The Father Started It

Typically, Christians connect salvation exclusively with Jesus. That connection makes perfect sense because Jesus is indeed our one and only Savior. Revelation 5:11-14 depicts Him as the object of angelic worship in heaven, and Colossians 1:13-23 unmistakably teaches that the entirety of creation revolves around Him because of His work on the cross. We rightly exalt Him for taking our sin upon Himself and applying His righteousness to us. As the old hymn says, “Hallelujah — what a Savior!”

Jesus, however, didn’t effect our salvation independently of the other two Members of the Trinity. Therefore, we ought to spend some time thinking together about the Father and the Holy Spirit in Their parts of saving us. So let’s begin by focusing on God the Father, shall we?

Most of us can quote John 3:16 by heart, properly understanding its message that Jesus died for us. We may have even recognized God the Father in these treasured words:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (NASB95)

Usually we read this verse with the emphasis on the Father’s love for us, which is certainly the emphasis Jesus intended when He spoke those words to Nicodemus. Love motivated the Father to provide His only begotten Son in order to atone for sin, and we have every reason to praise the Father for such a powerful demonstration of love. If anything, this verse illuminates the character of the Father, showing us the amazing depth and vastness of His love! How tragic it would be to gloss over this point!

Yet it would be equally tragic to stop at this point.

The grammatical context of John 3:16 makes it clear that “God” refers specifically to the Father alone, and therefore indicates that the Father, motivated by His love for both Jews and Gentiles, gave His Son to atone for the sins of those who believe in His Son. Do you see the Father’s initiative in salvation? Yes, it’s also true that Jesus willingly gave His life for sinners (please look at John 10:17-18), the Bible teaches that He did so in obedience to His Father. We see His submission in the garden of Gethsemane.

39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” ~~Luke 22:39-46 (NASB95)

Going a little deeper into the Father’s part in our salvation, we should think about the doctrine of election. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll set aside discussions regarding free will vs. the sovereignty of God in order to agree that the Bible does use the word “election” in reference to salvation. From that point, then, I want to take you to Scripture’s most explicit statement on this matter:

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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. ~~Ephesians 1:3-6 (NASB95)

The Father chose us “before the foundation of the world” and “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.” If we are truly saved, we owe it to the Father first of all, rejoicing that He determined from eternity past to adopt us as (in our case) His daughters. Furthermore, He freely bestowed this adoption on us by sending His Beloved Son. In this passage, the emphasis remains on a loving Father Who abundantly provides salvation for His children.

Sometimes God the Father seems remote, even to mature Christians who have a solid understanding of God’s Word. So we need to remind ourselves as often as possible that He initiated our salvation. That reminder fills me with awe and wonder, helping me to see the Father more clearly. It increases my love for Him (see 1 John 4:19). Continue, by all means, to praise the Lord Jesus Christ for saving you by His death on the cross, but also make room for praising the Father for sending you such a perfect Savior.

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