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God our Father: Francis Cheynell on the Trinitarian Character of Faith

6 February, 2009

The faith of Christians delights to exercise itself upon God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God the Father, is pleased to be our tutor, to condescend so far as to teach us — and oportet discentem credere [it is is necessary to believe while one learns], and scholars are not above their teachers. ‘It is written in the prophets, “and they shall all be taught of God”; every man therefore that hath heard and hath learnt of the Father cometh unto me’ (John 6:45). We must believe the record that God the Father gives of his Son (1 John 5:10). When we look upon God as the Father or our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and look upon him as our God and Father in Christ, these near and dear relations do encourage us to believe him, and believe in him; to believe his truth, to believe his love. His fatherly and tender [affections] do persuade and even constrain us to fix our belief and place our confidence in God the Father.

The ‘heirs of promise’ have good encouragement to believe their Father, who gives them all they have and hope for, when he declares the immutability of his counsel in a faithful promise, and confirms it by an unchangeable oath (Heb 6:17, 18). Surely the Father will not deceive his own children of their inheritance which he hath made over to them by promise and oath; this is the ground of all our hope and comfort: we may safely ‘cast anchor’ here (Heb 6:18, 19). In the Old Testament, the covenant runs in the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but in the New Testament it runs in the name of Christ. There we read ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’; but here we read ‘God our Father’, ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’–that is, our God and Father in Christ and for Christ, our Father because Christ’s Father. ‘Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father; and blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all Spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ’ (Eph 1:2-3).

We cannot but look up with faith and confidence to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, as the fountain of grace and peace and glory. This dear fatherly relation of God to Christ, and in Christ to us, is sometimes darkly intimated and but hinted, and sometimes clearly and fully expressed to encourage our faith. The disciples were very sad because they heard our Saviour speak of going to his Father: ‘Go’, said Christ, ‘to my brethren and say unto them’, etc. (John 20:17). What should Mary say for their consolation? Was it enough to tell them my Lord is alive, and calls you his brethren? No, that were too dark an intimation, and therefore our Saviour gives her her message in words at length: ‘Go to my brethren and say unto them I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and to your God’ (20:17). Here’s an evangelical ground of faith, hope, and comfort in the time of sadness and distress.

The great argument used to encourage poor trembling believers to come to Christ when they have interrupted their fellowship with God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Comforter by any grevious wounding sin is this: ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous’ [1 John 2:1]. God is a Father both to us and our Advocate, therefore renew the sense of your justification by faith at the throne of grace. You see, our faith is encouraged in the saddest trials by this argument. ‘The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort’ (2 Cor 1:3), the fountain of grace and peace (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3). Jesus Christ makes it his business to persuade poor tempted souls to believe that his Father loves them and bears good will to them: ‘the Father himself loves you’ (John 16:27). And Christ gave himself to deliver us from sin and the world, death and hell, ‘according to the will of God our Father’ (Gal 1:4). And God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).


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