In last issue’s column, we discussed why the term Father, in a religious context, should be reserved solely for God the Father. I’d like to begin this column with a question: How much do you know about God the Father?
Many churchgoing people think of God the Father as a part of an impossible-to-understand Trinity. (Read what the Bible teaches about this in our Life, Hope & Truth article “The Trinity: What Is It?”) Many also think of Him as the strict God of the Old Testament, in contrast to Christ, viewed as the loving, merciful Lord of the New Testament. Or you may admit you know little about Him.
Though Christianity accepts the existence of the Father, the reality is that He is relegated to the background in many churches. Evangelicals emphasize Jesus as Lord, getting to know Jesus, having a relationship with Jesus, even praying to Jesus. At times the impression is that God the Father has quietly disappeared.
One of the buzz phrases of modern Christianity is “Christ-centered.” Churches label themselves as “Christ-centered” communities. Ministries talk about leading people to Christ and teaching them to live a “Christ-centered” life. Writers talk about a “Christ-centered” approach to everything from parenting to yoga!
There is no doubt about it—Jesus is vital to true Christianity. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (). He is the way to salvation. He is the source of truth. He is the path for an abundant life. But notice what He said at the end of that verse:
“No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus didn’t come just to bring us to Himself—He said one of the principal reasons He came was to lead us to the Father!
In fact, the evening before He was crucified, Jesus made this statement in prayer to His Father: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, emphasis added).
Think about that statement. Jesus said He came to reveal and help us “know” God the Father—and that knowing the Father was necessary for eternal life! Yet many of the churches that claim to follow Christ rarely talk about the Father. They don’t talk about being “Father-centered” or being driven by a mission to “lead people to the Father.” They neglect the Father. Yet Christ said that knowing the Father is essential to have eternal life.
Do you know the Father?
In order to learn about Him, let’s examine some of the important facts Jesus teaches us about the Father in the Gospel accounts.
1. The Father wasn’t widely known before Christ’s coming.
One of the most fascinating truths in the New Testament is that the God the Jews professed to worship—the One who talked to people in the Old Testament—was actually the One who came to earth as Jesus Christ.
John 1 reveals that being as “the Word.” “All things were made through Him” (), and later “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” ( )—coming to earth as Jesus Christ. In fact, when Jesus revealed Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament, it almost got Him killed by a Jewish mob on the spot ( ; see also )!
Jesus also said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).
It wasn’t until Christ came that the Father’s identity was clearly revealed to human beings in plain language (). In fact, the Old Testament primarily tells about the being who became Christ, while the New Testament primarily reveals the Father. Yes, the reality is the exact opposite of the common Christian perception!
To learn more about this crucial topic, read our article “Jesus Christ Was the God of the Old Testament.”
2. Jesus emphasized the Father.
There is more to Christianity than Jesus Christ alone. This may be a paradigm-shattering statement to some in the Christian world. But if we honestly examine the words of Christ, we see that is exactly what He taught.