Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a message, posted to YouTube on January 27, 2022, from President of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. You can see past messages here
Greetings, friends. Last week we addressed a very important topic--looking at who God is in the fullness of the Godhead. Today, we will consider more deeply who God the Father is. We know He is our heavenly Father because Jesus addresses Him as "Father" on several occasions, including when He taught His disciples to pray, as recorded in Matthew 6:9,10 —"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
While this beautiful prayer implies an invitation to a very direct and personal relationship with the Father, some view God the Father as the harsh, vindictive God of the Old Testament, with Jesus as the warm, loving God of the New Testament. But is this view really accurate?
Our third Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief states the following:
"God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father."
Of course, this belief is based on a wide range of Scripture passages, as are all of our beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists. You can find the Bible passages related to God the Father and study this topic further at adventist.org/beliefs.
Now, let's consider for a moment that it is the same God in both the Old and New Testament who acts for the salvation of His people.
In Hebrews 1:1,2 we read: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds."
The Old Testament describes God the Father in several ways. Addressing Israel, Moses referred to God as their Father who redeemed them when he said, "Is He not your Father, who bought you?" (Deut. 32:6). "I am a Father to Israel" God said through the prophet in Jeremiah 31:9. "O Lord, You are our Father," cried Isaiah in Isaiah 64:8.
In Psalm 103:13 we are given a wonderfully compassionate picture of God—"As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him." In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, God states in chapter 1, verse 6, "I am the Father." And in Malachi 2:10, the prophet asks, "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?"
Throughout the Old Testament God is acknowledged as gracious and merciful. "Our God is merciful," sings the psalmist and affirms that "His mercy is everlasting" (Ps. 116:5; 100:5). And while God is merciful, His mercy cannot be demanded or earned. God's mercy doesn't blindly pardon but is guided by the principles of justice and holiness. Those who reject His mercy and forgiveness will reap His punishment.
In the Old Testament we see a God who longs to be with His people, as indicated in His words to Moses, "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). He is also seen as a redeeming God--the God of the Exodus who miraculously led a nation of slaves to freedom. God the Father is not some distant, detached Being, but is very much involved in what is happening here on Earth. He can be known personally, as Job affirmed when, despite his many trials cried out, "I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).
The Psalms are filled with references to the God of the Old Testament as being a God of "refuge." "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," we read in Ps. 46:1, and a "God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth" (Ps. 86:15).
The God of the Old Testament is also described as a God of forgiveness. "Who is a God like You," wrote the prophet Micah, " Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19).
What an incredibly beautiful and powerful passage of Scripture this is, describing God, our Heavenly Father!
He is a God of goodness, of faithfulness, of salvation, and yes, of vengeance. For example, in Isaiah 35:4 we read, "Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance; with the recompense of God; He will come and save you'." Notice that God's vengeance is reserved for the wicked--those who have spurned God's mercy and have refused His offer of salvation, although it is freely available to all.
In the New Testament, Paul identifies the Father, distinguishing Him from Jesus, when he writes: "There is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live" (1 Cor. 8:6). He also acknowledges and worships God the Father when he writes, "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph. 3:14, 15).
Of course, the most complete revelation of the Father is given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, who came in human flesh. The Apostle John states, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son . . . has declared Him" (John 1:18). And Jesus Himself said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
In what is no doubt the most well-known verse in all of the Bible, we see the love of the Father when we read, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Our God is a God who gives. Our God is a God who loves. Our Father, who is in heaven, loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die so that one day we might be reconciled to Him, and enjoy eternity with Him forever. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, He eagerly watches for us to return to Him, longing to place His robe of righteousness around us and welcome us home.
Let us worship Him as we pray together just now. Our Father in Heaven, we understand even more the importance of your being our Father. That you have done so much for us and continue to do all to help us to find complete salvation. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to die for us, and to live for us. Thank you for giving to us the ministry of reconciliation, which is exactly what you offered to the world. Thank you for the wonderful aspect that as our Father, we can be reconciled to you, through Jesus Christ. Thank you, for being our Father and for the promise of living with you, with the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout eternity, all because of what you have done for us. We thank you for hearing us in this prayer. In Jesus name we ask it, amen