Our Father which Art in Heaven – Matthew 6:9-13

I hope to use Christ’s model prayer as a guide for making a complex subject simple. This being “Father’s Day,” I’d like to talk to you about the Fatherhood of God. It is a complex subject when we try to talk about Fatherhood and Sonship within the Trinity. God is the Father to God the Son in ways we will never understand – even when we have our future perfect and glorified minds. Besides that – as the Creator, Elohim is father to everyone. And more importantly He is Father to His special people in a special way.
Let me begin by saying that I turned to my library, pulling out one set of theologies and 4 books on the subject of God. I was looking for some guidance for an outline to use this morning. “God the Father” wasn’t listed in the index of my 8 volume set “Systematic Theology” by L. S. Chafer. And the neo-evangelical, J. I. Packer in his book “Knowing God” didn’t think it important that we know Him as Father. He had twenty-two chapters with nothing in depth on this aspect of God. A.W. Pink has a book called “Gleanings in the Godhead,” but I couldn’t glean anything in his 25 chapters on the fatherhood of God Stephen Charnock’s and Daniel Chamberlin’s books on God didn’t spend any time on the subject either. I have other theologies, but I have to admit that I gave up at that point and didn’t open any of them. The truth is – the Bible is better than of the theologies of men. And there are over a hundred verses in the Bible referring to “God the Father.”
That means, poor people, you are left with me to guide you through a handful of those scriptures. And as I said, I’m going to try to use this prayer, given to the disciples by our Lord, to try to form an outline.
Point #1 – Everyone has a Father.
Jesus said, “after this manner therefore pray ye: OUR Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” By the way, “Hallowed be thy name” is an old way of saying “Father, I know that your name is holy.” It also needs to be understood from the git-go that the Lord Jesus was speaking primarily to His disciples. This is a part of the “Sermon on the Mount,” which begins in Matthew 5:1 – “And seeing the multitudes, (Christ) went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his DISCIPLES came unto him: and he opened his mouth and taught THEM…” On this occasion, seeing yet more multitudes coming toward Him, Christ took His disciples up into a mountain to have some private teaching time. The Lord certainly didn’t turn anyone away, but it was important for His disciples to have personalized instruction from time to time.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in HEAVEN…” Everyone has a father, but not everyone has the same Father. Antony Leslie Oldfield was not your father. As Christians we are to direct our prayers to our Heavenly Father. We are alive, and here today, because we have had a mother to carry us in herself for 9 months, and she had a man to conceive that life. Perhaps you never had the privilege of knowing either of your earthly parents. Perhaps your father was taken from you by death or something else. But you have had a human father, or you wouldn’t exist.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in HEAVEN…” There is a Father which is in heaven, and there was a father at your conception. We might also say that Adam is our father, because he was the grandfather of every child ever born. But we are not told to pray to our father which used to live in Eden. And even though we might ask our physical human father for things, Jesus wasn’t telling us to pray to him.
And by the way, aren’t there other kinds of fathers? Don’t some people call George Washington the “father of our country?” Who is the so-called “father” of medicine? Hippocrates. I mentioned a man a few weeks ago who is called the “father” of history – Herodotus. The “Father” of the theory of evolution is Charles Darwin. The Bible even says that Abraham is the “father” of believers, so that is an appropriate title. There are many fathers and we have many different kinds of fathers, but the Lord Jesus told to us pray to “our Father which art in HEAVEN…”
Christ Jesus also said that GOD is NOT the father to some people. In fact, God is not the father of the majority of the people of the world. In John 16 Jesus said, ‘the wicked hate God’s people,’ “because they have not known the Father, nor me.” To know Christ is to know the Father and to know the Father is to know Christ, because as Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” So that Muslim does not know the one true and living God, because he doesn’t know Christ the Saviour. And the same can be said for the Hindu, Buddhist and the vast majority of living human beings.
Jesus was verbally sparing with a group of highly religious Jews one day, scoring punch after punch, until they started to cheat. Staggering around without anything logical to contribute to the argument, “Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” – John 8:41. Since they couldn’t reply to what Jesus had been saying, they resorted to a personal attack. They implied that Jesus was illegitimate – conceived out of wedlock – that He had no legal father. Our Lord’s calm reply was first to ignore the ignorant comment. He said that if they were truly born of God they would be godly people. And then He added, “Ye are of your father the DEVIL, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Those Jews were children of Adam through creation. They were children of Israel through Jacob the son of Isaac. They were alive because they were children of their parents. But spiritually they were children of the devil, because they were sinners – his kind of family. This, in fact, is the way that we all come into the world spiritually. We are all by nature children of Satan until we are born a second time – spiritually. This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye MUST be born again.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” – John 3:6.
Everyone has a father – someone who parented us and produced us physically. We are also children of Adam – we are not a product of evolution. We are children of the first human being and his name was Adam; he was married to Eve. And we also all have a spiritual father – through Adam, our first father’s sin, we are born sinners. And therefore we are children of rebellion; children of Satan. “WHEREFORE as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” – referring to the sin of Adam our father. And as such our spiritual Father is the devil, until we are born again.
In our text, the Lord Jesus, speaking to people who were born from above, said, “After this manner therefore pray ye: OUR Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Point #2 – Everyone has a father – and that includes Christ Jesus – Christ has a Father.
I won’t spend much time on this, but it needs to be highlighted. When the Lord Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray YE: our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name,” he was NOT saying, “Join with me in praying to OUR Father.” He said, “Pray YE, our Father.”
Perhaps this isn’t significant, or a problem for you, but it is a problem for many. Jesus Christ is not on a par with those sinners whom He saves. Our relationship with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit is not the same as it was with Christ. Jesus’ Sonship is eternal and innate, while the Christian is a child of God through spiritual birth and adoption. The true Christian became a child of God at some point it time, and that relationship will extend into eternity. But Christ has always been the Son of God, and will always be that very special Son. There never was a time when Christ was not God’s Son. There never was a time when God sired this Son. Special words are used of that relationship – “the only begotten” and “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.” The Greek word “monogene” (mon-og-en- ace) – “the only begotten” – is a unique word which speaks about a unique relationship between God the Father and God the Son. It cannot be duplicated in the salvation of any sinner.
Which brings me to point #3 –
Everyone needs a father, and particularly, we need the Father to whom Christ referred.
Again – no sinner can have the same relationship to God the father that Christ has. But everyone of us still needs a proper relationship to God the Father which art in Heaven. Why? Jesus reveals this to us in this model prayer. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…. Give us this day our daily bread.” Do you agree with John the Baptist when he said, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven?” I do, and so does James when he said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the FATHER of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Do you want to live and eventually die at a ripe old age – without the effects of the coronavirus? Then pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…. Give us this day our daily bread.” Would you like to have manna from heaven on a regular basis, then pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…. Give us this day our daily bread.” Despite the help of various medications, it is ur Father in heaven Who determines the speed of our heart beats and the pressure with which our blood flows. We are dependent upon Him for everything. I Corinthians 1:3 contains Paul’s prayer, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our FATHER, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Don’t waste your time praying to anyone but our heavenly Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…. Give us this day our daily bread.”
We need the Father to whom Christ referred. Because it was under His authority that our first father was created, and it is to this Creator we owe respect, reverence and worship. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” What is the likelihood that God is going to have His way in this world? It is assured. He is sovereign. Okay then, to what degree has God aged and lost His physical power – His “dunamis?” None. How much has Satan increased his power and stolen from God his “exousia” – His authority? Not one iota in either case. So it behooves us as creatures under His care to align ourselves under Him. We need this Father.
Also it shall be under His authority – His holy authority – that every child of Adam shall eventually be judged. And you know what the Bible says, – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
“After this manner therefore pray ye: our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed (holy) be thy name.” How hallowed is the name – and the person – of God? The Jews superstitiously believed the name of the Lord was so holy it shouldn’t be spoken. That is why in the Old Testament the name “Jehovah” is written “LORD.” Their action was perhaps a bit over the top, but their attitude was spot on. Our Father which is in Heaven has hosts of angels crying back and forth to one another, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” Ephesians 1:7 calls him the “Father of glory.”
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. FORGIVE us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but DELIVER us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” What is a “debt”? It is an obligation which one party owes to another due to some sort of transaction. Some definitions specifically say that the debt was understood before the transaction took place. “Father … forgive us OUR debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In the Book of Luke we have a related scripture where the word “sins” is used instead of “debts.” “Father … forgive us OUR sins…” And I remember from my days in the Church of England that we used the word “trespasses.” “Father … forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are all trespassers, sinners and debtors before God. Oh, how we need His forgiveness. Without it we shall be eternally damned.
Why do we need a good relationship to God the Father? Because, the God with the hallowed name told us up front – he told Adam, and He tells us, “the wages of sin is death.” “Behold all souls are mine (saith the Lord) … the soul that sinneth it shall die.” Ezekiel wasn’t speaking of bodies – but souls. “Lust (when) it hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Romans 5:12 – “Wherefore, as by one man (father Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (when Adam sinned).” Only the Father in heaven has the power to deliver sinners from the death we all deserve for our sins. And only this holy god has the authority to say that sinners like us can be clean or righteous in His sight. We need a right relationship with this Father God.
But how is this possible? Here we go back to that special relationship Christ Jesus has with God the Father. You and I have been so alienated from God that despite receiving His daily blessings we cannot approach Him. We are unfit to even properly thank Him. Not only are we DEAD TO Him, we are, in fact, spiritually dead. Since God is a spirit and worshipable only in spirit and in truth, we are left out in the cold. But then in stepped the Lord Jesus Christ with his unique Sonship to the Father.
Scriptures abound in blessed statements and promises of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation between us and God. I John 2:1 – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.” I have an advocate, someone to bring comfort between the Heavenly Father with the hallowed name, and me, the one dead in trespasses and sins. I Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God but there is one mediator between (that holy heavenly Father) and men, the man Christ Jesus.” What can He do? Remember He has a unique relationship to the Father which can bring about miraculous things.
What did Jesus say to Thomas in John 14? – “I am the way the truth and the live; no man cometh unto the FATHER but by me.” In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus, the Apostle reminded us – “But now in Christ Jesus (the Son of God) ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him (Christ the Son) we both have access by one Spirit unto the FATHER. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
In Hebrews Paul was talking about the impotence of human priests – men who need God’s salvation as much as any another human being. Then his attention was drawn to the Son of God. “But this man (the Son of God), because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God (the Father) by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Romans 8:34 – “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
In the scripture which we read during our worship service – John 5 – the Lord Jesus discusses His special relationship to God the Father. John 5:20 – “The FATHER loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” Jesus then talks about some of the other results of the special connection within the Trinity. And finally He says, “The FATHER judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
We all need to have a joyful and positive relationship with the “Father which art in heaven.” By ourselves alone we cannot have that relationship, because we are sinners by birth and life. But He to whom has been given authority to judge us, has also been given authority to deliver us – to save us. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John joyfully shouted – “Behold, what manner of love the FATHER hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” – I John 3:1.
Conclusion:
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
Heaven is a part of the kingdom of God. The God of that kingdom is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ – and the Father of the redeemed. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Not only is the kingdom within the legacy of the Father, but so also is the power and the glory. Only the Father has power to declare sinners righteous, and only He has the righteousness with which to glorify sinners like us. But the only way that we can reach the Father and His Kingdom is through the sacrifice of the Father’s Son – the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1 – “And the (Son of God) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Remember Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
Until our hearts bow to the Saviour, we cannot rightfully say that God is our Father. Without God as our Father, we remain children of the Devil, continuing to bear God’s wrath for our sins. Christ is our key to the Fatherhood of God.
Have you given up all other saviours in order to trust Christ and His sacrifice for sin? As long as you cling to your righteousness, your works, your faith, your religion – anything…. As long as you add anything to the sacrifice of Christ, then God is not your Father and this model prayer does not belong to you. Repent before God and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your one and only Saviour.