Derek Prince - Fatherhood Of God
There is nothing in the Bible more important than the revelation of fatherhood. It really is the central theme of the whole Bible. To discover this, let’s turn to a beautiful prayer of the apostle Paul recorded in Ephesians 3:14–15. This is only the beginning of his prayer, but that’s what we need to look at. Ephesians 3:14–15: For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Now there’s something there in the original which isn’t brought totally in that translation. The word that’s translated family there, is patria, and it’s directly derived from the Greek word for father which is pater. We’ve got a lot of words in English derived from it, patriot is one. Patristic would be another.
And so, what Paul is saying is: I bow my knees to the Father from whom every fatherhood in heaven and earth derives its name. That is actually Phillips translation. Let me say that once more. Paul says: I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. Or, every fatherhood. You have to use both words, really. So what Paul is saying is every family is a fatherhood. The head of every family, the source of the life of every family is a father. And every fatherhood is derived from the fatherhood of God. So, the fatherhood behind all other fatherhoods and the reality behind all families, is the fatherhood of God, it’s the supreme reality of the universe. It makes all the difference on how we view things. What do we view as the source of the universe? Is it a big bang? Well, who knows what bang might come next. Is it just some inanimate force that relentlessly works out? Or is it a father?
See, you’ll be a totally different person when you once grasp the fact that the fact behind all life is the Fatherhood of God. I have a friend who is a Catholic who is in ministry. He related some years ago that he was in a very bleak, windy, dirty, street corner of a major American city. Believe me, they have a lot of dirty, windy street corners, bleak. And he felt so depressed and lonely. As a matter of fact, American cities are pretty dangerous places to be. And dusk was falling and he didn’t really know how to handle the situation, but he just began to say: Father, Father, Father. He probably repeated the word twenty times. He said his whole attitude changed. He realized there was a Father behind everything else.
You see, the realization of fatherhood will give you identity, it will give you security, it will give you motivation. We are surrounded today by billions of people on earth who lack those things: security, identity and motivation. God’s purpose is to provide those through the revelation of Himself as Father. And the primary channel of that revelation is the family, which is the prime expression of fatherhood. See, I think many evangelical Christians really have never understood the destiny of our faith. We stop halfway, we never really make the journey to the end.
Let me explain what I mean. In John 14:6, which is a kind of favorite text for evangelicals, Jesus said: I am the way, the truth, and the life Many evangelicals stop there. I am the way, the truth, the life. It’s a tremendous statement but it’s incomplete. Because if Jesus is the way, where is He the way to? What’s the destination if Jesus is the way. He’s not the destination. What is the destination? The rest of the verse tells us: no one comes to the Father except by Me. Jesus said: I am the way but the destination is the Father. I have encountered thousands of evangelical Charismatic Christians, Christians of all sorts, who are born again, who know Jesus as savior and Lord, their lives are committed to him but they’ve never completed the journey. They’ve never really come to know the Fatherhood of God.
In John 17, that famous high priestly prayer of Jesus, He brings this out as the ultimate revelation of the gospel. It’s the Fatherhood of God. John 17:1, He says: Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son that Your Son also may glorify You. That title, Father, occurs six times in this prayer. It’s the theme of the prayer. And then in verse 6 He says: I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. What name did Jesus manifest? Not the name Jehovah. The Jewish people have known that for fourteen centuries. What was the name that was new, that’s almost unknown in the Old Testament, only about three places in the Old Testament. What is the name? Father, that’s right. I have manifested you as Father to these people. And then the last verse of that amazing prayer says this: I have declared to them Your name and will declare it The revelation is not complete, but it’s begun. That the love with which You love Me may be in them, and I in them. What will bring this love to fruition and fulfillment is the revelation of God as Father.
I realize in my own Christian experience for many years I never really saw the destination. Partly because though I had a good father, one who really cared for me and provided for me, my relationship with him was distant. He was an officer in the British Army. During much of my boyhood he was in India and I was in England. And so, in a way, I never really knew the intimate, warm relationship that a boy should have with his father. Consequently, I didn’t realize what was waiting for me in God. I was wonderfully saved, I was serving the Lord, but I hadn’t made the journey to the end because the destination is not Jesus, it’s the Father.
If you study the ministry of Jesus, everything He did was to attract attention to the Father. Every miracle He worked, every word He preached, He gave the Father the glory. And then, if we go on to the last chapter of the New Testament, Revelation chapter 22 verses 3 and 4, we come to the end of the journey. This is the destination. We’re not left, still somewhere on the way. By the time the New Testament ends, the journey is complete. It says here: There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him. What’s the ultimate reward for faithful service? Continued service, that’s right. There’s nothing better than serving the Lord.
So, His servants who served Him in this life shall serve Him forever. And then it says: They shall see His face And remember, that’s the most tremendous climax because Paul said of the Father: Whom no one has seen nor can see, who dwells in light unapproachable. It’s going to take all the processes of salvation to bring us to the place where we can see the Father’s face. And then it says this: His name shall be on their foreheads. What name? Father. Now, when you have a name on your forehead in the Bible, it means you have apprehended the truth in that name. At last we really will have understood what it is to have God as our Father.
There's an interesting passage in Revelation, in chapter 14, which speaks about the 144,000 about whom so many people have so many different theories. Personally, I simply believe they’re just the people that are described exactly. 12,000 from every one of twelve tribes. But as my friend Bob Mumford says: How can I help it if I’m right? See, if I attribute it to him, I sound humble. All right, let’s move on. Revelation 14:1: Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144.000, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. Some texts will say: having His name and His Father’s name. But you see, if you look at the last verse of that section, verse 5: In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
That’s a marvelous recommendation. What’s distinctive about them? They have the Father’s name on their foreheads. They’ve apprehended what it is to have God as Father. So you see, the tremendous sacred privilege of every human father is to represent to his family the Fatherhood of God: the supreme revelation of the whole Bible. God doesn’t just write things on pages, God puts truth in persons. We have the Bible, thank God for the written scripture, but Jesus said: I am the truth. I think many of us would acknowledge that if it was mere abstract truth, it would never satisfy us. What satisfies us is the truth in a person.
You see, I was a professional philosopher. I was tremendously wrapped up in all sorts of exciting theories about life and its purpose and the ideal state. I was a student of Plato, a devoted student of Plato. I read every word Plato ever wrote in the original language. But my problem was I couldn’t live in that rarefied atmosphere all the time. So about half the week I’d be up there with the theory of ideas, and the other half of the week I’d be right down there living in a very carnal way. I never was satisfied because just abstract truth doesn’t satisfy us.
When I met Jesus I knew I had met the truth in a person. And that satisfied me as no abstract truth could ever do. In a certain sense, God has committed to every father the responsibility to represent as a person the ultimate revelation of the Bible: Fatherhood. I would say the most godly thing that any man can ever be is a father. The most God-like thing, because that’s the ultimate revelation of God Himself. Now, every father does represent God to his family. That’s not an option. The question is does he represent Him rightly or wrongly? I suppose the greatest curse of our present age is fathers who’ve misrepresented God.
I remember the record of a man who was witnessing on the street to young men and women. He said to a young man he was talking to: God wants to be your Father. The young man answered: My father is the man I hate most in life. See? Instead of being a recommendation, it was a barrier. Most sociologists and psychologists and other people in that sort of profession would agree that a child forms its first impression of God from its father. Is the father loving, accessible, compassionate, strong? It’s easy for the child to picture God that way. But if the father is bitter, angry, critical or just absentee and irresponsible, that child begins life with a very negative idea about God. And often it takes a great deal to break down that negative approach to God.