Last week we gave an overview of the doctrine of the Trinity. And we saw first of all why it is such a critically important doctrine. We then looked at the definition of the Trinity. And while there is more to the definition than what we gave, we saw that the Old Testament saints and the early Christians saw at least this much of the Trinity. They understood these three points:
First, that there is only one God. That is an essential component to the doctrine of the Trinity. We do not believe in three Gods. We are monotheistic. Deuteronomy 6:4 says Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Deuteronomy 32:39 says there is no god besides Me. John 17:3 speaks of the only true God. And we gave a ton of other Scriptures defending the fact that God is One God, not three Gods.
The second part of that definition is that this one God is three Persons (or three Self-Consciousnesses): the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We looked at quite a number of Scriptures that speak of this plurality within the Godhead. One should suffice for review. At the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16-17 it says, When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
So you have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all being quite distinct from each other at the same time. We also looked at passages that show them talking with each other, planning, ministering and deferring to each other. So there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead. And that confuses us because we think of different Persons as being different beings, and when they are not, we think the person has a mental disorder of multiple personality. But the one God of this universe; the one Yahweh of the covenant is three Persons and perfect in mind and will.
Matthew 28 commands us to baptize in the name (singular) of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The name is Yahweh. And that name belongs to the Father (it is of the Father) and it belongs to the Son (it is of the Son) and it belongs to the Spirit. There is only one Yahweh but three persons. Zechariah 14:9 says, The LORD is one, and His name one. Now it's hard for our minds to hold these first two points together, but it is so important that we keep those two points together. One God, three Persons.
Thirdly, we saw that these three Persons are not each a third of God, but are each fully God, and equal in power, attributes and glory. For example, even though the Father has begotten the Son, the Son is not younger than the Father. An eternal Son and an Eternal Father logically eternally require each other; neither can be younger or older than the other. They are both eternal.
And so today when we start examining what distinguishes the Father from the Son and from the Holy Spirit, it is important that we not think of the differences as in any way relating to their divine nature. One Reformed theology book said, "what distinguishes the Father from Son and Spirit is not the divine nature of the Father. This… is also possessed equally and fully by the Son and Spirit. Therefore, what distinguishes the Father is his particular role as Father in relation to the Son and the Spirit and the relationships that he has with each of them." (Mare, p. 43) And that's exactly right. Obviously what is in common to them can't distinguish them or you wouldn't have three Persons.
If you think of any attribute applying more to one Person than to another, then you get into heretical subordinationism. The Scripture does talk about a subordination of roles or relationships, but not a subordination of attributes or deity or nature or essence (however you want to word it). The Spirit is just as omniscient as the Father. The Spirit is just as omnipresent as the Father. The Son is just as omnipresent as the Father. He is just as eternal. It is not attributes that distinguish the Persons, but roles and relationships. Now this is so, so important when we begin to apply this subject to ourselves. The three Persons are absolutely equal as to their Godhead; they are equal in their attributes; they are equal in power and glory. Where they differ is in their roles and relationship.
And so today, my job is to set before you as clearly as I can the Orthodox description of those roles and relationships without adding anything new or novel. In fact, what I am going to try to do is to reduce down volumes into one little tiny sermon. It's a tough challenge. We won't be able to cover everything. Now, none of this will be new, but I do want to make it practical. And so I am going to take the theory and say, "So what? What difference does it make?" And today we are going to look at the difference it makes that Father is different from Son and Spirit. What are the Father's roles and relationships?
The Father is Supreme among the Persons of the Godhead
The first difference of role and relationship that the Christian church has always – at least up until feminism has rewritten what God can and cannot do – but has always held to is that the Father is supreme among the persons of the Godhead. The Father takes the initiative. In John 8:28-29 Jesus said, …I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things…. Now that's pretty comprehensive. He said, "I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak…" The Father clearly has supreme authority. And so even in Psalm 2 where God the Son is described as being on the throne and ruling over all the nations, the Son doesn't take this to Himself. It says that the Father anoints Him to the task, and the Father sets Him on his holy hill of Zion and the Father says, "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance." It's the Father's role to be asked by the Son and it is the Father's role to be the supreme authority who gives.
In Matthew 11:27 Jesus says, All things have been delivered to Me by My Father. So even though we will be seeing a deferring of the Persons to one another and that all Persons are involved in all works, yet there is an order. It's not the Son that gives all things to the Father, but the Father that gives all things to the Son. The Father is supreme. And the Son is in the position of being the receiver.
Some people will say, "Ahh! I've got one verse that contradicts that. What about 1 Corinthians 15:28, which says that the Son will give back all things to the Father? Is that not the Father submitting to the Son? Is that not an example of mutual submission and mutual giving?" And my reply is No. The very context militates against an egalitarian interpretation.
First of all, the verse before that explicitly says that the Father does not submit to the Son. Verse 27 says, For He [that's the Father] has put all things under His [that's the Son's] feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. (v. 27) He says that all things except for the Father, are put under the Son. We will see in a later sermon that Spirit is put under the Son's authority. But for today, I want you to see that it is clear that the Father is not subject to the Son. In fact, I don't know how more clearly that could be stated.
But what about verse 28? It's true that all that the Father has given to the Son, the Son will give back to the Father at the end of history. But look at the way it is worded.
Now when all things are made subject to Him [that is, Jesus], then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (v. 28)
One commentary (by Bruce Ware – that I have gotten a lot of ideas from in this sermon) brings out the meaning of this by giving a paraphrase. Here's what he said: "At the completion of history, when all things finally and fully are subjected to Jesus Christ the Son, then the Son himself will also be subjected to his own Father, who is the very one who put all things in subjection under his Son, so that God the Father, who is not subjected to anyone – not even to his own Son – may be shown to be supreme and over all that is." So the Father takes the initiative to give all things to the Son, which means He has the authority to give. And at the end of history, the Father is recognized as over all things, including the Son. In fact, the Son voluntarily places Himself in subjection to the Father.
Now some might think that the Son is a special situation because of the incarnation. And theologians do make a difference between the Trinity economically speaking (in other words, the Trinity in relation to creation) and the Trinity ontologically speaking (what God was like entirely apart from creation). However, numerous Reformed theologies have pointed out that the terms Father and Son are not exclusively related to their relationship to creation. The Father has been eternally the Father and the Son has been eternally the Son. There has always been a relationship or role that makes the Father the first member of the Trinity.
So it is clear that the Father is supreme over the Son. He is also supreme over the Spirit. John 16:13 says of the Spirit, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. The Father sends the Spirit, and the Spirit is said to be the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ. So there is an ordering in the Trinity that the church has always held to.
Yet They are still equal in power, glory, nature, and attributes
But this truth in no way annuls the doctrine that the three members of the Trinity are equal in divine nature, in power, in glory, and in all the divine attributes. Remember from last week that we saw many Scriptures speaking to their equality. John 5:18 says that Jesus was making Himself equal with God. Philippians 2:6 speaks of Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. The reason equality wasn't robbery is because He owned that equality.
Now the reason I mention that is that it would be easy to assume that if you are an employee, or a child or a wife or a citizen who is under the authority of another, that you are somehow being demeaned as inferior. But that is not the case. Total equality of nature and inequality of role or function have always been compatible. They are compatible in the Godhead. Even the most radical feminist has to agree that while she is equal to the president of the United States in nature (and I believe that every one of you women and children is equal to the president of the United States in nature), she is not equal to him in function. Even though she is equal to a police officer who pulls her over in nature, she is not equal to that police officer in role or function. Equality of roles is an illogical idea that has never existed in reality. It can't exist. It just exists in some theoretical books.
The Holy Trinity is equal in nature, but not equal in role or function. There is a submission of Son to Father. There is a submission of the Holy Spirit. And they glory in the differences rather than trying to erase those differences. No, they highlight them. They delight in those differences as we will see shortly.
And so the bottom line is that the buck stops with the Father. He was the decision maker, and there are numerous verses to demonstrate that. For example, in Ephesians 1, while the Father makes Christ the focal point and unites all things in Christ, and makes sure that all things submit to Christ, the Father is still the one who is said to be the decision maker and the planner. He chose in Christ (v. 4). He made us accepted in the Beloved. He made His grace and wisdom to abound toward us (v. 8). It was His plan (verse 9). He will guarantee that all things will be gathered together in Christ (verse 10). Verse 11 says, In Him [that is, in Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him [that is the Father] who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
There is nothing in this universe that the Father did not plan. He is the Architect and Designer. Now did He use the Son and put the Son into a significant role? Absolutely yes. The whole chapter speaks of the central significance of the Son. The Spirit as well. The Spirit applies redemption. All three are involved, but there is One who is Supreme. And His title is Father.
At the end of the sermon I am going to be drawing out some applications of this doctrine, but let me quickly go over some other things that the Father does.
The Father generously provides and gives
The Father generously provides and gives to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Now that is something that ought to strike you as odd because the members of the Trinity have no need of anything. The doctrine of aseity (which means that God needs nothing; He is self-sufficient and self-existing) applies to all three Persons.
And so within the Trinity, each of the Person's voluntarily enter into this giving and receiving relationship (I believe) in order to role model for us. No attribute can be given from the Father to the Son, so the Father gives things like people, authority, love, John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me. If you have studied covenant theology you know that there are a lot of verses indicating an eternal covenant between Father, Son and Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world where the members of the Trinity agreed to create the universe and to do things to create a redeemed people. They divvy up the jobs. And for the Son's obedience, the Father promised a people. You are a gift that the Father has given to the Son. Now doesn't that blow your mind? You are a special gift.
In John 12:49, the Father gives authority to the Son. In John 6:27, the Father gave His approval to the Son. John 1:32-33 shows that the Father gave His Spirit to the Son, and John 3:34 indicates that the Spirit was given without measure. The Father gives His praise to the Son. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). You know, there are many children who desperately hunger for the praise of their fathers. They would far rather have a word of praise than a gift. But there are wives who wish that their husbands would give them moral support and back them up in their decisions too. And that same verse shows that the Father did exactly that with the Son: The voice from heaven goes on to say, Hear Him. Listen to Him. He is backing up His Son just as we husbands need to back up our wives. And there are other things that the Father gives.
He gives words to the Son that the Son gives to the Spirit that the Spirit gives to the apostles and they write down as Scripture. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me (John 17:8). Now just that brief listing (and its not complete) all by itself should show you that gift giving is not dependent on need. The Son and the Spirit had no need, yet they are given gifts by the Father. In a later sermon we will see that the Father has no need either, and yet the Son and the Spirit give gifts to Him too. We give gifts as an expression of our love, or our role relationships. Praise is given by the Father, not because the Son needs the praise, and we should take heart to that. Be free with praise. We'll have more to say about that later.
But the Father's gift giving heart is also seen in His relationship to His earthly sons. James 1:17 says Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. So the Father gives gifts to his children. Romans 8:31-32 says that the Father gave us the Son and then goes on to say, What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
The Father is our generous provider. Think of all the things that we ask for in the Lord's prayer, and you will see that the Father is not only the one who is to be revered or hallowed or respected, but He is the One who is our Provider, Protector, Savior, Helper and Guide.
And in all of that He stands as a model of what we should do as earthly fathers. Ephesians 3:14-15 (at least in some versions) clearly indicates that the heavenly Father is the One from whom all earthly fatherhood is named. Is it any wonder then that God says that when earthly fathers don't provide for their own families, they have denied the faith? That's 1 Timothy 5:8. He says that a father who doesn't provide for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. This is how strongly God wants us to model our fathering on earth after our father in heaven.
Another thing that we see with the Father is His enormous humility. A person who didn't know God might think that if the Father provides all things and is in authority over all things, and if the Son does nothing except for what the Father permits, that the Father might be on a head trip; He might be proud. That is to totally misunderstand authority.
Even though He has the highest authority, and even though he has the place of highest honor, He still chooses to do much of His work through the Son and the Spirit rather than doing the work all by Himself. John 6 indicates that one of the Father's role is to draw us by His grace. John 6:44 says, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. That indicates that two of the jobs that the Father does is to send the Son and to irresistibly draw us to the Son by His grace, and one job that the Son does is to resurrect us. And the Scripture lays out other distinctions that we won't have time to get into.
We've already read from Ephesians 1, but that chapter indicates that the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In verses 4-12 Paul emphasizes that every one of those blessings must be obtained through the Son. We are chosen in Christ, adopted in Christ, forgiven in Christ, secured in Him and the Holy Spirit seals us forever. This means that though the buck stops with the Father, the Father delegates to the Son and delegates to the Spirit. He effectively shares and divides the work with the others.
And what the Father does with Son and Spirit, He also does with each of us. Acts 17:25 makes sure to emphasize that the Father doesn't need us. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. So He is not involving us because He needs us. He could do the work all by Himself, but it is of His nature as Father to involve others in the work and in the glory. He calls us to serve in Psalm 100:2, and in hundreds of other verses. He teaches us what service is all about.
Now keep in mind that saving people, extending the kingdom, all the things that we do is really the Father's work, but He gives us a portion in His glory, in rewards and goes out of His way to provide everything we need to accomplish our jobs by providing the resources in the Son and the empowering in the Spirit. This is an incredible privilege. God would not have to honor us with such responsibilities and opportunities for rewards in heaven. But He freely chooses to do so. It's incredible. It's awesome.
Think of the work of creation. God created the first humans, and He could have kept creating them. But He chose not to do so. From that point on He delegated the work of creating new humans to us. Is He involved? Yes He is, just as He continues to be involved in the work that He gives to Son and Spirit. But God says to us, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28), and as we obey that command, we as men and women created in His image, create new babies made in God's image. It blows my mind how God has chosen to involve us in following Him in this creative work.
God took great joy and pleasure in creating mankind, and this is probably one of the reasons why God has chosen to give us a great physical and social pleasure in our own work of creating new lives. Though it is a different kind of pleasure than God had, it faintly reflects His Spiritual pleasure. Making new image bearers is one of the greatest pleasures that humans can have, yet how many Christians use it not to imitate God, not to create, but to simply serve self? Now that's not to say that that's the only purpose for conjugal relations. I have a paper that lists many other purposes. But God wants us to model Him in this creation of souls, and to take great delight in creating souls, and it is not Biblical to desire to have no children. We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply. And that command is a great honor and privilege that Father has bestowed up us. He has given us many things, and He has given us life. And we as fathers freely choose to give life to others.
So you can see that the Trinity is a paradigm of what it means for a person who is in authority to love those who are under him, and to care for them and sacrificially provide for and protect them. It's also a model of how we ought to relate to authority figures over us. And all of us are under authority, aren't we?
So let me try to wrap up some loose threads. I am indebted to theologian Bruce Ware for some of these ideas. I also benefited from several other systematic theologies. But let me close with some further applications.
Learn from God what Fatherhood is all about
First, learn from God, what fatherhood is all about. God the Father insists on our respect and our obedience. Malachi 1:6 says, A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My fear? Says the Lord of hosts. If we allow our children to show disrespect to us we are not imitating God's Fatherhood, and to that degree we have abandoned the role of fatherhood. The Lord's prayer begins, Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name. Others translate it, "may your name be revered," or may your name be honored or respected.
We are failing our children when we allow them be disrespectful and disobedient because it will inevitably lead to dishonor to God the Father. It will lead to disregard for all authority. On the other hand, when children learn to respect, honor and reverence their earthly fathers, it will profoundly affect their reverence for the heavenly Father. We must call for respect and obedience to our authority. If the Son (who is equal to the Father in nature) can say, I honor My Father (John 8:49), we need to model that honor. Ephesians 6:2 says, Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise.
God’s glorious delegation
But this needs to be balanced by showing the kind of care that the Heavenly Father shows to us. Our Heavenly Father is lavish in His generosity. Romans 8:32 says, He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things? Some things He gives us directly. Some things He gives through the Spirit. For example, Romans 5:5 says that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Sometimes God mediates His gifts through His human agents, and He takes delight in sharing the privilege of giving through other people, like you and I. We fathers too should not feel like we have to take direct credit for everything that we give. There are gifts that our wives give to our children that come from our hard earned money, but the wife thought of the gift, bought it and wrapped it so that both of us can find joy in the gift. We enable our children to give from things that we have given them. But this models the Father's love, and sharing and delegation and joint ownership of projects.
Sometimes the Father gives to us and provides for us only as we do the work and as we pray and as we plan. And especially as our children have gotten older, we have transitioned them into this kind of provision. To allow our children to work outside the home was a gift. It was a provision of my fatherhood which I could have revoked at any time if I saw the need. But I did not, because I saw this as bringing maturity, responsibility, an ability to handle risk, joy of ownership, a bit of independence.
So don't think of God's lavish generosity as being a situation where we are passive – strapped to a chair doing nothing but opening our mouths while God plops grapes and other foods into our mouths, and we don't have to do a thing. That's not how God works and that is not how our fatherhood should work. The question is, do your children know that you love them. Do they see that you care for their best? Do they see that you are preparing them to grow up? Do they see that you take the time and attention to make them mature?
Now let me address the whole question of adults who have been abused by their fathers. Sometimes the traumas have been so strong that the very word "father" elicits a strong negative emotional reaction within them. Some therapists have unfortunately recommended that the term "father" be removed from our vocabulary and that God no longer be called "the Father." That is so misguided.
Instead, such a person should meditate deeply on the role of God the Father and look at how fatherhood should have been characterized so that he does not repeat the same mistake. The true father can be tough when needed, but can be gentle, compassionate and tender. We tend to think of those as opposites, yet in God they reside in the same person. Psalm 103:13 says in one version: As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD tenderly sympathizes with those who revere Him. Honor is still called for, yet this father who is in authority is still called tender and able to sympathize.
In fact, one of the most remarkable phrases related to the Son is in John 5:17. But Jesus answered them, The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18) Did the Son really have a need to be wrapped in the Father's arms and drawn into His bosom. No, he has no needs. But the Father hugs Him anyway. That's exactly the metaphor that is being used when it says that the Son is in the bosom of the Father. The Father spends familiar time with Him so that Jesus is in the place to know the Father's heart and to reveal the Father to others. And in the same way, we make a mistake if we only hug our sons and daughters when they are in anguish and need comfort. They need to know our Father hugs and our love. They need to know our tenderness and compassion. That is not just a female attribute. God is called, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3.
If a wicked father has robbed you of his father-heart because of the way that he has abused you, then look to your ultimate Father in heaven, find healing and adjustment of mind as you worship and adore Him, and begin the process of developing and providing this father-heart to your children. Don't perpetuate the problem. Now initially it may be tough to hug when you haven't hugged before, but keep persevering and it will become natural. Keep worshipping in the lap of your heavenly father, and you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You can ask God to make you a father like unto Him.
Another tendancy is for wives to rob men of their fatherhood characteristics by usurping the reigns of authority or by doing things that are especially the father's role to do. One of the father's roles is to teach. And if you wives always come to me for your questions to be asked, your husband will never develop this part of his role. And you might say, "But he doesn't know the answer." That doesn't matter. The father can ask me or can ask one of the other men for the answer and come back to give it to you. And by deferring to him, you will build him, and respect him and encourage him to grow in a way that would not be possible otherwise.
But some women chaff with impatience at this authority structure and want to substitute another. Some are radical. I have already mentioned that feminists have taken the term "father" and all masculine language out of the Bible when it relates to God. They have made it gender neutral, and some have just substituted "mother" for the term "father" when addressing God. But God is not called "Mother." He is called a Father to the Son and He is a Father to us. And the whole family coherence is upset if we try to change God to conform to our ideas rather than changing ourselves to conform to His ideas.
Certainly many feminists have experienced bad fathers and husbands. And I feel sorry for them. That is a tragedy that has happened to them. But even to them, if they will turn from their wicked independence to the father, God promises to be a father and a husband to such women. He doesn't say, "Throw out the concept." No. Instead He says, "I will pattern what it really looks like."
And you women can pray that God's pattern will be poured into your husband's lives and into your children's lives. All of us are only faintly approximating our Father in heaven. So don't discourage us. Encourage us to keep striving. And there is so much more that could be said about what it means to measure our fatherhood after God's.
Backing up those laboring under your authority, encouraging and supporting them
But let's move on to a third application. We should not only marvel at God's delegation of things to Son and Spirit, and His delegation of things through them to us, but we need to learn how to be better at delegating ourselves. Frequently men's egos get in the way of proper delegation. They know how the job needs to get done, and they have a hard time inviting someone else to do the job, and an even harder time giving glory to the person that they have delegated the job to. More often then not, they keep getting their fingers back into the project so frequently and telling people how to do their jobs so frequently that the people get discouraged and give up. But God the Father seems to revel in the work that Son and Spirit do. He glorifies them. He puts the spotlight on them. He speaks about them. If we delegated like that, people would love to work for us.
I think of the apostle Paul who has constant praise for those whom He has assigned tasks to do. Read through his epistles sometime and notice how frequently he praises people in the churches. It's almost like he goes out of his way to find things to praise them about. Now he does make corrections just as God the Father makes corrections for us, and just as it is clear that the Son follows the Father's directions and Spirit follows the Son's directions. And we read some of those Scriptures last week. But Paul's delegation like the Father's delegation is a balance of direction and empowerment, or guidelines and freedom.
When God delegates, He does not abdicate. The buck still stops with Him. When he delegates, He doesn't stop all work like some earthly delegators very lazily do. When I was a kid there was a show called Archie Bunker, and Archie would just sit on the couch bossing his wife around and telling her what to do. Let me just read a few verses related to God the Father's delegation and let's learn from them.
John 5:17 says, But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." If you hand out jobs left and right to your children but you don't do anything yourself – if you are just a couch potatoe, you are rejecting God as a model of delegation.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)
This teaches us fathers how to teach our children. Scripture does talk about verbal instruction, but this indicates the importance of having a Son imitate what we model. If you are trying to get them to clean their rooms, go in their once and do the whole job with them. You start scrubbing the floor, and then hand it over to your son and say, "OK, try that on this spot." And you can give some encouragement and correction.
But modeling as a father reflects the Fatherhood of God. How do your children learn to be self-disciplined? By watching your self-discipline. How do they learn to fast? By seeing you fast. How do they learn to honor their wives? By watching how you honor your wife. Do you have bad habits? Your sons and daughters will probably follow your bad habits. The key phrase in that verse is what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. That can be a scary thing for a father. But it is what fatherhood is about.
For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (John 5:20)
This verse shows that we as fathers should be trying hard to teach our boys all that goes into being a father. Show them your mistakes so that they can avoid them. Show them your successes. But don't show them all at once. Even with Jesus, who grew and developed over time as to His manhood, this verse shows that the Father gradually unfolded things that he was showing. It happened over a life time. So it's not enough to sit down once with your children when they are teens and say, "I want to talk to you about life." No. It doesn't work that easily.
I've already mentioned another facet of delegation. We need to notice what those who are under us are doing, and praise them. I've not always been good at this. Paul was a master at it. If you want to learn, study the Father and study Paul and you will have all the information that you need to make those under you feel important, needed and appreciated. And that's true, even if they goof up. Read how Paul deals with the jerks in 1 Corinthians. Yes he is tough on them, but he is also lavish with praise and with noticing all the good things that they have done.
Delighting in submitting to authority, encouraging and respecting; delighting in leading sacrificially
Here is an application to those of you who are not fathers. Think of the ways in which Son and Spirit delight in submitting to the Father, and I challenge you to take delight in submitting to your spheres of authority. That runs so contrary to our flesh, but we need to learn to glory in submitting to authority. Even though the Father shows great humility in the way in which He defers to the other members of the Godhead, there is a Biblical insistence that the Father have His rightful place among the Persons of the Trinity.
But the Father must back up the wife before the children as well. I know of one family (not in this church) in which the children wouldn't dare sass the dad, but they sass the mother continually and get away with it. That is a huge betrayal of the man's fatherhood. John 5:23 says, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
But the same is true of the Spirit. You see the Son demanding the same honor for the Holy Spirit who is under His authority. In fact, I have one verse here that shows that Jesus demanded greater honor for the Holy Spirit than He demanded for Himself. Listen to Matthew 12:32. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. That is saying that Jesus was willing to put up with more rebellion of His own authority than He was with rebellion against the Spirit's authority. Back up those who are underneath you. Mothers who don't have a dad's support are so discouraged that they don't know what to do.
If you apply that principle to the authority relationship of marriage you will realize that to fail to honor the mother is indeed to fail to honor the father. That assumes of course that the mother is not contradicting the father. Jesus honored the father by doing His will and therefore had full authority to be obeyed and honored. The same was true of the Spirit. But where a wife is seeking to fulfill her role as mother, sassing of her should be taken far more seriously than sassing of you. But all of this assumes a unity in marriage where the wife truly reflects the husband's desires and the husband truly desires to support and encourage the wife. In fact, a wife should be so in touch with her husband's desires, that getting an answer from Mom is the same thing as getting an answer from dad, because she knows the way dad thinks. And when an appeal from the kids goes to the dad, no appeals are successful because she has rightly understood his desires.
Jesus said, If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also (John 8:19). Why? Because He perfectly represented the father. That's why the centurion said that to have authority you need to be under authority. If you women want to be taken seriously in your authority, make sure you glorify, respect and honor your husbands. If you fail to respect and honor your husbands, it will always eventually lead to your children failing to honor and respect you. It is a law of harvest set in place by the Trinity. Jesus told His disciples, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. When we are under authority we must not speak on our own authority. That is the ideal for our marriages: such unity between father and mother that no child can play one off against the other. You see the same unity of purpose and word between the Son and the Spirit.
And this brings me to the last application. While we husbands are called to especially love our wives, to nurture them, to provide for them, to care for them and protect them, you wives are called to especially respect your husbands, to build them up, to encourage them and support them as a helpmeet. If you are not respecting your husbands, you are robbing him of that which is his by God's design, and it will hinder your own development. It will always be in your best interests when you go out of your way to respect your husbands and to respect your fathers.
Jesus said, I delight to do Your will O my God. He didn't bristle against the Father's authority. He didn't desire independence. He delighted in His position of submission. In John 8:29 Jesus said, And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him. What an interesting verse! Why does the Father always delight in being around the Son? Because the Son delights in pleasing Him. What kinds of wives do husbands delight to be around? It's wives who delight in pleasing them; in respecting them. But the reverse is also true. Why does God the Son delight in doing those things that please the Father? Because the Father delights in being with the Son. It's reciprocal.
There is so much more that we could apply to our lives from the Father's relations to the other two members of the Trinity. But I hope I have given you sufficient to whet your appetites and to study all that the Bible says about God the Father and His roles. What awesome lessons are in the Scriptures! Next week, Lord willing, I will focus either on the Son or the Holy Spirit, probably first on the Son. And as we look at these Scriptures, my prayer is the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Father, sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. Let's pray.