God our Father

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!” (v. 11).

- Matthew 7:7–11

The fact that God is the self-existent Creator of all things is greatly comforting. It means that nothing occurs outside His sovereign will — not even the greatest tragedies. Thus, we know He can work everything together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). However, the Lord is not merely able but also desirous to turn every adversity to our good. He is not Islam’s Allah, an aloof, impersonal, unitary being content to stay an arm’s length from His people and rule solely and arbitrarily by fiat. Instead, He is the personal, triune Creator who draws near to His people and has a purpose that governs His every decree. This is true of all three persons of the Trinity, but we see it particularly in the revelation of the Father, who, by His Spirit, gives us faith in His Son and adopts us as children (John 1:1–18).

The gospel reveals God as “a faithful Father,” according to question and answer 26 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Many New Testament passages, including Matthew 7:7–11, teach this truth. Jesus appeals to our innate sense of what fatherhood should be in order to reveal clearly the kind of Father our God actually is. Though we are born in Adam and inclined toward evil, we understand that good fathers should give gifts to their children. Moreover, we who are fathers, despite our wickedness and the ways we sin against our children and their mothers, still give gifts to our sons and daughters. If, despite our sin, we want to bless our families and do right by them, how much more does our perfectly good Father want to bless us?

Importantly, the revelation of God as Father has limitations. Simply put, the Father does not call all people His children. This may be hard to receive, but it is biblical. Certainly, God is the Creator of all people — “we are indeed his offspring” (Acts 17:28) — but true fatherhood in Scripture is far more than the simple production of offspring. Divine fatherhood results in us sharing certain aspects of God’s character and will, in loving what He loves. Jesus tells us as much in John 8:39–47, when He corrects His opponents for claiming God as their Father. The opposition to Christ’s work proved that they were impenitent sinners wholly at odds with what God loves. Their father was the Devil, not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless God sovereignly intervenes to adopt us in Christ, the Devil is our father.

Coram Deo

The comfort of the gospel is not in that we are born children of God but in that God, seeing that all people are children of the Devil, nevertheless chooses to adopt a portion of humanity as His children in Christ. It is a distinct privilege to call God “Father” and know that He looks over the well-being of His people. Let us never cheapen that grace by assuming that He is Father in the same way to all people, even those who hate Him.

Passages for Further Study

1 Chronicles 22:6–10
Matthew 3:1–12
Philippians 2:14–15
1 John 3:1–3

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343