How Can We Know the Father?
How can one know God the Father? That’s the question John answers in 1 John 1:1-2.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.
“That which was from the beginning,” according John’s gospel, is Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If we’re to know God, we must know the One who was with God in the beginning—Jesus. There is no back door to God. There is no other way, no other path, no other avenue to God but through his Son, Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through him, after all.
If we only can know the Father through the Son, this begs the question: how can we know the Son? John’s answer is found in his use of the word we. The we who saw, heard and touched the Son are his Apostles. We can know the Son through the Gospels because they were written by friends of Jesus—those who spent their lives in his presence, ate with him, talked with him, traveled with him, and joked with him.
John is keen to emphasize that the apostles were eyewitnesses. The Gospels aren’t second or third-hand accounts. There is no hearsay when it comes to Jesus. From beginning to end, the New Testament is composed of historically reliable, trustworthy documents written by contemporaries of Jesus and his apostles. Jesus lived his life and performed his miracles, including rising from the dead, in front of people. Inspired by the Spirit, these people wrote down all that they heard and saw so that you and I might come to know the Son. When we open up the Scriptures, we’re able to read the very words of God. We’re able to learn what Jesus is like—his character, his passion, his love.
To be sure, it’s Jesus who shows us God, but it’s the Scriptures that show us Jesus. I’ve always appreciated what J.I. Packer says about the Bible: “The Scriptures are the lifeline God throws us in order to ensure he and we stay connected while the rescue is in process.” If we’re eager to introduce our friends to Jesus, we must not shy away from Scripture. As Packer says, it’s the “lifeline.”
In the end, John is clear; to know the Father, we must know the Son. To know the Son, we must know the apostolic testimony. If we want to know God, we must spend time learning about Jesus from the Holy Scriptures.
Pastor for Faith Formation at All Saints Anglican Church in Downtown Dallas, TX.
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.