CAN THE HEAVENLY FATHER BE KNOWN?
In the previous two chapters, we reviewed the nature of the Presences of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in accordance with the teachings of the Sacred Bible and the beliefs of the early Church. But what about God the Father? Who is God the Father? How does one begin to perceive the Divine nature of the Presence of the Heavenly Father that has been beyond the grasp of the human mind since the beginning of time?
In the New Testament, Jesus tells us,
"All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." [Mt. 11:27; Lk. 10:22](CCC. # 240)
By the grace of God, there is hope! The inspired words of the Holy Spirit that are found in the Holy Bible tells us that through Jesus, the Heavenly Father can be known.
Some may choose to contradict the Holy Bible by saying, "That is impossible!" But is it really impossible to know God the Father? The inspired words of the Holy Bible also state, "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and Divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse." [Rom 1:20] These two mentioned passages of the Lord Jesus and of St. Paul are very powerful words that cannot be ignored!
Therefore, does the Holy Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reveal God the Father or not? The only way to find out is to proceed by identifying passages that identify the nature of the Divine Presence of God the Father.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE FATHER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
To properly begin to know God the Father, it is reasonable to review what the Old Testament has to say about His Divine Presence. What is very noticeable in the Old Testament is that while the Spirit of God the Father is frequently mentioned, His Son remains hidden. Here and there, there are clues as to the Three Divine Presences of God that are found in the Holy Trinity.
For example, one passage says,
"See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." [Mal. 3:1]
From this passage, it is known today that the messenger was John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way. "... To prepare the way for me..." reveals the incarnation of God in Jesus. "The Lord whom you seek" is a reference to the birth of Jesus as the second Presence of the Holy Trinity.
Another passage states,
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." [Is. 9:6]
From these titles, it can be perceived that the "Wonderful Counsellor" is the Holy Spirit, "Mighty God" represents the Holy Trinity, the "Everlasting Father" is God the Father and the "Prince of Peace" is Jesus. The fullness of the Trinity of God is seen in this biblical passage.
At the time of the writing of these inspired biblical passages, without today's knowledge of the existence of the Holy Trinity, the authors could not and did not perceive their meaning, the words frequently appearing to conflict with one another.
THE NAMES OF GOD
In the Old Testament, the characteristics of God are made known by His Divine Names. Some names are singular, others being in the plural form.
One name of God is "Adonai", meaning "lord, ruler." This name is the plural of "Adon." The name "Elohim" is also found in the Old Testament, being the plural of El, having been used prior to the name of "Eloha". A commonly used name for God is "Elohim", it being mentioned 2,570 times in the Old Testament. The name means "to be mighty" or "the strong one." "El" is mentioned 226 times. The name "El Shaddai," meaning "Almighty," is found 41 times.
The name "Jehovah" (Yahweh), well known to this date, is found at least 6,000 times in the Old Testament. It is found alone or combined with other Divine names. This name is considered to be the proper name of God. The Vulgate Bible translates the name "Jehovah" to mean, "Lord." "Jehovah" has a number of meanings such as, "the proper name," "the name of the substance," "the hidden and mysterious name," "the glorious and terrible name," "the only name," "the great name," and "the name by excellence."
There are other names that are found in the Old Testament such as the name "Elim," 9 times, and "Eloah," 57 times.
Since all the Holy Names of God the Father reflect His Divine characteristics, it then becomes necessary to search elsewhere in order to perceive the nature of His Divine Presence.
GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Reviewing the New Testament, it is learned that God the Father is eternal. [Rom. 16:26; 1 Tim. 1:17] Also, He is invisible. [Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27] Therefore, God the Father cannot be seen and no one has ever seen Him. [Jn. 1:18; 1 Jn. 4:12]
God the Father is omnipotent (all-powerful), "having made the world and everything in it." [Acts 17:24; Eph. 3:9] He is omniscient (all-knowing), knowing the hearts of all men. [Acts 15:18; 1 Jn. 3:20] His knowledge and wisdom is infinite. [Rom. 11:33] God the Father is omnipresent (present all over). [Acts 7:40]
God the Father is holy in nature. [ 1 Pet. 1:15; Rev. 4:8] God is the Most High, supreme above all. [Lk. 1:32, 35, 76, 6:35, 8:28; Acts 7:48, 16:17] Even the demons acknowledged that God who is the Father of Jesus, is the Most High God.
"God the Father is light and in him there is no darkness at all." [1 Jn. 1:5] "God the Father is true." [Jn. 7:28, 8:26; Rom 3:4] His word is truth. [Jn. 17:17] He never lies. [Tit. 1:2]
God the Father is love. [1 Jn. 4:8, 16] He teaches His children how to love one another. [1 Thess. 4:9]
He is righteous. [Rom. 1:17, 3:21] Even His judgments are righteous, [Rom. 2:5; 2 Thess. 1:5] true and just. [Rev. 16:7] He is wise. [Rom. 16:27] "God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's s weakness is stronger than human strength." [1 Cor. 1:25]
His character is unchanging. [Heb. 6:17] He is faithful in His promises. [1 Cor. 1:9, 10:13; 1 Pet. 4:19; 1 Jn. 1:9]
As can be seen from this summary of God's holy qualities, they are endless. At the same time, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit enjoy all of these characteristics of God the Father. This unity reflects the perfect Oneness that is found in all three Divine Presences of God.
THE INVISIBILITY OF GOD THE FATHER
Based on what is known of God the Father, He is invisible and formless. Because of this truth, many Christians find it difficult to have a daily relationship with God the Father when they cannot visualize a picture of Him in their minds. When thinking of Jesus, it is easy to visualize a holy picture of Him. When thinking of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to visualize a holy picture of a dove, although this does not accurately reflect the Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in the previous chapter.
IMAGES OF GOD THE FATHER
In their struggle to bring God the Father down to earth in a physical and visible nature, over the centuries, painters have created pictures of God the Father as an old man. This practice, on the increase during the last century, has spread to every nation, especially during the last few decades. None of these paintings and "so called" holy pictures accurately reflect God the Father. In fact, they are an insult to the Divine Presence of God the Father, leading the believers away from the truth.
The holy Catholic Church tells us,
"We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God." (CCC. # 239)
God the Father said, "I am God and no mortal." [Hos. 11:9]
Diagram 19: Is this God the Father?
Note: In Diagram 19, we see one of many pictures that allege to represent God the Father in human form. Is God the Father, formless in nature, truly an old man as represented by these pictures? Such pictures are not Biblical. The promotion of such pictures opposes the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church that are found in its Catechism.
The creating of images of God the Father as an old man is literally creating a false god, another idol to worship. It falls short of reflecting the true nature of the Divine Presence of God the Father as He has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ.
Read what else the Holy Catholic Church says about making paternal or maternal images of God the Father:
"The purification of our hearts had to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area 'upon him' would be - to fabricate idols to adore - or pull down." (CCC. # 2779) To know God the Father, it is necessary to know Jesus. For Jesus "is the image of the invisible God..." [Col. 1:15] Jesus is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being..." [Heb. 1:3] (CCC. # 241) For in Jesus, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [Col. 1:19, 2:9]
Where is all this leading to? God the Father is still not known. There still is nothing concrete for one to visualize in his mind what God the Father looks like. If God the Father is invisible and formless, what is He? The answer is found in the words of God the Father when He said, "I am." [Ex. 3:14; Jn. 18:5] There are no better way to described the nature of His Divine Presence!
When speaking about His death, Jesus said,
"Now my soul is troubled." [Jn. 12:27]
When considering this passage, it becomes necessary to ask, "What is the soul of Jesus?" After all, as shown in the first chapter, all human beings have a body, a spirit and a soul. In the previous chapter, supported by Bible passages, it was shown that the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of Jesus. But the Soul of Jesus has never been explained as of yet.
Now, when considering that Jesus had to have a soul, if Jesus had a Soul of His own, apart from God the Father, then it would mean that there are two Divine Souls, one in the Father and one in the Son. If there are two Divine Souls, then there would have to be two Gods. If there are two Gods, then neither one of them would be the true God because God is One. As two Gods, They would belong to a genus (family) of Gods and there would have to be a God superior to Jesus and the Father. But this is not the case! Jesus is the one and only true God and so is God the Father, while both are One.
Therefore, it has to be concluded that God the Father is the Divine Soul * 1 of Jesus. As such, the nature of God the Father can then be described as a Divine living self-sustaining intellectual self-conscious Soul who has life in Himself. Being a separate Divine Presence of the Blessed Trinity, as the Son and the Holy Spirit each have life in Themselves, then, the Father must also have life in Himself.
* 1 The Council of Ephesus affirms that God the Father made His indwelling in Jesus in such a way as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body.
The Council Of Ephesus - 431 A.D.
Third letter of Cyril to Nestorius
"But we do not say that the Word of God dwelt as in an ordinary man born of the holy virgin, in order that Christ may not be thought of as a God-bearing man. For even though "the Word dwelt among us", and it is also said that in Christ dwelt "all the fullness of the godhead bodily", we understand that, having become flesh, the manner of his indwelling is not defined in the same way as he is said to dwell among the saints, he was united by nature and not turned into flesh and he made his indwelling in such a way as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body."
"For we do not divide up the words of our Saviour in the gospels among two hypostases or persons. For the one and only Christ is not dual, even though he be considered to be from two distinct realities, brought together into an unbreakable union. In the same sort of way a human being, though he be composed of soul and body, is considered to be not dual, but rather one out of two. Therefore, in thinking rightly, we refer both the human and divine expressions to the same person."
As explained in chapter one, a soul is formless. It is an intellectual self-consciousness. While the soul of man is created by God, the soul of God is eternal, God always having enjoys life in Himself. As a Divine intellectual Soul Consciousness, God the Father enjoys all the characteristics that have been presented in this chapter. He is all-present, all-powerful and all-knowing by His Divine nature.
As a Divine intellectual Soul Consciousness, it is now understood why God the Father identified Himself as, "I am." How else can we identify a soul? If one was to ask another, "Show me your soul so I can addressed it," the person would react by saying, "This is me!" "I am so and so!"
Notice the answer, "I am!"
Stop and think here! Who is me? Is it my dying physical body that is a shell through which the soul manifests itself or is it the soul? The real me is my soul! The body is the physical form that is called to die. But, at this time, my soul needs my body so it can manifest itself. So who is the real person in me? Is my soul the person? Is my physical body the person? Or is it my spirit? These are things that will be considered in the next chapter as we continue to reflect on knowing God.
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