, tender, and loving relationship between a Father and His children. It fits into
the picture of the Father that Jesus painted on the Sermon on the Mount perfectly -- a
loving Heavenly Father, who cares about everything we are doing, and who is both aware of
all that we need ahead of time, and more than willing to provide for us.
Paul goes on to show us how complete the provision of the Father, by the Holy Spirit is for US.
And in the same way the Spirit also
helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself
intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows
what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will
of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
God is so involved in our lives as our Heavenly Father that He
has even made provision for us when we don't know how to pray. The Holy Spirit will
intercede for us and pray for us according to the will of God. Jesus Christ Himself ever
lives to make intercession for US. The Father heart of God expresses an all encompassing
love for us by doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves -- press through to God,
according to His will, in prayer.
God is Love
When all issues are resolved, things are going
to boil down to the simple truth that God loves us. All the doctrines to explain Him, all
the theological arguments as to why He operates the way He does, and all the insights into
scripture are going to pass away into the fact that our Heavenly Father IS love, and is
incapable of being motivated by anything but love toward us.
God is love. But when the Word of God says, "God is love," it obviously does not mean that He is an abstract emotion, or some kind of a non-living force. No. God is an individual, living being, who thinks, wills, acts, and exists. What it really is saying when it says, "God is love," is that the essence of who He is can be summarized by the word LOVE -- and there is no higher word to convey His totally committed heart to us.
There is no possible way for any earthly language to describe or define an infinite God of love. But the one word that comes the closest, in the Greek, is AGAPE. The word AGAPE necessitates the exercise of the whole being. It is not simply an emotion which rises in our hearts, but it is a principle or life motivation by which one may actually live. It has to do with the will, and the exercise of that will for the purpose of attaining to the highest good for the object of that love.
This then is the real intent of the word, AGAPE. It is the seeking of the highest good for the individual loved, and includes the element of self-sacrifice, if necessary, to achieve such an end.
Thus we have a definition of "agape love," that is, the love of God, and the love which God IS:
Agape love is the unconditional commitment to God's highest for the one loved, regardless of personal cost to them, or to us.
True AGAPE love has that one goal in mind, to the exclusion of
all else: God's highest for the one loved. To fall into God's hands for His highest is the
greatest blessing and the very purpose for which God has made man. Therefore to be
committed to this for each other is the ultimate AGAGE. It is something which transcends
all human relationships, human emotions, and human opinions as to what is best for
someone. AGAPE speaks of total cooperation with God for His highest unto all men.
If loving one another means that we be committed to God's highest for each other, it gives us an idea of God's love for us. God is committed to HIS highest for all of us. He is so committed that He sacrificed His very Son, in order that we might have a way to be born again, and come back to Him. Jesus is so committed to God's highest to us that He gave Himself for us, that He might become that very means of communion with God. The Holy Spirit is so committed to us for God's highest, that He unceasingly desires to triumph in us over all that would keep us from it, and to reveal to us the Truth in Christ.
Jesus, the Love of God
In Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17, He closed His discourse with these words, and they fitly express His desire that we might come to know His love:
0h righteous Father, although the world has not known Thee, yet I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou did send Me. And I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou did love Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:25-26)
Jesus was the true revelation of the heart of God to man, in
living form. He not only came to reveal God as our Father by His words, but He did so by
His very Person: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus Christ was
God's expression of love to man. In Him, and by Him, we see the true heart of God in the
Redemption, and in every other way. He is the expression of God's love to us.
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