The church is the family of God.
The relationship of God to man is illustrated with the relationship of a Father
to his son.
Jesus taught His disciples to address God as “Our Father which art in
heaven, Hallowed by thy name.” The reverence and respect for God is not to
be ignored in our addressing God. He is still the Creator. He is not “our
heavenly Dad,” or “Pop in the sky.” His name is to be hallowed, or made holy
– addressed with reverence, not demeaned.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received
the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15 KJV)
Gentiles became the adopted children of God. The Israelites were the children of
God by birth. In Christ, all are adopted; none are by natural birth the children of
God. We become the children of God by the new birth of water and the Spirit (John
3:3-21). Whether we are Gentile or Jew, it is the rebirth which makes us the
children of God. It makes no difference whether you address God by the Hebrew
Abba, or by the Greek Patri, or any other language, He is the Father of those who
have been born again.
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a
servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the
time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in
bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time
was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To
redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of
sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:1-6 KJV)
The blessings we receive, the care we are afforded, the treatment we can expect,
the love which is showered upon us, is because we are the children of God. We
are the servants of God, yes; but, more than servants, we are sons.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye
have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received
the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth
witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then
heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with
him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:14-17 KJV)
We are the sons of God when we are led by the Spirit of God – when we listen and
obey His word. Then there is no reason to fear the wrath of God, because we have
His promise of forgiveness in our obedience, we have His promise of grace as we
follow Him, we have His promise of mercy to deal with our transgressions. We have
His word on it. No greater assurance could be found.
The relationship of Christ to the church is illustrated with the relationship of a
husband to his wife
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit
yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the
head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the
saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the
wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might
sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might
present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any
such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to
love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it,
even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh,
and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and
shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great
mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let
every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife
see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33 KJV)
A husband should love his wife enough to give his life for her. In the same way,
Jesus loved the church enough to give His life for her. He gave up heaven, came to
the earth, took upon Him humanity, and went to the cross for the good of the ones
who would hear His call. He did not think of His own good. He willingly sacrificed
Himself and all that He had. He showed what true love was by example.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:12-14