Fathers: Be Like Your Heavenly Father—Ephesians 4:6

INTRODUCTION

 

A father and son went fishing one day. After a couple hours out in the boat, the boy suddenly became curious about the world around him. He asked his father, “How does this boat float?” The father thought for a moment, then replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

The boy returned to his contemplation, then turned back to his father, “How do fish breath underwater?” Once again the father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

A little later the boy asked his father, “Why is the sky blue?” Again, the father replied. “Don’t rightly know, son.”

 

Worried he was going to annoy his father, he says, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?” 

 

“Of course not son. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything!” (https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/asking-questions-is-the-key-to-learning)

 

Father’s Day is the day that we show our appreciation to our fathers for all the things that they do for us and teach us (even when they don’t rightly know!).

 

[Take a moment to show appreciation to fathers by having the kids answer these questions:

 

  • My dad is so strong, he can lift a ________________.
  • My dad is really good at ________________.
  • If I had $1,000, I would buy my dad ________________.
  • I love my dad because ________________. (Gigi Smith)]

 

Fathers come in all shapes and sizes. Some, sadly, do not make the best of fatherhood. Most, I think, do the best they can and have a true and honest heart for their kids. They strive to be the one their kids can come to for anything from fixing a broken toy to fixing a broken relationship. 

 

A father is someone who needs to be strong, involved and intimate. That’s a big challenge! But we have a Heavenly Father who does the same for His children, so we have an example to look to. 

 

God the Father is powerful, involved, and intimate. To see this, look at Ephesians 4:6. One verse that we will unpack to see more of the character of God the Father.

 

GOD THE FATHER IS POWERFUL

 

Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

God the Father is “above all.” Sometimes when humans refer to God, we might look or point up. Why do we do that? 

Because God is above all. So if we go up to the edge of space, would we see God? No. The Soviet government made the claim that when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go into space in 1961, that he did not “see God there.” 

 

Well, perhaps Gagarin did not go far enough. Perhaps we need to go farther. Pluto, is the farthest planet (or dwarf planet) of our solar system. It’s almost four billion miles away. You could drive a car there in roughly 5,000 years. If you did, however, you would not find God. God is “above” Pluto.

 

Maybe God lives at the next solar system over—the Alpha Centauri star system which includes three stars and even a planet. It’s 4.3 light-years away, or about 24 trillion miles. 

 

If you thought driving to Pluto was long, this is quite insane! But if you got to Alpha Centauri, you would not find God there. God is above and beyond.

 

Go out at night and look at the stars—gaze at the Milky Way. God does not live on any of those stars. 

 

Go to the very edge of the universe—estimated to be over 45 billion light-years away—and you will not find God living there. God is above it all! I love what the psalm says—

 

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: For his name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:13)

 

The fact that God is above all means that God is powerful. Who else could make a universe so big that we still haven’t found the end of it? I love it when, at the end of the book of Job, God confronts Job and says,

 

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; (Job 38:4–6)

 

All in all, God puts more than seventy questions like that to Job. Job couldn’t answer one of them. Only the wise and powerful God Who sits enthroned above the universe could ask and answer those questions.

 

A child’s first impression of his father is often that of someone who is big, powerful, and above all. 

 

Two little boys were arguing about whose dad was the strongest. One boy said that his dad could hold up several cars with one hand—he’s a policeman! The other boy said, “Oh yeah, my dad can hold up an entire bank with just one little note!”

 

A baby’s mother feeds and cradles him—there’s a God-designed softness and nurturing feel to a mother. But a father is strong and muscular. 

 

A child’s mother is almost always there, but the father is quite often gone at work to provide for the family. He is gone for most of the day and tired when he gets home.

 

Now, there is a God-given design here. God designed fathers and mothers for different roles. Fathers are designed to be strong protectors and providers for their wife and children, and because of that, there is naturally some distance that is felt.

 

But our sinful natures are often eager to take it too far. The natural distance from being a protector and provider becomes a lack of involvement on the part of the father. 

 

Executives of a greeting-card company decided to do something special for Mother’s Day. They set up a table in a federal prison, inviting inmates to send a free card to their Mom. The lines were so long they had to get more cards.

 

Due to the success of that event, they decided to do the same thing on Father’s Day, but this time, not one prisoner felt the need to send a card to his Dad. 

 

In fact, when asked about it, many had no idea who their fathers were. (James Dobson, Bringing up Boys, https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/father-s-day-card )

 

Many people who struggle with God as Father can trace their struggle back to a father who was uninvolved in their lives. But God the Father is not uninvolved in our lives, as we see next in Ephesians 4:6—

 

GOD THE FATHER IS INVOLVED

 

Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

What does it mean that the Father is through all? Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is that God works through all. He works through all of creation. God is involved in all creation.

 

Jesus said,

 

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

 

This isn’t just saying that the Father knows about the falling of a sparrow. It’s that His plan includes that sparrow’s fall. He is involved to some degree in the fall of that sparrow. 

 

Paul says,

 

28 And we know that all things [even the falling sparrow] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

God the Father—is involved so that all things that happen in the believer’s life He is able to work together for their good. 

 

If a sparrow hits a Christian’s windshield, causing them to crash, well—God’s involved in that. He’s working to make that into a good for you—even though you might not see it right away!

 

Maybe you are starting to see the progression here. God the Father is above all, but He is also involved in His creation—He is working through all. It’s just that we might not be aware of how God is working.

 

A song that Noah sent me captures this about our human fathers perfectly. The song is A Father’s Love—The Only Way He Knew How. It says this:

 

For the longest time he was the kind I just didn’t understand

Hard to read and hard to please, 

yeah that was my old man

On the day I left for college, it was nothing new

We never had that heart to heart, he had too much to do

 

He checked the air in my tires, 

the belts and all the spark-plug wires

He said “When was the last time you had this oil changed?”

And as I pulled out the drive he said, 

“Be sure to call your mom sometime”…

 

A hundred twenty thousand miles and 6 years down the road

Brand new life, a brand new wife, 

we just bought our first home

When he finally came to visit, I thought he’d be so proud

He never said he liked the place, he just got his tool belt out

 

And put new locks on the doors, 

went back and forth to the hardware store

He said “Come and hold this flashlight”, 

as he crawled beneath the sink 

“These old wires ain’t up to code and that circuit box is gonna overload”…

 

But on Sunday we all gathered for his 65th birthday

And I knew he’d stiffen up, but I hugged him anyway

It was finally time to say goodbye, 

I knew what was next

Just like he always did right before we left

 

He checked the air in my tires, 

the belts and all the spark-plug wires

Said “When was the last time you had this oil changed?”

And as we pulled out the drive he said, 

“Be sure to call your mom sometime”

 

And I wish I knew back then what I know now…

He was saying “I love you,” the only way he knew how.

 

Just as the son in the song had to learn how to see his father’s love in the things that he did, so we also need to learn to see our heavenly Father’s love in the work He does through creation and us. Even in the painful times, when God seems to be silent, God the Father is involved, working all things for our good.

 

God the Father is powerful, involved, and…

 

GOD THE FATHER IS INTIMATE

 

Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

Look how far we have come! We started with the Father being “above all” and moved to the Father being “in you all.” The Almighty God who challenged Job with questions about creation has bowed to be intimate with His creation. 

 

The Father has always been able to be both above all and intimate. You see this demonstrated in the Old Testament in the lives of people like Abraham, who was a friend of God (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) or Moses spoke with the Lord as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11).

 

But in the New Testament, we find that the Father, through His Son, went further in providing a means for intimacy with Him for all believers. John declares this:

 

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

Look at that word “dwelt” (skēnoō). It literally means to set up a tent and live somewhere. It’s to take up residence in some place. That’s what Jesus the Son of God did. He came and lived among people. And people beheld the Son and in beholding the Son, they beheld the Father!

 

You can not get more intimate than when you live with someone else. Children know the foibles of their fathers and mothers. Parents know the most embarrassing things about their children! All because we dwell together.

 

God the Father, through His Son, came down and lived among us 2,000 years ago. But in Eternity, on the New Earth, the Father’s plan is to live among His people. 

 

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

 

The word “dwell” (skēnoō) here is the same as the one in John 1:14. God will set up His tent among us. The Father will intimately live among us.

 

But for now, we can have this intimacy with the Father by coming to Him through His Son, Jesus. Jesus expressed several times that He and the Father were inseparable:

 

30 I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

 

32 …I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:32)

 

21 …thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee… (John 17:21)

 

The same intimacy Jesus had with the Father is available to every believer. Jesus taught us to be close to the Father as He was close to the Father. 

 

The most famous place He did so is a place everyone knows about—the Lord’s Prayer. How does that prayer start? How did Jesus teach us to pray? “Our Father, which art in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9)

 

This so common to us that we miss how radical it was for Jews listening to it for the first time. I can only find two verses in the Old Testament where God is referred to as Father (1 Chronicles 29:10; Isaiah 9:6). 

 

Do you know how many times God is referred to as Father in the New Testament? Over 250! Jesus taught that addressing the Father was the ordinary way to pray.

 

Jesus modeled intimacy with the Father in His own life. In John 17, when He prayed for His disciples, He used the Father’s name a half-dozen times in that one prayer. 

 

Finally, if you have trouble believing that the Father loves you intimately—believe it, because Jesus said so—

 

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:27)

 

Hey fathers, this is the model we are supposed to be following! 

 

Yes, we are powerful in that we protect and provide for our families. Yes, we are involved, often in ways that our kids may not understand until they are older. But we must also strive to be intimate with them now. 

 

How do we develop intimacy with our kids? One way is to spend time with them. Maybe it’s just eating a meal with them, or playing frisbee, or watching a movie together. Have a time for family devotions in the morning or evening. Go to church with them every Sunday. Even if there is little talk, the time together is preciously intimate.

 

I will give this bit of personal reflection: This week, Noah packed up all his belongings—even his mattress! On Wednesday, he moved to Idaho. 

 

It was not in my vision of how things would go that he would be gone—and far away—so soon. It’s made me really think about the time I have left with my other kids. 

 

Time and time again the pressures of providing for our family pulls us as fathers away from intimacy with our family. But we have to find the time to spend with each one.

 

HOW DOES ONE COME TO GOD THE FATHER?

 

God the Father is powerful, involved, and intimate. But how do we come to Him? First, we need to understand what separates us from God the Father. The Bible says,

 

2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

 

Our sins separate us from God the Father. But being the loving Father He is, He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. His Son Jesus died to pay for our sins. So the only way to the Father—the only way—is through His Son.

 

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

 

Have you trusted in Jesus the Son to come to God the Father?

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