While it is not given to the finite mind fully to comprehend the infinite God, it may be observed that some knowledge of Him is available and to enter into it becomes a privilege and duty. He is revealed through nature as its Designer and Creator. God is revealed also through the Scriptures, which directly testify of Him, and through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to reveal Him (John 1:18) and to introduce men to Him (Matt. 11:27). God is to be recognized both as Creator and Father. The human mind seems to comprehend God as Creator more readily than it does as Father. It is more common to investigate the creative activities of God, therefore, than to consider His Fatherhood. In spite of this tendency, there is an extended body of truth bearing on the Fatherhood of God. He has been presented by the Sacred Text as Father in four respects.
1. Of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this point the phrase, "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," used three times (cf. John 20:17; 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3), should be considered. It is quite unlike the more common phrase with which the Apostle opens nearly every one of his Epistles, namely, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3). In the latter passage only the Fatherhood in respect to Christ is asserted, while in the former declaration Christ has been said to sustain a twofold relationship which is first to God and second to the Father. These distinct relationships are not the same. On the side of His humanity, the First Person is said to be His God. On the side of His Deity, the First Person is declared to be His Father. The connection in which the First Person is set forth as His God began with the incarnation and continues as long as His humanity continues. The connection in which the First Person is mentioned as His Father has continued from all eternity and will ever remain as it has been. The First Person is never the God of the Second Person, but His Father in a peculiar sense which belongs more to other spheres of existence than it does to this earthly sphere. The thought of inferiority or succession is not to be included in a divine Father and Son relationship. It is more nearly that of manifestation. There appears to be that in the unique, eternal affiliation between the First and Second Persons of the Godhead which may best be conveyed to the human mind by the pattern of the appellations used for an earthly father and his son. Whenever Christ addressed the First Person as God, it is clearly indicated by so much that He spoke out from His humanity (cf. Matt. 27:46; Heb. 10:7).
The Arian dishonor to Christ raised the contention that Christ, although unique, was inferior to the Father. This evil conception is now perpetuated by Unitarian theology and doubtless is the conviction of most so-called modernist theologians today. Rejection must also be accorded the four beliefs: (a) that Christ became a Son by His incarnation (Luke 1:35), (b) that He became one by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4), (c) that He is one only by virtue of office, and (d) that He is one only by title. It rather was a Son whom God sent into the world, whom He "gave" (cf. Isa. 9:6; John 3:16). The Second Person did become a human son by assumption of human form and He was begotten in His humanity by the Holy Spirit, but that is all far removed from the fact that He was forever the Son of the Father. He was the eternal Son before He came into the world. Other titles—Only Begotten and First Begotten—speak of His Deity and are also eternal in their reference. Christ, being God, is sent forth the Son that He was and is, not however in order to become a Son.
2. Of All Who Believe. A fact infinitely true, yet difficult to believe, is that all who receive Christ (cf. John 6:53), or believe on His name (cf. John 1:12-13), become legitimate offspring of God; they become conformed eventually to the image of God's Son—Christ, which truth requires that they have become actual sons of God, else Christ would not be able to call them brethren (cf. Rom. 8:29), nor could they be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ except they be constituted actual sons of God (Rom. 8:17). To the one thus recreated, the measureless value of his estate does not appear in the present world. It will be the major distinction characterizing throughout eternity those who are sons of God. As His present supreme purpose, God is now "bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10) .
3. Of Israel. Several times God addresses the nation of Israel as a father or as his sons (cf. Ex. 4:22; Deut. 32:6; Isa. 63:16; 64:8). The latter designation when applied to Israel does not intimate that individual Israelites were regenerated sons of God. The term appears to connote national solicitude or fatherhood by reason of parental care for all, much as Jehovah declared Himself to be a husband unto Israel (cf. Jer. 31:32).
4. Of All Men. In tracing the genealogy of Christ back to Adam, Luke accounts for Adam's existence by declaring him to be a son or creation of God (Luke 3:38). This, most evidently, is sonship by right of creation—the only conception of divine fatherhood which an unregenerate person can entertain. The Apostle similarly quotes the pagan poets as asserting that all men are the offspring of God thus (cf. Acts 17:28). All men may indeed be considered sons of God inasmuch as they owe their existence to Him. This greatly restricted conception has been seized upon by modern men, however, as a basis for a supposed universal sonship and universal fatherhood of God on intimate terms. It should be remembered, contrary to such an assumption, that Christ told the very authorities of the Jewish nation how they were children of the devil (cf. John 8:44). Hence sonship that is based on mere existence, which existence but links man to God as Creator, must be far removed from a sonship which is the estate of each believer— regenerated, born of God, and member of the family and household of God as he is.
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