God Our Father

// June 25th, 2020 // Sermons

What a privilege…  You can listen online or download it and listen later…God Our Father Or you could use this link to watch the whole service on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CpNTmCP73to?t=2650…to be meeting “in-person” – this morning.  This is Father’s Day – I wish all the Father’s a blessed day!  And just to clarify – this service will be posted on YouTube for next Sunday…we will always post it a week later.  That way we can take out those parts that are intended to be private.  If something embarrassing would ever happen, we can just have it removed.  It’s just that easy!

So, what do you preach about on Father’s Day when you have been a pastor for almost 34 years?  Well, a bit ago, in my devotions I read Matt. 6 – the Lord’s Prayer.  It begins with “Our Father…”  I didn’t know that we would be together in the building yet or not.  But, that phrase caught my attention – so that’s where we are today.

I doubt that Jesus intended the Lord’s Prayer to be used in the way that it is among professing Christians today.  I know of many that recite it daily, somewhat like a mantra, or a good luck charm, thinking that when they have repeated these sacred words they have done all that’s required.  I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind.

Our Lord Jesus taught it to a select small group – His disciples.  When it is spoken by the lips of an ungodly man these words are out of place.  For someone to say, “Our Father which art in heaven” when they are not acting like one who is a child of God, is a lie.

If Jesus is not your Savior and you are not living like a child of God, how dare you call Him Your Father!  It is presumptuous and blasphemous to approach God with, “Our Father,” when our heart is still firmly in the grips of sin.  Until you and I can truthfully say, “Our Father which art in heaven,” and follow that up with a life that seeks to honor His holy name, we are merely acting like a hypocrite.

This prayer is a great chart/map, as it were, but to cross the ocean, you need more than a chart/map.  As great as this prayer is, it does not express all I want to say to my Father which is in heaven.  There are sins I must confess and other things that need to be prayed when I come before God in private.  I must pour out my heart as best I can, and I must trust that, as the Scripture says, the Spirit will intercede on my behalf with groanings that are deeper than words.

If a form of prayer is all I need then this is a good.  But, I don’t believe that Christ would tie His disciples to only use this.  As Hebrews says, Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Now, let’s spend some time looking at what this prayer says about “God our Father”.  First,

  1. The 2-Part Relationship that is Implied

“Our Father, which art in heaven…”  There are 2 different relationships that are implied with that simple statement at the start of this prayer.

First,      1) As a Son – very clearly, “Our Father…” must be spoken by a child – a son or daughter.  Knowing who is addressed at Father defines the sense in which we are children of our Father.

There are some who believe in the universal Fatherhood of God – meaning that because we are created by God, therefore we are His sons and daughters – His offspring.  They then conclude that because of this, every person has the right to approach the throne of God, and say, “Our Father which art in heaven.”

I think that is an incorrect understanding – in this prayer we are coming before God, looking to Him not as our Father through creation, but as our Father through adoption, and the new birth.  That is significant.

I believe God has created all things – and that, all the rest are His creation but not His children.  The heavens and the earth, the sea and the fullness thereof – His, but not His children.  He made the angels, who serve God in high and holy position, but not His children.  Nowhere in the Bible are angels called the children of God.  So, we must conclude, that just because everything is God’s creation does not bring them into relationship with God the Father.

You see, something more than being created by Him is needed to constitute the relationship of those who can say, “Our Father which art in heaven.”  You need to have been created and then re-created into His likeness by being adopted into His family.

When we receive the wonderful gift of salvation we are born again, We are washed, cleansed, given a new name, made into a new creation, and  we become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ”.  All made possible through God’s own free, sovereign, unmerited, yet, distinguishing grace.

When we choose to believe in Him, He adopts us into His family, regenerates us by His Holy Spirit, He gives us a new and living hope…all through the resurrection of Jesus.  So, no person has the right to claim God as Father, unless he/she has, by faith, been born again and adopted into God’s family.  This is the requirement for true son-ship!

This relationship also involves love – God is my Father because He loves me!  As a husband to the widows, God is the best of husbands; as a Friend, He is the best of friends – one who sticks closer than a brother; and as Father, He is the best of fathers.

I can still clearly remember when my daughter was born – I remember thinking how I could never love more deeply than at that moment.  And then, a year and nine months later, our older son was born….and my love just expanded to include him.  I thought that is as big as it can get.  But, ten and a half years later, when our second son was born…my heart just seemed to grow bigger.  It’s hard to explain but a wonder to experience.

And then, something happens and they grieve you with their sin – you still love the child but you feel anger rising within you.  I remember disciplining one of my children, with tears in my eyes – I would have preferred taking their punishment in their stead, but then they would have missed learning a valuable lesson.  What parent has not told their child, “This hurts me more than it hurts you!”  And the child is thinking, “I’m not buying this!” 

In Lam. 3:33 we read that God, as our Father, “does not afflict willingly”- The Message reads, He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.”  It is only by His great love and deep wisdom that hard things come into our lives.  But, we need to know that when God calls us sons – that is not a merely title – the title of son carries with it all our Father’s great love for us…way beyond anything we could ever earn or deserve.

But, we need to also know that, this sonship made possible through God’s love, also involves the responsibility of love for God.  And so, we, the chosen ones of all creation, adopted and regenerated, we should readily conclude, together with the psalmist, Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.”   

And so, as we say, “Our Father which art in heaven,” we need to remember that our being sons involves the duty of obedience to God.  I can’t say “My Father,” and then act in direct disobedience and rebellion against Him and His desires for me.  If He truly is my Father, I must heed His commands, not because I dread Him, but because I love him.

C.H. Spurgeon wrote:

“Now for the love I bear his name, What was my gain I count my loss;

I pour contempt on all my shame, And nail my glory to his cross”— to

his cross who loved, and lived, and died for me who loved him not, but who desires now to love him with all my heart, and soul, and strength.

We need to grasp that Sonship, regardless of all the stuff of our fleshly nature, and all the sins that we chase after in temptation…nothing can change the fact that we are a son of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Being a child of God brings with it incredible privileges, way beyond what I have the time to list in their entirety.  But let me recount a few:

I am God’s child: therefore, like the lilies, He will clothe me; He will clothe me with the robe of my Savior’s righteousness, and He has also said that He will put a crown of pure gold on my head and because I’m a child of the King – as His child, I get to wear a royal crown.

If I am His child, He will feed me with everlasting bread because I have already received His Son as my Savior, I have already tasted of the Bread of life.  Like the shepherd in Psalm 23, He provides us with pure water; He that feeds the ravens will provide for His children, as a good farmer provides for all that God has entrusted to him.

Our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him, and as His child, we have a portion in His heart today, and we have been promised a portion in His house tomorrow.

The first part of the relationship that is implied is that of “son”; the 2nd is:

2) As a Brother – The Lord’s Prayer does not start off with “My Father…” – no, it clearly states, “Our Father…”  That phrase very clearly implies that there are others in the family – we know there are many.

“Our Father…”  When you pray that prayer, you need to keep in mind that you are not an “only child” – you have many brothers and sisters.  And, might I add – there are many who you or they don’t know that they are or will be brothers and sisters.

I wonder if there are any here today, or listening to this sermon after the fact, that might be on the verge of being adopted into God’s family.  You have been thinking about it, you know God has been speaking to you about your need to have Him be your Savior and the Lord of your life – is today the day when the adoption will happen.  I would be thrilled if it is!  Would you let me know when you become my brother or sister?

We ought to pray for those who have not been adopted into God’s family yet, for the sheep that are not yet part of the fold.  We need to pray for them, because they don’t know their Father yet.

Jesus has already paid the price so their sins can be forgiven, but they do not know Christ yet.  Our heavenly Father has loved them from before the foundation of the world, but they don’t know Him as their Father.

So, when you say, “Our Father,” you need to be mindful of the many brothers and sisters that may still right now be caught in addictions, or sinful lifestyles, held in Satan’s grip.  We need to pray for those who do not know the Lord that they would hear the good news of salvation and have hearts to receive Him.

“Our Father…” – whether we like it or not, that opening phrase also includes all of those who differ from us in their doctrine.  I believe that many of us will be shocked at who will be heaven and who won’t be.  And, the older I get, the more I realize that, we are most alike as the children of God when we are down or our knees approaching God’s amazing throne of grace.

No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, the nation we come from, how young or old we are, how poor or wealthy we may be, what level of education we have attained, or how successful in life we are….the ground at the foot of the cross is level and when we are on our knees in prayer, we are the closest to our brothers sisters we could ever be.

And yes, pray for those who you know are your brothers and sisters in Christ…“Our Father, which art in heaven.”  And, after we have prayed we should get into the habit of treating them with the respect they deserve at God’s son or daughter.  You shouldn’t be able to stand up from prayer and sneer or scowl at your fellow sibling in Christ.  We must live like we are family – the family of God, the Body of Jesus!

After prayer, may we be motivated to help the needy; cheer the sick; comfort the faint-hearted; break the cycle of systemic racism and minister the grace of God to the suffering.

So, first, we looked at the 2-fold relationship that is implied by those opening words; next, God our Father also speaks of:

  1. The Spirit of Adoption

The Fatherhood of God is visible through the child-ship of the child.

Have you ever thought about it and wonder, what is it, that causes a child to recognize and love his/her father?  No doubt we could come up with hypothetical answers, but when you are a child of a father, then you know what it takes to recognize and love a father.

Let me read a few verses from Rom. 8:12-17…

Do you know what “the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father” – do you know what that is?  It is hard to put into words, but if you have experienced it you will know it.  It is a sweet combination of faith that knows God to be my Father, love that loves Him as my Father, joy that rejoices in Him as my Father, fear/reverence that trembles to disobey Him because He is my Father and a confident affection and trust that relies upon Him, and casts itself wholly on Him, because it knows by the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit, that the God of heaven and earth, is the Father of my heart.

If you have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and you don’t ever want it to end.  To know that when the wind of trouble starts to blow and waves of adversity rise up, how sweet then to say “My Father.”

When the bones are aching and your life is filled with pain – to know that at such a time, you can call out to your Father and He will care for you.  When a pandemic hits and you don’t know if it is a serious threat or if you should fear for your life, to know that because Jesus died for you and the Father loves you…therefore, you can cry out, “Abba Father” and know He hears you and cares about every detail of your life.

Have you received the spirit of adoption?  If not, ye are the most pitied among men.  May God Himself open your eyes so that you can see Him and know Him!  May He teach you how desperately you need Him!  May He lead you to the cross of Jesus Christ, and help you to see what Jesus did when He died on the cross.  Your dying brother made it possible for your sins to be forgiven.  May You be cleansed of all sin through the blood of Jesus that flowed from his open wounds.  And, may you rejoice that you have the honor and privilege to be one of His sacred family.

Finally, #3, I want us to see that in this opening phrase we have…

III. A Double Argument

“Our Father.”  That is to say, “Lord, I want You to hear what I have to say.  You are my Father.”

If I come before a judge as a law-abiding citizen asking for justice, he may grant me a hearing; if I come as a lawbreaker, desiring mercy or favor that I don’t deserve, I have no right to expect that I will be heard.

In contrast, a child, even though they may have done something wrong, they always expect their father will hear what they have to say.

  • If I call Him my King, He could look at me as a rebellious subject and have me removed from His presence.
  • If I call Him my Judge, He could tell me that the testimony against me condemns me.
  • If I call my Creator, He could tell me that He has observed the ways of His creation and that He is sorry He ever created.
  • If I call Him my Preserver, He could tell me that He has done His part but that I have only acted in rebellion against Him.
  • But if I call Him Father, all the wrong things I have ever done could never invalidate my claim to be His child on the basis of His Son. If He is my Father, then I know I am loved by Him.  If I am His child, I know He will hear me when I cry out to Him.

Unlike earthly fathers, when we talk to our heavenly Father, we never need to be afraid that He will misunderstand us.  Even though our words may not make much sense – like a baby making baby sounds – our father still understands us.  Somewhat like a mother that understands all the cries of her little one and knows when it is time to act.

When we come to God, our prayers, even though they are feeble…God hears us.  What an amazing start of a prayer – “Our Father” – in that phrase we find the essence of why God should hear what we have to say.

But there is one more part- “Our Father” implies the opposite of “Dear Stranger”.  I have no right to expect a stranger will give me what I need.  But if I come to a father, I have a sacred claim.  I don’t have to grovel and beg, because He is my Father.

Think of it this opening phrase to the Lord’s Prayer like this:

  • Our Father” – speaks of Community, the fact that we can pray with others, we don’t pray alone.
  • “Our Father – speaks of Family, the fact that I am not left alone and I pray to the One who cares for me.
  • In heaven – speaks of Authority, our struggles here are not alone and we pray to the One who has power to help us.

Every single word is important and necessary.  You and I don’t have a need in our lives that He can’t meet because He’s our Father in heaven – the One who hears and answers prayer.

All that a good father is to his children God is to all who believe in Him, when we approach Him in prayer.  And that is why the most profound prayer you will ever pray is – “Our Father, which art in heaven…”

Jesus gave the disciples a simple prayer because, we are simple people.  If nothing else sticks out in your mind from this morning remember this:  Everything God has for us and all that He is, is wrapped-up in the word “Father.”  When we come to God in Jesus’ name, we are approaching a God who loves us and wants to adopt us into His family.

Is God your Father this morning?

If not, would you like Him to be?  I would love to help complete your adoption…

Let’s pray…

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