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In his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes this: “What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father. . . . If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.[1]

One example of this truth comes in the testimony of John Wesley. Born in 1703, Wesley was an honor graduate of Oxford University and shortly thereafter was ordained as a pastor in the Church of England. He was a man with strong theology and a passion to live out his faith with practical good works. He regularly visited the inmates of prisons and workhouses in London, helped distribute food and clothing to orphans and children living in the slums, studied his Bible diligently, attended numerous Sunday services as well as various other services during the week, generously gave offerings to the church and alms to the poor, prayed, fasted, lived an exemplary moral life and even spent several years as a missionary to American Indians in what was then the British colony of Georgia.

Yet upon returning to England after all of that, he wrote in his journal, “I, who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God.” He did all these things, but then he wrote, “I had the faith of a servant, though not that of a son.”

What about you, dear reader? Do you know God as father, or merely as master? Are you a servant and not a son?



[1] Packer, Knowing God, 200–201.