TRUE APOSTOLIC FATHERS

    Dr. L. Campbell Evans - © 1992

One of the true witnesses of apostolic ministry is that of relationship without which you cannot have authority or respect. Even in natural in the earth, children are born out of relationship. It is this process that grants the parents authority in the life of the children and gives to them the freedom to raise and instruct them. The validation of one as an apostle is not one's 'position', rather it is one's relationship with Jesus Christ that gives them the ability to father and mentor spiritual offspring.  and father/mentor them in the scriptures. Consider the following:   

     1 Corinthians 4:15 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.

     1 Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

     There are many who teach and instruct in the body of Christ that assume that perhaps they are apostles but the scriptures clearly state that there are 'not many' fathers. One's ability to teach or instruct is not the true earmark of a father, although it is included. Fatherhood in the body of Christ is clearly defined as "one who begets another". So, fathers are progenitors (founder, originator, initiator), those who bring into existence. In the case of the gospel, there are men who lead others to Christ and into the new birth. In one way, they could be considered fathers, but this was not what Paul was talking about. Fatherhood (apostleship) in the body of Christ is a calling whose function is to not only call one into Christ, but mentor and father this newly born son into the fullness of his purpose and destiny. A true father will fulfill his responsibilities and honor the privileges of fatherhood through love, protection, nurturing, and guidance.

     Instinctively, a true father wants his son to surpass himself in qualities and abilities. The motive of his heart is to begin a progressive move toward maturity and establishment of his purpose. Within this goal, the father will begin training with teaching, discipling, and through hands on experience. A good example of these kinds relationships are Elijah and Elisha and also Paul and Timothy. 

     Matthew 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

     Matthew 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

     Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

     Jesus came to reveal the Fatherhood of God to us. Oftentimes, Jesus would compare our Heavenly Father's relationship with us as like unto that of the natural father in a family.  Fathers and mothers want their children to have "the best of  everything." The first requirement for success in the family unit is that parents and children love one another. It is within their desire concerning the future of their children that parents offer the guidance and assistance that will help them grow into responsible adults. Within the family unit there is trust, obedience, and accountability. As children honor their parents and parents conduct themselves as worthy of their children's honor, both parents and children benefit immeasurably.

     When we look at our relationship with our heavenly Father, we find the same principles to be operative. Our Father's heart and His position in our relationship with Him is found in 2Cor. 6:17-18 "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will BE a Father unto you, and ye shall BE my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

    It is only through a revelation of one's sonship, that one's relationship with God can be manifested can experientially be that of Father and son. The same is true of the relationship of the apostle with spiritual sons. It is only through revelation that a son is willing to enter into a relationship that requires accountability, responsibility, openness, and trust. It is a life of commitment on both sides and will never work if it is one sided.

     A great example of the father/son relationship is that of Elijah and Elisha. Elisha was mentored and walked with Elijah approximately 10 years before being caught up into heaven. From this example we see commitment from both father (Elijah) and son (Elisha). As called and assigned to do, Elisha completed his course with his mentor. He did not step out 'when he thought that he was ready', and he did not choose another to father him in spiritual realities. Because of his faithfulness, he received not only what Elijah had, but more! God gave him a double portion anointing along with authority as a prophet of the Lord. We also have the example of the relationship between Moses and Joshua, along with many others in the Bible.

     Today, it is rare today to see these kinds of covenant relationships. Most will 'put on' and 'take off' fathers like they do a change of clothes and use numerous excuses in order to do it. Either they begin to over step their boundaries or they want more power and 'personal experience (they want to step out instead of being sent out).

Sometimes they heed the tales of others to dissuade them from trusting their mentor or they are seduced with words such as 'I want you to mentor me; you are more anointed than the one you are under; etc.

     Now, there is a new heartbeat in the midst of this generation that is crying out for true spiritual fathers. Confusion in word and deed is at it's apex and has had resulted in a body disillusioned. But God in His mercy, is releasing in this hour a fresh new apostolic ministry in this new millennial time period. In this process, we will begin to see once again the raising up of father/son relationships. And let me say now, that this is not exclusive to the male gender, for father/son is a simply a spiritual connotation that cannot refer to a specific gender for "in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female". Paul sent out many women to mentor others and establish them in the faith. (Romans 16:7). Junia was a female apostle listed among the apostles in early church history and the New Testament.

     When Paul wrote to Timothy or Titus, he was very pointed and direct (and almost demanding), because Timothy and Titus were both his "true son(s) in the faith." (1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:14, NIV).

     As Timothy's spiritual father, Paul remains in a place to oversee, instruct and encourage concerning the direction of ministry and establishment of the gospel, even though Timothy is now in ministry. Paul continued to encourage Timothy in the faith and his continual growth in his calling.

     "Unto Timothy, my own SON in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,". 1Timothy 1:2-3 

     "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us". 1Timothy 1:13-14

     "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck". 1Timothy 1:18-19

     "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery". 1Timothy 4:12-14

     And now, the mark of a true father begins to come forth as Paul tells Timothy that he is to "raise up faithful men in the ministry".

     "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved SON: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord". 2Timothy 1:1-2

     "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind". 2Timothy 1:6-7

     "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ". 2Timothy 2:1-3

     Titus was another son which the Lord had given to Paul whom he instructed to ordain elders in EVERY city!

     "To Titus, mine own SON after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee". Titus 1:4-5

     Another son to Paul was that of Barnabas. Although they parted for a short time in scripture they came back together and continued to walk along side one another, walking out their destiny and calling together. They worked together in the appointment of elders in the establishment of churches. (Acts 14:23). Paul and Barnabas raised up and mentored the believers in the aforementioned church and so were their spiritual fathers. The fact that they mentored and had relationship with these believers, gave them the authority to establish the elders among them.

     Yes, there is an order of things! An order that was established in the beginning and will continue in this generation today. May God grant us the spirit of revelation and understanding concerning the apostolic ministry in the earth today. The apostle's ministry has always been essential to the building of the body of Christ and the production of continued ministries down through the generations. As we return to our roots and the establishment of our foundations once again, may the Lord grant us fathers and sons of covenant that will help us to further behold true relationship.  Apostleship is not a dictatorship, but it is a gift that functions through relationship.