Oftentimes, when people think of God the Father, they picture a cold, distant, and removed figure. We feel like we can relate to Jesus but not so much the Father. In preaching, we must remember that we preach one God who has revealed himself to us in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each one of these brings out a different aspect for our understanding of God but it is one God who we proclaim. In preaching the doctrine of God the Father, there are many beautiful features about God and how we relate to him that we can display for people.
WE CAN HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
An important aspect of God as our Father is that we can have a relationship with God. As a former Muslim, I came from a religion that did not have this view of God. God was seen more as being transcendent above his creation and therefore, unapproachable. However, the New Testament is clear that what Jesus has secured for those who believe in him is justification before God by paying for our sins on the cross and therefore, he has reconciled us back into a relationship with God as our Father. In John 14-16, Jesus repeatedly makes this clear to his disciples. He tells them that in the Father’s house there are many rooms and that he is preparing a place for them there. He tells them that a day is coming that they can pray and ask the Father directly what they desire in His name. Romans 8 says we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15). And in Matthew 6, he taught his disciples to pray with the opening lines, “Our Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9). This is a truth that is so enormous and too often neglected. Therefore, we need to preach the incredible privilege that has been opened for us to have an intimate relationship with God.
Imagine if you saw your favorite actor or athlete having dinner at a restaurant. There is no way that you could pull up a chair at that table and start a conversation with him. But now imagine if you were his son. His heart would leap with joy if he saw you and he would pull up the chair for you. Similarly, God tells the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 that whoever opens the door for him, he will come in and dine with them. In preaching God as Father, our people need to be reminded that we serve a God that wants us to know him intimately.
WE CAN TRUST GOD
In the 50s, there was a popular TV show called “Father Knows Best” which portrays a character named Jim Anderson who tries to cope with the everyday problems of his growing family. The title itself resonates with our experience with our own children. Every father has had that moment when they are giving what they know to be the best guidance to their child and they see their child neglect it and go their own way. As a father, when I experience this with my children, God is quick to remind me how often I fail to remember that he knows what is best for me and therefore he can be trusted in every situation.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlights this truth with his disciples and those who were listening in. He teaches them that God is a father who can be trusted to give what is best for us. He reminds them that each of them know how to give good gifts to their own children. Then he says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7: 11)
As we preach that God can be trusted to give us what is best, we need to remind our hearers that this means what is best is defined by him and not by us. There are many times when we don’t receive what we want, but it is still what is best for us. The best example of this is when Jesus cries out to the Father before he heads to the cross of his suffering. He asks his Father to allow the cup of suffering to pass him by but then he submits himself to the will of the Father. God didn’t answer the first part of Jesus’ prayer but we know that his will for Jesus turned into glory for Jesus and life for all of us.
WE CAN KNOW THAT WE ARE LOVED BY GOD
It’s one thing to know that God knows what is best for us but it is magnified to the highest level when we understand that he loves us and therefore desires what is best for us. As we preach the doctrine of God the Father, we can remind our listeners that our love for our children is but a glimpse of God’s love for us. He is committed to us and desires for our lives to be full and blessed. Again, this doesn’t mean that our lives will be without hardship but it does mean that God knows and wants and is committed to what is ultimately in our best interest – what will make us more like Christ and bring glory to God. The amazing part of this is that he is committed to this. Because he is committed to it, we know he will fulfill it in our lives. We can know what is best for someone but we prove we love them when we are committed to what is best for them. Our God has proven that he loves us and is committed to us. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) When we remember how much he has loved us by giving up his own son for us, how can we doubt that he loves is in any and every situation of our life?
As we preach our God to the people God has entrusted to our care, may we proclaim a Father who desires to be known by us, can be trusted in all of life, and loves to the ultimate degree!
About: Afshin Ziafat is the lead pastor at Providence Church in Frisco, TX. Born in Houston, Afshin moved with his family to their native country of Iran when he was two years old. In the midst of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Afshin’s family moved back to Houston at age six. In the second grade, he was given a Bible by a tutor who was teaching him the English language. He read that Bible 10 years later as a senior in high school and came to faith in Christ. Ultimately, his family would disown him because of his faith in Christ, and he began to understand the call of Christ on each of our lives—to follow Jesus regardless of the cost. In so doing, Afshin found that the reward was greater than the cost, demonstrating the truth of Matthew 16:25 – “that whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it.” Afshin received his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin. He went on to receive his Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages degree from Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. In 2008, he married the love of his life, Meredith. For the last 10 years, he has traveled around the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in churches, conferences, and missions. Afshin serves on the Board of Directors for Vertical Bible Study at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He also partners with Elam Ministries and travels to the Middle East to train Iranian pastors.