What Do Seventh-day Adventists Believe About the Father?
“God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation.
He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father
(Gen. 1:1; Deut. 4:35; Ps. 110:1, 4; John 3:16; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:28; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:8; Rev. 4:11).”
So who is He? How do Adventists understand what the Bible teaches about the Father, and why is this teaching so important to their faith and practice?
We’ll look at:
- How the Bible describes the Father
- The power of God the Father
- The character of the Father
- What Jesus said about the Father
- The Father and the “wrath of God”
- The Father illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son
- The comfort of knowing we have a heavenly Father
What does the Bible teach about the Father?
It’s interesting that when some Christians question the doctrine of the Trinity, the Father’s status as God is never the issue. When the Bible talks about “God the Father” (John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:2), it’s unlikely for Christians to doubt His divine nature.
All through the Bible, God the Father is revealed as the creator and sustainer of life.
In the five books of Moses, the historical writings, the prophets of the Old Testament, the four Gospels, and in all the other books of the New Testament, they all have this central theme: to reveal God the Father, who He is, and His plan for the world.
For example, the Apostle Paul makes a clear distinction between God the Father and Jesus.
“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NKJV).
Over and over, God the Father is also depicted as our creator.
“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us”? (Malachi 2:10, NKJV).
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:1, NKJV).
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3, NKJV).
“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11, NKJV).
And He isn’t just known as the creator, but as the sustainer too.
“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from His storehouses” (Psalm 135:6-7, NKJV).
Seventh-day Adventists understand that God the Father didn’t just create the cosmos and left it to run on its own. Instead, the Bible tells us it’s only by God’s power that the universe remains in existence.
What does Scripture teach about the power of God the Father?
Look at what the Psalmist said about the power of God:
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:4, NKJV).
About two trillion galaxies are in the cosmos. And about one hundred billion stars comprise each galaxy.
Two trillion galaxies, of 100 billion stars each, comes to 200 sextillion stars.
And He knows them all by name. And that’s only the stars! Imagine how much more He cares about His human creatures.
It’s amazing just how “fearfully and wonderfully” God has made us (Psalm 139:14, NKJV).
For example, there are 1600,000,000,000 different kinds of potential DNA combinations in a single human cell. A single cell!
Compare that number to all the atoms in the universe—a paltry 180—and we get the idea of how complicated the DNA in a single human cell is.
And God the Father created it all? No wonder the Bible says:
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3, NKJV).
What do Adventists teach about the character of God the Father?
As with all their doctrines, Adventists go to the Bible to get their understanding about the nature and character of God the Father.
One of the most powerful revelations about the character of God the Father comes from the Old Testament. It is when the Father appeared to Moses.
“The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin . . .’” (Exodus 34:5-7, NKJV).
Abounding in steadfast love. A God merciful and gracious. Indeed, this sounds like an ideal father figure. And that is the character of God the Father.
What does Jesus teach about Himself and the Father?
In His life on Earth, Jesus worked to reveal God to humans. Despite some misconceptions of God the Father, Jesus demonstrated the truth of God’s character.
Some people—especially secular critics of the Bible—depicted God the Father of the Old Testament as angry and vindictive.
In fact, some in the early church even taught that God the Father of the Old Testament is completely different from Jesus of the New Testament.
But Adventists instead turn to Jesus’ example to learn who God the Father really is.
There’s a powerful scene in the New Testament, when Jesus was preparing His followers for His soon departure. At one point, Jesus had said to them:
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also” (John 14:7, NKJV).
That’s an amazing statement. In other words, the character of the Father is revealed in Jesus, the Son.
But in his humanness, still not understanding, Philip, one of Jesus’ closest followers requested:
“Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (John 14:8, NKJV).
Jesus responded with some of the most powerful and important words in all the Bible:
“Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” (John 14:9, NKJV).
Years later, the Apostle Paul expressed it like this:
“For in Him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, NKJV).
In other words, Jesus is a physical, human, fleshly expression of the entire Godhead—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Without a doubt, Jesus is the fullest revelation of the character of God the Father. And Adventists believe if a person wants to know about the character of God the Father, the best way to learn about Him is to learn about Jesus.
What does the “wrath of God” have to do with the Father?
One aspect of God’s character that can be unsettling to navigate is the idea of His “wrath.” No one likes to think about anger, and maybe we get images in our heads of human anger—irrational, selfish anger.
That’s not the case with God, as He is perfect and loving. The only things that trigger His “wrath” are things that can hurt or hinder humanity on their path to reconciliation with Him.
Jesus Himself also revealed wrath, which shows the kind of things God gets angry about.
Early in His ministry, Jesus visited the sacred temple in Jerusalem, the place where many animal sacrifices were offered.
But, unfortunately, it had become more of a place of shady business than a holy sanctuary.
The Bible depicts what happened next:
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’” (John 2:13, NKJV).
He used a whip of cords, drove them out, overturned the tables, and yelled at them. Anything that needed to be done to stop this from happening since people were being taken advantage of, and it communicated a terribly inaccurate message about what the temple represented.
And though this isn’t the only example, it shows that God the Father gets angry as well when people are exploited or hurt by others. Injustice incites His wrath.
The Bible is filled with texts about God’s warning of judgment (His wrath) on those who hurt or oppress the poor, the weakest, and the most vulnerable.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment.
I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:5; see also Jeremiah 23:12; Isaiah 10:1-3, NKJV).
In short, one could say that God the Father is the true warrior for social justice, but in the best sense of the phrase. Because it is motivated by pure, ultimate love for the entire human race He created.
Scripture is very clear: God the Father is love and He loves this world and its inhabitants.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
It was God the Father who sent His son Jesus to the world—because He loves us.
And it is directly from His love that God’s wrath exists as well.
As an example, imagine the life of a good, earthly father.
What good, earthly father doesn’t love his children? What loving, earthly father wouldn’t become angry, or wrathful, at someone or something that is hurting his own children?
Our world is a painful place. A world filled with violence, destruction, death—all brought about by sin (Genesis 3:14; Romans 5:12).
God despises sin. And He especially despises what it makes people do. Sin is the only thing that can stir up God’s wrath. Which is why He wants to save all humanity from its eternal consequences.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17, NKJV).
What does the parable of the prodigal son teach about the character of God?
Jesus recounted an amazing story that reveals how much God the Father loves us and wants to save us.
He told about the spoiled son of a wealthy and loving father. This son wanted his share of his father’s inheritance early, and after getting it, he just took off.
The young lad was having a great time, partying hard, until an economic crash came and the poor kid was left with nothing.
At one point, he came to his senses and asked himself, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger” (Luke 15:17, NKJV).
And so, being desperate, he went home. He was willing to tell his father he would work as a servant since he believed he was no longer worthy to be called a son (Luke 15:21).
How did his father respond?
Did he say, “Well, you reap what you sow.” Or, “You can come back, but you’re going to have to prove to me by perfect obedience that you are sincere.”
Jesus said that when the father saw the boy from a long way away, he “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15: 20, NKJV).
The father—a symbol of God the Father—even made a feast for his lost son who had finally returned home.
From Jesus’ own mouth, He explained how, like the father in the story, God the Father loves us and wants us saved.
And that means all of us. God doesn’t want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).
Understanding the True Character of God the Father is Freeing
Through the ages, people have thought about how meaningless life would be if there was no God—if this life was all that there was.
Yet for Adventists, the good news about God’s character is that He loves us and is directly involved in our salvation.
This means the God who created the cosmos and made us, loves us. He loves us so much that we can fully trust in Him, even amid the worst of circumstances.
How nice it is to know that amid the toils and trials of life! To know and to experience for yourself the great truth that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, NKJV).
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