The Self-Revealing Father

We correctly picture God the Father as the sovereign creator. There is a missionary aspect to all of God’s work, in creation as well as in the history of redemption. God the Father is truly a missionary God. He reaches out to mankind with the same freedom as He had when He created, not out of necessity but “out of the fullness of his abundance.” His desire to save man comes out of an abundance of mercy and compassion, coupled with the appropriate sense of justice.

God the Father began his mission with the revelation of himself. He did not reveal “truth” per se, but himself. Since He is Truth, truth was revealed as well. His purpose was (and remains) that humanity know and acknowledge his Person and Lordship. It is his desire to restore fellowship with humanity, to be truly and eternally reconciled with the creature. One Old Testament writer connects Israel’s view of God with the “reality of an immediate spiritual communion between God, and man and the world.” We know God truly and fully not by believing truth about him but by knowing him as a Person, in an intimate and personal way.

Creatorship, sovereignty, and fatherhood are all foundational to an adequate concept of mission The creation of man in the image of God establishes God’s Fatherhood and the expectation of man’s obedience and submission as true sons and daughters of God. Man’s rebellion, which deeply offended God and created an estrangement, could not destroy or alter the fact that mankind was a significant creation. Mankind became estranged from God but remained the separated sons and daughters. God seeks and welcomes their return. Hans Küng reminds us of the central truth in the story of the prodigal son. He writes: “the main figure is not really the son, but the father. For it is the father who lets his son go freely, neither chasing nor following him. It is the father who sees him returning from exile before he is seen by the son, who runs toward him, interrupts his confession of guilt and accepts him without demanding an explanation, without a period of probation, without preliminary conditions. It is the father who then has the great feast prepared.” The parable teaches that God truly desires and welcomes back his lost children. The parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep emphasize this truth.

James V. Taylor says that “our God is a living God, and from his very Being there is a constant `going forth’.” He also sends. God the Father’s mission is most clearly revealed in his sending activity. God revealed himself to Abraham and then called him and sent him out on a mission through whom God would bless the nations through him and his people. Israel’s election was a continuation of this sending aspect of God’s mission. They were to be a nation of priests and representatives of the true God. In their travels and settlement in the Promised Land, and in their subsequent dispersions, they were on a mission for God. The Incarnation of Christ, a part of the “sent” nation, was the ultimate “sending” of God. His mission flows out to the world. God the Father is on “outgoing” God. He is the “outshining” God, the God of light who seeks to enlighten man to his spiritual need and to illuminate his path so that it might lead him back to God.

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