OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” -- Luke 11:13
“Your heavenly Father,” what a delightful name for our God this is. The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that his Father is our Father. He who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our heavenly Father. Do not fail to observe the fact that each of the three Divine Persons is mentioned in this one sentence. God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is speaking about God the Father sending God the Spirit to his elect. -- "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
We have already seen the clarity with which the Scriptures teach the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity, though plainly and unmistakably revealed in the Word of God, is a doctrine far beyond the reach of our puny brains. Precisely because it is such a magnanimous doctrine, it is a doctrine about which confusion abounds. This is nothing new. Throughout the history of the church, heretics have denied the doctrine of the Trinity. Many of those heretics who openly deny or craftily pervert the doctrine of the Trinity are embraced by many as brethren in Christ!
There are some among the papists who would include the virgin Mary (a sinner saved by grace just like we are) in the Godhead. Mormons and Russellites (Jehovah’s Witnesses) deny the eternal Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others of differing sects of heretics deny the doctrine of the Trinity and teach that the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only varying representations of the one God. Some go so far in their abominations as to teach that when sinners are saved by the grace of God, they themselves become divine!
I have no interest in trying to answer all the questions and objections raised by such heretics against the doctrine of the Trinity. But I do want to help you to know what God has revealed about himself in his Word. If we would understand anything at all about the distinct works of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we must not fail to recognize that each of the three Divine Persons in the eternal Godhead is a separate, distinct Person from the others. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit. The Son is not the Father or the Spirit. And the Spirit is not the Son or the Father. Each is distinct from the other. Yet, the Lord our God is one (Deut. 6:4; Zech. 14:9; Mark 12:29; Eph. 4:5; 1 John 5:7).
There are some works ascribed to all three of the Divine Persons, because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one God. Yet, there are some works ascribed specifically to each of the Divine Persons alone, because each is a distinct Person within the eternal Godhead. In this study we will meditate upon the distinct works of God our heavenly Father. There are certain works distinctly ascribed to God the Father in Holy Scripture which cause believing hearts to adore him and rejoice to look up to heaven and call him, “our heavenly Father”.
We commonly speak of the first, second, and third Persons of the Trinity. We call God the Father the first Person, God the Son the second Person, and God the Spirit the third Person. Some ignorantly imagine that to mean that God the Father is the primary Person in the Godhead and that the Son and the Spirit secondary Gods. That is not the case at all. The three Persons of the Holy Trinity are in all things equal to and co-existent with one another. This division (first, second, and third persons) is made simply because our puny brains must have some order in which to think of the infinite God. Let me show you fifteen things that God the Father, our heavenly Father, has done, is doing, and shall hereafter do for his chosen.
1. Our heavenly Father is the eternal Father of the eternal Son (John 1:14).
I will say no more about this great mystery than is plainly revealed in the Word of God. As the Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father from everlasting to everlasting, full of grace and truth, so God the Father is the Father of the Son from eternity. There never was a time when the Son began to be the Son or the Father began to be the Father. Yet, Christ is the eternally begotten Son of the eternally begetting Father. We know no more about the subject than that; and even that is too profound a mystery for us to comprehend. I do not pretend to understand it; but I often contemplate it with utter amazement.
2. We understand and rejoice in the fact that our heavenly Father created the heavens and the earth and all that dwell therein (Heb. 1:1-2).
The creation of all things is ascribed to God the Father. He is here described as creating the worlds by his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That does not mean that the Son was the mere instrument by whom the Father created all things, but that the Father and the Son together are the co-efficient cause and Creator of all things.
3. Our hearts rejoice to know that it is our heavenly father who dictates and rules all the affairs of providence (Rom. 11:33-36; Isa. 46:9-11; Dan. 4:35).
He who is the Captain of the ship of Time, he who sits at the helm of the ship and steers the course of all things, according to the map of his own sovereign purpose, to their appointed destiny is our heavenly Father. Sometimes we have nothing but this to fall back on. But when a person can fall back on this, “My Father did this,” he needs nothing else to fall back on! With confident hearts, in the face of the most tragic of events, believers can and should say, with old Eli, “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Sam. 3:18).
4. Not only does our heavenly father rule all things in providence, he does it according to his own eternal purpose of grace in sovereign predestination.
Do not be afraid of or ashamed of the Bible doctrine of predestination. He who predestinated all things is God, our heavenly Father. He did it from eternity. He did it for the salvation of his elect sons and daughters. And he will never alter his purpose or turn away from the people of his love, for whom he predestined all things (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28-31).
5. God’s eternal purpose of grace in predestination, and his execution of that purpose in providence is according to our heavenly father’s sovereign choice of his people unto salvation in Christ before the world began in eternal election (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
Here again is a display of the distinct persons within the Godhead. The Father chose us to salvation in the Son and through the sanctification of the Spirit to the obtaining of the glory of Christ.
6. Not only did the Father choose to save us, it was our heavenly Father who found a way to save us that is altogether consistent with and honoring to his own glorious holiness, justice, and truth.
Love chose us; but justice demanded satisfaction. Mercy resolved to spare us; but truth said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Grace cried, “Forgive;” but holiness insisted, “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. It must be perfect to be accepted.” Our Heavenly Father looked upon his darling Son (who was willing to live as a man and die as a Substitute for us), and the Father himself willing to sacrifice his dear Son for us, looked upon his chosen and said, Eureka – “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom" (Job 33:24; Ps. 89:19-29).
“Love found a way to redeem my soul,
Love found a way that could make me whole;
Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a away - O praise His name!”
7. Our heavenly Father entered into a covenant with his Son on our behalf for the saving of our souls.
In Hebrews 13:20, this covenant is called “the everlasting covenant.” Frequently, it is called “the new covenant.” It is a covenant made in eternity between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; but it was made for us. In so far as the benefits and blessings of it to us are concerned, it is an unconditional covenant. The Lord God said, “I will love them freely… I will be their God; and they shall be my people.” This everlasting covenant of grace is a sure covenant, a covenant which infallibly secured and guaranteed to God’s elect all the blessings of salvation and eternal life in Christ (Jer. 31:3, 31-34; 32:38-40; 2 Sam. 23:5).
The only condition to the covenant and the blessings of grace and salvation promised in it was the obedience of the Son of God as our Substitute unto death (Heb 13:20). Be sure you understand that there was never the slightest possibility of failure on his part. He was willing to obey. He was able to obey. And he did obey his Father’s will even unto death, even unto the shedding of his blood, the blood of the everlasting covenant.
8. Having found a ransom for our souls, our heavenly Father gave his chosen into the hands of his Son, as sheep into the hands of a shepherd, and trusted him with the salvation of our souls and the glory of his own great name (John 6:39; Eph. 1:12-13).
If God the Father has trusted his glory to his dear Son as our Substitute and Savior and trusted the salvation of our souls to his hands, we can and should trust him with our immortal souls and with all that concerns us. If the Father trusted him, he is a trustworthy Savior.
9. Moreover, our heavenly Father has adopted us into his family as the sons of God from eternity (1 John 3:1-2; Gal. 4:6-7).
John Gill wrote, “This is a privilege that exceeds all others; it is more to be a son than to be a saint; angels are saints, but not sons, they are servants; it is more to be a child of God, than to be redeemed, pardoned, and justified; it is great grace to redeem from slavery, to pardon criminals, and justify the ungodly; but it is another and an higher act of grace to make them sons; and which makes them infinitely more honourable, than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest potentate upon earth; yea, gives them an honour which Adam had not in innocence, nor the angels in heaven, who though sons by creation, yet not by adoption.”
10. Having chosen and adopted us, our heavenly Father accepted us in Christ from eternity (Eph. 1:3-6).
Be sure you do not fail to grasp the teaching of Holy Scripture regarding the matter of the believer’s acceptance before God. Our acceptance is in Christ. Our acceptance is from everlasting to everlasting. Our acceptance is absolute and unconditional. Our acceptance means that God the Father, our heavenly Father, looks upon us in Christ as perfect in him, and has done so from eternity. He declares, “It must be perfect to be accepted!”
11. Being “accepted in the beloved,” our heavenly Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ from eternity and has promised to bless us forever for Christ’s sake (Eph. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:9).
The Lord God commanded Aaron, his high priest, to bless his people symbolically (Num. 6:23) because he had sworn from eternity, for Christ’s sake, saying, “I will bless them” (Num. 6:27).
12. If you want to get some idea of just how great his blessings are, try to get hold of this. -- Our heavenly Father has given his own dear Son for us and to us (2 Cor. 9:15; Isa. 49:8; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 1 John 4:9-10).
The Father gave us his Son in promise before the world began. He gave us his Son in the fulness of time in the incarnation to fulfill all righteousness for us. Our God gave us his Son as a sin-atoning Sacrifice and Substitute at Calvary. Our heavenly Father gave us his Son in regeneration, forming his Son in us by the power of his Holy Spirit. And he will give us his Son in resurrection glory when he brings us into heaven.
13. Our heavenly Father gives his Spirit to all his elect.
He does not give his Spirit to some of his elect and withhold his Spirit from others. The Father gives the Spirit to all the chosen and to all the Redeemed according to his covenant promise and upon the basis of Christ’s intercession (Gal. 3:13-14; John 14:16; 16:8-15). The Holy Spirit is given to every chosen, redeemed sinner as a Sanctifier, Convincer, Comforter, Strengthener, Teacher, Enlightener, Illuminator, Guide, and Seal.
14. Our heavenly Father graciously and effectually teaches chosen sinners, causing us to come to Christ for salvation and life (John 6:44-45; Tit. 2:11-14); and he teaches us his will and his way as we seek it for his glory (Pro. 3:5-6).
15. It is God, our heavenly Father who keeps us in the way of life and grace by his omnipotent, sovereign power (1 Pet. 1:5).
How we ought to rejoice to know that our final salvation, our perseverance and preservation, depend not upon our strength, but his, -- not upon our faithfulness, but his, -- not upon our resolve, but his (Ecc. 3:14; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:24).
“He will keep me `til the river
Rolls its waters at my feet.
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where my Savior I shall meet!”
What a privilege is ours to be the sons and daughters of God Almighty! To lift our hearts to heaven, beholding God upon his throne, and say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!” "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:15-17).