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Father and Son

Scripture: John 14:7-9, 2 Kings 6:30, John 15:20-21
What is God like? There are many misconceptions about the character of God. Jesus spoke against many of these false ideas. This talk shows how Jesus revealed the heavenly Father. The Lord has been characterized as delighting in catching people in evil in order to torture them. What a cruel and twisted picture of God.
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I wonder if you realize that Christ spoke more fully on the subject of His heavenly Father than on any other subject. For this I am sure He had good reason. In Christ's day, as in our own, there were many, many misconceptions prevailing concerning the true character of God. Christ came to give the world a revelation of the Father that men might know what God is like.

Notice a sample of His teachings on this subject in John 14:7, 8 and 9. "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" Christ and His Father were so completely one that to see Jesus was to also see the other as well. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." According to the Bible, of course, no man hath seen the Father at any time. No wonder then that men would not know Him, or recognize Him. That's why Jesus came, in order to reveal the true nature and character of the great Creator-God and heavenly Father.

Concerning the Trinity, none is so much misunderstood as the First person of the Godhead. The Son is very well known through the gospel story of the Bible. The Holy Spirit even is pretty well understood in comparison to that of the Father. But the Father has been pictured so many times as somewhat aloof, unmerciful, and perhaps even cruel, one who is never satisfied until the very last farthing is extracted, the one who is always on the watch for unwary souls. Children have been sometimes made very fearful of the heavenly Father because He has been pictured as searching for faults, and mistakes in the lives of little ones. It wasn't many years ago that preachers delighted in talking about souls in the hands of an angry God. The strictness of the Father was magnified all out of proportion, the love was almost entirely forgotten. Christ was the one altogether lovely, but the Father was just watching to charge some little children with sin, perhaps because they would not sit quietly in church. For decades this philosophy was unchallenged. The Father and the Son were separated by a mistaken theology. The only hope for sinners was to flee to Christ, because if the Father caught them, all hope would be gone. God was pictured as conducting a hell where multitudes of people suffered. Even little children whose parents neglected some ordinance of the church, would all be thrown into the fire together, there to be burned and tormented for the ceaseless ages of eternity. This is not an exaggeration, friends, I could read to you some excerpts from books prepared especially for children. The impression was left upon millions of youthful minds that God was a cruel ogre, whose prime work was to punish.

Now perhaps you can understand why Christ spoke so very much about His Father. No wonder He said, "I and my Father are one." They could see Jesus, they could understand His loving nature, they knew that He was one who loved them, and if the Father was like Him, all was well. Their whole outlook on religion was changed as Christ clarified the character of God the Father.

In John 14 alone there are 28 references to the Father. Now someone might say, "I don't believe it makes much difference just how we look at God." But, friends, it does make a difference. A false conception has turned many, many people away from God, and actually created a hatred for Him.

The case of the French Revolution is a very timely one to consider. In the 18th century, a religion actually came to be hated. Laws were passed by the French government to unseat God. Yet it was not really God that the people despised, but their conception of God. In France, the church owned most of the land, people lived in hovels, and paid very, very heavy taxes. The clergy lived in castles and were tax free. If God was like the clergy, then the people hated Him. They didn't have any Bible of their own. Their only knowledge of God came through the priests. The priests of those days were very haughty. They preached paying dues and eternal torments. It's no wonder at all that religion came to be despised.

The same thing was true of the terrible Inquisitions of the Dark Ages. Many people wonder how church leaders and religious people could take part in those tortures. Friends, it's understandable only in the light of their teaching about God. If a man believes that God will take little children and torture them throughout all eternity for neglecting some church ordinance, then that person would go to any length to bring that person to conform to his faith. In other words, to burn a person for just a little while in order to save him from everlasting torment over some slow fire would be an act of mercy on their part. They reasoned that it was better to use force to bring them to obey the church rather than to fall into the hands of a God who would torment them for all eternity. So really, friends, it was their religion and their concept of God that led them to do what they did. They believed they were saving people from something even worse by torturing them only for a little while.

We can understand this better in the light of what Jesus said in John 16:2, 3. "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me." Again, John 15:20, 21, "Remember the word that I have said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me." Now, please notice in both these verses that the people doing this (persecuting and putting to death) thought they did God a favor, because they did not know the Father. Now most religious persecution will be rooted in this same thing.

We well can understand why Jesus used the Father more than any other subject in His discourses. He gave that word a new significance. Jesus gave Him first place always, and yet, there are churches today who do not know the Father, and they do not even mention His name. It would almost seem that God the Father would not be missed if He passed away entirely, if God Himself should be dead. But listen, friends, you can't bow the Father out of the picture. The age-long dispute about who suffered the most, the Father or the Son in the plan of salvation, will never be settled. There is no way of knowing. But we can be certain of one thing, friends, the Father suffered along with the Son. I protest in making the Father some faraway king who is a stranger to mankind. God the Father loves us even as the Son.

There is a story in 2 Kings 6 about a terrible famine which came to Samaria. The people were starving on every side. Two women finally agreed, in order to save their lives that they would actually kill and eat their own children. The first woman carried out her part of the agreement, but the second woman then hid her son so that it could not be done. A quarrel developed between these women. The king of the country, who was a very wicked man by the way, happened to be passing by at that moment and overheard their quarreling. He was shocked by what he heard. The Bible record puts it this way in 2 Kings 6:30: "And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh."

Now this wicked king, friends, had been guilty of robbing and killing people. But yet, he was not entirely depraved as this incident reveals. He had sackcloth within, in order to sympathize with his suffering. He did not show it on the outside perhaps, but underneath, in order to sympathize with his suffering people, he actually placed sackcloth next to his own flesh. Now, I don't know why this story has been mentioned in the Bible except perhaps to reveal that there is always some good in the worst of men. But there is an application of it I would like to make today. I think it reveals that God is not exempt from the ordinary experiences of human suffering. God the Father was with Christ His Son there at the Garden of Gethsemane. He heard the cry of anguish from His beloved Son. Had He been unable to save Jesus, it would have been a terrific experience for Him to pass through. But for Him to be able to intervene and save His Son, but then refuse to use that power, this is an unfathomable mystery of Godliness. He must not intervene, He must not lessen the suffering. But we can surely say this, that the Father suffered deeply right along with the Son.

There are times when we are discouraged and disheartened. Our friends fail. The outlook becomes dark. God seems very far away. We are alone, crushed, forsaken. Does God really care? Why does He not help when we need Him? Then suddenly we have a revelation, and see God as He really is. We see Him in the garden as His Son prays. We see Him there as the scourge descends upon the back of the innocent Jesus. We see Him at Calvary. We see Him as Jesus utters those terrible words, "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me." And suddenly we understand. We understand that there is not a sorrow that God did not feel. Not an experience of pain that did not pierce His own heart. Through the gash made on Calvary, we behold that He wears sackcloth within. The revelation is profound! It is overwhelming! God is one with us, He does know our sorrows, He does agree with us, He is afflicted with us. Why then should we be afraid? At the heart of the Universe there is not an impersonal force, a cruel avenger, or tyrant, but a God of love. God the Father loves and cares for us even as Jesus His beloved Son.

Then why should we not rejoice? God is my God! He loves me! He will not ever permit anything to come except that which is for my good. So through my tears, I look up and smile. I realize that the Father looks down in love upon me. I am no longer lonely. I look through the rent made at Calvary and see that He wears sackcloth within. And I am so relieved and happy to know that there is a God on the throne who loves me. May this wonderful realization of the character of God lead us all to love Him more, and to serve Him more, as we recognize His true nature.

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