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Yesterday happened to be Father’s day in many parts of the world, a day specially set aside to honour fathers/ paternal figures and celebrate their indispensable role in society. Fathers are a pivotal part of the nuclear family system, the basic unit of every community, without whom society generally falls down flat. It thus goes without saying that many of society’s flaws today can be traced back to the failure of some fathers to appreciate and carry out their God-given responsibilities.

The world will never be short of imperfect people, but even in their imperfection most fathers are generally good to their children. I believe it is in this light that Jesus chose the concept of an earthly father to teach His disciples about God. One day when trying to convince His disciples that God was concerned about their needs, He said to them, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Another time when His disciples came and said, “Lord teach us how to pray, ” He said to them when you pray, pray like this, “Our father which art in heaven… ”

God is best understood as a father.

After this manner therefore pray ye Our Father which art in heaven. Painting by Heinrich Jenny


“Our Father who art in heaven.”

—Matthew 6:9

Many of us have heard these popular words or have partaken in them as part of the chorus of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ recited casually in school or church, and yet have missed out on the grave point of the relationships expressed therein. God being ‘Our Father’ assumes not only a relationship of sonship, but also of brotherhood. If God be our father, then we are his sons and daughters. If we are his sons and daughters (as God is our father, and not just my father), then we must have other sisters and brothers.


“The Return of the Prodigal Son” was painted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo from 1667 to 1670

In his classic book Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote: “You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.

For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”

‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.


Understanding God as father is the key to a long, lasting and fulfilling walk in the Christian faith. God being our father is more profound than God just being our creator; God being our father means that beyond He having made us in His image and likeness, He longs to have a personal relationship with us. He wants us to relate to Him as a son would his earthly father. A Christian is one who has God as his father who has been adopted into God’s family. Who has been born again. J. I. Parker could not have said it better: “What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father. In other words, we are designed to live in a family. Our highest privilege and deepest need is to experience the holy God as our loving Father, to approach Him without fear and to be assured of His fatherly care and concern. But cannot this be said of every person, Christian or not? Emphatically no! The idea that all are children of God is not found in the Bible anywhere. The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again. ”

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God”.

— John 1:12-13, NIV

To truly have God as Father, one must be adopted into His family. God takes us out of the old family we were born into and cleanses us, giving us a new name and a new spirit, making “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;” and all this of His own free, sovereign, unmerited, distinguishing grace.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”.

— Colossians 1:13-14, NIV

“… he chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world… In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

— Ephesians 1:3-8, NIV


For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

— Romans 5:15-17, NIV

It is a mystery exactly what endears the heart of a child to his father or mother. Charles Spurgeon describes it as “a nameless charm” that cannot be described or understood. “It is a sacred touch of nature, a throb in the breast that God has put there, and that cannot be taken away. The fatherhood is recognized by the childship of the child”.

In the same vein, it is difficult describing exactly what endears our hearts to that of our Father unless you have felt it yourself — “the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry Abba, Father”. Like Spurgeon puts it, “it is a sweet compound of faith that knows God to be my Father, love that loves Him as my Father, joy that rejoices in Him as my Father, fear that trembles to disobey Him because He is my Father and a confident affection and trustfulness that relies upon Him, and casts itself wholly upon Him, because it knows by the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit, that Jehovah, the God of earth and heaven, is the Father of my heart”.

“Oh! have you ever felt the Spirit of adoption? There is nothing like it beneath the sky. Except heaven itself, there is nothing more blissful than to enjoy that Spirit of adoption. Oh! when the wind of trouble is blowing and waves of adversity are rising, and the ship is reeling to the rock how sweet then to say “My Father,” and to believe that His strong hand is on the helm!—when the bones are aching, and when the loins are filled with pain, and when the cup is brimming with wormwood and gall, to say “My Father,” and seeing that Father’s hand holding the cup to the lip, to drink it steadily to the very dregs because we can say, “My Father, not my will, but thine be done.” Well says Martin Luther, in his Exposition of the Galatians, “there is more eloquence in that word, ‘Abba. Father,’ than in all the orations of Demosthenes or Cicero put together.” “My Father!” Oh! there is music there; there is eloquence there; there is the very essence of heaven’s own bliss in that word, ” My Father,” when applied to God, and when said by us with an unfaltering tongue, through the inspiration of the Spirit of the living God”.

“there is more eloquence in that word, ‘Abba. Father,’ than in all the orations of Demosthenes or Cicero put together”.

— Martin Luther

Have you the Spirit of adoption? Have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour? The Spirit of adoption, the Holy Spirit of God brings us into God’s family. We receive the Spirit of adoption when we accept, by faith, the grace that has been offered to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:23; Luke 10:27). It is the Spirit of adoption who teaches us to call out to God as our “Abba, Father.”


The second relationship worth noting in ‘Our father which art in heaven’ is brotherhood. The verse does not say “my Father”, but “our Father”. This presupposes that there are many other people in the family.

The Church

Many people understand the church to be just a building. This is not a biblical understanding of what the church is. The word “church” is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of church is not that of a building, but of people.

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22–23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) until Christ’s return.

The Church consists of everyone, everywhere, who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. All those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ comprise the universal church.

How refreshing to know that we are not alone in our Christian journey — to know that there are many who have gone ahead of us in the faith, who are cheering us on and from whom we can draw inspiration from. How comforting know we are not alone in our daily strife and have like-minded brethren to commune with, and who can sharpen us and help us grow in the faith! How exhilarating to know that many more are looking up to us to finish the race!

The Lost Brethren

In “Our Father…”, we must also remember those good many potential brothers and sisters who do not yet know their Father, and pray for their salvation. Christ came to die for us all, and yet some do not know Him. Some may have never heard of Him. The Father has loved them from before the foundation of the world, and yet, they do not know the face of their Father.


Our being the children of God brings with it innumerable privileges. The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon is recorded as saying:

“If I am God’s child, he will clothe me; my shoes shall be iron and brass; he will array me with the robe of my Saviour’s righteousness, for he has said, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him,” and he has also said that he will put a crown of pure gold upon my head and inasmuch as I am a king’s son, I shall have a royal crown. Am I his child? Then he will feed me; my bread shall be given me, and my water shall be sure; he that feeds the ravens will never let his children starve. If a good husbandman feeds the barn-door fowl, and the sheep and the bullocks, certainly his children shall not starve. Does my Father deck the lily, and shall I go naked? Does he feed the fowls of the heaven that sow not, neither do they reap, and shall I feel necessity? God forbid! My Father knows the things I need even before I ask him, and he will give me all I want”.

What joy it is to have God as a father! He loves like one other. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God longs to have have a relationship with you today. He longs to become an integral part of your life, and get to know you like a father would. It is for this reason that He went out of His way to show you He loved you by sending His only begotten son to die for you so that by simply believing Him, you will become a part of His family. He stands at the door of your heart; will you let Him in?

Further Reading

John A. Turkson
John A. Turkson

John A. Turkson is the founder and publisher of GNOMIC Magazine. He’s passionate about Christian excellence and discipleship.