When It Hurts to Say “Father” (Galatians 4:1–7)

“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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” —Galatians 4:4–6 (ESV)

Here we have a double sending by the Father. First, He sends His Son, then He sends the Spirit of His Son. He not only sends His Son that we might be sons; He then sends the Spirit of the Son that we might know and enjoy our sonship. 

“Father,” we cannot say it too often, but surely we say it too frivolously. We must not forget what the Father gave, what the Son paid, and what the Sprit testifies of that we might address the Holy God of heaven as “Father.”

Unfortunately, for many in these fatherless times, the term causes them to cry not in joy but in pain. If so, know that the pain is so intense because “father” is meant to mean so much. Contrary to the philosophers of our age, God is not a construct of our father pain. Douglas Wilson writes, “We do not project our ideas of fatherhood up onto the big screen of the heavens. No, God’s ultimate idea of fatherhood is projected onto the little screens that each of us carries around.” Any pain we might associate with God the Father as Father is because we’ve turned the projector around so that it’s blinding our eyes. We’re not meant to project our earthly father’s image up, but our heavenly Father’s image down. In his work on the Lord’s prayer, R.C. Sproul wrote:

“I know people who struggle to address God as Father. People have said to me, ‘I can hardly bear to say it, because my earthly father was a cruel and insensitive person.’ People have told me of instances in which their fathers committed child abuse, and they have asked me: ‘After that experience, how could I possibly address God as Father? The word is repugnant to me.’ I can understand that reaction. I usually acknowledge that what makes the pain and torment they bear in their psyches so severe is the fact that these things didn’t happen at the hands of a next-door neighbor, an uncle, or someone else—it was from their father. Nature itself teaches that they rightfully should expect much more from their earthly fathers than they have received.”

Father pain does testify to our heavenly Father. The stinging void says something was meant to be that isn’t as hunger speaks to food. Saints, the one you cry out to as “Father,” is the one who sent His Son so that we might be adopted as sons. The one you cry out to as “Father,” is the one who sent the Spirit of His Son, that we might know and enjoy our sonship. Can we not then reason as Paul? “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

A Boat that Won’t Float Downstream (Colossians 3:21)

When the New Testament addresses parenting, it is the father who is addressed. There are only two places in the New Testament where parenting is explicitly dealt with.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21 ESV)

The father is the head. The father is responsible.

Adam’s first sin was that he failed to be responsible. Following on the heels of this, he sinned by failing to take responsibility for his irresponsibility. First, Adam does nothing. He received the charge to keep, to guard and protect the garden. When the snake came. He did nothing.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV)

When Adam did do something, it was just as bad as his doing nothing; he blamed his wife. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate (Genesis 3:12 ESV).”

When there was sin in the garden, God came calling for Adam. Men, when the fruit of sin is eaten in your home, when the lies of Satan are tolerated in your garden, it’s you God will call for. When a general loses a war, he can’t whine about the soldiers. A good general will bark at the soldiers, but he may not blame them. This isn’t to give a father license to bark, but to show the sissiness of blame shifting.

Responsibility travels upstream. You can’t float the boat of responsibility downstream with a thousand oars. Responsibility always goes up, so you can’t pass the blame down. Fathers, beware of blame shifting in the home, for the only step up from you is the Father. This is what Adam did when he said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me.”

Sacrificial responsibility is something a man can bear only in the Second Adam—the Christ, who though innocent, bore responsibility for our sins.

Tolle Lege: Family Shepherds

Family ShepherdsReadability: 1

Length: 179 pp

Author: Voddie Baucham

“If you can’t say ‘Amen!’ you can say ‘Ouch!’” so Voddie often says. Well I say “Ouch!” and “Amen!” to his book Family Shepherds. Convicting but not condemning, men, you will not only be encouraged but equipped to shepherd you family after reading this book.

Ask any Christian, “Who is responsible for discipling children?” and you’re likely to get the right answer: “Their parents.” However, probe further and you’ll find confusion, conflation, equivocation, and perhaps downright indignation toward any approach to discipleship that’s actually predicated on this unquestioned premise. While we all agree on the clear biblical mandate for parents to disciple their children, we’re unclear as to what that entails. We’re even less clear on the role the church is to play in offering instruction and support in this endeavor.

Part of the problem lies in that we usually begin from the wrong starting point. Virtually all the debate over the discipleship of young people begins with the assumption that church structures and programs such as the nursery, children’s church, Sunday school, and youth group are foundational discipleship tools, and whatever happens must take place within that framework. But what if those things didn’t exist? What if there were no nurseries, or youth groups, or Sunday schools? How, then, would we propose a plan for one generation to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Ps. 78:4)?

Fortunately, we don’t have to invent such a scenario from scratch. All we have to do is open the pages of the Bible and begin reading. There we find a world where the aforementioned programs and ministries did not exist; there we find a disciple-making model that looks almost nothing like the institutional structures with which we’ve become so familial. And there we find family shepherds.

WTS Books: $11.42               Amazon:$11.58

Tolle Lege: Father Hunger

Readability: 2

Length: 207 pp

Author: Douglas Wilson 

Father famine is upon us. The hunger many suffer from is beyond the need for an after-school snack. If there were a camera that could capture the souls, a moving commercial could be made picturing gaunt souls.

Better to starve of food than of fathers. When famine strikes a land its peoples can relocate. Father famine though not only also causes a loss of food, with the loss following you wherever you go, but is also the scourge of a host of societal evils. Even if you are father fed, you cannot ignore this famine around you, it will impact you indirectly.

Father Hunger was my favorite book read in 2012. It was satisfying not simply because the need for such thinking is urgent, but because it is so well prepared. This isn’t a case of going to the grocery store hungry. This is a richly nutritious and exquisite feast.

All this is to say that fatherhood has a point, and that the point goes far beyond the services provided by a stud farm or a fertilization clinic. Fatherhood has a point that extends far beyond the moment of begetting. That point extends into everything, and if we are baffled by what the point might be, wisdom might dictate that we should read the manual—the Scriptures God gave to us. But modernists want to keep that intricate device we call fathers and, when stumped, consult a different manual entirely. This is akin to troubleshooting problems with your Apple laptop by consulting the Chilton manual for a ’72 Ford pickup truck.

Trying to fix society without addressing the central issues of worship is futile in the extreme. A comparable exercise would be somebody who tried to establish a new hive of bees without organizing the new colony around a queen bee. It is not possible to go out into a fresh meadow and organize the bees there by waving your arms. The queen is essential. In the same way, worship is an essential principle in establishing any human culture. Everything else is just waving your arms in a meadow.

Feminism is therefore, at its root, a Trinitarian heresy. God the Son is subordinate to God the Father, but subordination is not inequality of essence. Jesus Christ, the one who submitted and obeyed, was fully and completely God.

Christian men who are taught the ways of Christian masculinity are being taught to imitate Jesus Christ. But when Jesus taught us masculinity, He did this by submitting Himself to the point of death. Biblical authority knows how to bleed for others. So masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility, and this is what Jesus established for us.