[b]Our New Testament Privilege[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
In Mathew 6:9 Jesus taught us to pray Our Father who
art in heaven. The Israelites could never call God their Father.
That title was introduced for the first time by Jesus.
It was the title that Jesus Himself used constantly
in His own communication with His heavenly Father. We don't
realise what a privilege it is to call God our Father.
In the Old Testament, God taught the Jews His unapproachable
holiness by putting a veil in the temple, behind which was
the most holy place, where He dwelt. Into this place no man
could enter, except the high priest once a year. If you had
gone to those Jews 2500 years ago and told them that one
day, God was going to open a way for anyone to enter His
presence freely, they would have considered it impossible.
Yet this is the privilege that is offered us today under the
new covenant. The veil has now been rent so that we have
freedom of access right into the Father's presence; and we
can call Him "Father." We've got to read the Old Testament
if we want to appreciate our new covenant privileges sufficiently.
It's wonderful to see the father-heart of God in the parable
of the prodigal son. The son comes back after having wasted
his father's property and ruined his father's name. As soon
as the father sees him, he runs to embrace him. There we see
a picture of God the Father. It's the only place in the
Bible where God is pictured as running - and it is to
embrace a repentant sinner (Lk. 15:20)!
That was how Jesus portrayed God to the people. He wanted to
eradicate from their minds the wrong concepts of God that
the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees had given them.
After the resurrection, when Mary Magdalene met Jesus
outside the tomb, Jesus said to her, "I ascend to My Father
and your Father" (Jn. 20:17). Through the death and
resurrection of Christ, His disciples had come into a
relationship with God that had never existed before. They
could now call God their own Father. As a child can sit on
his father's lap, man could now be just as intimate with God.
Many have the wrong idea that God the Father is a very
strict Person and that it is only Jesus Who loves them.
This is a Satanic distortion of the truth. It was the love of the
Father that sent Jesus to save us from our sins. Jesus told
His disciples, "The Father Himself loves you" (Jn. 16:27).
He also told them that if their Heavenly Father fed the
birds and clothed the flowers, He would certainly take care
of them. There was no need for them to be anxious then, for
their Heavenly Father knew all their needs (Matt. 6:26-34).
He also told them that if earthly fathers knew how to give
good gifts to their children, their heavenly Father would
certainly give good things to His children too (Matt. 7:11).
You may say that all this is very elementary. Yet many times
when we come to God in prayer we don't really believe that
God is going to grant us our request, because we are not
sure of His tender, loving, fatherly care for us. Thus we
limit God by our unbelief. Do you really believe that when
you pray, you are speaking to a loving Father Who delights
to hear you and Who cares for you?
Some may have the feeling that God will hear them only if
they are mature saints. How is it with an earthly father?
If he has a number of children, does he listen to his 20-year-
old son more than to his 3-year-old daughter? Does he tell
his little daughter, "You are too young to talk to me.
I can't listen to you?" Certainly not. In fact, the father is
more likely to listen to his youngest child than to His
older children. It's even so with God.
He says, "All shall know Me (as Father), from the least
(youngest) to the greatest (oldest)" (Heb. 8:11). Notice
that the youngest are mentioned first! Even if you were
born again but yesterday, you can come to God boldly saying,
"O God, You are my Father, I am Your child, and therefore I
have a right to talk to You." That's the way Jesus
encouraged His disciples to go to God in prayer.
Every time we pray, we must approach God as a Father who
loves and cares, and who is interested in us. Only thus can
faith be generated; and without faith it is no use praying
at all. God is a good God. He delights to give good gifts to
His children. The Bible says in Psalm 84:11, "No good thing
does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." In Psalm 37:4
it says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give
you the desires of your heart." These promises in the Old
Testament are endorsed and confirmed and amplified by Jesus
in the New Testament along with many more promises.
This is the foundation for our faith - the conscious
acknowledgement of God as our loving Father.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon