Communion With the Father ~ 20151101 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/01 Communion With The Father; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20151101_communion-with-father.mp3
We have seen that the clear teaching of the Bible is that the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct someones, that Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God, yet there is only one true God. This is what we mean when we use the word 'trinity' or tri-unity. The one God eternally exists in three distinct someones in relationship with one another. The amazing thing for us is that through Christ we are invited in to this eternal fellowship! We can have fellowship with this triune God! Listen to the opening of John's first letter:
John tells us that we as followers of Jesus have fellowship with one another, and fellowship with the Father and fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ. We are invited in to communion, fellowship, intimacy of relationship with the Father and with his Son, and in this is fullness of joy! Jesus said as much in his prayer to his Father in John 17
Eternal life consists in relationship with the Father and his Son. These are distinct relationships; we know the Father, we have fellowship with the Father, and we have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, we know Jesus. We know Jesus in a different way than we know the Father. We have fellowship separately with the Father and with his Son.
In the benediction or pronouncement of blessing at the end of 2 Corinthians we see we have fellowship also with the Holy Spirit.
This is a fascinating passage. Separate activities are ascribed to the separate persons of the Godhead. Grace is ascribed to Jesus, love to the Father and fellowship to the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that the Jesus and the Spirit do not love or that the Father and the Spirit are not gracious, because there is one God and the three persons each fully share the divine essence, so when we are told that God is love, this characteristic of love equally applies to the Father, Son and Spirit. But love comes from the Father in a particular way, and grace flows particularly through our Lord Jesus Christ. If this blessing is modeled after the Old Testament blessing found in Numbers 6:24, some interesting parallels emerge:
The Father's love is seen in his blessing and keeping; God's grace is seen in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit brings peace as God turns his countenance toward us in reconciled fellowship.
The old creed puts it this way:
We as Christians worship God in trinity and trinity in unity. We do not want to divide the essence; there is only one God; his essential nature is indivisible. Neither do we want to confuse the persons. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit. The Son is not the Spirit or the Father. Our worship is directed to the triune God, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
I would like to take these each in turn. Today we will examine our fellowship with the Father. In what way or ways is he Father? Why does he carry that title? What is his primary role in distinction from the Son and the Spirit? What does it mean to have communion with the Father? Then, in the coming weeks we will turn our attention to the Son and the Spirit.
The Father of Creation
What do we mean when we call God 'Father'? Jesus frequently addressed God as 'Father'. He taught his followers to pray to God as 'Our Father' (Matt.6:9).
In a sense, because God as Creator brought all things into existence, he can be referred to as 'Father'. Paul teaches in Acts 17:
God is the Father of all mankind in the sense that he brought mankind into existence. Paul seems to be speaking in this sense in Ephesians 3:
So there is a sense in which all creation can look to God as Father.
The Father of the Son
But Jesus indicates that his relation to the Father is different from all others. In John 3, in his conversation with Nicodemus, he says:
is the only
Son of God, the only one who descended from heaven, sent by
the Father to save the world. Jesus is the only Son of God in a way
that sets him apart from the rest of creation.
Later in John 3, John the Baptist is pointing to Jesus as one who in every way is so much greater than himself. He says:
John is from the earth. Jesus is from heaven. Jesus is sent by God. The Father loves the Son in a unique way. “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” Two chapters later, Jesus says:
The Father loves the Son. There is a unique inter-trinitarian relationship between the Father and the Son. But someone may say that the Father became the Father and the Son became the Son at the incarnation, when Jesus was born of a virgin. But if we look at Jesus' prayer to his Father in John 17, we see that this relationship between the Father and his only Son predates the incarnation. Jesus says:
The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world. Before anything existed there was the eternal relationship of the Father loving the Son and the Son loving his Father. Isaiah 9:6 hints at this. The one who is called 'Mighty God' is 'a child born'. That refers to the incarnation, when Jesus became human and was born of a virgin. But he is also said to be 'a son given'. He was already the Son, and he was given by his Father to rescue sinners.
I was not always a father. I became a father when I was 27 years old, when I fathered my first child. Before God created anything, he was the Father. He has always existed as Father. His role as Father did not come about when he created. The Father is the Father because of his relationship with his Son. God is unchanging, so there is no time before he was Father, and there is no time before the existence of the Son. This is an eternal relationship. Theologians refer to this as the eternal generation of the Son. By this they do not mean that the Son is eternally being generated by the Father, but that the relationship between the Father and the Son has always existed.
God's Fatherhood is different from ours in at least four ways. God the Father's Fatherhood is absolute. I was a son before I became a father. The Father was never a son. The Father is always and only ever Father. God's fatherhood is efficient. To become a father, I needed the participation of my firstborn's mother. I could not have become a father without her. The bible says nothing of a heavenly mother (other than to condemn this idea as a particularly detestable form of pagan idolatry, cf. Jer.44:17-25). The Son is generated of and by the Father alone. God's fatherhood is an essential relationship. I was by nature human before I became a Father. God in his very nature or essence eternally existed as Father, Son and Spirit. We cannot think of the true God without thinking in terms of Father, Son and Spirit. And it is an eternal relationship. There was never a time before this relationship existed. There was never a time when this relationship between Father and Son came into being (Bavinck, p.305 ff.).
The Father of Adopted Heirs
There is one other sense in which God is Father, and this leads us in to how we have communion specifically with the Father. Galatians 4 tells us:
God sent his Son and gave us his Spirit so that we could relate to him not as slaves but as adopted sons. By the Spirit, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, we can call God “Abba! Father!”. Romans 8 says:
We who have been justified by faith as a gift through the propitiation of Jesus Christ have received the Spirit of adoption as sons. We are adopted children of God. We no longer have the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Our relationship to the Father should not be one characterized by fear.
It was the purpose of Jesus not only to bring us into a relationship with himself, but also into a right relationship with the Father.
The goal of the gospel is to bring us to God. Peter tells us:
Many people falsely caricature God the Father as a grumpy irritable old man who is angry and frequently flies into a rage. But thanks be to Jesus, a much kinder and gentler personality, who persuades his Father, against his will and better judgment, to accept his sacrifice, so the Father is forced to begrudgingly extend mercy to irritating sinners. This caricature is totally contrary to the biblical teaching on the Father, it violates the essential unity of the distinct persons of the Godhead who have one will and purpose, and it is certainly offensive to the Father. Notice who is said to initiate the salvation of sinful mankind. God so love the world that he gave his only Son. God sent forth his Son ...to redeem those who were under the law. Ephesians 1 shows us how we are to think of the Father.
God the Father blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. He chose us. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. This was according to the purpose of the Father's will. It was to the praise of the Father's glorious grace. The Father has blessed us in his Beloved Son. Our response should be 'blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has chosen us and predestined our adoption and purposed our salvation and carried it out by sending his only Son! He did it all in love. What amazing grace the Father has for us!
Listen to what Jesus says in John 16 about his Father:
The Father himself loves you! You can ask the Father directly in my name. The situation is not that you ask me and I pick the best time when the Father is in a good mood and is more apt to respond favorably. No, I do not need to ask the Father on your behalf. The Father himself loves you! The Father loves to give good gifts to his children. Oh how we need to get this. Our fellowship with the Father should be sweet! We come to him as one who of his own free will chose us! He adopted us! He was under no obligation, no compulsion, but he loved us!
Whose love is demonstrated in the death of Christ? God shows his love for us!
Look at a sampling of some other passages that distinguish between the persons of the triune God and their role in our salvation. We already looked at the benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14
Look also at 2 Thessalonians 2:
God chose you to be saved. He called you to belief through our gospel. He destines you for glory. Look also at verses 16-17.
God our Father loved us. He gave us eternal comfort and good hope. Look at the opening of 1 Peter
We are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. It is his purpose and plan to set us apart by the Spirit and save us through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. Or look at Jude's short letter.
Called, beloved, kept in God the Father. Jude closes his letter this way:
Keep yourselves in the love of God. The Father himself loves you! We will close where we began, in 1 John:
Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. In this fellowship, in this communion with the triune God our joy will be complete. Behold the love of the Father!
Now may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead... (Ephesians 1:17-20)
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org