Fatherhood & Sonship
From Ray Mayhew’s Book, And Joy Begins to Flower
The TV pictures of the 2005 Asian tsunami took my mind back to the Mexico City earthquake in 1985. The tsunami was caused by an earthquake under the ocean, while the Mexican earthquake was on dry land. But the images were much the same—buildings scattered like children’s building blocks, cars and trucks tumbled into ever widening gaps in the roads, apartment blocks with their fronts ripped off, children weeping on the streets and the dreadful toll in human life that the earthquake left behind.
Later reports mentioned that the loss of life and property in Mexico would have been greatly reduced if the foundations of the buildings had been designed to absorb movement. The city was full of beautiful structures with inadequate foundations. They collapsed when the quakes came.
The church is a city set on a hill and in its long and checkered history has suffered some devastating “quakes.” Jesus told us to dig down and lay foundations on the rock—or our lives will be beautiful structures that collapse when the shaking comes (Matt. 7:24–27). Spirituality rests on a three-tier foundation. The first tier, our participation with Jesus in His relationship with the Father, is dealt with in this chapter. The atonement has achieved our incorporation into the adventure of sonship. The second, our participation with Jesus in His death and resurrection, is covered in chapter 6, and the third, our solidarity with Jesus in the Kingdom community, in chapter 7.
Our participation with Jesus in the adventure of Father-hood and sonship is the climax of biblical revelation. We cannot go higher or deeper into the heart of God than to know Him as Father. Jesus, as the way, the truth, and the life, does not just bring us to God. That would be enough in itself to love and serve Him. But He brings us to God as Father. “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). As His Spirit fills our hearts, we joyfully cry, Abba, Father!
In the Old Testament God is called Father 15 times and in the New Testament 245 times! In Matthew 31 times, Mark 4 times, Luke 4 times and in John 100 times. However, the impact of the revelation of God as Father is not just statistical, but captured in Jesus’ use of the intimate family word, Abba. The Old Testament only rarely spoke of God as Father, never as Abba.
The New Testament gives us two yardsticks for measuring the love of God. The first is the Cross: “In this the love of God was made manifest (the word means to “make visible”) among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). The second is the gift of sonship: “Behold (“open your eyes!”), what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:l AV). In this chapter we deal with the second of these two yardsticks.
In a similar way there are two confessional cries in the New Testament: the first, “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3) and the second, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). It is important to note that both of them result from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. No one can say with integrity that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. In the same way the Holy Spirit within us cries, Abba, Father—and in that sense the realization of sonship is a charismatic gift! It comes to enable us to grasp that by grace through faith we have come home to Father.
Sonship & Creation
The whole of creation was designed to express the life of the Son, every bird and animal, plant and flower, man and woman, boy and girl. This is why our Lord could say, “Behold the lilies of the field”, and “consider the birds of the air”, and it could be said of Him, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Lilies, lambs, birds and flowers all speak of Him! “All things were created through Him” (di’autou) (Col. 1:16), not simply by Him.
The creation was cast in the mold of Sonship.
When our children were young, they had a toy press that squeezed clay into a variety of distinctive shapes. You selected a die of a certain shape and extruded the clay through it. The die gave a distinctive shape to all the clay that passed through it. Creation was “extruded” through the die of Christ. His beautiful form is seen wherever you look, His fingerprints are everywhere.
Creation was constituted to express the life of the Son and it will be climaxed and “liberated from bondage” by revealing the very sonship it was designed to express. Meanwhile it stands on tiptoe and “waits with eager longing” for more sonship to be seen on the earth (Rom.8:19–21).
Sonship & Incarnation
The relationship between Jesus and His Father is central to the Gospel story. Our Lord’s first recorded saying at the age of twelve was, “I must be about my father’s business” (Luke 2:49 AV). His last words from the cross were, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). His ministry at thirty years of age opened with the words, “Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The Father was so delighted to see true sonship on the earth that He tore open the heavens to tell us! Three years later His ministry concluded with the words, “I am ascending to my Father and to your Father” (John 20:17). (The NEB puts it well in translating Romans 8:29, that Jesus is now the “eldest in a large family of brothers.”)
In all of our Lord’s prayers, save the cry of dereliction from the cross, He addresses God as Father. In the New Testament the Greek word Pater is used. However, in normal conversation Jesus would of course have spoken Aramaic, and we have therefore good reason to suppose that in prayer He always used the Aramaic word Abba, which was translated into the Greek of the New Testament as Pater. That the use of Abba was our Lord’s normal address to the Father is reinforced by the fact that in the intimacy of Gethsemane the word is left untranslated: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:35, 36 NIV).
Tom Smail says that Jesus’ use of the word “Abba” has no parallel in Jewish tradition. He goes on to quote Jeremias who said, “It can certainly be said that there is no instance of Abba as address to God in all the extensive prayer-literature of Judaism, whether liturgical or private prayers.”
Abba is not the formal word for father in Aramaic, but belongs to the intimacies of family life. Jeremias adds that it was not only used by small children, but also by grown-up sons and daughters as an address of warmth and affection. Such an important word is probably not best translated into English as “daddy.” Fatherhood in the Jewish culture was affectionate, but also deeply respected, and our word “daddy,” for some of us, carries overtones of indulgent fathers who had little authority and were not necessarily respected. C. F. D. Moule comments, “Addressing His heavenly Father with exceptional intimacy, Jesus does not, however, take advantage of this familiarity. He uses the Abba address to offer to God His complete obedience (in Gethsemane). The intimate word conveys not a casual sort of familiarity but the deepest, most trustful reverence” (brackets mine) .Tom Smail concludes:
In other words Abba is the intimate word of a family circle where that obedient reverence was at the heart of the relationship, whereas “daddy” is the familiar word of a family circle from which all thoughts of reverence and obedience have largely disappeared. Moule and Jeremias both agree that the best English translation of Abba is simply Dear Father.
In Jesus there is a double revelation: God’s relationship with man as Father and man’s relationship with God as son. It sums up all that He said and all that He came to do. To quote the Methodist theologian, Scott Lidgett:
The incarnation unites God and man and does so by revealing sonship in terms of human nature, and human nature in terms of sonship. Human nature is constituted with a view to sonship, which consummates it. In the case of race, by the incarnate Son. In the case of the individual, by adoption.
The relationship of Jesus with His Father defines and exemplifies for us the meaning and content of Fatherhood and Sonship. We are not left to guess what it means by drawing analogies from our own experience of human fatherhood. We see it fleshed out for us in the Gospels.
Karl Barth makes the point that, “It is . . . not that there is first of all human fatherhood and then so-called divine fatherhood, but just the reverse; true proper fatherhood resides in God and from this fatherhood what we know as fatherhood among men is derived.”
It is also wrong to assume that because one’s own experience of fatherhood was inadequate, God’s fatherhood is meaningless to us. My own father went to Africa to work when I was a year old. During my whole life I saw him only for a week when I was eleven. But the absence of human fatherhood does not negate my capacity to know God as Father. My father disappointed me but my Big Father never has! Sam was a member of our fellowship who was wonderfully converted to Christ in his late twenties after being in and out of prison for most of his adult life. He was thrilled to know his sins were forgiven and that God was his Father. His own childhood experiences were tragic. He was regularly abused and at one point was locked in a basement without any light for two weeks. His tragic experiences of human fatherhood did not prevent him from knowing God as Father. It only increased his delight in now having a Father who would never fail or forsake him.
For those of us wounded from the past, the revelation of God as Father brings deep healing to our memories and spirits. True fatherhood has touched our spirits!
The new image that comes from Jesus has to penetrate to the deep subconscious springs of life and memory where the old images and reactions have their seat. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to cry Abba, Father at precisely these deep places of our hearts and spirits, there to begin to transform us and set us free, and bit by bit bring us out of the neglect or tyranny of the fatherhood we remember, into the sure love and liberating obedience of the God and Father of Jesus. At this point the great healer of the memories is the Spirit of the Son who spells out Father for us again and again till we are free of the old and believe the new.
The Basis of Sonship
Just as the climax of biblical revelation is the Fatherhood of God, so our adoption as sons is the highest privilege that the Gospel offers.
Since the reformation, the doctrine of justification has overshadowed the doctrine of adoption. The former has been emphasized and the latter neglected. Luther and Calvin both taught adoption and emphasized its importance. But their disciples made much of justification and the legal aspects of the Gospel, and little of adoption. Jim Packer writes:
“Adoption is the highest privilege that the Gospel offers: higher even than justification. This may cause some raising of eyebrows, for justification is the gift of God on which since Luther, evangelicals have laid the greatest stress. None the less, careful thought will show the truth of the statement we have just made. Justification is the primary blessing . . . the fundamental blessing in the sense that everything else in our salvation assumes it, and rests on it – adoption included. But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the Gospel. Adoption is higher because of the richer relationship with God that it involves. Justification is a forensic idea, conceived in terms of law, and viewing God as judge . . . (it) does not of itself imply any intimate or deep relationship with God as the judge. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as Father. In adoption, God takes us into His family and fellowship, and establishes us as His children and heirs. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.”
In Roman law it was a recognized practice for an adult to adopt a child when it came of age, rather than when it was in infancy. A wealthy couple who were without children would adopt a young adult who was clearly evidencing the potential for intellectual or commercial success. Such a protégé would be worthy to carry on the family name. The wonder of our adoption is that the only potential we were exhibiting was for sin and rebellion. Our track record was appalling, we were prodigals and profligates and yet the Father set His love upon us. We are now sons and daughters of the King. Hallelujah!
Before working out the practical implications of sonship, there are two important areas we need to qualify in the present theological climate. First, there is a qualitative distinction between our sonship and the sonship of Christ. “He is the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father” John 1:18 Or, as some of the manuscripts have it, “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father”; or in the words of the creed, “The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.” In asserting our sonship we must avoid the New Age emphasis that blurs the distinction between the creator and the creation. Statements like “you don’t have a God living in you; you are one” and that man as a being is “in God’s class” and that “I’m an exact duplicate of God” have all been made by evangelicals who have become over-enthusiastic about sonship.
Being created in the image of God is not being “an exact duplicate”, and John 10:34 is not implying the “all humans are incarnations of deity.” To make such statements is to blur the distinction between the unique sonship of Jesus and our sonship by adoption, and to play into the hands of those who invidiously lump sincere evangelicals with New Age occultists.
The second point that needs to be made is that the Fatherhood of God is not to be understood in a sexist way. The New Testament is not promoting masculinity at the expense of femininity. Male and female together reflect the image of God – who is Father. The statement “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27) makes it quite clear that the image of God is both the male and female. It therefore follows that Fatherhood contains aspects of both masculinity and femininity. Fatherhood in the Bible embraces Motherhood. Even in the Old Testament God compares Himself to a mother (Isa. 49:15) and His tenderness is frequently alluded to (Ps. 131:2).
One of the few sayings of the short-lived Pope John Paul (Tom Smail commented) was his remark that “God is not only our Father but also our Mother.” It is said to have shocked some ultra-orthodox cardinals. They should have listened, because it is precisely when the love of God is denied its motherly quality and is developed in a masculine, authoritarian and therefore sexist direction, that compensating images of the tender Jesus or of the Virgin Mother have to be evolved, to whom people can run from the stern judgments and harsh demands of God. But it is not the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ or of Mary his mother to compensate for what is lacking in the love of the Father; it is rather their function, in their quite different ways, for Christ to be the archetypal revelation of it, and for Mary to be in her special way one of its first and most excellent reflections.
The Implications of Sonship
A firm grip on the reality of sonship is crucial if we are to advance in spirituality. The way we live as Christians must be controlled by our understanding of sonship. As we have already outlined, there are four levels of sonship in the New Testament. First, perfect sonship, as seen in Jesus, who could say, “he who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Second, potential sonship. For all people, the possibility exists for them to return from the far country to the Father’s heart and home. Third, positional sonship. All those who repent and believe have the status and standing of sons even if they are not aware of it. Fourth, conscious and realized sonship. Sonship in the New Testament is not just positional, a legal status, but experiential and a reality that must now control the way we live.
The goal of adoption is a life of righteousness, authority and compassion as we realize the implications of who we are now. P. T. Forsyth vividly describes the Christians who have not yet grasped the implications of sonship:
“Most Christians are not worldlings, but they are hardly sons. They are only in the position of the disciples who stood between Judaism and Pentecost, who received Christ but had not as yet the Holy Ghost. They are not sons but have only received the right to become sons. The fatherhood has not yet broken out upon them through the cross and caught them away into its universal heaven.”
We will walk with dignity as the king’s sons and daughters, as the consciousness of who we now are grips us ever more deeply.
The implications of sonship are many and have been dealt with recently in some excellent books on the Fatherhood of God. I will only mention those that have a direct bearing on the development of spirituality.
- Acceptance :: David Pawson illustrates the Trinity by three people standing in a circle holding hands. The family circle of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is unbroken and mirrors for us agape love and true community. However, there was a moment in history when the “hands” of the Father and the Son were unclasped and we heard from the cross the agonizing cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The circle was broken—just once in eternity—that we might enter it. Now the Father grasps my one hand, and the Son my other, and I am welcomed into the heart of The Family. The love of the Father for the Son becomes the measure of the Father’s love for me. By adoption I am accepted in the Beloved. Floyd McClung told us of a couple known to him who have adopted several children. They deliberately put no conditions whatsoever on the terms of each adoption; they did not specify age, sex, racial background or even that the child had no physical or mental abnormalities. After each child arrived in the home they came before the Lord as a family and in a beautiful act of unconditional acceptance said to the child, “We choose you, we choose you.” Such love and welcome mirrors the Father’s total and unreserved acceptance of us as His children by adoption. The welcome mat is on His doorstep.
- Access :: The Jew was conscious that access into the direct presence of God was reserved for the religious elite, and even at that, only once a year could the High Priest enter into the most holy place. That we now have immediate and personal access into the presence of the Father was one of the bombshells of the Good News, “for through Him we…have access . . . to the Father” (Eph. 2:18). The word “access” was used when someone was presented at court and gained the right of access into the presence of the King. Through Jesus we have been “presented at court” and adopted into the Royal Family! We now have “boldness and confidence of access” (Eph. 3:12), we can enter Father’s presence at will and—He is never too busy to joyously receive us.Some years ago I worked in the office of a building contractor. My desk was in the outer office, some yards from the inner sanctum of the managing director’s office—guarded by a closed door. To get to see a managing director was always difficult; a phone call, an appointment and a wait in the reception area. However, occasionally, seven people would burst into the building, with no appointment, rush through the reception area and dive straight into his office—without even knocking! They were his kids, aged three and up, and were welcome at any time, whatever Dad was doing and whoever was with him. In Jesus we too have an open access to a Father who is never too busy to receive us and who delights to receive us into His presence.
- Authority :: The Scriptures describe the world as God’s “house” (e. g. Ps. 36:5–9). Since the rebellion of man, the house has been in disorder and chaos. God’s economy (oikonomia) is to put all things in their proper order within His house (oikos). The authority of sonship is beautifully seen in Jesus as He opens the eyes of the blind, unstops the ears of the deaf, cleanses the leper, raises the dead and casts out demons. As the Son with the Father’s authority, He restores order to the house. God’s oikonomia for the fullness of time is that in His Son, the whole cosmos will come back into order (Eph. 1:l0).As we embrace sonship, His authority becomes our authority, the works that He did, we do also; what He began, we continue.
Demons have infiltrated society, man has raped and polluted the earth, disease has ravaged the innocent—but we are now invested with authority to restore order in Father’s house in the Name of Jesus.
God can and does act into the world unilaterally, but since Pentecost He has chosen to act through a group of people who use the Name of Jesus—His church. He confirms our words with signs following that men might know He is the God and Father of Jesus. As Wesley said, “Without God man cannot, without man God does not.”
Many of us have experienced or read about waking up in the night with a great burden to intercede for a missionary thousands of miles away. Perhaps months later you meet them and discover that at the exact time you were burdened to pray they were under great pressure from the enemy—but were delivered. Such experiences down to the day and the hour are not uncommon, but I only recently realized the spiritual dynamics behind such a scenario: the Lord sees that one of His servants in, say, India is under attack. He then scans the whole earth to find someone who knows them in, say, England, to pray. He wakes them up to tell them to do something about what He was intending to do in the first place! Why does He go to so much trouble? Why does He not just do it? We would conclude such effort was not cost-effective! Why? Because He wants us to exercise the authority of sonship as His co-workers on the earth.
- Intimacy :: As already mentioned, models of Fatherhood and Mother-hood are both used in the Scriptures to express the intimacy of filial relationship. The child at the breast, the infant dandled on the knee, the mature son working with his father and thinking his thoughts after him, capture for us some of the richness of the biblical model. Growth in spirituality is growth in the intimacy of our relationship as sons and daughters with Father.Intimacy is the key to disclosure. In the privacy of the family relationship confidences are shared; “The Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing” (John 5:20). In the intimacy of the marriage relationship (another biblical model), disclosures are made; there are things I share with my wife that no one else knows. If we want to share God’s secrets, we must go into the privacy of the inner room, shut the door and speak to our Father in secret (Matt. 6:6).
Some years ago one of our friends, the mother of five small children, was shopping in Harrods a few days before Christmas. She is a woman who seeks to live in the secret place with Father. She had not been in the store long when she heard the Lord telling her to leave. Painstaking efforts had been made to babysit the children so she could shop alone, and it was therefore somewhat grudgingly that she eventually obeyed and left the store. After returning home she switched on the radio to discover that several bombs had gone off in Harrods, and many had been killed and injured—fifteen minutes after she left the store. As we abide in the secret place with Father we will hear the whisper of His voice and know the embrace of His love (Ps. 91).
- Provision :: Anxiety is the enemy of spirituality. Our spirits are agitated and fretful, rather than calmed and quieted and at rest (Ps. 131:2). The cares of this world choke the good seed of the word of the Kingdom and our “fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). Instead of being “poor in spirit” and being confident we shall inherit the Kingdom, we have a “spirit of poverty” and are fearful that our needs will never be met. God’s fatherly provision is presented as the great antidote to anxiety in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5 Jesus begins by linking spirituality and happiness. The phrase “happy are the . . .” is used twelve times. (You can always tell when spirituality degenerates into religiosity—the joy goes out of it!) He continues in chapter 6 by telling us not to be anxious about the normal issues of everyday life, money, clothing, food, health, and longevity, as our Father knows that we need them. Sonship is the guarantee that as we seek the Kingdom all these things shall be added to us. Real anxiety is rare among children from secure homes as they know their needs will be supplied by loving parents: “And if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven . . .” (Matt. 7:11).In Jewish thought the obedience of sonship is paralleled by the provision of Fatherhood. Roger Forster once pointed out to me the corollary between obedience and provision in the parable of the prodigal son. After the son returns from the far country and is unconditionally received by the father, the elder brother becomes angry and refuses to join the celebration. He reminds his father that he has fulfilled the requirements of sonship: “I have served you and I have never disobeyed.” The father replies to this with the beautiful words: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (Luke 15:31). The tragedy of the elder brother was that he had worked in father’s house for years without realizing the fact that everything the father had was his! As an obedient son all of father’s resources were at his disposal—the obedience of sonship was complemented by the provision of fatherhood, but he had never understood the father’s heart toward him.
- Obedience & Suffering :: In Jewish culture the father was to be obeyed at all times. Obedience was not optional, but integral to sonship. We must not lower the level of sonship and fatherhood by reducing it to inadequate twentieth century models. The obedience and tender reverence of Jesus in His relationship to the Father both built on and transcended the culture of the day. The word Abba, while embracing intimacy, does not exclude costly obedience. Its first use in the New Testament is in Gethsemane when in His agony Jesus asks Abba to remove the cup from Him. “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Sonship does not exclude us from obedience and suffering. To cry Abba Father is also to obey more deeply than the most devoted slave.In Romans 8:17 sonship is described as being “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him.” For Jesus sonship meant total obedience and embracing the cross. It will mean no less for us.
Sonship & Guidance
I was often told as a young Christian that God had a plan for my life—a “blueprint” that He wanted me to follow. This was exciting but created a lot of tension as I was never sure how specific the “plan” was. If I was driving between cities, should I take the A road or the motorway? If I was painting my room, should it be white or blue? My sonship eventually became slavery and a mechanistic obedience replaced spontaneity and joy.
Being so miserable (was I on or off the blue-print?) motivated me to examine the Scriptures again. To my delight I discovered that there was no mention of a “plan” that stifled all personal creativity and initiative, but a model of Father-hood and Sonship that immediately liberated my spirit. Instead of walking a tightrope I discovered that Father’s house has a very big back garden indeed!
A. W. Tozer used to say that 95 per cent of the will of God is written in black and white on the pages of the Bible. His point was that the will of God is not primarily that we should go “there” and do “this”, but that we obey His commandments and become “sons of our Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:45).
Its primary focus is moral, not vocational. As we obey His commandments we grow in sonship and knowing what we should “do” and where we should “go” becomes natural. Should we live in London or Birmingham? Should I go to university or technical college? Should I rent or purchase a flat? Such decision-making becomes easier as we mature in sonship.
A firm grasp on four aspects of the Father/Son relation-ship will help us in decision making:
- Hearing His Voice :: As I will to do the Father’s will, even if I do not know what it is, it puts me in a position where I can hear His voice. What pleases Father is that I desire to do His will, not that I have necessarily apprehended it fully or done it perfectly. When our son was eight, he loved to cook us breakfast on Saturday mornings. We could usually tell when it was ready by the smoke and smell of burning that wafted its way up to the bedroom! As we crunched our way through black toast and burnt bacon, our taste buds informed us that he was not yet in the gourmet league—it was awful! But, we would smile and eat on as it was his effort to please that counts—not his perfect performance of the task.
- Exercising My Will :: Father’s will is often for me to exercise my will. We are sons, not slaves. It would be a neurotic child indeed whose every decision was a direct response to a parental directive. I did not mind telling Joanna, when she was three, to wear shoes and not sandals when it rained outside; but I would be distressed if I had to give her similar directives now that she has grown up! Maturity means that I can increasingly make decisions that I know will please the Father—I do not have to endlessly ask Him about all manner of trivia.
- Initiating Action :: As a son I have freedom to initiate in issues concerning the Kingdom. I am delighted to find that my son has fixed something in the house without waiting for me to tell him to do it! Sonship and slavery are not synonymous; the slave has no freedom, the son has lots of it within the perimeters set by the Father. I once saw an empty building that had some interesting potential. “Father, this would be ideal for a youth center” were the words of my heart. In my spirit I immediately sensed that Father was pleased with my enthusiasm for His Kingdom and the initiative I had taken on His behalf. This does not negate my responsibility to talk more with Father about the matter, but neither does it cripple my own zeal and drive.We must not interpret woodenly the words of Jesus about the Son doing nothing of His own accord “but only what he sees the father doing” (John 5:19). The thought is not that the Son mechanically does what the Father is doing, but that the will of Father and Son are in harmony. He does what the Father is doing, “not in imitation but in virtue of His sameness of nature.” (Westcott) The Father was well pleased with Jesus, not that He was His perfect slave, but that He was His beloved Son.
- The Father Sharing His Heart & Thoughts :: The intimacy of sonship means that as I mature, the Father will share His heart and thoughts with me. You can give children instructions and assurances of your love, but you can only share your heart with them as they mature into adults. As sons grow up, they also become “friends”—the Lord spoke to Moses, face to face (heart to heart), as a man speaks to his friend (Deut. 34:l0). Abraham was the “friend of God” (Isa. 41:23). God shared with him His agony over Sodom: “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Gen. 18:17). The tragedy is that so many of us remain as immature children learning the first principles of obedience, when we should be advancing in sonship and authority.A civil engineer I once knew lived for part of the year in Yemen. In the wake of an earthquake there, he was building houses designed with adequate foundations to withstand the stress. His goal was structures that would not fall down. Mine is the same. The foundation of Fatherhood gives us a firm base to build on that will adequately withstand the “quakes” and stress that are an inevitable part of the enemy’s opposition to any aggressive spirituality.