Friday, July 30, 2010

This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Father

God is Dad.  Let us not under-emphasize or neglect such an important reality.  If your like me, to say that God is our Father is routine, Christianeze.  We just say it without ever really thinking about what it means.  The next section of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 discusses the foundational doctrine of the Trinity; that is, God is three persons but one nature.  The BF&M 2000 says:

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Gen 1:1; 2:7; Ex 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Lev 22:2; Deut. 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chr 29:10; Ps 19:1-3; Is 43:3,15; 64:8; Jer 10:10; 17:13; Matt 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mk 1:9-11; Jhn 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Rom 8:14-15; 1 Cor 8:6; Gal 4:6; Eph 4:6; Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17; Heb 11:6; 12:9; 1 Pet 1:17; 1John 5:7

The first member of the Trinity is God the Father – God our Dad.  The words our and Dad are purposeful.  If God is Dad, then God is personal, relational, and knowable.  Like any dad, God isn’t distant or cold, but near and intimate.  At the birth of America, the rise of Deism was unmistakable in our nation.  Even the author of our Declaration of Independence was written by a Deist.  Deism affirms the existence of God but holds that He is distant and uninvolved.  God is rather cold in Deism.  But though few today refer to themselves as deist, many (including Christians) hold fast to such a belief (intentionally or not).

How many times have you asked, “where was God when tragedy struck?  Does God even hear my prayers?  Why do I feel so alone?  Has God forgotten me?”  If your like me, all the time.  Every hospital is full of rooms of people asking such questions.  Every funeral is populated by mourning loved ones shedding the tears of such questions.  Every church is full of members putting forth the front that all is good, but inside, they’re decaying.  That promising marriage is falling apart – where is God?  That rebellious child has abandoned their parents rock-solid faith – does God not hear the their prayers?  That young couple desiring to have a child can’t and yet the promiscuous girl too immature to be a mother does – what is God up too?

We’ve all been there.  What hope do we have?  For one, God is Dad.  Such a fundamental understanding of God assures us that our prayers don’t fade in the wind, our questions aren’t empty concerns, and though we are alone, we can be comforted, though we are confused, there are present and real answers, and though life is tough, God is in control, aware, and active.

I’ve learned more about God in the past 22 months than I had the previous 24 years of my life.  Though where I fail as a father, God triumphs as our Dad.  I lock the door at night concerned for the safety of my family, because as dad its my primary responsibility.  I learned to pour formula in a bottle because my son needed me.  I wear a seatbelt because I have a family.  I wrestle with a toddler because I enjoy Elijah’s smile.  I am awake when he is, I run when he is in danger, and of course, I discipline when he is in the wrong.

God is Dad and thankfully He’s better at it than me.

But this language of God as Father, especially in the BF&M 2000, means more than just God’s closeness to His creation.  It also means that God is the source of everything and in “providential care over” everything. To no one’s surprise, Elijah was not dropped off by a stork.  He is the offspring of Amanda and I.  Without our union, Elijah would not exist.  Elijah is here because we are.  Likewise, we are here because God exists.  This means that as Elijah has value to us, so too we are valuable to God.  Issues over life and the protection of life are fundamental because life is a God issue.

God’s providence reminds us that just as creation was purposeful, so is everything else.  Every disaster and every celebration is well within God’s good purpose.  So even when we suffer, we can celebrate knowing that all is not lost, all has a purpose, and God will triumph in the end.  If God is Dad, then God is provident and in control and for that we rejoice.

God the Father is an important doctrine that we dare not take for granted.  If God was not Dad then we are a people without hope.  Let us live in comfort and peace knowing that He who created the world is not a distant, cold God, but an intimate Father that planned my existence and has me in His arms.

For more:
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Scripture  
This is Who WE Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God  

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