Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.(1 John 3:1-3 NKJV)
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.Augustine
God loves you. That is a true statement, whether you are a Christian or an unbeliever. God loved the world, so He gave His Son to die for all of us, or maybe more importantly, for each of us. He made the offer of salvation to everyone. His motive was love. That’s the picture of divine love for humanity: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. John said it this way, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NKJV)” If you’re trying to understand the magnitude of God’s love, Calvary is where you look. Jesus was your substitute – you deserved death; He took it on Himself for you.
Here’s the problem. Not everyone is saved, though the offer is available to everyone. When I was younger, I often went out on the streets and passed out tracts with the plan of salvation. As people passed by, I would hand them a tract and say, “Jesus loves you.” Occasionally someone would stop and we could talk. Some would curse. Most just kept on walking. Love is available. Most don’t believe it or receive it. When it comes to healing, the same is true. God offers healing to us because He loves us. Unfortunately, the fact that He loves us all doesn’t mean that we are all healed.
Now the good news: When you placed your faith in the work of Jesus Christ, you entered into an entirely different level of God’s love. He loves you in a way that is more intimate, more compelling, than the love with which He loves the world. The Apostle John says it this way: “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12 NLT)” You are part of the family! He loves you like a Father loving His child, not just a God extending grace to a sinner. That is a very different relationship.
On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples there was a new day coming: “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. (John 16:26-27 NKJV)” Please stop for a moment and think about the progression. God so loved the world that He gave His Son (John 3:16). To those who loved His Son, He gave the privilege of becoming His children. (John 1:12). To those children, He gives personal access to Himself, because “the Father Himself loves you.”
To the world, He is God. To the Church, and to you, He is also “Father.” Remember what Paul said about the experience of salvation. When you came to Him, the Holy Spirit came in you, re-created your heart, and placed in you a joyous cry of “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) That gives us just a glimmer of how your Father sees His role in your life. The fact that this is how He marked the beginning of your life with Him shows that being His child is important, and that for your heart to cry “Father!” is a very special thing.
John said that we ought to “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!” That’s strong language. This is a new and different aspect of love, available only to those who have been adopted into the Family of God. Paul said, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” He gave you His Name, brought you into the family. John clearly believes that this kind of love is something to “behold.” Before we go any further in finding the holes in our healing doctrine, we have to fill this one: The Father hole.
One of the common mistakes we make in reading the Bible is to take the language of Scripture and read it through the lens of our human experience. We do it with the term “love,” attributing all kinds of human emotions and passions to the pristine selflessness of God’s sacrificial love. We do the same thing with the idea of “father.” No matter how wonderful your earthly father, he is not an accurate picture of what God means when He says, “Father.” By the same token, no matter how awful, or violent, or absent your earthly father may have been, that is not an indicator of how God the Father loves you.
One of my dad’s favorite proverbs was, “You made your bed, you’ll have to sleep in it.” That meant that if my problems were self-caused, that he would let me get out of them the same way. I still have to remind myself that my Heavenly Father comes to help me when I cry out, even if I got myself in the mess.(Psalm 91:15) We all have some of these “bad theology” pictures of the Father. Maybe it’s time to behold what God the Father means when He calls Himself “Father.”
NEXT STEPS: It’s well worth the effort to figure out where you got your picture of the Father. Take our a piece of paper or open a blank page in your note app. Picture your Heavenly Father. What aspects of His character remind you of your earthly father? Do you think they are accurate? How do they effect the way you approach God? How do they effect the way you believe God sees you? For each of these things, look to the Bible to see what god says about it.. This week, pray your name in Paul’s prayer from Ephesians chapter one:
I ask God, the glorious Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, to give me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I might grow in my knowledge of Him. I pray that my heart will be flooded with light so that I can understand the confident hope He has given to me whom He called — part of His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that I will understand the incredible greatness of His power for me who believes Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:17-20 NLT adapted)