[11 minute read]
In these Doctrine Illuminated articles, the core beliefs of Addison Street Community Church are fleshed out in more detail. Begin by examining the section of the Doctrinal Confession, found at the top, and then discover an explanation of each of its lines below.
Section 3. God the Father.
“We believe in God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity. As a spirit, He is infinite, self-sufficient and unchangeable. As Father, He is the source of all things seen and unseen, the fountain of love, generosity, wisdom, truth and holiness. In creation, He is the Father of all mankind. He is Father to the Son with whom He sends the Spirit. He is the Sovereign Sustainer over all things, and by His decree of adoption, He becomes Father to all who come to His Son by faith.”
Have you ever wondered if God cares about you? If he loves you with a personal love? Then every time you call on God as Father, you should be warmed by the reality that he does care about you, and he does love you like a father loves his very own child. The problem for some people, though, is that they have a great father, and they think, “God must be exactly like my father!” When in reality, God is infinitely greater than even the best dads. The issue for others is that they’re estranged from this very important relationship, and transpose their ill-feeling towards their earthly father onto the spiritual, heavenly Father. But here, too, God’s Fatherhood shatters these limited categories. The language of God as Father is what we call analogous language. God uses human language (that is, “father”) to communicate something about his character. He’s like a Father. A really, really, really good Father. A perfect Father—unlike any other father.
“We believe in God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity.”
As Jesus conversed with some Jews he said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (John 8:42, ESV). Here we see at least two things about the Fatherhood of God. First, Jesus assumes that the Jews could be God’s children, which would in turn mean that God could be called their Father. Second, he shows how he himself is from God. Translation: God is Jesus’ Father. We believe in God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, because he shows himself to be a Father to his people in history, and Jesus calls him by that such intensely intimate name. I wonder if you know God at such a personal level that you both call him Father, and relate to him the way a little child relates to their father?
“As a spirit, He is infinite, self-sufficient and unchangeable.”
Since the Father is one of the three persons of the Trinity, what Jesus says about him in John 4 is telling. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). As a spirit, God is unseen right now. In his essence as spirit, he has no beginning of days, nor end of days—he’s infinite. There’s never been a time when he didn’t exist, nor will there ever be a day when he ceases to exist. He has no needs, since he’s the maker of all things, and he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t you desire some consistency in your life? Then if you’ve come to love God the Father, you’re right where you should be. His love as a Father endures to you forever and ever.
“As Father, He is the source of all things seen and unseen.”
In an exemplary prayer, Ezra the priest says, “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you” (Nehemiah 9:6). Here’s the reality: good theology is prayed. Never just talked about or written or preached. Always prayed. Have you marveled in prayer that the Father is the source of all things? Every star in the galaxy? Every grain of sand on the seashore? Every little image-bearer you see walking down the street? Take time even now to marvel at the generator of all things seen and unseen.
“He is the fountain of love, generosity, wisdom, truth and holiness.”
This God who never changes is said to have some absolutely astounding attributes. Look again at how the psalmist prays his theology about God. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:8–9). The Father is a never-ending fountain of love, generosity, wisdom, truth and holiness. Have you drunk from this fountain and been filled to the brim with his amazing love?
“In creation, He is the Father of all mankind.”
A father is the origin of his child. So too, the heavenly Father is the origin of all people. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ ” (Genesis 1:26). So, yes, God’s covenant community that is distinguished by faith in Jesus Christ has a special claim on calling God their Father, and yet at the same time, God is the father of all people, whether they belong to Christ or not—simply by nature of him creating them (see, for e.g. Ephesians 3:15). Think about how this simple fact allows you to connect with, love and appreciate every person you come into contact with.
“He is Father to the Son with whom He sends the Spirit.”
Christ the Son was set apart for his ministry with these words, “…You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). Christ Jesus is God’s Son. And together they send the Holy Spirit to their children. “… when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26–27). This amazing Father makes his love and presence known by the third person of the Trinity, his Spirit. Are you walking daily in the love that God has for his true Son, and by the constant power of the Holy Spirit?
“He is the Sovereign Sustainer over all things.”
What’s the glue behind the entire universe holding everything in place? “In him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28. See also Hebrews 1:3). The fact that anything exists and is being sustained in this very moment is evidence of God’s Fatherly care. He’s the sustainer of all things—yourself included. Your next breath is evidence that God cares for you as your perfect Father.
“By His decree of adoption, He becomes Father to all who come to His Son by faith.”
This is one of the primary goals of Christ’s atoning and justifying work on the cross: to make his followers God’s children. Paul asserts, “…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!’ ” (Romans 8:15). God the Father who created you as his child has adopted you back into his family after you stormed off and distanced yourself from him through your sin and rebellion. But now he extends his gracious adoption to anyone who would come to his Son by faith. Do you truly know God as your Father?
And there’s no better way to respond to such amazing truth than by praising. The Father isn’t merely a person of the Trinity to be studied, but a God to be loved with strong affection. Again, someone rightly prays their theology: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11). So, you too should pray the rich truth you know about God your Father.