WHAT DO YOU THINK OF when you think about God the Father? Is he the angry member of the Trinity who sends his gracious and merciful Son to propitiate that anger? Is he primarily a disciplinarian, a great paternal figure eager to take out his switch and thrash his little ones?
Yes, he gets angry, and yes he is a disciplinarian, but he is also love, and his love surpasses knowledge. “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son…” (Jn. 3:16).
You should also think of him as warm, affectionate, gracious, kind, and compassionate, yet also firm and unyielding in holy justice. In fact, here is how he described himself to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord God, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin…” (Ex. 34:6-7).
If you are struggling with your concept of God the Father, here is the secret to seeing him in all of his moral beauty. We know him through his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. In John 14, Jesus’ disciple, Phillip, asked Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Jesus responded. “Phillip, if you have seen me you have seen the Father.” In other words, I am going to die tomorrow, and through my death and resurrection I am going to show you what the Father looks like. I and the Father are one. I have come to reveal the Father. I have come to demonstrate what my Father’s words to Moses look like, in action.
This is what the late, great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones meant when he said, “You will never know God as Father except by Jesus Christ, and in particular, by his death upon the cross…Look there, gaze, meditate, survey, the wondrous cross. And then you will see something of him.” The Cross, MLJ, pg 72,74
My personal hero, Jonathan Edwards, adds these prescient words, “God the Father is an infinite fountain of light, but Jesus Christ is the communication of this light. Some compare God the Father to the sun and Jesus Christ to the light that streams forth from him by which the world is enlightened. God the Father, in himself, was never seen: ’tis God the Son that has been the light that hath revealed him. God is an infinitely bright and glorious being, but Jesus Christ is that brightness of his glory by which he is revealed to us: ‘No man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him'” (John 1:18).
Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol X, (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1992) pg 535-36