In an age when families are often split and there seem to be more single parents than ever, the concept of God as our Father loses meaning with many people today. Here are five ways God is a father to those who have earthly fathers and to those who do not.
1. God as Father provides salvation for any who believe.
God the Father sent his Son, Jesus, to die a shameful death on a cross so that sinners might also become sons of God. Anyone who trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins is united to Jesus and made his brother or sister. This gives believers a family—a place where they belong:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4–5)
A Christian's identity has changed from belonging to the world to belonging to God.
2. God as Father gives his children an inheritance.
In biblical times, only sons could inherit their father’s property after the father died. This is why the Bible calls believers sons and never daughters. However, the point is not to exclude women but to emphasize the fact that all children of God—both male and female—are heirs:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal. 4:6–7)
This inheritance is nothing less than heaven itself, the place where God and his people dwell together in perfect love and harmony.
3. God as Father is approachable.
In the Old Testament, ordinary Israelites could not enter into the presence of God. Only the high priest could enter the most holy part of the tabernacle after a great amount of ceremonial cleansing and strict adherence to many regulations. When Christ died on the cross, his sacrifice made it possible for all to enter into the very presence of God without the need for a priest. Believers can now approach God as a son or daughter approaches a loving father who loves and cares for his children:
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
God’s children can bring their cares, worries, frustrations, joys, and laughter before the Father freely and safely.
4. God as Father disciplines his children.
The author of the book of Hebrews says that discipline is a sign of true sonship:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Heb. 12:7–8)
God disciplines his children, never unfairly or unjustly, but tenderly so that they continue to be a part of his family (1 Cor. 11:32).
5. God as Father loves his children perfectly.
Human fathers fail their children in many ways either through abandonment, abuse, unjust anger, neglect, or other sins. Human fathers fail to be perfect fathers because all humanity is sinful. God, however, is the perfect Father, the father every human father should be like:
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 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! (Matt. 7:9–11)
God delights to give good things to his children. He loves, cares for, and protects his children perfectly. Whether we have a good or poor father on earth, we can rest in the knowledge that we are adopted into God’s family in Christ and have the best father ever, forever.