John Arnott: Knowing the Father’s love

This is an article by John Arnott, a Church leader I much respect.  It was written in 2000.

I have been a Christian more than 38 years now and my biggest single regret is that for most of that time I did not know the love of God the Father.  I did not understand that He really loved me for who I was and not for what I could do or become.  Coming into this revelation has been the most liberating experience of my life.

Somehow I was slow to realise that God the Father was One that I needed to get to know.

In our search for a relationship with God, I suppose that it is easier for all of us to relate to Jesus, God the Son, who came in the flesh, because we can relate to Him as a fellow human being. In order to be saved, each person begins his spiritual journey with an understanding of who Jesus is and that He wants to not only save you from your sins, but also have a personal relationship with you. I remember receiving this revelation and how my life completely changed. Jesus’ promise was to be with me always and never leave me, Emmanuel, God with me and in me.

The next revelation I received was that the Holy Spirit is a powerful and present reality.  He is God, and He is here now to be my comforter and helper. I can be filled with Him and clothed with His supernatural power and presence. But somehow I was slow to realize that God the Father was One that I needed to get to know.  Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians reminds them of their relationship with all three Persons of the trinity, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV)

As a new believer I developed a voracious appetite for the word of God. I wanted to learn all I could about God, but I somehow fell into the notion that Jesus Christ was the one who came to rescue us from the judgment and wrath of God, the Father, who was justifiably angry with me. My operative theology was this: ‘Jesus is OK, but watch out for God the Father.’ He is so demanding and exacting that you could never please Him or get close to Him.  Better to keep your distance. But that notion was about to change.

In 1982, we invited Jack Winter to come to our new church in Stratford, Ontario. Jack shared from John 3:16 that it was the love of God the Father that set the plan of salvation in motion and then he asked the profound question, “Where is it we are going?” He pointed out that Jesus taught that He was the only way to the Father. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

Suddenly, I realized that we are going to the Father, not just to heaven to experience eternal life, but we are going to the Father who is longing to have intimate fellowship with His children. And according to Rom. 8:39, “Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.”

The Father is the nicest person in the universe.

Let that sink in to your heart.  God the Father really loves you so much that He sent Jesus to earth to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the price for your sin and separation, so that you now have legal and relational basis to be reconciled to the Father. The veil that once separated you from God has been torn in two.  There is no more limited access.  You are invited now to come boldly into the throne of grace and have fellowship with the Father Himself because of what Jesus Christ has done. So why are we satisfied with mere theory concerning the Father’s desire to take us deeper into heart revelation with Him?

A FALSE IMPRESSION OF GOD

I have since learned that we invariably project upon God our childish impressions of our earthy fathers. For example, if your earthly father was never around, you will tend to think that God the Father will be like that, too. If your father was abusive and unpredictable, you learned to avoid him and now do the same with God the Father.  If perfection was demanded of you as a child, and you were only loved when you did it all right, you learned that aggressive striving was the safest road to the love you were searching for. Yet it taught your heart that you are only loved for what you could do and not for who you really are, a child of God created in His image.

But the Father is just like Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9 KJV) The Father is the nicest person in the universe.  He is the most loving and caring person you will ever get to know.

There is a desperate search going on in the heart of every human being to find meaning and purpose in life, to discover where they belong and to find fulfilling love.  Most of us can testify of the emptiness and futility of seeking ‘false loves’ and the emotional damage we suffer as a result.  In all of us there is a desire to be loved, affirmed and protected, yet we end up looking for love in all the wrong places.  Invariably we go for the counterfeits such as sex, drugs, alcohol or unhealthy co-dependent relationships.  Others go into aggressive striving and sometimes religious striving.  Many have become so wounded that they have given up on love and built high walls of protection, settling merely to try to live free from pain. Yet these deep needs for love and acceptance persist, but can only truly be satisfied when our heart has a vital and emotional connection with the heart of the Father.

Ed Piorek, in his book, “The Father Loves You,” discusses in depth the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15.  He points out that there are really two sons in this story that missed receiving their father’s love.  The wayward younger son wasted his inheritance with addictive behavior and riotous living, but he finally came to himself and remembered the father’s love back home.  The older son also missed out.  He lacked the intimacy and closeness that his father desired.  He was the aggressive striver, always working for approval and unable to come into a close relationship with his dad.

The point is that when we have an inadequate revelation of the Father’s love, we too are apt to go in one of these two directions. Sometimes we even vacillate between them. We look for love and approval through our hard work and striving, or through pursuing the counterfeits believing the enemy’s lie that pleasures will meet the need.

FINDING A REVELATION OF THE FATHER’S LOVE

But how can I find the reality of God the Father?

The first thing to do is study the Word to gain a solid doctrinal foundation about the love of God.  Realize that you have been adopted as God’s child and God is now your ‘daddy.’ You will discover from scripture what a wonderful ‘daddy’ He really is and how He is for you.

When you have had a heart revelation of how much the Father loves you, it will be easy to love Him in return.

The next thing to do is to forgive your earthly parents for not truly representing God the Father to you. There are no perfect parents and having compassion for the hurts and wounds that they sustained in life, perhaps from their fathers, will help you have mercy on them.

After you’ve forgiven them, repent for your own sinful reactions to their sins. Did you lash out at them in anger or withdraw from them and build walls of protection?

Finally, ask your Heavenly Father to come to you by the power of the Holy Spirit and reveal His love to your soul where you need it, to give you a divine encounter with Him that is real and that will revolutionize your life and relationship with God. When you have had a heart revelation of how much the Father loves you, it will be easy to love Him in return. Learning to “soak” in His love teaches you to enjoy being in His Presence. For seven years now, people from all over the world have come to Toronto and have been touched by the Father’s love. People are really meeting with God, and the love they are experiencing is revolutionizing them. Now they are able to love Him in return, and they are also enabled to love others in a greater way.

God has designed you so that your deep needs will only be met through intimacy with Him.  When this becomes reality, it feels like you have come home.

You can find this article here.

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