THE FATHER (EXCERPT OF THE THEOLOGY OF ROBERT B. THOMPSON)
(Taken from “The Father,” an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson.)
Copyright © 2011 by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
From what I have read of the history of the Christian Church it appears that in the early centuries there had been considerable discussion about Jesus Christ. Some were holding that Christ was half-man and half-God. Other were maintaining that Christ is totally God. Thus we have the Trinity, which, as I understand it, holds that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal in Divine Essence and may be regarded as one God.
The Wikipedia encyclopedia has this comment concerning the Trinity:
The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial. Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of One.
However, they cannot be co-eternal. There had to be a point at which Christ came forth from God, which means the Father existed before Christ came forth from Him. When the Bible says, “In the beginning,” it cannot possibly be referring to the Father. The Father is without beginning or end. But it could refer to the time that Christ came forth from the Father and the Father created all things through Him.
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)
It is rather obvious that God is not the same as “his Son.”
For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. (I Corinthians 15:27)
After being subjected to the doctrine of the Trinity, the ordinary church member, not being a theologian, would conclude that somehow, though no one seems to know exactly how, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different people and yet one Person. It appears that in spite of the words of the New Testament, and the problem of viewing three People as one Person, the majority of Christian people are content with this paradox.
I do not understand why the doctrine of the Trinity should suddenly be called into question by people such as myself, when for hundreds of years it was held by devout, intelligent church leaders. But it is clear to me that if a believer takes the words of the New Testament as they are written, without resorting to a tortured explanation of why they do not mean what they state plainly, the doctrine of the Trinity is found to be unscriptural.
Let us begin by stating emphatically that when I am teaching that the venerable doctrine of the Trinity does not fit the statements of the New Testament, I am not subtracting from the Divinity, Glory, or Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made Christ God and Lord over all the works of God’s hands.
Let me state also that I am not interested in novel interpretations of the Bible that do not lead to righteous behavior. However, there are two very practical reasons for looking into this commonly held belief. First, it makes us virtually unable to have a true sense of our heavenly Father. Also, it makes us virtually unable to have fellowship with Jesus as our Brother.
Having upheld the preeminence of the Lord Jesus in the creation of God, and advanced the reason for our investigation of a cherished belief, let us proceed.
If we would think about the relevant passages of the New Testament we would see at once that Jesus did not come to earth to bring mankind to Himself. It absolutely is true that if Christ is lifted He will draw all people to Himself. But Christ draws people to Himself that He might bring them to the Father. Jesus Christ is the Way of the Father, the Truth of the Father, and the Life of the Father—at one time in flesh and blood and now in glorified flesh and bone.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father. We do Him no service, and, in fact, defeat His purpose, when we make Him the Father.
Jesus Christ is not the Father! Such a viewpoint is refuted by many passages of the New Testament. He brings us to the Father. He teaches us about the Father. The Father dwells in Christ in His Fullness.
It is true also that it is the will of the Father that we Christians be filled with all the Fullness of God; that we be one with God as our Lord is. The difference between Christ and us is not that He is both Human and Divine; we also are human and have been born of God and given the Divine Nature. If this were not the case, we could never be genuine brothers of the Lord Jesus.
We ourselves are being made the Word, the testimony of the Father in that we are being conformed to the image of Christ and filled with all the fullness of God.
Some have ventured that when Christ came to earth the Throne of God in Heaven was vacated. It is possible that one who would teach such a thing does not have a full concept of how great the Father is.
The Father fills all things. He did not move from Heaven to the earth. God is everywhere in Heaven and the earth at all times. After Christ demonstrated total obedience in Gethsemane, the Father has given to Christ to be everywhere and in all things at all times just as the Father is.
Christ overcame all the enemies that came against Him and now sits with the Father on the Father’s Throne. To the believer who overcomes the pressures that come against him or her, Christ will give the right to sit with Christ on Christ’s Throne.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
The differences between us and Jesus Christ are many:
- He is the Firstborn from the dead. None of us will ever be the firstborn of the dead.
- He shed His blood as an atonement for our sins. We will never shed our blood for the atonement of anyone’s sin.
- It is the will of the Father that the entire creation be summed up Christ. This is not true of you or me.
- Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. This is not true of any of us.
- We of the Church are His fullness. He is not our fullness.
- We pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. No one can pray to the Father in my name or your name.
No doubt there are many more differences, but I can’t think of them right now. Perhaps you can. But I think I have mentioned enough to assure you that when I say the Father is not the same Person as Christ, that the Father is greater than Christ, you will not regard me as one who is in any manner diminishing the preeminence of Christ in all things.
Have you ever wondered about John 17:21-23? Have you ever really and truly taken these words of Christ at face value—as meaning precisely what they state?
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us. Does this mean what it states? Is it true that you and I may be in the Father and the Son just as the Father is in Christ and He is in the Father?
Here is a verse that is one of my favorites:
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
We are to feed on the body and blood of Christ so that we may live by His Life just as He lives by the Father’s life.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. I think it is right at this point that people become confused. The Father is in Christ in His Fullness. We can say that Christ is the Father, in that sense. However, the same is true of you and me. If the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us and One with us, and I do not believe that anyone who knows the New Testament would dispute that fact, then it is clear that the Godhead is being enlarged.
God is in Christ. Christ is in us. We are in Christ. Christ is in the Father. This is the wheel in the wheel mentioned in Ezekiel, I believe.
What troubles us is the idea that we are thinking of ourselves as God. This is all nonsense. None of us is God in the sense that the Father is God. The Father has made Christ, who came out from Himself, to be God. And so He is. Christ is God because the Father made Him God. Therefore we can pray to God the Father in Jesus’ name, or we can pray to Jesus Himself. This is not because Jesus is the Father. It is because the Father has made Christ God.
If the Father is not greater than Christ, then Christ crying to His Father (and our Father) in Gethsemane, saying not My will but Yours be done, is just so much confusion. Where there are two wills there are two separate and distinct Persons, and in Gethsemane the Lesser is being obedient to the Greater.
Jesus loves to bring us to His Father. You can almost sense this in the following words:
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
Is the Father actually Jesus’ God, as it says in the verse above? How then do we have three equal Gods?
The conclusion most believers have drawn from the doctrine of the Trinity is that Jesus and the Father actually are the same Person, although they play different roles somehow. Now look at John 20:17 and tell me that Jesus is the same Person as the Father only in a different role. Is this clear thinking? Is this a reasonable conclusion?
Do you remember that I said the doctrine of the Trinity makes it difficult if not impossible for us to relate to Jesus or the Father? However, in John 20:17 our relationship to Them is simple and clear. Jesus is our Brother, although greatly exalted. God is the Father of Jesus, and our Father as well. That makes us genuine brothers. And so we are, and we have eternity to grow into the likeness of our elder Brother.
God is our Father. Jesus is not our Father. The Holy Spirit is not our Father. The Father is not the Bridegroom of the Church, nor did He propitiate His own wrath by dying on the cross for our sins. That was not the Father on the cross. That was the Anointed Jesus who takes away the sin of the world.
The Holy Spirit is not the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Church is not the Bride of the Lamb. The Father is not our elder brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder brother.
I am endeavoring to point out that there are three Persons in the Godhead, and they are not interchangeable. They are One just as we are one in Christ and the Father. But they are not the same Person. Each has a unique identity just as each of us has a unique identity. Yet we have lost our privacy, our right to be independent, by becoming one with each other in Christ in God. Can you see that? It is an essential understanding.
The Father is not the Servant of the Lord, of the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Christ, Head and Body is the Servant of the Lord. The Lord is the Father, the one God. “Shema yisrael Adonai eloheynu Adonai echad.” “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”
Although I believe the Lord Jesus to be the Lord of the Prophets, He was so by the anointing of the one God. There is only one God; and Christ, the Anointed One, came from Heaven to reconcile us to God, not to Himself.
King David spoke: “The Lord said to my Lord.” The first Lord is the Father. The second Lord is the Lord Jesus. Christ pointed this out.
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
The above passage obviously is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Christ, known originally as the Word, who appeared in a body, not the Father. It was Christ who was vindicated by the Spirit and seen by angels. It was Christ who was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up to Heaven in glory.
The only true God has no name. The Lord Jesus calls Him “Father,” and reveals Him to the faithful. The true difference between Christianity and other religions is not a difference of religion, it is a difference of gods. There are not many roads to God. There is only the one Road. His name is Jesus Christ.
In their zeal to maintain the Divinity and supremacy of Jesus Christ, the theologians have “kicked Him upstairs,” so to speak. We find it difficult to think of Him as our Brother. If you have been born of God, and Christ has been born of God, then you and He are true brothers.
If the Lord Jesus Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, then there are two Gods. One is not the son of the other. By all the standards of nature, a son is not the same person as his father in a different role or manifestation. Christ is His Father’s Son and Heir, but He is not His own Father.
No human knows the Father, only Christ knows the Father, and the individual to whom Christ reveals the Father. Coming to know the Father is the “rest” of God, of which the Book of Hebrews speaks.
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
If the Father commits all things to Jesus, would that make the Father greater than Jesus? I think so.
If the Son chooses to reveal the Father to someone, does that mean Christ is revealing Himself to that person? I would find that difficult to believe.
The Book of Revelation was given to John by the Lord Jesus, who, in turn, received the vision from the Father. Does this suggest that there are three Gods equally in authority, as the doctrine of the Trinity states?
Jesus told the mother of James and John that He (Jesus) did not have the authority to place her two boys at His right and left hands. These positions are reserved for those chosen by the Father. Does that sound like there are three Gods equal in authority and knowledge?
Jesus Himself stated that the Father is greater than He, and always prayed to the Father in Heaven. Jesus did not pray to the Father within Himself but looked up to Heaven. When Jesus looked up to Heaven and prayed to His Father, I do not believe He was praying to Himself. Do you?
You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:1-5)
Was Jesus praying to Himself?
The Apostle Paul described the Christ-filled life. Paul was living by the Life of Jesus, which is our goal. It is the rest of God to which we are to aspire.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
You know, Galatians 2:20 reminds me of the way in which Christ is related to the Father. It is true that Paul did not come forth from Christ, as the Word did from the Father. Nevertheless, Paul stated that he no longer was living but Christ was living in him. Christ could very well say that He no longer was living but the Father was living in Him.
It is right at this point that most people are confused, I think. Jesus said that He and His Father are one. But isn’t Paul saying the same thing? Isn’t he saying that he and Christ are one? Yet Christ is Christ, and Paul is Paul, and the Father is the Father; even though they are one in thought, word, and deed.
It is true, of course that the union of Christ and the Father is vastly superior to the union of Paul and Christ. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the difference is in kind. The union of Paul and Christ will approach the union of Christ and the Father as the eons of eternity proceed. How do you feel about that? Do you believe we will have a better union with Christ as time goes by, or are we doomed to remain flesh and blood animals?
The title of the present essay is “The Father.” We have known Christ to a certain extent. We have known the Holy Spirit to a certain extent. I believe it is time now to come to know the Father.
What an incomparable blessing it is to begin to realize that God is our Father and we have been born of Him, just as He is the Father of our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus.
It is my point of view that theologians, as intelligent and devout as they are, have attempted to understand the Godhead by means of human reasoning. This simply cannot be done. The Father has to be revealed to us, as the Lord Jesus said.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:19-24)
Could anyone read these declarations by the Lord Jesus and not have a strong desire to know God as his or her Father? That is the way the words affect me!
I am going to make a few statements. Check and see if I have been true to the above six verses.
As we mature in the Lord we will begin to see Jesus, to experience His Presence in all that we are and do.
We will live because He lives. This is to say, no matter what Divine judgments fall on our country in the future because of abortion and other sins, we will continue to live because Jesus lives. We will be living by His Life, which is the “rest” of God.
On that Day, the time when all other idols have been removed from our life and the Lord alone is exalted, we will realize that Christ is in His Father, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.
The believer who truly loves Christ is the one who has Christ’s commands and obeys them. It is at this point that current preaching is in error. We are being taught that Divine grace is our alternative to keeping the commandments of Christ, and if we attempt to keep them we are trying to save ourselves by works. Could any doctrine be more destructive of God’s will than that which teaches that grace is a substitute for obedience. The truth is, grace with its wisdom and power enables us to obey Christ.
Whoever shows his love for Christ by obeying His commands will be loved by the Father of Christ. Also, Christ will love him and reveal Himself to the obedient believer. Does this sound to you like Christ and the Father are the same Person?
If any person shows his love for Christ by obeying Christ’s commands, the Father will love Him. The Father and the Son will come to that believer and make Their home with him.
The words that Christ spoke at this time were not His own, they came from the Father who sent Him.
Have I been true to the Father’s words that were given through our Lord Jesus?
You can understand now why I am stating that the doctrine of the Trinity simply is not true to the New Testament.
However, my point is not to argue theology. Rather it is to give us a desire to know God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our elder Brother. We really have just started to know Christ, as the Apostle pointed out. We spend our entire discipleship coming to know Christ.
As we diligently seek Jesus, to know Him, guess what? We begin to realize that there is a Father in Heaven whom Jesus came to portray. Jesus introduces us to His Father, and this is the greatest of all joys to our Lord.
Just think! We have a Father in Heaven. Jesus enabled God to be reconciled to us and us to God by means of His death on the cross. Jesus was willing to spend three miserable years ministering in this cesspool, this valley of the shadow of death in which we strive to live, allowing God to speak and act through Him.
Now it is our turn to die to our own original nature that Christ might live in us and bring others to the knowledge of our heavenly Father.
We always ought to proclaim how wonderful Jesus is. But there is something even more needful than that. It is to do what He says. And what He says to us is to obey His commands in the Word, and also spend time each day listening to what He has to say to us personally. It is more important to Jesus that we obey Him in every aspect of our life than it is to proclaim His Lordship. Both are necessary, but obedience is better even than the sacrifice of praise.
To come to know the Father is a sublime undertaking. The most important aspect of coming to know the Father is obedience. We will love God as we come to know Him. But the supremely important characteristic of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will. We absolutely must do God’s will in all areas of our life. Any part of our life that is not in obedience to God is an area of rebellion, stubbornness, and idolatry.
Knowing Jesus and His blood atonement is our necessary orientation to the Kingdom of God.
Knowing the Life of the Spirit is necessary if we are to overcome sin and minister our gift to the members of the Body of Christ.
Now it is time to know the Father. When we cry “Abba, Father,” we are not speaking to the Lord Jesus but to our heavenly Father.
The purpose of redemption is not to bring us to Heaven. It is to bring us into the rest of God, into that state of being in which we dwell in the center of God’s Person, performing His perfect and complete will at all times.
In view of the emotional reaction that often occurs when one questions the “rapture” doctrine or the Trinity, one could wonder if the enemy is entrenched in these two confusing, and sometimes destructive, concepts and does not wished to be dislodged.
I have written all this so you would want to know God in an even greater way than you do now. Please join with me as we make our journey to the heart of the Father. Jesus is the Way and the only Way to the Father. We have to overcome, by His power, so many distractions, pressures, and dangers that would prevent us from coming finally into the full Presence of our God and Father.
But we shall be victorious because our Lord Jesus has opened the way for us. We shall inherit all things of the new creation. Best of all, God will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
(“The Father”, 3355-1)