By Gary Amirault
It seems the times are getting rarer, but I am sure most of you can recollect overhearing a dispute among little children over whose dad was the greatest. Perhaps it is a scene that is fading from American life. Many of those who head our educational systems seem bent upon undermining the family and the power of parents over their children. It seems bragging on our Dads has become "politically incorrect." How sad.
In times past, when adults overheard this kind of dispute, we looked upon them with a smile on our faces. If a father overheard one of their children giving their reasons why their Dad was the greatest, it would bring a beam of joy to his eyes.
As the dispute would rise in emotion, each trying to outdo the other in building up their father, they would probably enter into great exaggerations of their father's abilities or qualities. But I never heard someone enter into such disputes correcting a child, making him stick to reality. No, we left this kind of exaggeration on sacred land. Provided this engagement was not leading to bloody noses, parents in general felt this was a healthy activity. I am reminded of the Scripture found in Philippians 4:8:
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things."
Of course Paul wrote those uplifting words. Paul could put a string of praises together that would reach heaven itself. Paul knew how to "brag on his Father." Paul applied those words to his appraisal of his Father and ours. We never find Paul bad-mouthing His Father.
Listen to some real bragging:
For this cause I kneel in prayer to the Father, that Father who is the origin and ideal of all fatherhood in heaven and on earth, praying to him that in the wealth of his glory he may grant to you to be strengthened in power through his Spirit in your inner being, praying that your faith may be such that Christ may make your hearts his home, praying that love may be that in which your life is rooted in which it is founded. I pray that in fellowship with all God's consecrated people you may have strength to grasp how broad and long and high and deep Christ's love is, to know that love of his which is greater than we can ever understand, for then your life will be filled with all God's fullness.
Now to him who can do for us far more than our lips can ask or our minds conceive through that power of his which is at work in us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus from age to age, for ever and ever. Amen.
The above translation came from William Barclay's The New Testament. William Barclay also died a righteous braggart. After writing this Bible translation, he discovered and publicly declared that the Scriptures teach the ultimate salvation of all mankind. He went on record with this ultimate of bragging in His Spiritual Autobiography.
There are far too many of these lavish praises in Paul's writings to bring into this short little article. But I encourage you all to spend a few weeks just reading the epistles of Paul, especially Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.
If a person spends a great deal of time studying Paul's writings, one will discover that Paul is not only lavish with his praise of our Father, but he magnifies his praises even more greatly by not saying anything bad about his Father. Let me explain.
Most Christians when called upon to glorify their Father can usually muster up a few remarks about "the" Father or "the" Lord, but when it comes to the supposed bad side of God, Christians are too quick to spout out some short-coming. God will give you at least one chance to love Him, but if you don't-into the oven you go. As a matter of fact, most of the modern gospel centers around making sure you don't get on the bad side of "Father" because if you do, that's it. You can forget the mercy, love, forgiveness bit. You are thrown out of the house forever. Don't waste your breath trying to change His mind. Once His mind is made up, that's it. We lump all of the bad side of God into a nasty little four letter word that many Christians love to use . . . hell!
Now as lavish as Paul was with his praises, and as absent-minded he was in speaking about the bad side of our Father, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Paul never used the word "hell." He never warned anyone about it. Isn't that rather strange, considering the fact that he was commissioned to deliver the "full" gospel to all the nations of the world? Paul was either very absent-minded, too big on his God, or he knew something the modern church has obviously forgotten.
Paul wasn't exaggerating about his Father. Paul intimately knew his Father and just declared the truth. He didn't talk about a God quick to throw people into something called "hell" because Paul knew that wasn't part of God's plan. He didn't speak of "eternal punishment in eternal flames of fire" because they don't exist. Paul knew the gospel he was commissioned to preach and it did not contain a fire pit for those the church feels should be roasted.
Now for those of you who know me, what I am doing here is bragging. I am declaring to you and all creation, especially Christians who spend a great deal of time bad-mouthing my Father, that they don't know what they are talking about! My Father (and yours) is not a baby burner, teenager burner, or adult burner. He is in the creation business and he is damn good at it. He is in the loving business and you ain't tasted nothing yet! He is in the restoration business and He is going to restore everything, yes, everything including Sodom. (Ezek. Ch. 16) He is in the forgiveness business and I suggest you spend some time under the tree of crucifixion and find out personally how far back his forgiveness goes. Believe it or not, He will even forgive his own children who tell the world that he is going to sadistically torture most of the human beings He created. Now that is real forgiveness and those who will find themselves needing His forgiveness the most are not the street sinners, homosexuals, murderers, etc. Those who will need the greatest amount of forgiveness will be those who will have to look Him right in His eyes after seeing heaven completely full with all of Adam's decedents with not one of them lost. They will then discover they not only didn't brag on their Dad, they lied greatly about His power, purpose, love, forgiveness and nature. They will discover they slandered Him in the worst way. Can you image the depth of love and forgiveness it will take to wipe away the memories of those people who have said so many evil things about our Father?
Some people tell me, "Gary, what if you are wrong? What if all those Scriptures you keep quoting about Jesus being willing and able to save all mankind don't really say what they appear to say?
Remember the beginning of this little article. Remember how our boasting on our Father-even if it was exaggerated-was tolerated by mature adults? As a matter of fact, if it was our child who boasted on us we would gleam. I know something about fatherhood. I also know my heavenly Father. He is beaming right now. And He is beaming not because I am exaggerating about Him. I am telling the truth. I am boasting from His written record. I am pouring out from the new heart He gave me. I am only being a witness to the love He has deposited in me and it seeks to declare to all creation that it will be set free from corruption, all of it. I thank you Father from the bottom of my heart, which has become your resting place for the assurance you have given me of your everlasting mercies. May you use this vessel to scream from the housetops of your goodness to all man. May I be poured out into the minds and hearts of tens of thousands in the ministry of reconciliation.
Paul declared that it was impossible to understand how broad and long and high and deep Your love is. And some people are foolish enough to ask me, "What if I am wrong?" Well, I can't stake my life on it. You see, he has already redeemed me! I stand on solid ground. By grace I was saved, through faith, it was a gift gladly received. I stake my claim on His life which is in me. I know my Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. As surely as I know them, I know they are true to their word and nature. It is possible to exaggerate about our natural father's love and ability, but it is impossible to exaggerate about our heavenly Father's Love and Power. I am certain of that.