Knowing the Father 13, The First Person of the Trinity: God the Father, by Colin Dye

Welcome to Sword of the Spirit, written and
presented by Colin Dye, senior minister of Kensington Temple and leader of London City
Church. Sword of the Spirit is a dynamic teaching series equipping the believers of today to build the disciples of tomorrow. We pray that you find these programs inspiring, and a catalyst in deepening your knowledge of God, your relationship
with the Lord Jesus Christ, and your intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Hello, and welcome to The Sword of the Spirit,
a school of ministry in the Word and the Spirit. Our topic is Knowing the Father. We’ve been
talking about God, who is only one—there is only one God—has revealed Himself to
be eternally existing in three persons whom we call God the Father, God the Son and God
the Holy Spirit. Now it’s not just Christians who describe God like this because they’ve
decided that that’s what they want to believe. We describe God like that because God has
revealed Himself to us to be three in one in the scriptures. And while there is no known
human category of thought or philosophical analysis that can explain this, and after
all, who would expect that the human mind could explain who God really is and understand
that mysteries of His revelation? But we do know that this doctrine is clearly taught
in scripture. For example, the baptismal formula—in Matthew chapter 28 Jesus says that when we
preach the gospel, we are to baptize the new believers into the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit. You see, one name because there’s one God. But the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit shows us that there are three persons
in the one God. We emphasize this in the teaching on Knowing the Father because we come to know
the Father through faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hello, and welcome back to the Knowing the Father teaching. And right now we’re going
to be moving into—concentrating on God the Father, the first person of the trinity. Throughout
this series on the Sword of the Spirit teaching, we cover, eventually, every member of the
godhead. Knowing the Father we’re covering now, we’ve gone to Knowing the Son—we’re
coming to Knowing the Son; also, Knowing the Spirit. So we have a look at each member of
the triune God separately, but remembering that these three persons are one God. And
that’s where I left it at the last session, talking about the trinity. And so far in this
series here, Knowing the Father, I have been stressing that God the Father is the first
person of the trinity, but the fatherhood of God extends to the other members of the
trinity, so that we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as one God
who is Father. But God the Father is, nevertheless, the first person of the trinity. Now that
is something that we must grasp because we are moving now to learn more about this self
distinction of God within Himself, identified as the Father. Now we need to understand that
many times in the New Testament, particularly in the apostle Paul’s writings, when He
refers to God specifically, He means God the Father, very, very often. And the context
usually is a clue and tells us that he does indeed mean that. But in a casual reading
of Paul’s writings, it’s easy to misunderstand a passage and overlook, therefore, the supreme
significance of knowing God as Father and knowing God the Father. Now there are a number
of paradoxes in relationship to this particular subject and what we say about God’s name
and fatherhood is fully true of Father, Son, and Spirit. So we have paradoxes like goodness
and righteousness, transcendence and imminence, love and wroth—these must coexist within
this eternal being known as God. But there are also another group of paradoxes. For example,
fatherhood and sonship, leadership and servanthood, obedience, glory and humility, self sufficiency
and dependence. These must also coexist within the one eternal and infinite being. And it’s
these group of paradoxical aspects which most clearly show the visible relationship that
exists between the Father and the Son. So in other words, we see that the fatherhood
of God is most clearly expressed in God the Father, and the sonship is expressed in the
Son. Leadership in God the Father, servanthood in God the Son. Obedience and glory linked,
of course, with God’s will and the Son’s obedience to that, the glory of God and the
humility of the Son, self sufficiency of God and the dependence of the Son upon the Father.
And so in order for us truly to understand the full revelation of God in the scriptures,
we must understand the relationship between the Father and the Son. And in Matthew chapter
11, we have—and also paralleled in Luke chapter 10—we have some very important passages
which talk to us about the relationship with the Father and the Son. In Luke 10:21, Jesus
makes it clear that His words about the Father were Spirit inspired praised and prayer. In
that day, “In that hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and
revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight.’” So here
we have a very clear hint from the lips of Jesus Himself, that we can only know and understand
the fatherhood of God and only experience that fatherhood through the help of the Holy
Spirit. Now in Matthew 11 and verse 25, Jesus declares that the Father hides this revelation
from the wise and prudent, which means that the knowledge of the Father can only be grasped
as it is given and as it’s revealed by the Spirit, that we increase our knowledge of
the Father by fellowshipping more closely with the Spirit, and that babes, that is,
you know, those who are humble and meek of heart, babes are specially qualified to know
Him. Not by intellectual effort, but by the help of the Holy Spirit. So in Matthew 11:25
it says, “At that time, Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them
to babes.’” And so the revelation is hidden from the wise and prudent and given to babes—those
who do not consider themselves to be especially qualified for such high and holy revelation.
Well of course, it’s not human sophistication that counts; it’s the revelation of the
Holy Spirit. Now in Ephesians chapter 5, this is developed by showing that to be filled
with the Spirit is to give praise and thanks to the Father. Verses 19 and 20 of Ephesians
5 say this, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [stutters] It’s a staggering statement that
we should give thanks to the Father for all things; not just in all things, but for all
things. Now this depends on our understanding that the Father is in control of all things
and that the Father will not allow anything into your life other than that which He can
use for your good and for His glory. Now that takes a revelation, my friends. It doesn’t
happen just by human observation. It happens by revelation when you understand as a Spirit-filled
person that God the Holy Spirit is showing you the heart of your Father, that He cares
for you with an infinite care, and therefore, whatever happens to you happens to you under
His control. Now those two passages—Matthew 11 verses 25-30 and Luke 10 verses 21 and
22—stress the relationship between the Son and the Father. And we see straightaway that
it is a relationship of dependence. Now let me just pause for a moment and slip something
in here because it’s an extremely difficult concept to grasp. But have you ever wondered
why the second person of the trinity is called the Son and the first person of the trinity
is called the Father? Why has God shown that the relationship between the first and the
second members of the trinity is a relationship of father and son? Well we have a clue here,
because the Son is in eternal dependence upon the Father. There is a relationship between
the first and second members of the trinity that speaks to us of fatherhood and sonship.
The Father is the sovereign initiator; the Son is the submissive, obedient one who is
in eternal dependence upon the Father. And yet as we shall see, there is a mutual dependence
because this is one God we’re talking about. It’s not splitting Father and Son into two
separated persons, but these are two uni-persons—two persons within the one God. So this shows
us that the Son is not the primary source or possessor of what He reveals to His disciples.
First, it must be handed to Him by the Father. The Father is the first and the Son is the
second and the second must receive from the first. Moreover, knowledge of the Son is the
right of the Father, which means that the Son depends on the revealing activity of the
Father. John 6:44 underlines this. Jesus said, “’No one can come to me unless the Father
who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.’” Now this dependence
is a major theme of John’s gospel, which constantly stresses that the Son’s words,
His deeds, His actions, His directions, must be received from the Father. Very, very simply,
John 5 and verse 30 says, “’I can do nothing of myself. As I hear, I judge. My judgment
is righteous because I do not seek my own will, but the will of my Father, who sent
me.’” And we see this repeatedly in John’s gospel and I have written for you many of
the references there. But having said that, that the Son depends upon the Father, God’s
unity is not compromised because the Father also depends upon the Son—the first upon
the second. The Father has committed everything to the Son and does not act and does not speak
or give Himself to be known apart from the Son. So the Father says, “All revelation
concerning me must come through the Son.” So the Father, in that sense, depends upon
the Son. So this shows us that we must not overplay the distinctions within the godhead
so that we somehow separate them and have two gods or three gods or something like that.
It also shows us, too, that God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—work together in perfect
partnership and there is a sense, to draw on the human side of this picture now, a sense
in which the Father takes pride and delight in the Son, just as a human father would have
delight in the son. And you can just imagine the father taking the son around the estate
and saying one day, “Son, one day all of this shall be yours.” And the father is
proud about the son’s elevation into that position. Now that’s a human picture and
we cannot directly apply it to God, but we must understand that all fatherhood is derived
from God Himself and we are made in God’s image. And so there is a sense in which there
is this eternal relationship in which the Son is dependent upon the Father, but the
Father wants to commit unto the Son and share with the Son in a partnership together. This
does not mean that the Father has lost the initiatory control of revelation, because
the Son looks to Him at every point. I also, apart from touching on these theological aspects
today, I want to point you in between these statements to its application to us as sons.
Can you see that the Father wants to elevate us and to bless us and to make us heirs and
coheirs with Jesus Christ, His eternal Son? And also, we are to look to the Father at
all times, in submission, in humility, and in obedience. So the Son looks to the Father
at every point. Matthew 11:27, Jesus says, “’All things have been delivered to me
by my Father and no one knows the Son expect the Father, nor does anyone know the Father
except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’” So here we have
this relationship between the Father and the Son—this relationship of union and communion
and intimate knowledge and fellowship and love and God the Father and God the Son together
are saying, “We are drawn into that,” and the Father has committed this into the
hands of the Son and so therefore, the Father is exercising His sovereignty in communion
with the Son, who acts and reveals the Father’s will among men and women. Now it’s this
point where I was told by a very famous theologian, that when we talk in these terms, we are mounting
the very summit of biblical theology. There is nothing deeper, according to that man,
than what we’re trying to talk about today—the relationships between Father and Son and Spirit
and what that means. We can see what it means straightaway, that it is a unique relationship.
It’s unique and it is unique to the Father and the Son and it is also at the heart of
the gospel. Because as I’ve just said, the Father and the Son bring us into that revelation
so that we can enjoy the same intimacy with the Father through the Son that Jesus Himself
has and that also the sonship that we enjoy is related to the fatherhood revelation and
the sonship revelation of Jesus and the Father. And this also points us to a mutual dependence
and shared life. It’s absolutely extraordinary—God’s covenantal relationship brings Him into a
contact with us in which His purposes, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are dependent
upon the obedience of many sons; without compromising His sovereignty. But we are brought into this
partnership and we are kings and priests to our God and that we are coheirs with Christ
and seated with Christ in heavenly places. Well, it’s at points like this that we just
simply have to say, “Lord, [stutters] we are absolutely amazed at Your grace and Your
love.” Matthew 11 and Luke 10 show the first and second persons of the trinity share a
mutual knowledge that is exclusive to them but it is also opened up to men and women
only by the will and choice of the Father and the Son. Now this unique relationship
of the Father and the Son is an essential part of the way we know God and what we know
about Him. To know God is to know the Father through the Son and the Son through the Father.
And we’ve also seen—as we shall see, rather, in Knowing the Son—Jesus is not just the
prophet who speaks the words and points to the truth which could be revealed by some
other prophet. He is not just the minister of God’s truth, for He Himself is God’s
truth. He is the revelation of God’s truth. He is the essential content of God’s truth.
To know God is to know the relationship between the Father and the Son on the earth. And that’s
particularly clear here in Matthew 11 verses 28-30. Let me read it for you. Jesus says,
“’Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take
my yoke upon you and learn of me—learn from me—for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and
you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”
In other words, Jesus says, “Come to me to experience the yoke of the kingdom.”
Most people urge others to go to God. Everybody else must urge others to go to God. But Jesus
says, “Come to me.” In other words, He is the content of the Father’s heart. He
is the revelation of the Father’s heart. He is the truth of the Father. He is the Word
from the Father. He is the Son, who is the brightness of His image. And Jesus is therefore
able to say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” As the Father’s heart of
compassion throbbed in heaven, so the hands and the feet and the lips of Jesus moved in
compassion upon the earth, revealing in perfect harmony what God the Father wanted us to see,
not just to hear; to have demonstrated, not just to have reported. So we can say that
the Father is the Lord of heaven and earth and the Son is the meek and lowly servant
on the earth. But in the middle of Jesus’ humility and humanity, we always see and hear
divine authority as He shares it with the Father. And at the heart of the Father’s
holy authority, we can always find the grace and mercy that He shares with the Son. So
we can see straightaway that revelation and salvation both are effected within this unique
relationship. This unique relationship is the source of salvation because it’s the
very Father/Son relationship that constitutes our salvation. And it’s the Father/Son relationship
which is the very life of God Himself. I feel we need to pause for a few hours now to meditate
on that, but you’ve got it here for you in the manuals and I pray and trust you come
back to these videos and cassettes and this manual time and time again until you grasp
this and until it becomes so much part of you that you will be changed forever. Now
this means that we do not know revelation or salvation unless we know the Father/Son
relationship of God. For both revelation and salvation are divinely intended to draw us
into sonship so that we can know the Father. Now we’ve also seen, as we’ve been looking
at this, that the New Testament teaches us that it’s God’s will and nature for the
Father to speak and act through His Son. So this means that the Father expresses His identity
in and through the Son. John 1:18 says this. “No one has seen God at any time. The only
begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” So this expresses
two truths—that the Father reveals His identity and expresses His identity in the Son because
it is the Son who has made the Father known, and it also must mean that the Son is identical
with the Father in being and nature, so the Son is divine. Because how else could the
Son, in the first instance, know the Father in that sense? Fully know the Father and see
the Father as no one else can see the Father, and how else could He therefore reveal Him
fully if He were not Himself fully God? So only God can reveal God. Therefore, Jesus
must share the divine nature and being if He is to be an adequate and accurate revelation
of the Father. Now this is so, so important, because without this, there could be no salvation—no
salvation. The divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and His relationship to the
Father and the Father’s relationship to Him are at the heart of the gospel. And so
this means that the words and works of Jesus express not only His person and nature, but
the person and nature of the Father. That’s why He constantly claims that His words and
His works are the words and works of the Father. And so the demonstration of this—the union
between the Father and the Son—is in the mighty words and works of Jesus, in which
both the Father and the Son are involved in their different ways. And later on, when we
come to see this in relationship to the cross, it becomes absolutely, vitally important.
So it’s important, therefore, for us to understand that the Bible’s revelation of
God is not to be reduced to some bundle of omnis—omni this, omni that, omni the other.
No. Instead, God is the God who intervenes. It’s not this abstract, theoretical, textbook
formula. He is the God who personally intervenes. He is the transcendental interferer—the
divine interferer—who comes and changes things. He is the heavenly Father who speaks
and acts, who loves and deals in saving grace, who protects and provides for His creatures
and children, who counts the hairs on our heads and feels pain when a sparrow falls
to the ground. Oh, He is not that metaphysical iceberg. God makes Himself known as the Father,
who makes the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the dead rise. He is the
Father who works salvation and whose words and works are known and effected through His
Son. The simple truth is this—there is no word or work of the Son which is not also
a word or work of the Father. So we have this Father/Son relationship, this Father/Son partnership.
And it’s fundamental to the New Testament understanding that this partnership with the
Father relates to all God’s dealings with humanity. So the coming, living, dying, and
rising of Jesus is the indispensable clue to the Father’s purpose in creation, in
redemption, and in judgment. While it is true that we cannot know the Father except by knowing
the Son, we must not forget that we know the Son so that we can know the Father. Many,
many believers need an occasional reminder that the Father is the primary focus of the
faith—not the Son or the Spirit. Let’s have a look at this. They are partners in
creation. “All things were made through Him,” John 1 verse 3. “Without Him nothing
was made that has been made.” So God partnered with the Son in creation. Colossians 1:15-17,
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all
things were created that are in heaven, that are on earth—visible and invisible—whether
thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him
and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things consist.”
And that brings today’s teaching on Knowing the Father to an end. I pray that as you’ve
been watching today and throughout all these programs, God will be drawing you closer and
closer to His love, that you will really get to know the Father. We’ll be back next time
with more in this Sword of the Spirit series on Knowing the Father. God bless you.

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