Calvary Road Baptist Church

“YOUR FATHERS”

 

It is Fathers Day 2010. It is my desire to set forth in very simple terms some neglected truths about this issue of fatherhood. As we progress, you may be somewhat taken aback by my frequent references to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, once one realizes that Jesus is the all-sufficient savior, it becomes so much easier to see the relationship that exists between the Lord Jesus Christ and the various aspects of fatherhood.

Before we begin our consideration of the main topics in this message, I would like to lay some groundwork about fatherhood in general and how the concept of fatherhood has been diminished in the minds of so many in our society over the last century. If I may be so bold as to state my conclusions about the diminishing of fatherhood without at this time offering any proof, I offer two conclusions:

First, the concept of fatherhood has been diminished in our culture with the rise of big government. I know that sounds far-fetched, but hold on a moment. It used to be that one’s material welfare greatly, if not exclusively, depended upon the diligence and productivity of fathers. If fathers were not loyal, if fathers were not industrious, if fathers were not committed to working long and hard hours to provide for their families, their families simply could not be expected to prosper. As government grasped for more control in people’s lives, and inserted itself into the mix of providing for citizens, the position of the father in the equation began to be undermined. To be sure, there had always been droughts and business cycles that caused suffering. However, it was government intervention in the form of such institutions as the Federal Reserve, and with the growth of the United States Department of Agriculture, which enabled massive government programs to control the economy, and to employ, to feed, and even to house those in difficulty, which actually worsened the Great Depression of the 1930s, while persuading more and more individuals to look to government for help rather than looking to fathers, all the while hindering those natural economic processes that would have more quickly resulted in the return of jobs and the strengthening of the economy. As it actually turned out, the urgency of World War 2 pulled the United States out of the Great Depression at last. Such programs as state truancy laws mandating that children attend public schools, aid for dependent children, and even school lunch programs, were intended by well-meaning legislators, social scientists, and bureaucrats to benefit children. However, one unintended consequence of these and other government programs was to further loosen the grip fathers had on their homes, and led to displacing fathers as the primary provider and provider of last resort for their children. It has been documented that when women could raise children on government aid without husbands the unwed birthrate soared. Fathers became optional. As well, when truancy laws were passed, juvenile delinquency began to soar as fathers ceded parenting authority to government.

Add to that the breakdown of family function brought on by the rise of feminism. I know of no one who is opposed to equal pay for equal work in the workplace. However, strident feminism has been an unmitigated disaster, which has only succeeded in justifying the murder of multiplied millions of unborn babies in the name of choice, and destroying the fragile relationship that existed between men and women in a culture that had been informed by the Word of God. The result has been that no longer are men looked to as being vital partners to women in the process of marrying, bearing children, raising youngsters to adulthood. With advances in education (which is not at all wrong), coupled with government programs to provide for needy children without fathers, fathers are all but dispensable. Men are necessary to make babies, but are no longer seen as indispensable to provide for them, to raise them, and to serve as role models for them. Fathers are now portrayed on television sitcoms not as father knows best, but as buffoons.

The impact of such developments has even crept into our churches, where men less frequently exercise their God-given roles as providers, as spiritual leaders, and as respected fathers. It is an unusual man in most churches who does not defer to his wife about all things related to child rearing these days, because Christians have generally been overwhelmed by the worldly notion that fathers are optional, and are certainly not central in importance in the home or in the process of rearing children. When mom puts her foot down about parenting issues, that generally settles the matter.

You may not agree with all of my conclusions. That is certainly your privilege. However, there can be no disputing that the concept of fatherhood in our culture is not what it used to be, and does not reflect anything close to the scriptural concept of fatherhood. If you will at least concur with me on those two points, we have consensus enough to build on, in a message I have entitled “Your Fathers.”

Consider fatherhood in the Word of God in three ways:

 

First, THERE IS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER

 

The fatherhood of God causes some confusion in the minds of unbelievers, so it is needful to consider the fatherhood of God in four ways:

First, and most importantly, God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is used by the Apostle Paul in Second Corinthians 11.31 and Ephesians 1.3, and by the Apostle Peter in First Peter 1.3. The Lord Jesus Christ is recorded to have said, “my Father,” fifty-five times, either in prayer to God or referring to God when speaking to men. Additionally, the glorified Lord Jesus used the phrase “my Father” three times in Revelation chapters two and three. This relationship had no beginning, but is eternal in that Jesus is the eternal Son of the living God. As I said before, this aspect of God’s fatherhood is the most important one of all.

Next, there is God’s fatherhood of all men. It is in this respect that the Apostle Paul spoke of God to the idol worshipers in Athens when he rebuked them for believing in gods made from gold, silver, or stone. In Acts 17.28 and 29, he refers to all men as “the offspring of God,” alluding to us being made in God’s image. It must be understood that though God is our Father in this general way, there is absolutely no suggestion in the Bible that any man is in any way saved from his sins as a result of God being his father in this sense.

Third, there is God’s fatherhood of Israel. “Several times God addresses the nation of Israel as a father or as his sons (cf. Ex. 4:22; Deut. 32:6; Isa. 63:16; 64:8). The latter designation when applied to Israel does not intimate that individual Israelites were regenerated sons of God. The term appears to connote national solicitude or fatherhood by reason of parental care for all, much as Jehovah declared himself to be a husband unto Israel.”[1]

Finally, and of great concern to us today, is God’s fatherhood of all who know Jesus Christ as their savior.

 

John 1.12-13: 12      But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13     Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Romans 8.15:  “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.”

 

First John 2.1:    “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

 

These and other familiar verses in the New Testament show that a spiritual relationship with God the Father accompanies a sinner’s faith in Jesus Christ in two ways: On one hand, the sinner come to Christ is regenerated and becomes a child of God by means of the new birth. On the other hand, the sinner come to Christ is also adopted into the family of God. It is, therefore, obvious that God is no man’s heavenly Father who denies His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Would you enjoy a Father-child relationship with God is a wonderful alternative to Him being angry with the wicked every day. That is just one benefit of trusting Jesus Christ as your savior.

 

Next, THERE IS YOUR NATURAL FATHER

 

This is the guy you call Dad. He is either the guy who cooperated with your mom to produce you, or the guy who has stepped into your life by marrying your mom. The guy who is married to your mom occupies the role of father and therefore should serve as your father. However, in case he is not here this morning, I will focus on you fellows who are already fathers, or who will be fathers someday.

First, let us briefly consider a father’s temporal duties and privileges. There is so much gender confusion in the world today that it saddens me to feel it necessary to cover ground that decades ago was taken for granted. The father may not be the only provider for his family, but he should be the primary provider for his family. He may enjoy nurturing his children, but he must recognize that it is far more important for him to set the example for sons and daughters of going to work each day than for him to stay home while the mother goes to work. I rejoice when fathers love their children so much that they positively hate to leave them each day when they head off to work, though it is crucial that each dad understand that he severely distorts his role in his children’s lives when he opts to do what he loves doing rather than doing what only he, as the father, can do for his sons and daughters. Dad must go to work. Dad must not stay home. It sends a terrible message to the kids when dad stays home, unless of course dad’s work is at home. Even when a man is out of work, he needs to get up each morning, get ready for work, and walk out the door to look for a job. That activity of preparing himself and going forth to provide for his children, or to look for a job so he can provide for his children, is an invaluable part of being a father who sets a good example for his children. What if you have no place to go to search for a job, because you are working the Internet looking for a job? I suggest you come to the church house, and I will give you a computer to work on. That way you can fulfill your job of looking for a job until you get a job.

Now for a father’s spiritual duties and privileges. It is not new to those who have been in this church for long to know that First Thessalonians 2.10-12 is the best concise job description for fathers in the Bible. Read that passage with me, if you would:

 

10     Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11     As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12     That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

 

Though he is describing his own conduct in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul does so as to provide a template for fathers who were new Christians, so they would understand the simple basics to being a good father. Verse 10: “Holily” implies the father’s relationship with God. “Justly” implies the father’s relationship with that child. “Umblameably” implies the father’s relationship with other people. These things are witnessed by others, dad, including your kids. Verse 11 exposes the fallacy that men are to lead by example alone, silently. You simply cannot exhort, comfort, and charge without speaking. Speaking to past events is exhorting, speaking to present issues is comforting, and speaking to anticipated occurrences is charging. Verse 12 shows your goal, your target, dad. Many dads opt for passivism, believing that the number one priority in the home is tranquility. However, Paul’s goal for his ministry, and his implied goal for the dads he provides a fatherhood template for, is that your children walk worthy of God. I have never figured out how a dad can reach this goal in the lives of his children by opting for peace and tranquility at all costs. Dad, sometimes you just have to lead. That said, the most important thing to realize about this aspect of fatherhood is that, just like the fatherhood of God, this aspect of fatherhood is impossible apart from Jesus Christ being your savior. There simply is no holily, justly, and unblameably in the life of a man until he first comes to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. If you are here today and you do not have a dad, there is something you need to know. If you come to Christ and God adopts you into His family so that He becomes your heavenly Father, He promises in the Psalms to help you, to be a father to you, to defend you, and to relieve you.[2] God has not left you fatherless, but has provided the means to take the place of a dad in your life by providing His Son Jesus Christ to be your savior.

 

Third, THERE IS YOUR SPIRITUAL FATHER

 

God is the only One Who can be your heavenly Father. That is obvious. Your natural father, in most cases, is that man you live with if there is a man in your house. God has shouldered him with fatherly responsibilities, and does not take kindly to any man who does not live up to his fatherly responsibilities. However, God promises to step in when a youngster is orphaned in one way or the other, if only he turns to Christ.

As for your spiritual father. This is an aspect of fatherhood that typically occupies little attention in the lives of most people these days, though it is a matter mentioned more frequently in the New Testament than most people imagine.

The Apostle Paul’s comments about spiritual paternity should be of interest to Christians. We know the Corinthians had serious issues that Paul mightily exerted himself to deal with. In First Corinthians 4.16, we see that he pleaded with them to respond to his leadership: “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” In the next verse, he reminds them that he went so far as to send Timothy to both carry his letter to them, and also to do what he could to persuade them to respond: “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” Very good. What is usually overlooked, however, and what carnal and unspiritual Christians are notorious for passing over, is the basis of the Apostle Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians, found in First Corinthians 4.14-15:

 

14     I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

15     For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

 

Notice Paul’s inspired choice of words. In verse 14, he writes, “my beloved sons.” In verse 15, he likens himself to a father, and declares, “in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” The implications of Paul’s words are staggering. The Apostle Paul not only wrote what we have just considered to the Corinthians, but he also uses paternal language in Philemon 10, where he writes, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds.” Add to that Galatians 4.19, where Paul writes to the churches of Galatia, “My little children.”

The Apostle John also made use of paternal language when he wrote First John 2.12-18:

 

12     I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

13     I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

14     I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

15     Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16     For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17     And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

18     Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

 

We not only notice that the Apostle refers to “little children” three times in this passage, but that he also addresses remarks to “fathers” in two instances. Who are these fathers? They are men who have the kind of paternal relationship also referred to by the Apostle Paul. I submit to you that your spiritual father is the minister of the gospel under whose ministry you were brought to Christ, and under whose ministry God’s graces enable you to grow and thrive as a Christian. With both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John, invoking the paternal relationship was used to persuade their readers to do right. That strongly suggests that there is supposed to be an extraordinary relationship between Christians and the person God graciously used to bring them to Christ. If you are a Christian it is likely you have a spiritual father in the faith, and that special relationship is supposed to be very important to you. Who made that important relationship? The Lord Jesus Christ, when at that person’s urging you came to Christ and were saved.

 

There are three kinds of fathers. There is the heavenly Father. There is the natural father. There is the spiritual father. Unless God is your heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ you will go to Hell when you die, making a heavenly Father your most important father of all. Your natural father is the man who sired you and who rightly should raise you walk worthy of God. Your spiritual father is the man used of God to bring you to the saviour, and who likely occupies the position of pastor in your life.

On this Fathers Day, let me close with a brief admonition respecting each of your fathers, your heavenly Father if you are a Christian, your natural father if you have one, and your spiritual father if you have one. We know you are commanded to honor your natural father, since you are so commanded in Exodus 20.12: “Honour thy father and thy mother.” As might be expected, you are also commanded to honor your heavenly Father, something you cannot do if God is not your heavenly Father, but something you can and must do if you are a Christian and God is your heavenly Father. From John 5.23, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ presumed honor for His heavenly Father, for He said, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” How is the Father to be honored? At least thorugh tithes and offerings, Proverbs 3.9. Finally, there is the Biblical directive to honor spiritual fathers, those men responsible for teaching and preaching God’s Word, and raising you up in this most holy faith long after your dad has raised you to adulthood. First Timothy 5.17-19:

 

17     Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

18     For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

19     Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

 

On this Fathers Day 2010, see how inextricably bound to the Lord Jesus Christ any viable concept of fatherhood really is. You cannot be a successful father unless you know Christ as your savior, laying the groundwork for being holy, just, and unblameable in the rearing of your children to walk worthy of God. Neither will you have a heavenly Father or a spiritual father without knowing Jesus, the spiritual father used by God to bring you to Christ so that God becomes your heavenly Father by the new birth and by adoption.

Your duty to each of your fathers, in a word? Honor. It is expected that you will honor your heavenly Father. You are commanded to honor your natural father. Likewise, you are directed to honor that man who is your spiritual father. How these three are properly linked together in God’s plan. As well, how impossible it is to honor one without also honoring the others. You do not honor your father because you dishonor your heavenly Father. And you will not be honored as a father, unless you honor your Father in heaven, your natural father, and your spiritual father.



[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. VII, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), page 152.

[2] Psalm 10.14; 68.5; 82.3; 146.9



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org