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 hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse (Mal. 4:5-6).
One of God’s primary purposes for raising up and restoring prophets and prophetic ministry in the church in these last days is to bring generations together. This not only includes generations of old and young in the earth, but also joining past generations together with the current generation, who will complete their mandates and fulfill their purposes. (Hebrews 11:39-40.) There are multi-generational promises, anointings, ministries, mantles and blessings held in a spiritual trust fund for the end-time generation that fully embraces the Lord in intimacy and obedience. The prophetic or “forerunner” ministries in the earth today are called to heal the breach that exists not only between the age groups, but also between the “fathers” of the ages past and the current generation. God calls for fathers-leaders to arise who will fully take hold of His promises and join hands with both the saints from ages past and the youth in the current age. These fathers-leaders are called upon to take the first step in the process of restoration and deliverance.
We need both spiritual mothers and spiritual fathers to arise and lead, mentor, disciple and release a generation of extravagant, worshipping warriors into their callings and destinies. Fathers, in particular, are greatly needed as examples of Father God so that younger men and women can see, hear, feel and experience who the Father is and what He is like. Fathers in the body of Christ are those who have embraced the cross so as to allow the life of God to permeate and hold sway over their lives. They are living examples of Christ, whose very lives can be seen in their actions and heard in their words. While they may not be perfect, they have allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and deal with their flesh, surrendering to His heart and hand in such a way that, in spite of their weakness, they have become living examples of Christ in the mortal body. Such was the apostle Paul:
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us…but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us (2 Thess. 3:7, 9); Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern (Phil. 3:17); The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:9); Therefore I urge you, imitate me (1 Cor. 4:16); Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
These are bold statements…but not if viewed through the lens of a father exhorting his children. Fathers are those who can call their natural or spiritual children to follow in their example and footsteps.
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe (1 Thess. 1:5-7).
In this verse, the apostle Paul called on the believers at Thessalonica to be examples to the rest of the churches in their region, as he was an example of Christ to them. As Jesus was an example to the world, so Paul and his ministry team were an example to those to whom they were sent. The word “example” is the Greek word tupos. The literal rendering of this word is scar. This is the same word that Thomas used in reaction to being told the Lord had risen, after the Lord’s resurrection and initial appearance to His disciples, when Thomas was absent.
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:24-25).
The phrase “print of the nails,” or “nail print,” is the Greek word tupos. This is the same word Paul used when exhorting the Thessalonians to be an “example.” The world simply will not believe unless they have verifiable proof of the Lord’s love and power. The world awaits to see the nail prints. This is the only thing that is going to cause them to truly repent and believe. Almost an entire generation is now embracing tattoos and body piercing because the pain of what they are experiencing is addictive, and it makes them “feel alive.” Perched and ready, they long to see the nail scars of the Lord. They wait for the spiritual fathers who have more than “three points and a poem.” They can spot phoniness miles away and they want nothing to do with such religious nonsense. When the fathers emerge and begin to extend their hearts and hands to this generation, this generation will begin to see the true Father and their hearts will be captured by His love, beauty, grace and power. The question is where are the scars?
Spiritual fathers attest to the reality of the risen Lord by the scars they bear in their bodies and souls that have come through their love and service for Jesus. They are not just “church planters.” Some spiritual fathers may have never pastored a church or held any kind of leadership position. But, unequivocally, spiritual fathers are called to raise a generation of worshipping warriors who bear the image and likeness of Christ, and who can overcome the world, the flesh and the powers of darkness, even as the Lord Himself did. In the last chapter, we related that the foundation of the relationship we have with the Father was His burning love and compassion for weak and broken human beings. The heart of the Father never changes toward us based on our state or behavior. This has to be anchored in our soul as He begins His work of making us into the image and likeness of Christ. Spiritual fathers must possess this same attribute of deep love and compassion for those they are called to disciple, but they also have specific job descriptions outlined in scripture. The aged apostle states in 1 Thessalonians:
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:7-11).
In this passage of scripture, Paul tells us what the Father desires to impart to His children and, therefore, gives us the basic job description of spiritual fathers.
Mothers, in general, impart things to their children that fathers cannot and the reverse is true about fathers. Mothers, generally, impart gentleness, tenderness, compassion, creativity and sensitivity to their children. Paul states in 1 Thess. 2:7-11 that fathers impart exhortation, comfort or encouragement, and a charging or imploring. Exhortation imparts a sense of family or belonging. This creates security. Comforting or encouraging imparts just that…courage. Charging, or imploring, imparts a sense of destiny in children. Fathers can make or break, build up or destroy their children’s lives, both naturally and spiritually. Spiritual fathers are called to build up their disciples through truth both taught and lived out before them. They are called to continually encourage them, not only in who they are in their identity, but also encouraging them that there is no foe or barrier that can stop them in Christ. Fathers are also the only parent that can impart a sense of destiny or calling in the lives of those entrusted to them. We have a generation of fatherless or poorly fathered children. This generation tends to be fearful, insecure, unmotivated and purposeless. Fatherlessness has taken a great toll on this generation, but there is coming a revelation of the Father that will release a revolution among this final generation. Fathers in the body of Christ are about to be revealed, and they will bring a revelation of the Father’s heart and ways.
One other thing spiritual fathers impart is discipline.
For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:6-11).
Sometimes mothers will not discipline their children when they need it because they are fearful of losing their children’s love. Not so with dad! Although fathers do want their children to know they are loved, and they do want their children to love them, they desire respect more than love. The Father wants us to know He is delighting over us, but He also wants our respect and submission. This is also a job description of a true spiritual father. They will discipline those entrusted to them for that person’s benefit. If spiritual fathers do not bring discipline through love, they are failing in an important attribute of a true father.
We live in a society of sensitive, creative, self-centered people, who don’t know who they are, why they are here or where they are going. Where are the fathers who will be the example of the Father in heaven and carry out their calling? The calling is open to “whosoever will.”
Questions for Reflection:
What is one of the primary purposes for restoring prophets and prophetic ministries today?
As a spiritual mother or father, how are you imparting to the next generation?
What are the characteristics of a true spiritual father?