Article II, Section A: God the Father
Words for Review from Last Week:
incomprehensible, deism, dualism, pantheism, polytheism, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, righteous
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, and as He does, he instructs them to refer to God as Our Father. In the gospels Jesus refers to God as Father more often than He does any other name or title for God. This paragraph dealing with the first person of the Trinity touches only on the issue of God as Father. To be sure there are many more facets and categories dealing with God, but this brief description is only concerned with God’s governance or economy in time and space over what He has made. Other attributes of God will surface elsewhere in latter articles of this confession, where they will fit better.
Article II, Section A. God the Father
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.
Genesis 1:1; 2:7; Exodus 3:14; 6:2-3; 15:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 19:1-3; Isaiah 43:3,15; 64:8; Jeremiah 10:10; 17:13; Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:11; 23:9; 28:19; Mark 1:9-11; John 4:24; 5:26; 14:6-13; 17:1-8; Acts 1:7; Romans 8:14-15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:6; 12:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 John 5:7.
God as Father reigns . . .
God reigns and rules, but His reign is a fatherly reign. God’s reign over His creation, especially over the sons of Adam, is not the cold, calculated reign of a monarch, but the reign of a father over a household. God is sovereign, no doubt, but His sovereignty is in context of His goodness. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:13
. . . with providential care over His universe, His creatures,
Providence is a word you don’t hear very much any more. In previous centuries in America Providence was commonly used as a name for God. From providence we get the word provide, which is made up of a root and a prefix. The prefix pro gives the meaning of forward or ahead. You see the idea in words like propeller, which pushes a boat forward. When you promote something, you are pushing something forward, setting it out in front, so that it can be seen better. The root of provide comes from the Latin word videre: to see. We see that root word in words like video, visible, and vision. When you put the root and the prefix together, you get to the heart of the meaning of provide. To provide for your family is to see future needs, and then plan accordingly. God’s providential care is exactly like that. His seeing of future needs aren’t just good guessing, wisdom, or insight. The eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-seeing God of the universe sees and knows all things, past, present, and future. Those categories of time and space have no meaning in eternity. The Bible says that He sees the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:10
One of the most touching stories found in the pages of the Old Testament is found in Genesis chapter 22, where God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him up on mountain top in the land of Moriah. The key passage is found in verses 7 and 8 with an exchange between Abraham and his son: And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. And of course, you know the rest of the story. God did provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.
. . . and the flow of the stream of human history . . .
Again, Isaiah 46:10 is a fitting verse: declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ God is in control of all matters in the universe, from the greatest to the smallest. His providence extends even to the flow of the stream of human history.
. . . according to the purposes of His grace.
First of all, God is a gracious God. He hasn’t left us in our sins, He graciously has made a way to be reconciled to Him. Secondly, all of the flow of the stream of human history is according to His purpose, which is gracious. We cannot see the big picture, because we are not God, so, much of what we see seems to us not to be good. Why is there evil in the world? Why are there natural disasters that kill and injure “indiscriminately”? We have so many of these kind of questions. The short answer to the situation in general is all about sin. As transgressors of a just and holy God, we don’t deserve even a fraction of the good we do receive. God could have consigned us all to Hell immediately as he did the angels who rebelled against Him (2 Peter 2:4). Paul’s praise of God’s grace in Ephesians 1 is a good place to begin to see the gracious purposes of our God and Father.
He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise.
Here is an echo from the opening paragraph of the article, namely a quartet of absolutes. God is not just the most powerful, most knowing, most living, most wise. When God finishes showing Job who He is in chapters 38 through 41, Job responds by saying “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) To get a small peek at what it means to be all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise, you should read these four chapters in Job.
God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
When God saves us He adopts us into His family. We enjoy all of the privileges of sonship.
- But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12
- For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17
- . . . to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:5-7
He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.
Sometimes called common grace, God takes good care of all men, whether lost or saved. This bountiful common grace provides an opportunity to repent and believe. God reveals Himself as good to all mankind, by not giving us, as sinners, what we deserve on the spot.
- Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17
- And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:26-30
This brief paragraph on the first person of the Trinity is by no means exhaustive, but there is plenty here to get us started on the majesty and splendor of our great God. Next week we are on to the second section in Article II, God the Son.
A great audio clip to get you fired up about the names of God is S. M. Lockridge’s My King.
R. C. Sproul’s audio series on The Names of God is an excellent survey of the meanings and significance of the names of God. You can order the CD Series from Ligonier Ministries, or you can listen to the streaming audio, which happens to have just finished airing, online from Ligonier’s 30-day archive page (for the next few weeks from this post’s posting).