Apostolic Fatherhood

1 Corinthians 4:9-15 

 (9)   For I think that God hath set forth us apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 

The reference here seems to be that of gladiators in the arena of ancient days.  History records that gladiators who fought in the arena by morning were given armor to protect themselfs as they fought wild beast.  But in the afternoon theater the gladiators were brought in the arena naked and without anything to defend themselves from the sword of the assailant.  If they escaped death in the arena, they were kept to be slaughter on another day.  These were really called men appointed to death.  They were the last to make an appearance in the theater for that day, so they were called "the last".  Paul compares the suffering of the Apostles to these "last" gladiators and further suggest that the Apostles succeeded the Prophets in suffering. 

 (9b) ...spectacles unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

As in a theater we are on exhibit to all.  We demonstrate to men and angels the sufferings of Christ.  The world and heaven is watching, Hebrews 12:1 

 (10) We are fools for Christ's sake, but are wise...

Paul speaks irony for the apostles were neither fools, weak, nor contemptible.   

 (11) Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst and are naked, and are buffeted and have no certain dwelling place...

As itinerant preachers, not knowing where we shall live, facing trouble not struggle... labor, persecution and suffering for Christ sake. 

 (12) ...the labor worketh with... persecution.... we suffer it.  (13) Being defamed... made as faith... all things unto this day. 

Only the grace of God can enable men to volunteer to suffer like this.  The natural man adelges or repays wrong done to him, but true Christian are not to retaliate.  Romans 12: 17-21, Matthew 5:38-48 

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

Paul writes, not to find fault, but as a father cares for his sons,9 writes a warning, not to be carried away by every pretender to apostleship and not to neglect those who God trusted to bring you the message of salvation.
 (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.
Although you have many who offer their services as your instructors or teachers, you have only one by whom you were converted whom who has a parental feeling for you.  So follow or imitate me as I imitate Christ.
Throughout the Old Testament, as well as history, any inheritance was always passed down through the father.   This was also true for the direction and choices of life, such as, religion, customs, livelihood, family connections or covenants with others.  Fathers were the ones who set in order the patterns of life the family was to follow. 

The word of God shows us that inheritance was not just territory, or material substance, but more importantly, covenant, order and establishment.  

Covenant: 

II Chronicles 15:12 

(12) And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul. 

King Asa heard the words of the prophet and began to enter into the covenant that his forefathers made with God.  Asa had to go back before he could go forward.  His forefathers covenant was his foundation.  This covenant brought order. 

Order: 

II Chronicles 8:14 

 (14) And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded. 

God has always given order and direction in approaching Him and approaching ministry.  Not every detail of our lives are revealed to us, but our covenant with God that calls us to order will establish our divine destiny.  For when our lives are in order with His covenant, every word of God concerning our life will be established.  

Establishment: 

II Chronicles 17:3-5 

 (3)  And the Lord was with Jesoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim 

 (4) But sought the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. 

 (5) Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand: and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor in abundance.

In the day in which we live, everyone is a "teacher" but not everyone is "teachable".  Many people want the wealth of the inheritance, the territory, land, material things, bigger ministries, bigger churches, bigger reputations, greater anointing, bigger altar calls, bigger crowds, they want to "go to the next level" and have all the symbols of spiritual success.    They want to be established, but treat "covenant" and "order" like a buffet, taking only the things that taste good to them. 
 "For after all, I am the head and not the tail. God has called me to prosper.
I am called of God. I walk in the anointing of God." 

The result, many people look at this to be the sum total of their inheritance.  Then they make every effort to establish successful, thriving, financially lucrative empires called ministries, which becomes the measuring stick for their "anointing". 

But as we know, success can be taught and organizations can be established, and even carry the mandate for ministry without having any real eternal value. One can not be truly connected to people or conduct righteous ministries with a buffet mentality, accepting only what taste good or feeds the pride of man.   

For the gospel is not just blessings, but it is also offensive, dogmatic, humbling, full of trials, persecutions, sufferings. If it where not for these things, there would be no blessings. 

So when a father passed down to his sons their "inheritance", he was passing down more than the wealth he acquired, for the real inheritance was the benefits of his sufferings, the trials, embarrassments, humbling circumstances, persecutions and troubles that taught him how to walk honest, upright, just, wholehearted, sincere, righteous, in mercy and in faith to God.  This was the inheritance of Godly Fatherhood. 

We have lost the "Fatherhood of our inheritance" and God is calling us back to follow righteousness and to look from whence we came. 

Isaiah 51:1&2    

 (1)  Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.  

 (2) Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.  

The problem in the day in which we live is that generation after generations have lost the Godly fatherhood of our forefathers.  When the father is out of order, without God's intervention the family will not be established.  The sons and daughters are provoked to live in chaos, struggling to gain personal direction and purpose of life from their environment or every passing wind. There is no real  inheritance of fatherhood.

Forefathers:  

They were more than teachers/instructors, they were the strongest influencers.

  • Character was transmitted and imitated.
  • They gave knowledge with understanding.
  • There was a parental connection
  • Fatherhood was passed down.

This produced a strong generation; stable, secure, upright and prepared to father and pass down a rich inheritance of fatherhood.  

Fathers Today: 

  • Teachers/instructors with weak Godly influence
  • Convictions with no reason, "do what I say, not what I do"
  • Weak Godly character
  • Always giving knowledge but little understanding
  • Parental connection that is one-sided
  • No real Fatherhood to pass down
This produces unprepared, dysfunctional sons and daughters, who become critical, skeptical, angry and sometimes disconnected, battling some insecurities, identity and self-esteem issues.   

Part-time Father:  

  • Father figure, but no instruction or weak Godly influence
  • Few character traits transmitted
  • Principles with no convictions
  • No parental connection
  • No Fatherhood to pass down
Produces unprepared, dysfunctional sons and daughters with many insecurities, uncontrolled anger, irresponsibility, rebellion, low self esteem, identity crisis, laziness and lack of respect. 


No Father: 

  • No Godly father influence
  • No character preparation
  • No guidance
  • No parental connection
  • No Fatherhood passed down
Produces unprepared, rebellious sons and daughters who have no direction or purpose, identity, self-esteem, who are out of control, bitter, full of anger and have no restraint.  Immature or unprepared sons and daughters will become immature unprepared fathers or parents.

What are the qualities of Fatherhood that God intended for us to inherit?

Let us look at a few father's who had an extraordinary favor of God on their lives:

  •  Enoch  - Walk with God and was no more
  •  Noah -  Spared in the flood, from the judgment of God
  •  Abraham  -  Made to be the father of nations
  •  David  -  A man after God's own heart
  •  Hezekiah  -  Given extended life
We find in the following scriptures: (Genesis 5:22, 6:9, 17:1, l Kings 3:6, ll Kings 20:3, Psalm 16:8, Micah 6:8, Malachai 2:6, l Thessalonians 2:12) that each of these men had the certain Spiritual Fatherhood traits in common.
 

The summary of this can be said in this exhortation:

  • Walked with God  - relationship in His direction
  • Be just, honest  - open and transparent with God and men
  • Be wholehearted  - all your strength and might
  • Be sincere  - live pure
  • Walk in truth  - live the word
  • Walk in righteousness  - practice right living
  • Walk in purity of heart  - live with pure motive
  • Do what is good in God's sight  - have the fear of God
  • Let the Lord always be before you  - praise, prayer, in Him we live and move 
  • Walk honestly - operate in honestly with others
  • Love mercy  - be a person of grace, give mercy
  • Walk humbly  - be humble in spirit
  • Word of God in your mouth  - speak the Word, declare, decree
  • No sin on your lips  - let no unwholesome word come out of thy mouth...
  • Walk in peace - live in peace with all men
  • Walk in integrity  - be the same in the light as you are in the dark
  • Turn many away form sin  - be a soul winner
  • Walk worthy of your call  - run the race, fight the good fight of faith, produce fruit that remain
Father God is our example, for He has a parental concern for each of us. Before we were formed in the womb, He knew us and ordained us. He sent his Son Jesus in order to establish His kingdom. Jesus said; "...if you have seen me, you have seen the father... for I and the father are one..."  Jesus poured himself into the disciples giving them direction, identity, mission, and righteousness, who after the day of Pentecost were empowered to become the apostles who brought birth and fatherhood to the new testament church, and proclaimed, "imitate me as I imitate Christ". 
Because of salvation, we can now be one with Christ, "...for I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me". 

Apostolic Fatherhood is giving birth to sons and daughters into the kingdom of God, nurturing a relationship through parental feeling, concern and responsibility, imparting covenant of Christ, which brings the order of God that establishes and empowers sons and daughters to maturity, preparing them to one day become parents who will bring forth fruit, and fruit that remains.