The Fatherhood of God: A Sermon Summary

How does your relationship with your father mirror and reflect your relationship with your Heavenly Father?  Maybe this is something you’ve thought about a lot, maybe it’s a new thought – but the more you think about it the more I’m convinced you’ll find many parallels.

The Big Question today is this: If I am painting a portrait of God for my children, what does He look like?  Is this portrait anywhere close to the one painted throughout Scripture.

I want us to look at the Fatherhood of God through three lenses: God’s Authority, God’s Provision, and God’s Love.  Fathers can faithfully reflect these characteristics of God, or they can greatly harm our view of God by abusing or neglecting these characteristics.

Before moving on, there are a few important qualifications that need to be made:

  1. Even if you aren’t a father, this sermon is for you because it is mostly about who your Heavenly Father is.
  2. If you aren’t married, let these characteristics of God guide you young men as you grow in biblical manhood, and let them guide you young women as you consider relationships and future marriage.
  3. If you compare your father to your Heavenly Father, guess who will come up short?  Don’t forget that as long as your father has breath in his lungs he will be a work in progress.  Give grace to your dad, and remember that you aren’t the perfect son/daughter either!
  4. If you have an absent or abusive father, You need to be assured of two things: First, God will never abandon you; and second, God will not abuse you.

God’s Authority
In the midst of his suffering, Job cried out in self-justification that God had treated him unfairly.  In response, God put Job in his place (Job 38:4-12), essentially saying, “Job, where were you when I created the world?  I didn’t see you there… on what authority are you judging me?”  God does not answer to me or to you.

It is good for my kids to have a healthy fear of me.  Not a fear that causes them to wonder if I will stop loving them or if I will reject them.  But what kind of portrait of God’s authority am I painting for them?  If I let my kids run the house, I am not pointing them to a Heavenly Father who has Authority, but to One who exists to do their bidding.

God’s Provision
One of the clearest ways that God has provided for his people is through Manna.  Imagine being among the Israelites in the exodus.  God has delivered you from slavery, sent the Ten Plagues and has now parted the Red Sea.  But then you start to wonder: Where do we go from here?  What are we going to eat?  How am I going to provide for my family?  The people started to grumble against Moses, and then we read Exodus 16:4-5

God literally made food rain from heaven.  Not just once, but every day (except for the Sabbath, but they were allowed to gather for the Sabbath ahead of time).  God loves to provide for his children (see, Matthew 7:9–11).

Will you trust God to provide, or do you give lip-service when you pray?  When you pray for daily bread, do you grumble and complain as if God was faithless when your food runs out at the end of the day?  When God’s will and your will are not the same, will you still pray, “Thy will be done?”  How I pray, how I make decisions, and how I spend my money will teach my kids whether or not they can rely on God to provide.

God’s Love
The story of Hosea might be the most beautiful portrayal of God’s love in Scripture, obviously excluding the Gospels.  While Hosea doesn’t give us a pattern to pursue in how God wants us to pick a spouse, his life is a clear picture of God’s faithful love for his children.  He marries a woman, Gomer, who time and time again is faithless to him, runs from him, gets herself in danger, and even sells herself into slavery.  But Hosea chases after her and refuses to give up on her, regardless of the cost or sacrifice to himself.  Hosea 3:1 provides a wonderful glimpse into Hosea’s story and its significance.

In the end, after relentlessly forsaking Hosea, Gomer receives Hosea’s love after she had done everything imaginable that could’ve caused him to hate her.  As the Apostle Paul would later write, “but God demonstrates his love for us in that, while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Tying it Together
At the cross we see God’s Authority, God’s Provision, and God’s Love at its finest hour.  (John 3:16–17)

 On the cross God’s authority overcame our sinful rebellion.  We had rejected his authority and put ourselves on his throne.  But God showed his power over sin through the resurrection.  The power of sin is death, and death could not hold him.

 On the cross God provided freedom from eternal judgment by taking the punishment we deserve upon himself.  He paid our debt, he took the punishment we deserved.

On the cross God’s love led him to adopt us as sons and daughters.  It was his love, not the nails, that held Jesus on the cross.  He had the authority to come down from the cross, but his love kept him there so you could be set free.

Regardless of what kind of father you are or what kind of father you have – God’s Fatherhood is perfectly marked by Authority, Provision, and Love.  Be thankful for every way your father has shown forth the faithfulness of your Heavenly Father.  Remember that despite every fault your human father has, your Heavenly Father is perfect.  This is most clearly seen through Jesus Christ on the cross, where we are adopted as children of God.

Rest in your identity as his child, and especially you fathers out there, be encouraged to live in such a way that the portrait of God you are painting for your children is faithful to the picture of God we seek through Scripture.

2013 Summer YG Calendar

There are a few ways you can find the Summer Calendar for youth group this summer.  If you’re reading this post, then you already know this is the best play to find it!  We’ll make sure to include any calendar changes in the weekly bulletin at church, but the calendar tab above is going to be a reliable guide too.

Download the 2013 Summer Calendar here so you can print it out and hang it on your fridge.  You won’t want to miss this stuff!  Addresses are provided through the calendar tab or the pdf above.

2013 Summer Calendar

An Open Letter, from one EBC pastor to a former one…

Hey Robb,

We’ve never actually met, but we have some friends in common through EBC.  You’ve written a book now, and you keep an online blog.  I haven’t read your book (yet, I would like to eventually), but I’ve read your blog a few times when I’ve seen friends link it up on Facebook.  If you were local I’d love to meet up and chat – honestly, I think we’d probably become friends and enjoy each other’s company.  You probably won’t be surprised that we disagree over a number of important theological issues, but I’m not writing to try to start a debate.  Instead, I have another concern: about how you’ve presented your arguments in their tone and in their hermeneutics.  Most recently, you wrote wrote your post “God vs. Rob Bell…” and I just felt compelled to respond to share these two concerns.

I think it’s important to present your argument with the tone and humility that you want to hear from the person you’re disagreeing with… and I don’t think this post reflects what you want to hear from those you’re trying to engage in conversation. I totally understand the frustration you and other must feel because of the trite and overly-simplistic arguments and rebuttals you’ve heard, but if we’re to have this conversation (especially through text, not person-to-person where non-verbals help clarify what we’re saying) then both sides of the conversation need to be humble and stop the shouting.  If I’m going to enter a healthy debate with “Biblical conservatives” and I want them to really hear what I’m going to say and wrestle with my arguments, then I’m just shooting myself in the foot by cussing and typing paragraphs in all caps.

That said, I do respectfully disagree. You’ve heard the arguments, so I’m not going to go down that road. The one thing I will choose to disagree with is when you wrote “The Bible can be easily used to defend both sides of the debate.” I’m not so sure: I’d agree if you take the word “easily” out. Yes, biblical arguments can be made to support both sides.  But the more complicated our hermeneutics need to be to make our case, the more we need to honestly ask ourselves whether or not we’re shaping our hermeneutic to support what we want to hear. Am I seeking God first and foremost? I’m not anti-culture (if anything, I get myself into trouble by embracing the redemption of culture more often than others think I should), so I’m really not writing this from a Christ-Against-Culture perspective. But as we seek to redeem culture, we need to do so while seeking first Christ and his kingdom. I don’t really expect this to be a “debate winner,” but I’m not really looking to be persuasive, just to respectfully throw out a concern (both for myself and for others) to be aware of.

I’ve studied postmodernism and read Rorty and the other pomo linguistic philosophers.  I’m only mentioning that to clarify that I understand those arguments, and there’s a lot of validity in them.  None of us come without biases, but it seems to me that a lot of postmodern Christians seem to use this in support of their interpretation against conservatives without letting that argument cause them to pause long enough to consider how their biases have colored their own interpretation.  There is such thing as authorial intent, right?  If not, then conversation over, and reading Scripture is an exercise in futility because we can just make it mean whatever we want it to mean.

I’ll wrap this up.  I appreciate the conversation you’re trying to have.  I agree that a lot of arguments against homosexuality seem to just throw out a few Bible verses and want to say, “There!  Take that!  It’s a sin.”  I do think those verses mean that, but we need to have more thoughtful, honest, and critical conversations (self-critical first, then critical of the other’s argument).  I apologize if this has come off as harsh or judgmental or anything other than a concerned brother looking to share those concerns and not knowing how else to get them out to you.

Blessings to you through Christ,
Mike McGarry