“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 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. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
The greatest and most astounding revelations of God were reserved for exactly the right time and place in history – the time referred to in the text above. The apostle Paul said of this: “But when the time had fully come, God send his Son…” (Gal 4:4a) The word translated sent here is “exapostsello” – to send forth on mission. An apostle, the apostle of the Father, had come into the world.
The amazing revelation is that God is God in father and son; that God is a father-son God. But it is not just that God is a father who has a son, but also that God is a son who has a father. This Father and Son are just like each other, as in that old saying, “like father, like son”.
Many people who struggle spiritually have greatly mistaken notions of what God is like. They think that Jesus, as saviour, is loving, kind, merciful, forgiving, tender, gentle and humble. At the same time they think that God the Father is tough, judgemental, hard to get to know, law-keeping, and rigid in dealing with sinners. Please understand that the reason Jesus is gracious, loving and merciful is because that is exactly what the Father is like.
If the revelation that “God is God in father and son” had not come to us from the Son of God Himself, but had come from some other prophet, say Amos or Jeremiah, we might not have been inclined to believe it. But this revelation was the most important and critical of all, something we truly know and understand if we would walk with God. Therefore, it had to be brought by Christ Himself.
There are no doubt many mysteries in the Godhead pertaining to the life of an eternal God. As it is, the Bible does not say much at all about the relationship between God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Neither does it say much about the relationship between God the Son and the Holy Spirit. But the Bible has a tremendous amount to say about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. This is so because this relationship is such a vital one, and the revelation of it such a critical one, for our sakes.
Understand then, that God is by nature a Father-Son God. And being self-determining, God has chosen for Himself the kind of God He will be. (Exodus 3:14) Being holy and perfect, and having been always this way, He chooses to be Father and Son, and has always been Father and Son. This is the perfection of holiness.
Whilst one is Father and the other Son, neither has lived a moment longer than the other. They are equals in every sense of the word. Fathering and Sonship here is not hierarchical, but relational. It is not a superior/inferior relationship, but a relationship of equals. Even in human terms, you can’t be a father and call someone a son without this being, at the least, a calling of that person to become what you are, to stand where you are, and to become one with you. This is why the Pharisees were so shocked about Jesus, because by declaring Himself to be the Son of God, they knew He was claiming to be equal with God. (John 5:17-18)
As people made in the image of God, and as part of a Church created by this God, we bear his likeness. And so we too bear the mark of father and son, and the Church is filled (or should be and will be) with father son type relationships.