This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tonight in this opening message I want to speak to you about the Fatherhood of God. The revelation of God as Father. I want to begin by saying that in relation to the Father, Jesus Christ came to do two things: to reveal the Father and to bring us who accept that revelation to the Father. Let me say that again. Jesus came to do two things: to reveal the Father and to bring us to the Father. I believe really it’s the revelation of the Fatherhood of God which in a main sense, makes Christianity different from all other religions. Later on I believe I’ll show you some of the ways in which it makes it different.
I believe that this revelation is contained mainly in the New Testament. I believe the Old Testament is the inspired word of God just as much as the New. But I believe that this perhaps above all else is specifically the revelation of the New Testament. The Fatherhood of God. And I believe there’s one very clear scriptural reason why it could only come in the New Testament. And that reason is because only the Son can reveal the Father. And until the Son came, we had nothing but a very fragmentary revelation of God as Father. If you wish to turn to Matthew 11:27 I believe this truth is brought out there. These are the words of Jesus:
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (NAS)
Within the Godhead there’s a special relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Each is known to the other and this is a kind of private relationship between them into which no one else can come unless he is initiated. Jesus says no one knows the Son except the Father. And no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal him. So if we are to know God the Father it will come to us only if God the Son, Jesus Christ, wills to reveal the Father to us. This does not suit modern man. Modern man likes to think that he can find out anything he wants any time. That he’s got the answer to everything if he will but work at it.
But here we’re in a different area. We’re in an area where knowledge comes only from revelation. If we are to know the Son, it will be because the Father has revealed him to us. If we’re to know the Father, it will be because the Son has revealed him to us. We are dependent on the revelation of God. That does not suit the arrogance of modern humanism and intellectualism. But that is the way it is. And if you here tonight know Jesus Christ in a real and personal way, it’s because the Father revealed him to you. And if you are going to know the Father in a real and personal way, the only way it can come about is if the Son reveals him to you. We are dependent on the revelation of God.
Now I believe the verses that follow, Matthew 11:28–30, are directly related to this revelation. Jesus says:
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light.” (NAS)
There’s an invitation to all who are weary and burdened to come and to find rest. Now I believe we find rest when we come to the Lord Jesus and come to know him personally as savior and Lord. But I believe the deeper rest, the rest that God has really intended his people to come to have comes only as we come through Jesus to the full revelation of the Father. And it’s that that I’m going to be dealing with tonight. The revelation of God the Father.
I’ve been a Christian now just over forty years. A born again, Spirit baptized Christian. But it’s only in fairly recent years that the Holy Spirit has really begun to show me the importance of knowing the Father. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t know the Father, but I feel that there is so much more of the knowledge of the Father that we haven’t entered into. And God has placed in my heart a real deep desire to come into that knowledge of the Father.
I also believe I can show you out of the word that it’s going to be very, very important as this age draws to its close and the pressures against us as Christians increase, that we really come into the revelation of the Father.
I’d like to give you now a series of scriptures, the first series will be about Jesus revealing the Father. Then the second series following on from that will be along the theme that it’s the purpose of Jesus to bring us to the Father. We’ll begin with the scriptures that deal with Jesus revealing the Father in John 5 and following.
It’s interesting as a preacher when you study certain themes you’ll find that automatically most of your references come from certain books of the Bible. And when you really set to study the Fatherhood of God, most of your references will come from the writings of John. Each writer and each apostle has certain areas of main revelation. But I think there’s no doubt that the main revelation of God as Father in the New Testament is found in the writings of John. And I suppose more than half the scriptures we will be looking at will be taken from the writings of John. That is his gospel, his epistles and also the book of Revelation which has a great deal to say about the revelation of the Father. Looking first of all in John 5:43 Jesus says to the Jewish people of the Jewish religious leaders:
“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him.” (NAS)
Jesus came as the representative of God the Father. He came in the Father’s name. That means he was sent by the Father, he came with the Father’s authority, he came to do the Father’s will, he came to reveal the Father. Jesus says, and this is a very profound statement: if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him.
Now there are two different Greek words for another. One means of a different kind, the other means another of the same kind. It’s the latter word that’s used here. I, the true Messiah have come in my Father’s name. If another messiah will come in his own name, you will receive him. So here really is a prediction of the Antichrist. And you’ll see this worked out as we go on. The difference between the true Christ, the true Messiah, and the false christ is the true Christ does not come to represent himself. He does not present himself. He comes to represent the Father who sent him. But the mark of an Antichrist, the false christ, is that he presents himself. He comes in his own name and we’ll see later on that even the name of the Antichrist is in direct antithesis to the name of the Father.
Turning on to John 6:45–46, and Jesus is quoting here from the prophet Isaiah. He says:
“It is written in the prophets, “and they shall all be taught of God”. Every one who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to me.” (NAS)
Note again that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father reveals Jesus and draws that person to him. Then he goes on to say:
“Not that any man has seen the Father, except the one who is from God...” (NAS)
That’s Jesus referring to himself, it’s Jesus who has seen the Father. Again, this special intimate relationship between God the Father and God the Son into which no one else can penetrate except by revelation. The Father reveals the Son, the Son reveals the Father.
And then in John 8:19. This is again a dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders of the Jews.
“And so they were saying to him, where is your Father? Jesus answered, You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (NAS)
To know Jesus is the only way to know the Father. The Jewish religious leaders did not know the Son, therefore they did not know the Father. They could not know the Father without knowing the Son.
Then in John 17, this is what is often called the high priestly prayer of Jesus. Where at the end of his earthly ministry just before his arrest and trial, having taught his disciples everything that they could receive at that time, he turned his eyes to heaven and addresses the Father in a prayer that is primarily a prayer for his disciples. We look at verse 1 just to see the person addressed.
“These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the hour has come...” (NAS)
Notice the first word of the prayer is Father. The person addressed is Father. Again in verse 5 he says:
“And now, glorify thou me together with thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (NAS)
Notice again he addresses God as Father. And then in verse 6 he makes a very, very important statement, and we need to understand it.
“I manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word.” (NAS)
Notice that statement, I manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world. I want you to consider what is implied by the statement, I manifested thy name. I revealed thy name. And then right at the end of the prayer in the last two verses, that’s verse 25 and 26.
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known thee, yet I have known thee; and these have known that thou didst send me; and I have made thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou didst love me may be in them, and I in them.” (NAS)
Again, Jesus is speaking about making the Father’s name known to his disciples. And he speaks both in the past tense and in the future, I want you to see that. Verse 26, “I have made known thy name to them, and I will make it known”. And the purpose for which he does it is that “the love wherewith thou didst love me maybe in them and I in them”. This, I believe, is the climax of Christian experience, that the love of the Father for the Son may be in us. And Jesus in us. I don’t think that the human mind can comprehend the depth and the fullness of the love of the Father for the Son. But Jesus said if I can make thy name known to them, then that love of the Father for the Son can be in us, the disciples. So notice Jesus says twice, I have made thy name known to them and then he says, I will make thy name known to them. The purpose: that thy love for me may be in them.
Now, here is a very, very important question and I am not going to be dogmatic, I’m going to ask the question and offer my answer. It’s up to each one of you to determine whether you accept my answer. But I am not speculating as a matter of theology, I believe it’s extremely important that we know the answer. The question is this: What is the name that Jesus revealed to the disciples? And the name that he said he would further reveal to the disciples? Just think it over for a moment. I have a little advantage over you because I’ve meditated on this question for years! Maybe you haven’t. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve faced this question. It’s a very remarkable thing. I have manifested thy name. Manifest is more than just tell the name, it’s show the name. And then he said, I have made thy name known to them, and will make it known. Well, I will give you my answer. I believe the name is Father. I think the whole context leaves no doubt. If I am right, then I believe you must agree with me that the understanding of the Father is tremendously important.
Let me show you another passage, a very remarkable one in Hebrews 2. But before we turn to Hebrews 2 let me just turn your attention to the opening verses of Hebrews 1 and then we’ll move on to chapter 2. They are related. Hebrews 1, the first verse and the first half of the second verse:
“God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in his Son...” (NAS)
Notice in the Old Testament God spoke through many prophets in various portions in various ways. But in these last days he’s spoken to us in his Son. I believe it is the last days because it’s the time of which he speaks in his Son. Because once God has spoken in his Son, he has no more to say. I am thinking of making a study in Hebrews which won’t be here, believe me. And I’m going to call it God’s Last Word. Because when God speaks in his Son, there’s nothing more to follow. In the Old Testament he spoke in the prophets, but that wasn’t the climax. The climax was when he spoken in his Son. Only the Son could reveal the Father in his fullness. The very fact that God spoke in the Son indicated the last days were there. Because God has nothing more. And anyone who does not hear the Son will never hear anything else. You must either hear the Son or hear no more from God. You could hear the prophets and maybe miss the message of some of them and still have an opportunity. But once you have refused to hear the Son, there is no more.
Now let’s go on to Hebrews 2:11–12. And in this verse the writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 22.
“He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father...” (NAS)
Now, if you have a New American Standard, which is what I’m reading from tonight, you’ll see the word Father is in italics, do you see that? Do you know what that means? It means that the word is supplied by the translators. It isn’t there. The Greek says are all from one, not specifying one what. And I think the New American Standard doesn’t put in the word Father, does it? Same family, okay. In other words, there are places in translating the Bible where you have to supply a word but you have a certain choice as to which word you think fits best. Actually I think Father probably really expresses the meaning.
“For both He who sanctifies...” (NAS)
Do you know who that is? Look at it hard. You’ve got three designations. He who sanctifies, those who are sanctified and the one from whom they all come. Let’s start with the one from whom they all come. Who’s that? God the Father, that’s right. Who’s the one who comes from God the Father and who sanctifies? Jesus Christ. Who’s the ones who are sanctified? That’s the believers, that’s right.
“For he who sanctifies [Jesus] and those who are sanctified [the disciples] are all from one Father, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren...” (NAS)
But the Father’s decision to call us sons opened the way for Jesus to call us brothers. And actually he didn’t have any choice. Just as you and I don’t have any choice. Somebody said you can choose your friends, you can’t choose your family. If God is your Father, you’re my brother or my sister, I don’t have to vote about that or even sit down and think about it. It’s a fact. But it’s true even of Jesus.
“...for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren [or brothers. And now the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22 to prove that the Messiah calls his disciples brothers.] saying, I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing thy praise.” (NAS)
That’s quoted from Psalm 22:22 and here Jesus says of us, the disciples, I will proclaim thy name to my brothers, in the midst of the congregation I will sing thy praises. That’s a staggering verse, isn’t it? Maybe we ought to turn to Psalm 22 because I don’t think you can appreciate what an amazing statement that is. Psalm 22 is what’s called a Messianic psalm. In other words, it’s a revelation of the Messiah and his sufferings. Verses 16–18 of Psalm 22:
“For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (NAS)
You can see two of those verses are quoted in the New Testament in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus. In other words, this is what they call a Messianic psalm. It’s not true of the psalmist, it’s a revelation by the psalmist of the Messiah. But then it goes on:
“But Thou, O Lord, be not far off; [verse 20] Deliver my soul from the sword, [verse 21] Save me from the lion’s mouth, [verse 22] I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly [or church] I will praise thee.” (NAS)
So that is after the crucifixion. The resurrected Jesus says I will tell of thy name to my brothers, I will sing thy praise in the church. This is right in line, turn back now to John 17:26, Jesus says:
“...I have made thy name known to them, and will make it known...” (NAS)
In other words, the revelation was not complete. It was to be continued in the church. I don’t know whether you’ve ever considered that when we sing praise in the church, Jesus is with us. He says I will sing thy praise in the midst of the church. We are not the only ones praising the Father. Jesus is doing the same.
All right. I hope I’ve succeeded in bringing it home to you that the revelation of the Father is to be continued in the church. It was not complete. I believe that’s why we’re here tonight. I believe that Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, desires tonight to make the name of the Father known.
Now, I just have to meet what is a possible problem in the minds of some of you. You will hear people say—in fact there was a time when you could have heard me say it. That Father is not a name but a title. I just want to point out to you and I mean I will just have to exercise such knowledge as I have, I happen to be able to read the Bible both in Hebrew and in Greek. The distinction between title and name in the Bible is not valid. There isn’t such a distinction. Title and name are interchangeable. I want to take you through a whole succession of scriptures in Old and New Testament where the name is used of what we would call a title. Turn to Isaiah. You’re going to have to have nimble fingers now. Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign, behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” (NAS)
What is that? A name or a title? It has a meaning. It means God with us. It’s translated. All right. But she shall call his name Immanuel.
Turn on to Isaiah 9:6:
“For a child will be born to us...the government will rest upon his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (NAS)
What is Prince of Peace? A name or a title? There isn’t any difference, in Hebrew. Jeremiah 23:6
“In his day [speaking of the Messiah] Judah will be saved; Israel will dwell securely. And this is his name by which he will be called; the Lord our Righteousness.” (NAS)
What’s that, a name or a title? It doesn’t matter, you can spin a coin and come down with either answer is right. Of course, I’m not suggesting spinning a coin as a way of solving most Biblical problems. Jeremiah 33:16:
“In those days Judah shall be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called, the Lord our Righteousness.” (NAS)
You see, the bride takes the husband’s name. The husband is called the Lord our Righteousness, the bride takes his name. Ezekiel 48:35, that’s the last verse of Ezekiel in case you find it difficult stumbling through all the chapters. The latter part of the verse:
“...and the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there.”(NAS)
In Hebrew, Adonai Shamah. Adonai, the Lord; Shamah, death. What’s that, a name or a title?
Now, move on into the New Testament. Matthew 28:19:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit...” (NAS)
That’s a long name. It doesn’t say in the names of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. It says in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And then in Revelation 19:11 just to get the context:
“And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True...[verse 13] and he is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and his name is called the Word of God. [Verse 16:] And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (NAS)
There’s probably ten forms of words that we might call titles but the Bible calls every one of them a name.
We can also go the other way around. In Exodus 3, and if you want to turn there it will be helpful, in Exodus 3:14–15 the Lord revealed his name to Moses in one of the great, decisive moments of scripture. Well we better read verse 13 to get the context. This is the scene when Moses encountered the Lord at the burning bush. Verse 13:
“Moses said to God, behold I am going to the sons of Israel, and I should say to them the God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, what is his name? What shall I say to them? [The question is, what is his name.] God said to Moses, I am who I am. [And he said:] Thus shall you say to the sons of Israel, I am has sent me to you. [And God furthermore said to Moses:] Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my memorial name to all generations.” (NAS)
Now God gave Moses an answer in two forms. He said I am is my name. And then he said you shall say the Lord, the God of Israel. Now it doesn’t come out in English why he said that. But what he actually said in Hebrew was first of all, the Hebrew word for I am and then he said the Hebrew word for he is. So he said, do you want to know my name? I am. Go and tell them he is has sent me to you. We say Jehovah, at least we used to. However, modern scholarship has proved I think conclusively that the form that was actually used is Yahweh. How many of you have heard Yahweh? For instance, in the Jerusalem Bible that’s the form that’s actually used. Well, Yahweh is simply he is. That’s all. So Yahweh is no more a name without a meaning than any other name in the Bible. There isn’t such a thing in the Bible as a name without a meaning. Every name has a meaning. And for that reason, for instance, in the French Bible, they translate Jehovah ?Le Pelmel?, the eternal. Meaning the one who is always, continually, the self existent unchanging one.
I was reading the story of Jehoshaphat while I was preaching in France this fall and I read that Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord. But the French translation says he decided to consult the eternal. I thought that’s a terrific statement. I think we need to do that from time to time. Decide to consult the eternal. But what I am trying to get across to you is you may think Jehovah or whatever way you want to pronounce it is a name and not a title. But that’s not true. It’s a name and a title. It’s a name that means the eternal.
And then again in Matthew 1:21, the angel appeared to Joseph and told him that his betrothed wife, Mary, or Miriam, was going to have a son. It says in verse 21:
“And she will bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who will save his people from their sins.” (NAS)
You say Jesus is a name. It is, but it has a meaning. It means the salvation of God. The same form in Hebrew is Joshua. ?Yehoshua Yeshua?. See, every Hebrew and basically every Biblical name, (but not so much in Greek) not merely is a label, it’s a revelation of who the person is.
This goes, I believe, even beyond the names of persons. We don’t need to turn there but one of Adam’s first assignments when he was placed in the garden was to do what? Name all the animals. Now, that wasn’t just a matter of thinking of a few syllables and stringing them together. Undoubtedly every name had something to do with the nature of the animal. In other words, it was by revelation that Adam could correctly name the animals. He was so foolish that when he started by revelation, afterwards he thought that he’s like to eat of the tree of knowledge. He was doing fine until he did that. Then all he knew was that he was naked. But that’s not my point. My point is that Biblically a name is a revelation of the nature of the person named. Jesus has countless names. Well, countless is maybe an exaggeration but more names than you and I could count. Because they all reveal some aspect of his nature. And so when Jesus says to the Father I have made thy name known, I have manifested thy name, what he is saying is, I have revealed you as Father to my disciples. And what’s more, I’m going to go on revealing you as Father. That’s the ultimate. That’s the climax.
Now let’s go back and look at the second statement. You may have gotten lost and wonder what the first statement was by now. That’s because you don’t have my outline in front of you! All right. The first statement was Jesus reveals the Father. The second statement was Jesus brings us to the Father. We’ll look now in John 14:6–9. Well, we’d better read verse 5 to get the context.
“Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him, and have seen him. Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father?”(NAS)
So there we have the two. Jesus reveals the Father; if you’ve seen him, you’ve seen the Father. He also brings us to the Father; Jesus said I am the way, the truth, the life. We often quote that scripture I believe, which is a favorite evangelistic text. We don’t stop to consider its full implication. A way is meaningless unless it takes us somewhere. A way is not an end in itself. A way only has meaning if it takes us somewhere. So when Jesus said I am the way, he implied he’d come to take us somewhere. Where was he taking us? Well, it’s explained. No one comes to the Father but by me. I am the way to the Father. I am the revelation of the Father. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.
And then in Ephesians 2:18, we need to read verse 17 to get the context.
“And he [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away, [that’s the Gentiles] and peace to those who were near [that’s the Jews]; for through him we both [that’s Jew and Gentile] have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” (NAS)
Notice all three persons of the Godhead are in that one verse. Through the Son, in the Spirit, to the Father. But the Father is the destination; the verse is meaningless if you leave out the Father. The ultimate objective is to reveal the Father and to bring us to the Father. And if we stop short of the fulfillment of that objective we’ve missed the purpose for which Jesus came.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God...” (NAS)
Why did he die? That our sins might be forgiven. Yes. But that was only a stage in the process. What was the ultimate purpose? That he might bring us to God.
Now I want to suggest to you that many of us, though we believe in Jesus and in his death, and though we have received the forgiveness of sins, really have not entered into the fullness of the purpose of his death. For it was that he might bring us to God. And then in 1John 1:1–3:
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life [that is Jesus]—the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—” (NAS)
John is telling us why the apostles gave us the New Testament. It’s a very far reaching statement. Verse 3:
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also...” (NAS)
The result is the New Testament. That’s the apostles proclaiming what they saw and heard in respect to Jesus. Why was the New Testament given to us? What was the purpose? Verse 3 tells us:
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (NAS)
What was the ultimate purpose for which the New Testament revelation was given? To bring us into fellowship that the apostles enjoyed. What was their fellowship? With the Father, with his Son Jesus Christ. Again, if we do not know what it is to have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, we have not attained to the real purpose for which the New Testament was given. And it’s my impression that the great majority of Christians are loitering on the way. They know Jesus is the way, but they know very little about the destination. And Jesus said I have revealed your name, but I am going to go on revealing your name. The revelation has to be completed. That’s why we’re here this evening.
Now I want to make some general statements about the Fatherhood of God. I’d like to turn, first of all, to Ephesians 3:14–15.
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” (NAS)
I think the New International Version says the whole family? Yeah, I think this version is closer or more accurate. Every family. But I very much like J.B. Phillips translation. I don’t suppose anybody has their Phillips here. But he says, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name. That’s the correct translation in the sense that it brings out the meaning. Because the word translated family is patriawhich is a word that comes through Latin and gives us such English words as patriotic and so on. But the word for father is paterwhich gives us such words as paternal and so on. So a family, a patriais the expression of having a father, a pater. Do you see? This is crucial. Especially in modern America. Why? Because today a lot of people want families without fathers. Biblically there isn’t such a thing. I read just recently in the paper, which is not very uncommon, about a woman who wanted a child but didn’t want a husband so she went a certain way around them, achieved the result. But it wasn’t a family.
Now, we can forgive the world for being ignorant, but we should not be ignorant in the church. Let me give this little quote to you. I heard it when I was just a new believer many years ago. “A ship in the sea is all right. The sea in a ship is all wrong.” Okay? Now here’s the application of the parable. The church in the world is all right. The world in the church is all wrong. And I think as we continue with this theme, you’ll see that in this area the world has got right inside the church. And we are missing it in the most crucial of all areas of New Testament revelation.
That’s an astonishing statement, whichever way you translate it; from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name from. Whom every fatherhood—know what it means? That there are families in heaven. Family didn’t start on earth, family started in heaven. What makes a family? A father. Everywhere there’s—and I’m not setting aside the absolute necessity of a mother, believe me. But the originating cause is not a mother, but a father.
I point out something to you very, very significant. I am now sixty-six years old. In other words, I’ve lived a long time by the standards of most of you. And I can remember when things were different. Furthermore, I was brought up in Britain which is different from the United States. But you know, there is one English word that was regularly used when I was young that has dropped out of use, at least in America. And it’s one of the most crucial words in the Bible. Can you guess what it is? You wouldn’t guess. It’s the word to beget. How many of you know even so what beget means? Well, not many of you do, isn’t that astonishing! Well who begets, a father or a mother? I didn’t hear you. (People that are present answer father.) That’s right. It’s a word that exists in Hebrew, it exists in Greek, it exists in Latin and it existed in English up till World War II. Because it’s dropped out, the modern translations can’t translate the Bible. They say became the father of. What a complicated phrase. That Bible says begot. Sired, if you want it. We still have the phrase for a mother; she bore a child. We don’t say she became the mother of John, do we? How ridiculous can you be?
I hope you can see what I’m getting at. Our entire culture is oriented toward the elimination of fatherhood. I don’t have the figures, but a staggering number of families in the United States today are one parent families. Some are represented here. That’s not a family. It may be a convenience, but it is no family. And that is by no means to take a harsh or judgmental attitude against mothers who are struggling because of delinquent husbands to bring up the family. Nevertheless, it’s a major social tragedy. And if it is not changed, it spells the inevitable disintegration of this nation. Because we’re denying the most distinctive feature of Biblical revelation. Every family in heaven and on earth, every fatherhood, derives its name from one source. What’s the source? God the Father. See, this is tremendously far reaching.
Before I became a preacher I was a professional philosopher. I taught philosophy, et cetera. One of the great inquiries of philosophy, in fact, where philosophy started amongst the Greeks in the 6th century B.C., which is where at least Western philosophy is traced to—it’s originating point. The original inquiry was what was the first cause of everything. What did everything start from? The Greek philosophers of that period said earth, air, water, fire. They had four alternative theories. Today what do we say? We don’t really know what we say, do we? We kind of lost it. But basically it’s some physical or material thing expressed in scientific jargon.
Well, if that’s what started things going, the outlook is pretty bleak. We don’t have much hope. We could stop going, we could end off in some quirk, we could fly off into outer space and disintegrate. There’s no knowing what might happen. But you see, that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says the first cause of everything is a Father. And the people who know that are entirely different from the people who don’t. If the first cause of everything is my Father, well I can relax. I know who is in control. I know that it wasn’t some mindless, inanimate, incalculable source that set things in motion. But a Father who knows me, who loves me, who’s Almighty, who planned my life before creation ever took place. I can understand the people of the world being nervous and distraught and perplexed. For good reason. But if we are children of the heavenly Father, we shouldn’t be.
I have a dear friend, a Catholic brother whose name is probably known to most of you. In fact, it’s Ralph Martin, one of the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic movement. In his book on prayer, The Heart Hungry for God, he relates an experience just after he’d come to know the Lord in a personal way. He was in the streets of some big metropolitan city, it was cold, it was bleak, it was just getting dark. And he was standing on the street corner and he felt so small and lonely and inadequate to the situation. Have you ever felt like that? I can easily put myself in his position. There’s some cities in this country that frighten me. And I’m going to one before the weekend! Meet you in New York. But as he stood there, he decided just to call out the name of God. He said Father, Father, Father, Father. And every time he said Father he felt just a little better from the time before. Now after he said that name quite a number of times his peace and his security returned to him. His Father was in charge. His Father had made the universe. His Father knew him by name. His Father loved him. He wasn’t an orphan. Anywhere in almost any structure of society and orphan is regarded as a tragic condition. I’ve helped to raise some orphans myself. As a matter of fact, my wife and I regularly offer the support of two orphans in India and one in Korea. So it’s not that I’m taking a negative attitude towards orphans, but basically orphans are to be pitied. Are we orphans? No. We have a Father. It makes all the difference. We belong. We’re in the family of God. God made the universe, he made it for our benefit. We’re part of his plan. Nothing happens by accident.
There’s a song that says my Father planned it all. MY Father planned it all. My Father PLANNED it. HE PLANNED IT ALL. Whatever way you say it. It’s good news. We need that news. If ever there was an age in human history when people needed that news, it’s today. In the big metropolises people are lonely, disjointed, fragmented, uncertain, insecure. Society as we know it is basically falling apart. Where are we to find any kind of assurance? You remember what Jesus said, no one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal. Come unto me all who are weary, burdened, I will give you rest. That’s the rest. Coming to know the Father. That’s our great privilege. It’s our supreme joy. It’s the ultimate purpose of Christianity. It’s to know the Father.
I want to give you some marks of those who have received this revelation. This is really rather interesting. I’m going to turn now to the book of Revelation 7. I don’t mind admitting to you there are some things in the book of Revelation I don’t understand. But that doesn’t deprive me of what I do understand. And here I find something that I don’t fully understand but I find it suggestive and exciting. Revelation 7:2–4:
“And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.” (NAS)
What was the seal? It doesn’t tell us. But you turn to Revelation 14 and I believe you’ll find the answer. Now I’m not going to dispute as to whether these are the same 144,000 but I like to believe it. And I want to point out to you a remarkable company of people who had a very unusual distinguishing mark.
“I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.”
These are very special people.
“These are the ones who have not been defiled with women for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.” (NAS)
There are not many such people described in scripture. They’re blameless, no lie, pure, follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They sing a song that no one else can learn. What’s the distinguishing feature? They’ve been sealed on their forehead. What’s the seal? The name of Jesus and the name of the Father written on their foreheads. Set them apart, made them different.
Now, let’s look also in Revelation 22 for a moment. Verses 3–4. This is the last picture of the redeemed in the Bible. In a certain sense it’s the climax.
“And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his bond-servants shall serve him...” (NAS)
Let me point out something. The reward for faithful service is more service. The highest you can get is serving God. If you’ve been faithful in this life you’ll have the opportunity in eternity. Verse 4:
“...and they shall see his face...” (NAS)
That’s the ultimate. Do you understand? It’s taken the whole Bible to get the redeemed to the place where they can look on the Father’s face. Because no man had ever seen it.
“...and his name shall be on their foreheads.” (NAS)
These are special people. What’s their distinguishing mark? The name on their foreheads.
Now when the Bible says you have a name on your forehead it’s not merely something external. It means you’ve got something in your understanding that knows what the name is. It’s very interesting to contrast the Antichrist because the Antichrist has a mark too. Do you know that? See, I really believe that we’re coming to a point in history where everybody will have one mark or the other. This is an opinion, I’m not teaching it as certainty. But it looks like all humanity is going to be marked one way or the other. Stamped for God or stamped for the Antichrist.
Now let’s look at the way the Antichrist stamps people. Revelation 13:16–17. He is the Antichrist, you’ll have to just accept that.
“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast of the number of his name.” (NAS)
There’s so much there. First of all, the Antichrist offers alternatives. All he’s out is to get you to do something. He doesn’t care much what way you do it. So he’ll put his seal either on your forehead or on your hand. What does that mean? If it’s on your forehead, your mind is yielded. If it’s on your hand, all he’s got is your actions. But he doesn’t care. You see? God won’t seal you on your hand. Because God requires understanding in your head. So that’s one of the options.
Secondly, the Antichrist is obviously contemporary with the age of computers because he’ll either put his name or his number on you. God doesn’t have a number to substitute for his name. Can you see where we’re headed? We’re headed to a sort of mass view of the human race where you’ve become a number. And everything is a number. Those of you that have ever been in an army. I was in the British Army. They took away your clothes and gave you a uniform. They took away your name virtually and gave you a number. They did everything to kind of dehumanize you. I can still remember my number, I can say it in my sleep. 7385778.
Now, we might as well go into this for a moment. Just to give you a little glimpse and get your curiosity aroused, and then we’ll back off. Verse 18:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man [or the number of man]; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (NAS)
Well, how are we going to find out? Now I’ll offer you my opinion. Beetais two, betais two, whichever way you go. When you get down in the Hebrew alphabet, Coufis one hundred. Reshis two, Sheenis three hundred, Taffis four hundred. Those are the last four letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Okay. So you take the name of the man, the letters. Normally they’re written horizontally. If it’s Greek it’s that way, if it’s Hebrew it’s that way. Okay? Instead of writing them horizontally you write them vertically. And against each letter you write it’s numerical value. Then you draw a line at the bottom and if you went to school in my days you add it up and if you went to school in your days you use a calculator! But one way or the other you come up with a total. But now, let me tell you something very, very interesting. If you take the name Jesus in Greek, write it vertically and write the numerical value against each letter, guess what you get? 888. So when I saw that I personally was convinced that that’s the way to find out. This may be very important to you one day. Who knows. There may arise a very dynamic popular, clever, charismatic ruler. And you’re thinking, oh, now humanity’s problems are going to be solved. Inflation will come to an end, there’ll be no more unemployment, war will cease. He’s probably from the Middle East somewhere. So you one day, you just get hold of his name, you write it vertically, write the numerical values against it, add it up and a cold shiver goes down your spine. You know why? Because it adds up to 666. It’s not difficult. It’s not the theme of this message but it may be one of the most helpful things I’ve told you tonight because I am inclined to believe that the shadow of Antichrist has already fallen on the stage of human history. And God does not want his people to be deceived.
So, who are the ones that are going to make it through? Who are the ones who are going to find God’s ultimate destiny? The ones that have the name of the Father on their foreheads. God won’t stamp his name on your hand. You can do that if you go to Disneyworld, which is just a little preview of what things are going to be like. Except that Disneyworld is erasable and this won’t be. For time or eternity. Once that’s on your hand there’s no chemical that will ever erase it. It’s a frightening thought.
Let’s look at one other passage of scripture here. John 5:43, we went there in the beginning, we’ll come back here now. Jesus says:
“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another [I have no doubt he means the Antichrist or any anti-christ] shall come in his own name, you will receive him.”(NAS)
This has been fulfilled historically from the time of Jesus onwards. The Jewish encyclopedia, which is a work of Jewish scholarship relating to the Jewish people, recognizes more than forty false messiahs who have come to the Jewish people. Some remarkable people. ?Sabbatite Sphee? who led thousands of Jewish people in expectation that he was going to give them back the Promised Land and ended up by being converted to Mohammedism. And others. Moses of Crete who led hundreds of people into the sea believing that if they followed him into the sea they’d come to the Promised Land. All that happened to them is they drowned.
All right. If another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. Can you see what it is? It’s the Father’s name or the name of the Antichrist. That’s the choice.
Now, one more thing about the Antichrist. 1John 2:22–23:
“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? [the Messiah, ?Hamashiah?] This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (NAS)
So in a certain sense, the final issue is the identity of the Father. The Antichrist will not deny God. In fact, he’ll claim to be God at one point. But he’ll deny the relationship of Father and Son within the Godhead which is the distinctive revelation of Christianity. There are three monotheistic religions. All of them originated from one area; the Middle East. Do you know what they are? Judaism, Christianity, Islam. There’s only one awkward historical character that prevents them from uniting. Do you know who that is? Jesus of Nazareth. If they could only get rid of him, they could all say we believe in one God. We believe in Moses, we believe in the commandments. And do you know what’s happening in the church? There’s a very strong move to eliminate Jesus. That’s the spirit of Antichrist at work.
The word antichrist has got two distinct but related meanings. It’s formed from a Greek preposition anti and the word christoswhich is the Greek word for Messiah, the anointed one. Now the preposition anti has two meanings. Number one, against. Number two, in place of. That’s the completeness of the work of Antichrist. Number one, against the true Christ—get him out of the way. But that’s not the end. Number two, replace him with another—the false christ, the Antichrist.
But you see what I’m saying? The decisive distinctive issue is the Son who reveals the Father. And it seems to me that humanity is going to end up sealed one way or the other. Sealed with a lie, the number, the name of the Antichrist. Or with the seal of the Father on our foreheads. And that’s the end of Christianity, the objective, the destination. I am the way, Jesus said, no one comes to the Father but by me. A way that leads no where is meaningless. I really believe there’s a lot of meaningless in Christianity today because people got lost on the way. They haven’t discovered that the way leads to a destination. The destination is the Father. Jesus said, I’ve made thy name known. But I’m going to go on making thy name known. I venture to predict to you that in the circles of Christians that are moving on in the purposes of God, there will be a much greater emphasis on the concept of fatherhood from now on.