As of this writing I’ve known Gerry Beauchemin, author of two popular books, Hope Beyond Hell and Hope For All, for about a decade. However, I don’t know much about Gerry’s early life or any of his biographical, family history; those facts about his personal history have just never come up in our many discussions. For example, I don’t know anything about Gerry’s relationship with his biological father.
But, I do know a lot about Gerry’s loving, close relationship with his Heavenly Father. I know Gerry deeply loves his Heavenly Father—and I know our Heavenly Father loves Gerry with a deep, abiding eternal love—as God equally loves all of us. Gerry has a deep inner sense that his Heavenly Father loves him—and all humanity equally.
In Hope For All, Gerry writes about ten “anchors” or ten reasons why God gives hope to all humanity. The seventh reason for that hope given all humanity by God is what I will be presenting in this teaching—to supplement what Gerry has written about our Heavenly Father.
One thing I do know about Gerry is that he has a deep and abiding respect for the Bible, God’s written revelation of Himself to humankind. Gerry believes—as I do—that the Bible is the written Word of God. Gerry knows many principles of Bible study, one of them being that all topics or subjects in the Bible always have one specific verse, chapter, reference, or passage that summarizes or encapsulates that particular topic or subject.
Concerning the subject of God as our Father, Gerry has often referred to Matthew 7: 9 – 11 as being a pivotal reference in understanding our Heavenly Father’s basic character and nature: “Do you know of any parent who would give his hungry child, who asked for food, a plate of rocks instead? Or when asked for a piece of fish, what parent would offer his child a snake instead? If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what’s best, how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts to those who ask him?” (The Passion Translation)
Gerry believes that the most wonderful gift our Heavenly Father gives to all his children—all humanity—is hope for all: hope for their ultimate redemption, restoration, and reconciliation to God, beyond this life in Eternal Realms. That is Gerry’s basic, bedrock belief about the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. It’s the comprehensive, biblical teaching that comes from the Greek word, apokatastasis, the ultimate restoration to God of everything, including all humanity.
Again, Anchor Seven of Gerry’s book is about Hope in our Father. This teaching is intended to be supplemental and supportive of Gerry’s teaching.
In the Old Testament portion of the Bible, written before the time of Jesus of Nazareth, God was not often called “Father.” Yes, a few times He was called Father, but for the most part the concept of a loving, kind, good, caring Father was not known to more than a few individuals here and there in Old Testament history. For the majority, the term Father seemed to be too familiar, too personal. It brought God too close to earth, so to speak; God, it was believed, was a high and lofty Being, far above and beyond earth, somewhat out of reach of humanity. It was felt by many that to speak too familiarly about God, as a Father, was not respectful of his holiness and other-ness.
It wasn’t until Jesus came on the scene that He began to talk consistently about God as his Father being a kind and loving Parent, who was deeply interested in the lives of individual humans. In fact, that view of God by Jesus even sparked an incident in his life where the religious leaders of his day sought to kill Him because He spoke of God as a Father. (John 5, for example)
In his introductory remarks for Anchor Seven, Gerry addresses a prevailing view among many believers in Jesus that, yes, God is the Creator of all humanity, but He is not also their Father until they become believers in Jesus in this life. If people do not invite Him to be their Father in this life, then they are doomed to eternal conscious torment in ever-burning fires. Throughout Anchor Seven, Gerry does an excellent job of refuting that prevailing, false view of God as Creator, but not necessarily Father of humankind. Do not believe the mistaken (but probably well-intended) view that God is not the Father of all humanity!
Also, in Anchor Seven of his book, Gerry does an excellent job of listing ten “affirmations” of the loving fatherhood of God toward all humanity. I will address some of those ten affirmations because they are so rich in meaning.
In one of his ten affirmations, Gerry addresses both the ancient Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, both of which are affirmed by millions of believers in Jesus at least every Sunday, if not more often at various other times. The formulations of those ancient creeds were attempts by early believers in Jesus to summarize what they believed about God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both creeds specifically mention God as Father.
Few early believers in Jesus had any copies of what we now know as the Old and New Testament scriptures. So, the creeds were formulated to give early Jesus-believers a “hook” on which to focus their thoughts and prayers as they gathered together (mostly in homes) to worship God. Reciting (and discussing) the creeds aloud in unison was one way of affirming their unity in their diversity within the Church, the living Body of Jesus.
Not long ago, I took the liberty of “tweaking” both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed to update them and put them in modern American English, without changing the basic wording and intent of the creeds. I’ve been criticized for “tampering” with them, but it’s not as though I was tampering with and changing the Bible, God’s written word. After all, such creeds are merely human attempts to encapsulate and summarize what the Bible teaches; the creeds are not on a level with God’s written Word, the Bible. Here are my updated versions of both creeds; I hope they are helpful and meaningful to you. I often recite them in my own daily, private times I spend visiting with God, reciting and affirming the Apostles Creed on even-numbered days and the Nicene Creed on odd-numbered days:
The Apostles Creed
We believe in one God:
The all-loving, all-knowing, all-present, all-power-full Father,
Creator of all, including planet earth and all upon it.
We place our faith in Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, our Savior and Master,
Conceived by God the Holy Spirit.
Born of the virgin Mary,
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
While his dead body lay in the tomb,
He visited the realm of the dead, preaching to them
God’s salvation and restoration of all.
On the third day, God the Holy Spirit brought Him to life again.
He then returned to heaven.
He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father,
And will return to render righteous judgment through grace
To both the living and the dead.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
Who maintains and sustains all that is.
He is the breath of God, the wind of God, God in action;
Without Him there is nothing.
We believe in the universal Church, the living Body of Jesus, allwhere and allwhen, and
The fellowship and intimate connectedness and communion of all believers in Jesus.
We believe in the forgiveness of all the sin of all humanity.
The resurrection of the body and soul,
And LIFE to come in the timeless Eternal Realms. Amen
The Nicene Creed
We believe in the one True, Living God, a Tri-une Being:
The eternal, infinite, all-loving, all-knowing, all power-full, sovereign God,
Creator of all, Father of all.
We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son,
Of one being with the Father.
Through Him all things were created, cohere, adhere, and consist.
For us and for our salvation
Jesus came from Heaven;
By the power of God the Holy Spirit
Jesus was born of the virgin Mary
And became fully human, while remaining fully God.
On behalf of all humanity, Jesus was crucified.
He died on the cross and was buried.
On the third day Jesus rose again
In accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures;
Jesus returned to Heaven
And is seated at the right hand of the Father’s Throne.
Jesus will come again to render righteous judgment
To the living and the dead,
And Jesus’ Kingdom is eternal.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit, the giver of LIFE,
Who is One with the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, He is worshipped.
He has communicated with all humanity through the Bible.
He is the power of God, the wind of God, the breath of God,
God in action, in all humanity and all creation.
We believe in one universal Church, allwhere and allwhen.
We acknowledge one baptism in water (with several applications) for believers in Jesus.
We believe in Holy Spirit’s sovereign connectedness and unity of all believers.
We eagerly await our resurrection from death,
And LIFE in Jesus’ kingdom on the Restored Earth
and in Eternal Realms to come. Amen.
Affirmation Eight of Gerry’s “Ten Affirmations of Fatherhood” is about the biblical teaching of our adoption by God. Gerry makes two very clear points about God’s adoption as taught in the New Testament. I want to make this third point—another aspect of adoption according to Roman customs of the times. A child (not necessarily a male) would be taught in the home by various tutors, in different areas of learning. After years of tutoring (usually ending around age 18) the family would conduct a public ceremony of adoption.
In such a ceremony, the child would be “adopted” as a fully grown son or daughter in the household, now able to participate in and make decisions about the family business or profession; the child was now considered to be fully-grown and mature enough to take over the family business, if necessary. In other words, this was not a ceremony to adopt a child into a family, but, rather, to adopt the child (who was already a member of the family) as being fully grown and mature enough to function as an adult in the family business or profession—or strike out on their own for more education or to start a business or profession of their own.
These are some of my own thoughts to supplement Gerry Beauchemin’s teachings about Anchor Seven, “Hope In Our Father.” Gerry concludes this portion of his book, Hope For All, with this simple—but very profound—statement: “God is everyone’s loving Father.”
“Now may God, the source and fountain of all hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you place your hope in Him. And may the inner power of Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his superabundant goodness until you radiate with hope!” (Romans 15: 13, paraphrased)
NOTE: Many more of my teachings and writings may be found on our ministry website, leservices.org and my books may be found at billsbooks.org