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Doctrine Illuminated: God the Father

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[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.


Doctrine Illuminated: God the Son (18min read)

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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 4.  God the Son.  
"We believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human and, in Christ’s person, these two natures exist without confusion and without change, yet also without division and without separation. He was conceived supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit and borne by the Virgin Mary. We believe Christ lived a completely perfect and sinless life, yet he was tempted as all humans are. We believe that Christ came as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and of the three major Old Testament offices: prophet, priest, and king: As prophet, Christ reveals the Father; Christ, as our high priest, mediates between humanity and God; finally, as our king, Christ is presently ruling over the Church."

Every heresy is almost always at some level a Christological heresy. John Calvin is quoted as saying, “As Christ is the end of the Law and the Gospel and has within Himself all the treasures of wisdom and understanding, so also is He the mark at which all heretics aim and direct their arrows.” Correctly understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ is foundational to the Christian faith (hence Christ-ian). Where we misunderstand Christ, there is a trickle-down effect to the rest of our beliefs and lives. Christ is the crux of the Christian faith and the whole of Scripture ultimately points to him.

“We believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human.”

This is the most profound mystery of Scripture, yet it is the most elementary and foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Every other doctrine or teaching stems from this confession about Jesus Christ. John 1:14 says, “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word refers to the second member of the Trinity, the Son of God. John 1:1 tells about the eternality of the Word and now we see that he becomes flesh and dwells with mankind. The Greek word for dwell literally means “to tabernacle”, a reference to the Old Testament dwelling place of God before the temple. The Word, without ceasing to be God, becomes man in the person of Jesus. And this ought to be regarded as really good news, as God, who was distant and apart from us due to our sin, has drawn near to us by becoming flesh that he might redeem us.

“In Christ’s person, these two natures exist without confusion and without change, yet also without division and without separation.”

Jesus doesn’t just have two sides to himself, a God side and a man side, that he might oscillate between the two. No, Jesus Christ brings his two natures, Divine and human, into union in his own being. Christ, by nature of being fully God and fully man, brings reconciliation between God and humanity. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Jesus, therefore, is not partly God and partly man. He possesses the fullness of deity in a body that is truly a human body. Furthermore, now that he has taken on flesh, he does not elect to “take it off” so to speak at either his resurrection or ascension. Instead of taking off flesh, he has taken up flesh. Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father where he currently exists. This means that the bodies we now have are important, as Jesus did not merely dispose of his body, but it is his very body glorified that he now exists in. Let us then not neglect our fleshly bodies or consider them to be of no importance. Instead, let us regard our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, considering that we do not exist apart from a body, but as embodied souls.

“He was conceived supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit and borne by the Virgin Mary.”

Christ’s birth is the most miraculous in the Bible. Matthew 1:22-23 says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Christ’s birth by the virgin Mary is significant in that it is the foremost example of God being the author of life. A virgin conceiving is something that can only be made possible by the miracle-working hand of God. Yet, Mary ought not to be regarded as a sort of human surrogate for the divine seed. No, but as Christ is truly begotten of the Father, he is truly begotten of Mary, that is of real flesh—sharing her own DNA. Christ has condescended so near to us that he has taken on our own flesh to redeem us. Rejoice, for Christ has real human flesh and can relate to us. We do not serve a God who is far off from us, but one that penetrates to the deepest parts of our existence to save us. 

“We believe Christ lived a completely perfect and sinless life, yet he was tempted as all humans are.”

Christ’s humanity is good news in that it is a humanity we are familiar with. Christ does not merely appear to be human, but in every respect, he is truly human! Along with this comes the reality we all face of temptation to sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” As Christ assumes a humanity in a condition in need of redemption, he himself lives sinlessly. He sinlessly assumes a sinful condition so that he could sanctify and glorify a body under that sinful condition. Where this affects us is that we now have hope in what was once a hopeless state. Our hope is that Christ accomplished for us righteousness, holiness, and glorification where we, plagued by sin, were unable to do so for ourselves. We receive all these things in Christ, which is to say basis on our union with Christ. Christ became flesh so that we might be made one flesh with him, and thus receive the aforementioned benefits. It is because of this union we have with him, a true one-flesh union, in which we receive these benefits.

“We believe that Christ came as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.”

The Old Testament is littered with prophecies on the coming Messiah. And this was certainly on the minds of Jewish people during the time of Christ’s incarnation when the Messianic expectation was rather strong. Luke 24:44 says, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” Jesus recognizes and declares that he is the fulfillment of prophecies put forth in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. It’s not only that Christ fulfills everything in the prophets, but that he also fulfills everything the Law and the Psalms. There is no other one to come, nor does Jesus leave any stone unturned or prophecy unfulfilled. He meticulously fulfills all of Scripture when he comes. For this reason, we ought not to think about God as being of a different character in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. Furthermore, we ought not to think that there is a God behind the back of Jesus. Christ perfectly reveals the Father as he totally fulfills scripture, authenticating both Testaments of Scripture as an effective witness to God.

“[Christ fulfilled] the three major Old Testament offices: prophet, priest, and king.”

The doctrine of the three offices of Christ essentially says that there were three offices in the Old Testament by which God mediated his presence to his people. These three offices were prophet, priest, and king. In the following few paragraphs we’ll flesh out how Christ fulfills all three offices in himself.

“As prophet, Christ reveals the Father.”

Prophets in the Old Testament would often use the phrase “thus says the Lord” when addressing their crowd. Prophets of God were not sent to further their own agenda, but to simply and only speak as the Lord God gave them the words to say. In so doing, they are revealing the God whose words they are communicating. So it is with Christ. In John 5:30 Jesus says, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus is not intending to reveal anything or anyone but the Father who sent him. Furthermore, Christ can reveal God because he is from God, and because he is God. When Christ speaks, it is a perfect testimony to the Father. The Son only speaks according to the will of the Father, so when he does speak it is as an exact representation of the Father. There is no God behind the back of Jesus, for when Christ speaks it is truly the voice of the God being heard. For the church, we can take heart knowing that Christ reveals the Father to us.

“Christ, as our high priest, mediates between humanity and God.”

The priesthood in the Old Testament had the privilege of dwelling in nearness to God and spending their lives in service to God. Within the priesthood, there was one—the high priest—that had the distinct honor of going into the most holy place in the temple. This was only done once a year, on the Day of Atonement, when the priest would offer the sacrifice for the nation. Even though this was only one man and one day that he was permitted to enter the most sacred place of God’s presence, there were still many stipulations that must have been followed, or else the priest would be annihilated by the holiness of God’s presence. As such, the presence of God was mostly inaccessible. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Now, Christ is our perfect high priest. As the God-man, Jesus Christ mediates the presence of humanity to God as well as the presence of God to humanity. He exists constantly in the fullest measure of the presence of God. As for the saints, we can experience the fullness of the presence of God ourselves! Since we are made one with our Savior, we can enter the most holy place of God’s presence based on his righteousness. Would we have attempted to enter on our own we would fail, but in Christ, we can know the most real and true sense of God’s presence.

“As our king, Christ is presently ruling over the Church.”

Often lost on us is the marvelous privilege that the church has to have Christ as her king. While kings in the Old Testament contained a more obvious and visible role of authority, acknowledging Christ as king can be more difficult given that his kingdom is not of this world. Still, Christ is to have a commanding and authoritative presence over his church, to lead her, and to protect her. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “[God] put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” As our head, Christ is the one who makes the decisions and acts as the leader. His intention is to build up the church, to make his bride holy. As the church, we must know that Christ is our king, but our kingdom is not a political one. We need not seek to establish ourselves politically, nor should we be disheartened when our respective countries seek to discriminate against us. Our kingdom is a spiritual one, where Christ is on the throne. Ultimately, Christ will reign on the throne forever as our perfect and ideal king. We trust that Christ is reigning in the church now, and we look forward to the eternal kingdom that is yet to come.

I pray that this article—and more importantly the references to Scripture— proved helpful in obtaining a robust view of Jesus Christ. What we say about Christ is absolutely imperative as to the way we then function as his church. Knowing that we have immense benefits in Christ is only Good News since we know Christ himself. I pray that the Spirit would minister to you that very presence of Christ, who desires to know you in a nearness, not from a distance. For the sinner, who has never known Christ, I call you to repent and believe this marvelous good news, that God became man, true man, in the person of Jesus Christ. Today could be the day of your salvation. For the saint, no matter how long you have been walking with Jesus, I pray that you would continue to apprehend our Lord and press deeper into your union with Christ. I pray that you would continue to enjoy the blessings conferred to you based on this relationship and that you would find solace nowhere else but at the feet of our prophet, priest, and king—Jesus Christ.


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