Many Christians who love God without reserve struggle with the idea that God loves them infinitely more than that. They cannot grasp the thought of God as their Father—the Father—because of the poor example of their own fathers as they grew up. If their earthly fathers have been absent from their lives or they have suffered physical or sexual abuse from their fathers, the whole concept of “father” is skewed for them. They think of themselves as damaged and unlovable and this leads to difficulties in viewing God the Father as their own “Abba Father” who loves them beyond measure.
In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important in many ways, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names of God in understanding how He relates to people. The word Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.”1
Today’s post is a devotional from John MacArthur’s book, Daily Readings from the Life of Christ.
Knowing God as Father
“‘“Our Father who is in heaven . . .”’” (Matthew 6:9).
Only those who have come to God through Christ can call God “Father.” He is the Father of unbelievers only in that He created them (cf. Mal. 2:10; Acts17:28). It is only those who trust Jesus who have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).
In the Old Testament, faithful Jews saw God as the Father of Israel, the nation He elected as His special people. Isaiah proclaimed, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isa. 63:16b; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Many of them even saw God in an intimate way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Pss. 89:26; 103:13).
But because of their disobedience toward God’s commands and their embracing of false gods around them, most Jews of Jesus’ time had lost the true sense of God’s fatherhood and viewed Him as only the remote Deity of their ancestors.
These six words at the beginning of the Disciples’ Prayer reaffirm that God is the Father of all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself used the title “Father” in all His recorded prayers except one (Matt. 27:46). Although the text here uses the more formal Greek pate–r for Father, Jesus likely used the Aramaic abba when He spoke these words. Abba has a more personal connotation (cf. Mark14:36; Rom. 8:15), equivalent to the English “daddy.”
Because saints belong to Jesus the Son, they can come to God the Father (“Daddy”) as His beloved children.
Certainly in our decadent day and age, many are increasingly growing up in homes where “father” is a person to be feared, a person who rejects, a person who demeans and devalues. How does God’s identity as “Father” fill the holes left by even well-meaning dads who fall short of what their role requires?
Please visit John MacArthur’s site, Grace to You.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.