As those made in the image of God we are told to be like Him in perfection, holiness, and so on. If we are to be like God in being a Father it will help us to know what God has revealed about Himself as a Father.
We have a good and clear example here of progressive revelation, that is, how God reveals Himself more fully as the Scripture goes on from the first revelation in the Old Testament to the final and complete revelation as we have it in the New Testament.
God reveals Himself first as the Creator: God, the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, as we profess in the Apostles’ Creed. In the Old Testament God also calls Himself the Father of the nation of Israel as well as the Father of the kings of Israel.
The more personal relationship between God and the believer is often mentioned in the Psalms, where God is said to have pity on those who fear Him, as a human father pities his children.
Searching a concordance will yield many references from the Old Testament. Yet it is in the teachings of our Savior that we find the clearest references to God as the Father of His people. “Clearest” is the operative word here, and it is due to the fact that Jesus makes clear the fact that God is a Father to all who are in Christ by faith. This relationship is special beyond the fact of God being our Creator. It reveals a depth of feeling and intimacy which is not found until our Savior shows that we are God’s children when we believe in His only Son for our salvation. Think of John’s exclamation: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1).
When He speaks of our future in glory this is also carried through, for God tells believers “I will be his God and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7).
Knowing what is true about God as the Father of His children challenges all Christian fathers. He provides for all our needs and is always patiently there for us.
On our part, we will seek to love God our Father since He first loved us. We must reflect that love by keeping His will for our lives before us as family men.
Since the essence of love is to seek and supply what is best for the object of our love, even at the price of self-denial when necessary, such love will characterize Christian fathers. Their priorities will be determined by their calling as fathers who are sons of their Heavenly Father.
In covenant with Him, they will fulfill the pledge they made at baptism for the training of their children in the Christian truth and way. This training does not begin or end with Christian education, be that in a Christian day school or through the increasingly common practice of home-schooling. It will show when the child is yet just a babe in arms, through growing years, even beyond adolescence, for one blessed with children never stops being a father. With wisdom sought from the Heavenly Father, we earthly fathers must never stop striving to live up to the ideal of being role models for our own children.
In Malachi 1 the Lord states “A son honors his father...” and then asks wistfully, “If I am a father, where is the honor due me?”
May the Lord not only bless all Christian fathers in their calling, but may the children of such fathers also honor them as they are called to do by the Lord in His Word.
Rev. Jay A. Wesseling is a retired pastor in the United Reformed Churches of North America. He makes his residence in Sheldon, Iowa.