Learning to Know Our Father, Part 1

See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn’t know us, because it didn’t know him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)

Do you live in fear of God? Are you are afraid of Him—afraid to die, afraid of His judgment, afraid that you’ll make a small mis-step and be brutally disciplined?

Let me assure you: God specifically says that He does not want you to live in fear of Him. There is no need for you to live in fear and turmoil, uncertain if you can trust Him!

In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18)

If you are born again through Jesus Christ, you are now a child of God. So what is your Father really like? Do you know? Are you sure that you know?

Our culture is a self-centered, narcissistic culture. The mantra is, “You are important! You are special! You can do anything you like!” Some churches have picked up on this attitude and emphasized certain attributes of God that can be made self-serving, such as love, grace and mercy.

This has resulted in a backlash from those who (rightfully) recognize that there is more to God than His love, grace and mercy. (This, by the way, is the camp that I grew up in.) Unfortunately, however, in my experience, God’s love, grace, and mercy are downplayed and ignored, and His anger, wrath, justice, and hatred of sin are emphasized.

In order to understand who God truly is, we must understand His entire nature, lest we fall into the trap of the Pharisees. The Pharisees failed to understand what God was really like. Because they recognized the side of His nature that hates sin and punishes those who disobey Him, they wanted to make sure that no one disobeyed Him. So they made many rules to prevent people from disobeying God, but this resulted in them rejecting God when He came in the flesh. Jesus had to sternly rebuke them:

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and God’s love. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.” (Luke 11:42)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

In the next several posts, we will examine the love of God and seek to learn what He is truly like. If you want a jumpstart, read 1 John 4, especially this passage:

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. (1 John 4:14-16)

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