4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4–6, NKJV)
This is God’s platform of unity for the church of Christ. There is one body, or church, not many churches (denominations) that establish division among believers. There is one Spirit, who leads us and unites us by the gospel truth He revealed, inspired and confirmed. There is one hope reserved in heaven for Christians; not the hope of an idyllic earth for all of humanity (1 Peter 1:3-5). Unity is arranged under the authority of one Lord; Jesus Christ (Acts 2:34-36). Unity is preserved when we do all things by His authority (Colossians 3:17). We do not write or accept creeds to elucidate unity – the faith that was once for all delivered is our sufficient guide (Jude 3). The Great Commission baptism of repentant believers for the remission of sins is the only baptism God recognizes (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38). All other baptisms introduce error and cause division. We have one Father who is in heaven; not many clerical “fathers” on earth (Matthew 23:9). God, our heavenly Father, is sovereign over all things. He pervades and sustains all things. He dwells among His people (Ephesians 2:22). Let us unite on truth. This is the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21).
Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9, NKJV)
Jesus is speaking in a religious sense when He forbids calling anyone father on the earth. He was not forbidding referring to our human parent (Eph. 6:4; Heb. 12:9). In the verse before and the verse after today’s text, Jesus warned against giving unwarranted religious titles, and the superiority that goes with them, to teachers (Matt. 23:8, 10). That is the nature of His warning in verse 10, too. Giving a person special prominence, title and distinction above his peers is a direct violation of the Scriptures. Jesus taught, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). Plain and simple, there is no clergy-laity distinction in the New Testament. That unholy description developed over the intervening centuries, as men elevated themselves above others, and as men allowed it to be so. No man on earth is our religious “father;” Our Father is in heaven (Matt. 6:9).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)
Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)
Fathers desire to fulfill the requests of their children. Indeed, fathers bear a particular responsibility to provide for their own house, and failure to do so is a grievous sin (1 Tim. 5:8). If earthly fathers give good things to their children when they ask, how much more does our heavenly Father do so. Jesus reasons from the lesser to the greater to impress upon us a fundamental truth: Our heavenly Father gives us the “good things” we need when we ask of Him. God hears and answers the prayers of His children, and He does so in ways that are best for us. God not only supplies our daily bread, He also supplies us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, which sustain our spiritual life. In the parallel passage of Luke 11:13, Jesus identifies the “good things” given by the Father as the “Holy Spirit” (whose presence confirmed the kingdom had come, Lk. 11:20; Matt. 12:28). God answers our prayers in harmony with His purposes and for our spiritual good. This is our faith as we pray to our heavenly Father.
8 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; 9 For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8–9, NKJV)
A mark of maturity is the willingness to accept and follow wise, godly instruction from one’s parents. Tempering the boisterous confidence of youth with humility and sound judgment is the task undertaken by parental teaching and counsel. The blessed child learns to respect his or her parents by accepting and retaining the training they give. If your parents have taught you to fear the Lord and do His will, then thank God. And, so your thanks for them by living according to their wise and loving instruction.
The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother. (Proverbs 10:1)
Solomon bears witness to a fundamental principle of humanity: Parents are made joyful when their child walks in wisdom. There is no greater joy, John would say, “than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Conversely, few sorrows are more profound and drive deeper into the core of a mother’s heart than watching her child make foolish, godless decisions. (See Proverbs 15:20 for a parallel verse.) Foolishness can be driven out of the heart of a child by applying the consistent “rod of correction” (Prov. 22:15). Teaching a child to fear the Lord helps them begin a life of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Fathers (and mothers), instruct your child to fear the Lord. Correct your child while there is hope (Prov. 19:18). You are equipping your child to be wise. Child, realize there is no future in foolishness, only empty dreams and eternal regret. Walk in truth and bring joy to your parents – and especially to God.
1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1–2, NKJV)
Little is more heart-rending to a father than to watch his son (or daughter) abandon the guidance and instruction he gave him for his good. A father’s commands are not given so he can have control over his child. They are given in order to help him live righteously. A father’s law is expressed to his son, not to restrict his child, but to teach him the blessings come from making right choices. A father longs for his son to have peace, therefore, he desires that his son will obey him from the heart. How much more, then, must our heavenly Father yearn for our heart-based obedience. Do not break your Father’s heart. Follow His will from your heart. You will have blessings now and in the end, eternal life. (If you have forgotten His law, then return to the Father in full repentance. He loves you and will receive you with joy.)