Who are we praying to? ...

Where Has "God The Father" Gone?

God the Father is the source of all life. Is He being ignored?

The Christian world depends for its existence, its very name, on Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus is extolled by all Christians in their worship and in their prayers and in their conversation. And rightly so, for he is Lord of all - exalted to the right hand of God with a name that is above every name.

God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus to deliver us from our sin and our sinful nature. He was the perfect reflection - the very image - of the Almighty God, walking this earth and representing Almighty God in all he did and said. Jesus was the unique expression of God - the Father of all - throughout his short life.

Jesus Is The Way

There is, however, an aspect of his life which tends to be obscured by our desire to express our joy and thanks for what Jesus did for us. He is recorded as having stated: "I am the way, the truth and the life". Notice: "the Way". That means the road. The road to somewhere. And the early church picked up on this in New Testament times by calling themselves "followers of the Way". (Examples of this use are in Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 24:22.)

In other words, Jesus is not the end of our pilgrimage.

Called of God, each repentant sinner responds by being baptized and being given the very mind and attitude of God - the Holy Spirit. Through the grace of God in Christ we become children of God - a part of the very Household, the Family, of God. Said the apostle Paul: "...you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow-citizens with the saints [i.e., other Christians] and members of the household of God" (Eph. 2:19). And not just God's household but also His family: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph. 3:15). The word family (Gk. patria) indicates a genetic connection, a lineage, ancestry. In Bible terms, we are "begotten" as His children by the Father through the miraculous gift of His Spirit following baptism.

We are now saved, and a part of the Kingdom of God. But God doesn't immediately whisk us off to our reward. No - ahead lies a long, narrow and difficult "road to glory". Jesus said "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14).

Journey's End

What is the purpose of that journey, that way? Forgotten by many is - it's God's household, God's Family, God's Kingdom. We are, surely, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ - his "brethren": "...he [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Hebrews 2:11). But, like him, we are "sons and daughters" of the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:18). It's a family relationship. A real one. And the purpose of our calling is to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ in inheriting the bounty of the Father's Universe. "The Spirit itself bears witness that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God [i.e., the Father] and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16,17).

Note, too, that right at the "end of time" Jesus himself will become subject to the Father: "Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For he [Jesus] must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he [the Father] has put all things under his feet.... And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God [the Father] may be all in all" (I Corinthians 15:24-28).

The purpose of our calling, the divine purpose for all mankind - frustrated only by the human will - is that "God may be all in all". Jesus the Messiah is the way to God the Father. In other words, the focus of our salvation is not Jesus, but his Father, our Father. Jesus is the way to the Father. Only through his life, his suffering, his death and his resurrection can we be reconciled to the Father.

The Father Ignored

Why then is God the Father so little worshipped? Where is He in our hymnals? Why so infrequently addressed in prayer? Observe an evangelical service and rarely is the Father glorified directly! When confess that Jesus is Lord, it is to the glory of the Father (Phil. 2:11). Certainly Jesus ought to receive our adoration. But not to the near exclusion of God our Father.

Over and over again - more than two hundred times - Jesus addressed God as "Father" and nowhere by any other of the numerous names God uses. It was an expression of his own relationship with God as His Son. Christians enter that same relationship as brothers and sisters of Jesus, as sons and daughters of the Almighty God. Time and again the apostles called God "Father". And didn't Jesus teach us to pray "our Father ... "? It is the Father, the source of all creation, who is the true focus of our worship. Through Jesus we are developing a filial relationship with Him. Together with Jesus we will be united, ultimately, in the Father.

God's Image

As we peer into the distant future, it seems that our planet is destined to one day be purified by means of a blazing inferno (2 Peter 3:10). There will be a new heaven, a new earth from which is excluded for ever every sinful, defiling practice (Revelation 21:8). Then comes the culmination of the plan of God. The Father Himself will for the first time be manifest to His physical creation - a creation that has now become spirit essence. He will take up residence on our planet: "...Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell [i.e., tabernacle] with them, and they shall be His people..." (Rev. 21:3). John continues his revelation: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things [i.e., the Universe], and I will be his God and he will be My son" (v.7). Again that family relationship.

God, the Father of all, has a plan for His creation, at the pinnacle of which is mankind - mankind no longer subject to our base nature, but perfected in the Father's image - truly His children. In Adam, we were made in God's likeness, in His image (Genesis 1:26). That image was marred by sin. Jesus Christ is "...the brightness of His [the Father's] glory and the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3). In him, the Father in His all-embracing love provided the way back for sinful humanity to Himself.

What lies beyond? The Scriptures seem not to tell us. But we can be certain that a loving and all-powerful Father God will continue to develop His creation in ways we can not begin to imagine. There's a vast unfathomed physical universe out there, and probably a far larger spiritual one, and perhaps He has in mind to "plant the heavens" (Isaiah 51:17). For, "...of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (Isa. 9:7). Then will be our time to "pass into the heavens"!

That glorious future as children of the Father and brothers and sisters of His Son can be yours! But you need to "follow the Way". Only by your submission to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, can you fulfill your destiny and live with the Father - for ever.

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 16, July/August 1999. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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