This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Our theme this morning is fatherhood. I’d like to begin by saying I have a radio transcript of one week’s teaching on fatherhood. So, if you don’t get all of it or you’re more interested in coming to grips with this truth then you can obtain this little booklet for a very modest sum.
By way of introduction to this theme I think we should turn to a beautiful prayer of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3, beginning at verse 14. I would recommend you some time to study the prayers of Paul. They’re one of the most tremendous themes of the Bible. I think we can understand some of the greatness of his ministry when we take the measure of his prayer. I don’t believe any man’s ministry really ever goes beyond his prayer life. His life in prayer determines what his ministry will be. Paul says:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...”
Some of your new translations won’t have the words “our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of whom the whole family in heaven and earth are named.”
This is his prayer. I mean, it is a staggering prayer. It’s incomprehensible. If you could live this prayer out you’d be undefeatable.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width, and length, and depth, and height; to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Just think of that. Filled with all the fullness of God.
Now, when you begin to wonder whether that could ever happen, Paul comes to the next word.
“Now to him who is able...”
Do you believe he’s able?
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
That’s some of the richest words ever penned by a human hand. The phrase at the end, if you translate it literally in Greek is “to the ages of the ages.” An age is made up of generations but this is an age made up of ages. It’s not just one age made up of ages, it’s ages made up of ages. The ages of the ages. That’s got to go a long way further than you and I could ever comprehend. One thing it tells me is it’s never going to end.
It would be lovely to talk about the whole of that prayer but for the sake of my subject I must confine myself to verses 14 and 15.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”
I’m reading the New King James. Philips translation, if I remember it rightly, says:
“I bow my knees before the Father from whom every fatherhood in heaven and earth derives its name.”
That brings out what Paul is saying. See, the word that’s translated family there is directly connected with the word for father. In Greek father is paterand family is patria. So, the word patria, as Paul says, is derived from the word paterfor a father. That tells you that every family is a fatherhood. If you could grasp that it would change much of your thinking immediately. It’s totally contrary to the trends of modern culture. Without a father there is no family. It’s the father that brings the family into being. Man cannot change that physiological fact. He can play around with it by artificial insemination and other processes but we’re still left with the fact no father, no family. A family is a fatherhood.
Every fatherhood anywhere in the universe is derived from the fatherhood of God. The fact behind all families is the fatherhood of God. That’s what makes every family a reality. Every family is an expression of God the Father. God projects himself into human society through fathers. In a very unique way he’s represented in society by every father. Every one who is a father whether he wishes to or not represents God. The only question for us as fathers is do we represent him correctly or do we misrepresent him? Because, represent him we do.
I think you’ll agree if you’ve ever worked in counseling or psychology or sociology, basically every child forms its primary impression of God from its own father. If a child has had a father who is loving and caring and easy to communicate with that’s the way he’ll think of God. But, if a child has had a father who is mean, vicious, irresponsible and given to rage and drunkenness, that’s how he’ll think of God. He’ll have in inclination away from God planted in him by his own human father. If, as is happening in our present culture, a child grows up without any father, he’s prone to conclude there isn’t any God. You understand, whether we like it or not, as fathers we have the solemn responsibility of representing God to our family and, in a sense, to society.
You see, the supreme revelation of the New Testament about God is that he’s a father. That’s the new revelation that Jesus came to bring. Israel had known God as Jehovah or Yahweh, as the Almighty God for 15 centuries. There are occasional references to the fatherhood of God in the Old Testament. You’ll find them in Jeremiah and one or two other places. Basically, Israel did not see or know God as a father. The supreme purpose for which Jesus came was to reveal God as the Father.
You see, there’s only one person who can reveal the Father and that’s the Son. Prophets could reveal God in other aspects but it was the Son who fully revealed the Father. The writer of Hebrews says at the opening of his epistle, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke to the fathers by the prophets as in these last days spoken to us not by his Son but in his Son.” I have a series on Hebrews which I title God’s Last Word. When God spoke in Jesus he said all there was to be said. There’s nothing more to be added. That’s the final revelation of who God is.
In John 14:6 Jesus said:
“I am the way, the truth and the life...”
A lot of evangelicals and fundamentalists and others quote that verse but I don’t think most of them have absorbed what it says. Jesus says, “I am the way.” A way is not an end. The very use of the word way indicates it’s going somewhere. Where is it going? He fills it in at the end of the verse. “No one comes to the Father but by me.” Jesus said, “I am the way to the Father.” If you stop short of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the savior, you have a wonderful revelation but it’s incomplete. The ultimate purpose of Jesus was to bring us to the Father.
In that glorious prayer in John 17 when he prayed for his disciples he said three times “I’ve given them thy name. I’ve kept them in thy name which thou has given him.” What was the name? It wasn’t Jehovah; it was Father. If you read John 17 Jesus calls God Father six times in that prayer. See, this changes our whole attitude to ourselves, to life.
I find today—and I think the pastors here would agree with me—most contemporary people in our culture have at least three basic problems. The problem of identity, the problem of security and, the problem of self worth. All those are resolved when you know God as your father. When you know who your father is you know who you are. When your father is God you never have anything to be ashamed of.
Security. You see, if you believe as is taught in the schools today that the universe came into being by a kind of major accident and that we are the victim of physical processes over which we have no control, you could well feel insecure. What’s going to happen next? But, when you have the conviction that the universe was created by a God who is your personal father, that makes it totally different.
I have a dear brother whose name would be known to many of you but I don’t think I’ll mention it. A Catholic, a Charismatic Catholic preacher. He was talking one day and he said he was in the city of Philadelphia in the downtown area. It was just getting dark, it was a cold night, it was windy and it was dusty and he was lonely. There was a kind of grayness and grimness about everything around him. He felt so lonely and he really wasn’t quite sure he was safe. He just started to say “Father, Father, Father.” He went on saying that one word, “Father, Father, Father.” After a few moments he was totally at peace, he was free from the threat of his surroundings, he was secure. That’s the only real basis of personal security today. It’s knowing God as your father.
Then with that goes a sense of self worth. I meet countless people who have this problem that they don’t think well enough of themselves. They run themselves down, they feel so inferior and so inadequate. I believe the remedy is to know that you belong to the best family in the universe. I think I could relate this story. Some years back I was at a camp meeting where I was one of the teachers. I was on my way to a session to do my teaching. I was a little bit late so I was walking very fast. There was a lady walking just as fast in the opposite direction and we collided. In fact, she almost fell over. When she’d recovered herself she said, “Mr. Prince, I was praying that if God wanted me to speak to you, we’d meet!” I said, “We have met. Tell me what your problem is but I can only give you two minutes because I have to be there to speak.” She began to tell me her problem and after one minute I stopped her. I said, “Listen, I think I understand your problem and I think I know the answer. I want you to pray this prayer after me.” I didn’t tell her what I was going to pray. In fact, I didn’t know what I was going to pray myself. I said, “I’ll say these words, you say them after me.” Then I began to pray something like this. “God, I thank you that you love me, that you’re my father, that I’m your child, that I’m not unwanted. I’m not rejected, I’m not inferior. I belong to you, I belong to the best family in the universe. God, you are my father, you really love me and I really love you. Thank you.” And then I said, “Good-bye, I have to move on.”
I didn’t really know what happened but about a month later I got a letter from the lady. She described what had happened where we met so that I’d remember who she was. She said, “That short prayer that I prayed after you has completely changed my life. I’m a different person.” She had realized she wasn’t inferior, she wasn’t rejected, she wasn’t second class. She belonged to the best family in the universe. How can you have anything but a sense of self worth when you realize that?
Let’s talk about what it means to be a father. There’s a German proverb which is a very good one. It says “To become a father is not difficult but to be one very.” A lot of people who become fathers have never learned to be fathers. I think it’s the hardest assignment in the universe, myself. There are the greatest rewards attached to it. 1Corinthians 11:3, Paul says:
“But I want you to know...”
And I’ve discovered when Paul says “you know” or “I want you to know” most Christians don’t know. You could be almost sure that they don’t.
“I want you to know that the head of every man [or every husband] is Christ; the head of woman [or wife] is man; and the head of Christ is God.”
If you take that in its logical order it describes a descending chain of authority that starts in heaven and ends in the family. God the Father is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of the husband; the husband is the head of the wife. That is eternal. No social movement can change those, those are eternal facts. People can go against them but if you go against the law of gravity you don’t break the law of gravity, the law of gravity breaks you. The people that have gone against that are broken people, they’re frustrated, their lives are distorted and twisted. They are unhappy. You show me a happy women’s libber. I’ve never met one. If the tree is known by its fruit it cannot be a good tree.
In that chain, as I pointed out but it pays to say it again, there are two persons who represent both upwards and downwards. Christ relates to the Father above him, to the husband in the home. The husband relates to Christ above him and to the wife and family in the home. So, to say it very simply, the function of a husband and a father is to represent Christ to his family. If you can grasp that basic fact everything else will fall into line around it. That’s the function of a father, it’s to represent Christ to his family.
We are talking only about Christians, of course. We will not go outside the range of those who believe in Jesus Christ—or, at least say they believe.
If you analyze the ministry of Jesus I think you’ll find that it has three great aspects. He’s the priest, the prophet and the king. A father is responsible to represent Christ to his family in each of those three ministries. He’s responsible to be the priest, the prophet and the king of his family. Let’s look for a little while at the implications of each ministry.
First of all, without going into too many details, the ministry of a priest is to offer sacrifice. If you study the Bible all through, only priests were permitted to offer sacrifice. Anyone who was not a priest couldn’t offer a sacrifice. The distinctive function of a priest is to offer sacrifice. So, the father as priest offers a sacrifice of intercession on behalf of his family. There’s some beautiful pictures of this in the Old Testament in the book of Job which is generally regarded as the oldest book in the Bible. We find that Job was a man whom God had blessed and the greatest of his blessings was he had seven sons and three daughters. This is how things worked in the family of Job. We’ll read Job 1:4–5.
“His sons would go and feast in their houses, each one on his appointed day...”
Seven sons, each one had one day of the week.
“...and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.”
They were nice brothers, they didn’t leave the sisters out.
“So it was when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning, and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for he said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus Job did regularly.”
Job offered a sacrifice on behalf of each of his sons regularly every week. Maybe every morning, who knows. He felt himself responsible for the spiritual condition of his sons. He sought to discharge his responsibility by offering sacrifice. The New Testament says we don’t offer animal sacrifices but we won’t go into this. If you study Hebrews we are offering the sacrifice of prayer and intercession and praise and thanksgiving and worship. Those are our spiritual sacrifices. So, a father is responsible to offer the sacrifices of prayer, intercession, praise, thanksgiving and worship regularly on behalf of his children. It’s one of his responsibilities.
Now, if you are cynical you might say, “Well, Job didn’t get much for all his prayers because all his sons and his daughters were wiped out in one single disaster when the house collapsed on all of them while they were feasting.” That’s a rather shortsighted view. You see, if you only look at time and the things of time you don’t see all what God is doing. If you turn to the end of the book of Job, chapter 42, verse 12, you’ll find that after Job had endured his test and come through victorious God blessed him with exactly double of everything that he had before. Exactly. I mean, not one less or one more but exactly double. It says in verse 12:
“The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning...”
If I had to choose I’d rather have God’s blessing at the end than the beginning of my life. I think that’s the way it is with me.
“...for he had fourteen thousand sheep...”
Before that he had seven thousand.
“...six thousand camels...”
Before that he had three thousand.
“...one thousand yoke of oxen...”
Before that he had five hundred.
“...and one thousand female donkeys.”
Before that he had five hundred.
“He had also seven sons and three daughters.”
You’ll notice he didn’t double the number of sons and daughters. He just gave him another set. That’s got a message because the first were not lost, they’d just gone ahead. So, Job’s prayers were not in vain. You see that? Sometimes friends, we may offer prayers that are not fully answered in time but we can look for the answer in eternity. I prayed many, many years for my parents who were not saved. My mother became saved, I led her to the Lord. I never actually led my father to the Lord but somehow God has let me know that in eternity I will enjoy the answers to the prayers for my father.
I had a remarkable experience once, I’ll just share this with you, it’s got nothing to do with my theme exactly. I’ve told you that I was a soldier in the British Army in Palestine which is now Israel. Every Wednesday I used to take for prayer and fasting. I didn’t have anybody to preach me sermons about it, somehow I just knew that’s what God wanted me to do. So, for four and a half years in the Middle East every Wednesday I went without food. I was quartered in a barrack room with a lot of very foul mouthed soldiers—which is characteristic of British soldiers. The only real time I could get alone was when they were having a meal or doing something like that. During the lunch hour they all went out to get their food, I lay on my bed, covered my head with my blanket and prayed. I began to sing in tongues. I had no idea what I was singing but the Lord gave me the interpretation. The interpretation was, “Lord, save my father.” See, that’s interesting because many times we don’t know what we’re praying for when we pray in tongues. So, I just have to believe that God is faithful in that respect.
But, at any rate, Job is a pattern of a father who took his responsibilities very seriously. He got up early and offered sacrifice for every one of his sons individually in case something had happened that he couldn’t see on the surface that had cut off the relationship his sons had with the Lord.
Then, if you look at the ordinance of for the Passover in Exodus 12. You remember that the Passover was the ceremony by which God made provision for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, for their protection from the angel of judgment that was to come upon the Egyptians and slay the firstborn in every Egyptian home. There was only one way that the Israelites could be protected. That was they had to offer a sacrifice of a lamb, the Passover lamb. They had to catch its blood in a basin and at the appointed time and in the appointed way which was with a little bunch of herb called hyssop they had to transfer the blood from the basin to the place where they lived. When the blood was sprinkled upon the lintel and two door posts, never upon the threshold because you must never walk over the blood, but upon the lintel and the two door posts, that home was totally protected. The destroying angel could not enter it. Only those Israelites who were in their homes behind the blood were safe. That was the only place of safety in Egypt that night.
Whose responsibility was it to sprinkle the blood? The answer is the responsibility of the fathers. If you look now in Exodus 12:3, these are the instructions for the Passover.
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household [or a family]...”
If you read on you’ll get the instructions for killing the lamb and sprinkling its blood. But, you’ll notice that there was only one person who was authorized to offer the sacrifice for his family. Who was it? The father, that’s right. If the father failed the family was not protected. No one else could take his function. That night in Egypt every Israelite father fulfilled his function. The lesson is that the safety of the family depended on the faithfulness of the father. That principle hasn’t changed. It’s still true. The safety and the well-being of a family depends on the faithfulness of the father.
Look on into the New Testament in Mark 9 and you’ll find a remarkable incident there about an epileptic boy. Jesus was up on the Mount of Transfiguration, the father brought the boy for healing to the other disciples who were not on the mountain and they couldn’t heal him. When Jesus came down the father brought the boy to Jesus. This is the little dialogue that passed between Jesus and the boy. Verse 21:
“Jesus asked the father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood.”
Apparently they were very severe epileptic fits. Modern theologians call them epilepsy but we have to point out that Jesus called them a demon. I don’t object to your calling it epilepsy but you have to be open to the possibility that epilepsy represents a demon as indeed in many cases it does.
I remember the first time I decided to try, I was praying for a woman who had epilepsy and I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. This was about l963 or ‘64. I said, “You epileptic spirit, come out of this woman.” I nearly fell over backwards because it answered me out of the woman’s mouth but in a deep, rough, masculine voice. It said, “I’m not coming out. She’s mine, I’m not going to let her go.” I surely realized I wasn’t dealing with just a little condition.
We’re not saying it isn’t epilepsy. What we’re saying is there are other ways to describe it! Anyhow, Jesus didn’t treat it as anything except a demon. So, the man said it’s been throwing him into the water and into the fire—which is totally unnatural if you think about it. There has to be some malicious mind behind something that will take a young boy and throw him into the water or the fire. Why not throwing him into a bed of hay? Then the father said: “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
I realized one day something startling. Jesus didn’t expect the boy to believe for himself, he expected the father to believe for the boy. And he authorized the father to believe on behalf of his son. When you’ve fulfilled all your social duties towards your children bear in mind you’ve still got the tremendous responsibility of having faith for your children. God has placed you as a father in a place where he will acknowledge your faith to a degree that he will not acknowledge the faith of any other person.
I’ll tell you something else that I’ve observed in ministering to the sick and especially to those who need deliverance from evil spirits. Many times people will bring a child and say pray for this child. I have learned by experience to say, “Are you the parents?” “No. We’re just friends. The parents are not believers.” I have learned to say, “I’m sorry. But, on that basis I cannot pray for the child.” Because, if you study the ministry of Jesus he never prayed for a child except on the basis of the faith of one or both parents. Jesus respects divine order even when we don’t. God holds parents responsible to believe for their children.
One other example in Acts 16:31, the story of the Philippian jailer. Paul and Silas had been put in the top security prison and then the earthquake came and everybody was set free and the doors were all open. The jailer was answerable with his life for his prisoners. So, if his prisoners escaped he was to be put to death. That was the principle on which they operated. When he saw the doors open and everybody without their chains he was preparing to kill himself. He’d rather kill himself than be executed by the Romans. Paul—I mean, this is wonderful grace if you think about it—Paul was more concerned about the jailer than anything else. He said, “Don’t kill yourself, we’re all here.” Then the jailer sprang in and he said this famous question in verse 30:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
A lot of people don’t quote the last part of that statement which is a great pity. You are entitled to believe as a father not only for your own salvation but for the salvation of your household if you accept your responsibility. That’s a unique privilege and responsibility granted only to a father.
Some years ago a lady came to me very concerned about her unsaved family members. She wanted some encouragement so I quoted Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your household.” She went away and then the Lord spoke quietly to me and said, “You misapplied that scripture. It was not spoken to a woman, it was spoken to a man who was a father. He had the right as a father to believe for the salvation of his household.” God is concerned about divine order.
Let’s go a little further while we’re about it because that leaves a lot of you ladies just wondering if it’s any good praying. Don’t pray on the basis of Acts 16:31 but I’ll tell you who’s your pattern. It’s Rahab the harlot. A prostitute in a city under a curse belonging to a race doomed to destruction. Through her faith she not merely saved her own life, she saved her father, her mother, her brothers and her sisters because she got them all into the house which was protected by the scarlet thread in the window. That’s love, that’s faith working by love. The Bible says in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but faith working by love. Never despair. You may not have the authority of the father but then you don’t have the responsibility of the father either. But, you have the example of Rahab. If you have enough love to be concerned and believe, God will save all those whom you pray for in faith.
I mean, Rahab, to me, is one of the most beautiful examples in the Bible. Not merely did she get saved, she was taken into Israel, she married a prince and she became a direct ancestress of the Lord Jesus the Messiah. That’s promotion! From being a harlot in a city under a curse to being the wife of one of the princes of Israel and a direct ancestress of the Messiah. What did that? Faith. I believe in faith.
That’s the responsibility of the father as priest. Now let’s look at the responsibility of the father as prophet. You see, you can put it this way. As the priest the father represents his family to God, that’s the most important. As the prophet he represents God to his family. God places that responsibility very clearly upon fathers. Ephesians 6:4:
“And, you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath: but bring them up in the training and admonition [or instruction] of the Lord.”
Who’s responsibility primarily is it to train the children in the things of God? The father. Who usually does it if anybody does it? The mother. That’s against divine order. It has an impact on the children, especially the boys because every boy has got something in him that wants to be like daddy. He doesn’t want to be sissy so if he gets all the religious instruction from dear mother his little mind says religion is something that’s got to do with women. But, I’m a man and I’m not going to be sissy. When he’s old enough he turns away from it. It’s quite different if it’s his father who gives him the instruction. That doesn’t mean to say that a mother has nothing to do. The responsibility is shared but the father has to take the initiative. As I said before, he in a unique way represents God.
Then, there’s a beautiful passage in Deuteronomy 11 where Moses is instructing the fathers of God’s people Israel. As a matter of fact, he says the same thing basically three times over in Deuteronomy 4, 6 and 11. We’ll look in chapter 11. Deuteronomy 11, beginning at verse 18. What he is saying, and he is addressing primarily the fathers, is let the word of God be the main influence in your house. Have your house and your life so arranged that everywhere and every time in a natural way your children are confronted with the word of God. See how he says it:
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine [that’s the words of God] in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
Orthodox Jews when they pray still do that today. They have a thing called a phylactery, they bind it on their right hand and they bind it across their forehead. They’ve become religious and I think they’ve lost the real inner meaning of it. But, Moses says have it right in the middle of your forehead where you think and right on your hand with which you act. Let the word of God direct your thinking and your acting. Let it be manifest.
“...bind them on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
Now we come to the next responsibility.
“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates...”
In other words, everything in your house is to speak of the word of God.
“...that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of heaven upon the earth.”
That’s God’s picture of family life. Heaven upon earth. How many families in America today are like that? Very few. What’s the basic reason? Who’s failed? Fathers, that’s right.
Notice the context of teaching the word. It doesn’t say send them to Sunday School. That’s all right but that’s not the picture. The picture is let it be something very natural in your ongoing relationship with your children. When you’re out walking, when you’re engaged in some activity, use all those opportunities continually to instruct them in the word of God. Let me read that verse again.
“You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them while you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up.”
See, basically children are a little suspicious of something that’s purely religious. I know multitudes of Christians who provide religion for their children in the church. So, for those children religion becomes something like their church set of clothes. You put it on when you go to church and you take it off when you come out of church. So, it’s something that’s not really part of normal life, it’s a special different kind of thing that happens on Sunday mornings. Moses guards against that. He says don’t make it a religious practice, make it very natural when you’re with your children. At any time use every opportunity to inculcate the principles of God’s word in a simple, practical way. Show them how it applies to how you live.
If you parents want your children to grow up believers, let me tell you something. I speak, as I say, out of a measure of experience because I helped raise nine adopted girls. I’m not without all experience. Don’t treat them as being unspiritual. Don’t underrate their spirituality. That’s a great mistake with many parents. Jesus said if you want to get into the kingdom of heaven you’ve got to become like what? A little child. In other words, they start with an advantage. They don’t have to make the change, they are little children. They have a natural aptitude for taking things simply which is the essence of what Jesus is saying. Share your spiritual life with them. In our home because we were quote, living by faith, sometimes our supplies were very scarce. Sometimes my first wife would say to the children, “We’ve got nothing for breakfast tomorrow.” They prayed and breakfast came. You see, that made that real for them. Some of them later in life had problems with their faith but not one of them has ever become a total unbeliever because they saw the power of God demonstrated in answer to pray in their daily life.
My daughter Elizabeth when she was 18, we were in East Africa. She was with us there. We went down to some meetings in Mombassa and there was a brother there who is with the Lord now, a precious brother. Elizabeth’s eyes were getting weaker and weaker every year. She had to change her glasses for more powerful glasses. We said to this precious brother, “Would you pray for Elizabeth.” He prayed a very simple prayer, she took her glasses off, didn’t say anything to us, we didn’t say anything to her, we just looked at her. After a week we said, “We see you’re not wearing your glasses.” She said, “He prayed, didn’t he?” Her sight was restored 20/20. A little later she graduated as a nurse in London and never had to wear glasses for anything.
She’s been through her problems but that’s something that she knows for sure that God is real. Understand?
If you have a need, share it with your children. Say, “Children, we need money. Our car needs fixing, we don’t have the money. Let’s pray.” I’ve got a fellow elder with me, Jim Croft, in Fort Lauderdale. He has four daughters. He’s like the evangelist Philip. He has four daughters who are virgins that prophesy. It’s really true. One of them just got married so that terminates that. Each of his daughters has a special kind of faith. When they need money they get one of them to pray. When they need direction they need another. Each one has a specific ministry. The youngest little girl, Rachel, who was born when they were sharing a home with me, when she was about 2 years old Jim and Prudence said to us, “We find it so difficult to arrange a time to have our devotions without neglecting Rachel.” We said have Rachel with you. They incorporated Rachel into their devotions and she would be rolling around on the floor or doing whatever babies of that age do, while they were praying. When she was not yet 3 years old and they were worshipping the Lord in tongues they heard little Rachel doing the same. Before she was 3 she was baptized in the Spirit and speaking in tongues.
All the girls that my wife brought up, all our nine daughters, were all baptized in the Spirit before they were 6 years old. If you wait, you may wait too long. Treat them, in a sense, as adults. I’ve said sometimes there’s no sex and there’s no age in spirit. There’s sex in the body, I think there’s sex in the soul. But the spirit realm is timeless and sexless. When a little child is in the spirit he’s just as much in the spirit as a mature adult. While he’s in the spirit.
We must move on. Let’s talk now about being king. What does a king do? On this side of the Atlantic you just have to go by theory. Everybody knows what the theory of a king is. What does a king do? He rules. What does a man do as representative of Christ the king? What does he do? He rules. Now, let’s hear the ladies said it! If you are sensible and you’re a wife, you’ll say that with relief. Thank God he rules!
Let’s just look at a few scriptures. 1Timothy 3. This chapter of 1Timothy is dealing with the qualifications to be an elder or an overseer in the church. Amongst the qualifications are how a man deals with his family. I take that because I’m going to use it as an example of what God expects of a man to do for his family. Verse 4:
“One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence [or respect]...”
That is not easy to achieve in contemporary America, I’m sure you’d agree.
“(For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”
It’s very clear the Lord expects a man to rule his own house and to have his children in submission. One thing I observed when I was a pastor visiting families was that if the children were noisy and rebellious and disorderly it was almost impossible to have a spiritual conversation in that home. So, the atmosphere of our home will be greatly affected by the way we train our children.
I would observe that basically undisciplined children are unhappy children. I remember I was dealing with our African daughter Joska when she was about 15. She wanted to do something that I felt she oughtn’t to do. We were having something of a confrontation and she was pleading her cause. She said, “You mean, you don’t want me to do it?” I said, “No, I don’t want you to do it.” I watched her face and there was a kind of sigh of relief. She really wanted me to say no, understand? She didn’t have the strength to say no on her own but she turned to me for support in taking the right stand. See what I’m saying? Children want discipline. They may give you all sorts of ways presenting that they don’t but they really want it. Disciplined children are secure children, they know their limits, they know how far they can go. That’s the way to bring peace to a home. There is no peace without authority. That doesn’t mean you have to be a dictator. Jesus is not a dictator but he’s the head over all things to the church which is his body.
Really, the only way you can succeed is by modeling yourself on Jesus. He’s the pattern. The more you study him and his life and his words and his ministry, and the more you seek him in prayer the better you will be able to fulfill this task.
In this same connection I’d like to turn to Genesis 18 which is a very important passage. Verses 17–19. This tells us why the Lord chose Abraham. If you study the history of the Bible you’ll find that Abraham was a uniquely important man in God’s purposes. He was to be the head of a new nation out of which would come God’s total spiritual provision for the whole human race. Let me just say that in parenthesis. The one nation that came out of Abraham, Israel, the Jewish people, are responsible for the total spiritual provision for all other nations. You need to bear that in mind. If there had been no Jews you would have no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, no savior. That’s a big responsibility resting upon that man who was chosen to be the head of that nation. Why did God choose him? What did God see in Abraham that made him choose Abraham out of all the hundreds of thousands of other men that he could have chose? Genesis 18 tells you, verse 17 and following:
“The Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m going; since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? [Why?] For I have known him [or I know him] in order that [or that] he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice; that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him.”
What did God see in Abraham that determined his choice? He knew he could fulfill his duty as a father. You know the word Abraham, the first form of his name, Avram, means “exalted father.” When God made the final covenant with him he changed it from Avram to Avraham which means “father of a multitude.” The word ?av? or Ab is the Hebrew word for a father. That’s the initial part of Abraham’s name. He was chosen specifically as a father. God chose him as a father because he knew he could rely on him to do what a father ought to do which was what? To command—not request or suggest or plead—command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord. Because he knew he would do that he could bring upon him the blessings which he had promised.
Notice one of the statements there which I believe for our present situation here this morning and the problems which the black community has faced for generations. God said of Abraham in that context he shall surely become a great and mighty nation. It’s fathers that make a nation great. A nation is no stronger than its families. Where fathers fail a nation will never achieve greatness. I know there are many other factors in the problems of the black people but the root problem is right there. We whites can’t exonerate ourselves or disclaim any responsibility. The primary responsibility doesn’t rest on the white man, it rests on the black father. Is that right?
Now we come to just one further question which is what happens when fathers fail? The Bible is so clear, so practical it tells us exactly what to expect when fathers fail. I said that a father was the prophet, the priest and the king. Let’s look at the responsibilities of a prophet who is also a priest. We turn to Malachi 2:7.
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth...”
When it speaks about knowledge and law it’s speaking about the knowledge and the law of God. The lips of a priest should keep knowledge and he should be the one to whom the people should go for the law of God. So, if the father is the prophet and the priest, his lips should keep the knowledge of the word of God and it should be to him that his family would go for the knowledge of God.
I’ve had a problem which is very common in the United States many, many times. Wives who are spiritual and committed to Christ have come up to me and said, “What do I do about my husband? He isn’t spiritual, he doesn’t read his Bible...” I said, “First of all, pray for him. Second, put him on the spot. Go to him and say I’ve been reading the Bible and I don’t understand what this means. Can you explain it to me? Begin to push him into his place.” I’ve said many times, “Listen you spiritual wives, don’t get in front of your husbands and pull them. Get behind them and push them.” I also say if you get too far ahead your husband will give up, he’ll never come. In many ways many times it pays to be patient. Don’t spend your whole time listening to Derek Prince tapes! Just take a little while to show interest in your husbands. Everybody knows the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. When you get saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, make sure you cook twice as well as you cooked before. Then he’ll want to know what happened to you! If all you do is push Derek Prince tapes a man, I wouldn’t want to meet him. Honestly. I’ll stay away from him.
Coming back to it, you see, the man’s responsibility, the husband’s and father’s responsibility is to provide spiritual instruction for his family.
What happens if he doesn’t do it? Turn to another prophet, Hosea 4:6. If ever there was a prophetic statement that applies to God’s people today, this is it.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...”
That’s my great personal burden, it’s to provide God’s people with the knowledge of his word. Not a lot of fancy super-spirituality, not a lot of intellectual theology but the down to earth practical, systematic teaching of God’s word in such a way that they’ll know how to apply it. That’s the continuing burden of my heart. I have seen God’s people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge. Not the knowledge of science or history but the knowledge of the word of God.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...”
And then God says this and he’s saying it to his priests and his prophets:
“...because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being a priest to me.”
In other words if the priest’s lips do not keep knowledge God says you failed in your task, I’m not going to recognize you as a priest any longer. When God fails to recognize you as a priest, this next thing is what happens.
“...because you have forgotten the Lord your God, I also will forget your children.”
That is the sentence of God on most of contemporary American males. “Because you have forgotten the Lord your God, I will forget your children.” Would you agree with me that contemporary American is filled with God forgotten children? Isn’t that the truth? I don’t know how you could describe them better than that. They’re on the streets, they’re on drugs, they’re in illicit sex, they’re in cults; they’re God forgotten. But why? Tell me why. Because their fathers forgot the law of God.
I believe there are no such things as delinquent children, there are only delinquent parents. If you don’t have delinquent parents you won’t have delinquent children.
I want to turn to one of my most quoted chapters, Deuteronomy 28. How many of you can tell me what’s the theme of Deuteronomy 28 in two words? Blessings and curses. The first 14 verses are blessings and the next 54 verses are curses. The curses are all attributable to one cause: because you did not listen to my word and obey it. But in the middle of these curses there is one particular curse I want to focus on. It’s in Deuteronomy 28:41.
“You shall beget sons and daughters...”
It’s an extraordinary thing but because of our contemporary culture and its anti male basis the word “beget” has dropped out of the English language. In fact, some of you probably don’t know what it means. When I was growing up a good many years ago “beget” was a normal English word. Beget is the father’s part in procreating children. Bearing is the woman’s part. But, in this sexless society which we’re creating, they’ve dropped the word for “to beget” because they want to ignore the father’s part. They want to put father and mother on the same level. It still remains true as we said in the beginning, no father, no family. There’s no way to change that rule that I know about. You can have an unknown father who comes out of a test tube but there’s still a father somewhere.
“You shall beget sons and daughters...”
In other words, it’s addressed primarily to the fathers, that’s why I’m saying it. It doesn’t mean that the mother is excluded.
“You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours...”
Or, the Old King James says you shall not enjoy them.
“...for they shall go into captivity.”
Is that a description of contemporary America? Parents who have brought forth children but the children are not theirs. They don’t enjoy them. The children have gone into captivity. Is that right?
Listen, I want to just have a check. How many of you here this morning have some member of your family who is in captivity to drugs, illicit sex, some cult? Just raise your hand for a moment, I’m not wanting to embarrass you. That’s at least 50 percent of the people here. What’s the reason? Disobedient, delinquent fathers. What’s the remedy? The Bible is so practical. When it’s pointed out the problem it shows you the remedy. There’s only one way to resolve that problem and that’s change the father. You can change the laws, you can change culture but you can’t remedy the problem without changing fathers. That’s a big job, that’s not done in a few moments.
Now we’ll turn to Malachi, the last two verses of the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5–6. At this point I’m going to begin to ad lib a little. Who knows where we’ll end up. It could be in a rather surprising place. In the order which we have our Bible, it’s not the same in the Jewish scriptures but, in the order which we have our Bible, these are the last two verses of the Old Testament. The last word is what? Curse, that’s right. That’s very significant. If there had never been a New Testament God’s last word to humanity would be a curse. It took Jesus to abolish the curse and restore the blessing. It says in Galatians 3:13–14:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse, becoming a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree.”
Thank God for the New Testament! Whether we’re Jews or Gentiles, thank God for the New Testament. It’s the only way out from the curse.
What are these last two verses? Malachi 4:5–6.
Behold in the Bible usually introduces something rather dramatic and startling. The person now referred to was definitely a dramatic and a startling person. There was probably no more dramatic character in the Bible than Elijah. His whole career was dramatic and his departure from this world was perhaps the most dramatic. You remember, he went up in a chariot of fire. He’s the only man we know that ever did that. However, he left his mantle behind. Thank God.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
You see the insight of scripture. We’re talking now about the last days immediately before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit through the scriptures pinpoints the one outstanding social problem which is what? Divided homes. Fathers and children at odds with one another. The Lord says if this isn’t changed it must inevitably bring a curse on the earth.
Then the Lord gives his particular program for changing. God’s program is a man. That’s really interesting in a way. Somebody said God uses men not methods. I think that’s true. My little adaptation of that is God’s methods are men. So, here’s God’s method for the end time problem, it’s a man, a prophet, Elijah. What’s to be his ministry? To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Then the hearts of the children to their fathers. Who has to turn first? The fathers, that’s right. That’s where it is. Fathers, there is no way for us to escape our scriptural responsibility. Every way we look at the Bible it says the same thing. We are accountable.