What is a Father?

As you read and study what has been written here, do not just blindly accept it.  Please check the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His truth.  The Scriptures quoted are from the King James version with the words of Jesus in red.


For most of us the concept and image we have of the Heavenly Father is how we have viewed our own natural father. In too many instances that image is very much different from how Scripture describes our Father God. Even when we are well grounded in the Scripture, we still are biased by the image of our natural father. The best fathers still have traits of the sinful, ungodly, and unredeemed man yet working in them. For those who knew fathers that were unkind and abusive or were "non-existent" in their lives it becomes an even greater task to view the Heavenly Father as He should be known.

Sometimes we might be able to relate to Jesus because we have known, or know of, natural brothers who present favorable impressions upon us. Father God and the Holy Spirit, however, cannot not be seen and our experience with a natural father makes it difficult to comprehend just how much love He has for us.

We learn how to be parents from our parents and they are good teachers, or rather, we are good students. We learn well the things they teach us mostly through their actions rather than the words they say to us. Sometimes what they teach is good, but all too often the example they set for us is a very poor one. If our experiences are unpleasant, we often try to avoid that same type of behavior in ourselves. Generally, however, we tend to fail with our actions as parents being much the same as those of our parents. Whether we like it or not we are products of our environment to a great degree.

Many children today are being raised by only one parent which is often the mother. This situation usually leaves no male as a role model for the child. In many cases the father is not there because of divorce and the mother may be bitter over the situation. That bitterness may unconsciously be transmitted to the child by the mother.

Children are quick to learn, especially those things they shouldn't. When they see the unhappy conditions which ultimately may bring about a divorce they quickly learn to be defensive, resentful and/or hateful.

The world's idea of the "Macho Man" is unfortunately demonstrated as the perfect father image, even among the church. That image has no room for compassion, empathy, mercy, or tenderness as the Heavenly Father is shown to be in Scripture.

My own father was always there physically. He provided the necessary food, lodging, discipline, and also a degree of instruction. Most of the time, however, he was so engrossed in earning a living wage to support his family that I can't recall him ever holding or hugging me. In fact, I am not able to remember him exhibiting any real degree of emotion ever. Probably the most valuable lesson he taught me by his example was one of consistency. His manner was always predictable and you could always believe he would do what he promised. His dispensing of discipline was always in line with the rules he had previously set forth. I am very thankful for the influence he had on me but am left with an image of a father who was strict, stern, and just but without compassion.

As my own father was, so also was I. The example he set for me was to a large degree, duplicated by me. When I accepted Jesus as Savior, at the age of 45, He began to soften the sternness I had learned from my own father. It is unfortunate that my son was already 23 years old before this change started. 21 years later, when my son went home to be with the Lord Jesus, God had done much to change me but there was, and still is, a substantial work remaining to be accomplished. I passionately urge you fathers, and fathers-yet-to-be, to immediately start the process of moving from the "Macho Man" to that of the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father. Be diligent in asking for, listening to, and following the Holy Spirit's direction to you in making this very important change. I also urge you sons to do likewise.

All of us, regardless of the human father we have known whether it be natural or adopted, has difficulty relating to our Heavenly Father. No matter how wonderful our human father was, or is, the greatness of our Heavenly Father is so far beyond our ability to comprehend the extent of it.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:9-11)

We are not given the opportunity to fully understand the Heavenly Father but we can begin to know Him by looking at the characteristics of God the Father and Jesus the Son. We are told we have seen, or known, the Father because we have seen, or known, Jesus.

Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:8-9)

God is Spirit

God is a Spirit which has no form or physical body and is invisible to our human eyes. Jesus taught that God is Spirit. (John 4:24, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.)

Our God is a triune God consisting of, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost. Jesus taught this and also Paul in the closing declarations of his letter to the Church at Corinth.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

God is Holy and Righteous

His moral character is above all other. When Isaiah, in a vision, saw God sitting on a throne amidst the seraphim he, Isaiah, was struck by God's Holiness and cried "woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people with unclean lips."

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:19-24)

God is Eternal

Genesis 1:1 "states very simply "In the beginning was God..." He existed from the beginning and will continue to the end.

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:7-8)

God is Provision

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:13-14)

God is Wisdom

Paul, instructing Timothy, about four of the attributes of God said "He is the only wise God."

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)

King Solomon when visited, in a vision, by God who asked "what shall I give thee?" answered that he wanted wisdom to properly rule and judge the people.

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. (1 Kings 3:9-10)

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

God is Mercy

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (Genesis 39:21)

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Romans 9:14-15)

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:30-32)

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved; (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

God is the Justifier

God's grace, through our believing the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, justifies us. We who believe were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Jesus, called, justified and glorified by God.

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:29-34)

God is Truth

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 117:1-2)

Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. (Psalm 119:142)

Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. (Psalm 119:151)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:6-7)
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 115:26-27)

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:17-19)

God is Compassion

And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. (Psalms 78:35-38)

God is Love

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:14-16)

These Scriptures have described some of the attributes and character of God, both as a Father and as a Son. The examples shown here are only a sampling of the many other Scriptures which define how great and loving our Heavenly Father is. I encourage you to spend the time to search them out for yourself that you also may know more about Him. I also encourage you to spend time in prayer seeking to know Him rather than just knowing about Him.

It is unfortunate we seldom see these attributes of God in many of our own earthly fathers and sons. There are many reasons why this may be so. Probably the top two reasons are the worlds idea of the "Macho Man" and the lack of a good role model present in a persons life. We, for the most part, have done a very poor job of teaching our sons to be loving, caring, compassionate, merciful, just, truthful, wise, Holy and Righteous males who are also good providers for their families. We also, all too often, have not followed the instruction given in Proverbs 22:6 to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

In the 6th chapter of Ephesians and the 3rd chapter of Colossians we are given instruction for both fathers and children which has in too many cases been ignored. Today's society is rife with cases of youngsters who are disobedient and parents who engage in the abuse of their children. It is regrettable that today little difference can be seen in the behaviors of parents and children between those of the church and of the world on this point. The multitude of counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and pastors available to the church family has not been able to overcome this problem. Perhaps this is because the lack of proper teaching on "becoming a good father" by our own fathers and also the modeling of a "father image" by our school teachers, neighbors, and pastors has been so neglected.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:20-21)

Where do we begin, and how do we go about, getting the vision of what a father is from God's perspective? Our first effort should be to ask God in prayer to reveal, Himself as the Heavenly Father, to us. Along with this we need to develop a relationship with Jesus where throughout each day we commune with Him. This combined with a study of the Scriptures will allow the Holy Spirit to show us a model or pattern to follow. As we then begin to practice these Scriptural patterns shown us, we can model them for others to see and follow. One of the many precepts we will be shown is that which John wrote in describing the revelation of Jesus Christ given him on the isle of Patmos which is that we are "priests unto God." Our priestly duty begins at home with our family. As we take on our "priestly duty" at home we will then begin to demonstrate for our children an image more in line with our Heavenly Father's likeness.

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:4-7)

Bill Liddle
September 19, 2001

 If you desire additional information you may contact me:  Bill


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