A true spiritual father is characterized by a unique relationship with God. We cannot become a spiritual father by our own decision or effort. No man can make himself a father, except God declares him one because fatherhood is God’s initiative. In the Kingdom of God, fatherhood is determined neither by age nor by years in ministry but by the measure of grace and revelation released. Younger spiritual men with a unique relationship with God might disciple and father those who are older. Interestingly, I met an elderly couple in Australia who are spiritual sons to their own biological son, and the testimony of the grace of God that flows through that relationship and ministry was awesome.
Those who have been faithfully fathered and released into ministry can become fathers. A minister without a spiritual father and covering is one without a ministry; and if there is no ministry there is no message.
Fathers prepare the sons for ministry and release them into their specific calling. The impartation from a spiritual father is a legacy that moulds destiny. God calls; and through the work of the Holy Spirit uses the father to train, equip and release.
About 70% or more of our studies in Bible school and seminary are not always used in the present day ministry. I am not saying that Bible schools and seminary are not necessary, because they do have their level of impartation and influence, but care needs to be taken to ensure information taught is upgraded and aligned to relate to and correspond with the present work of the Holy Spirit.
The finishing of the house of God requires the restoration of spiritual fathers who are apostolic in nature. Not every father is an apostle, but each will carry an apostolic grace to impart to the son and to complete the house of God.
The road to fatherhood is a process. God provides to a father that which He desires imparted to the son. It is a privilege to pass on the blessing of God. Just as sons in the natural receive an inheritance from their fathers, spiritual fathers lead their sons into their spiritual inheritance. Through his walk with God, a spiritual father imparts wisdom to his spiritual son.
Much of the success of the ministries and ministers that we see today is a harvest that has been produced from their labour. Labour produces harvest, but inheritance comes from sonship (relationship). It is a rest from labour. We don’t labour for it.
A spiritual father must have spiritual experience and knowledge gained from his walk with the Lord, and must be able to impart them by wisdom to his spiritual sons. This is part of their inheritance to benefit them in their walk and pursuit of God’s purposes.
Benefits of the Father-Son Relationship:
Apostolic and prophetic ministry is imparted to sons to carry on the heritage.
There is a problem in the nations as I travel around with the concept of fatherhood among churches and ministers. Leaders are more interested and keen to establish father-son relationship with only those who are already successful in ministry. One of the reasons is based on the seed offerings, tithes and gifts they expect their sons to give to them as a sign of their faithfulness and loyalty as true sons. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. The father invests in the son to bring him to maturity and greater success, before he can expect to receive. This requires much investment, spiritual deposit and impartation to make, and to see the son become successful and greater.
A true apostle with a heart of a father does not seek for his sons to build his own house for him, but seeks to assist in the establishment of his son’s house. We need to ponder and give consideration to this!
“I am now ready to visit you the third time and I will not be a burden to you. I want nothing from you, except you. Children should not have to save up to give to their parents. Parents should save to give to their children.” (2 Corinthians 12:14 – New Century Version).
We do not need a spiritual father who knows his son only when the father has a need rather than imparting something to them. Leaders who are only interested in those who are already successful in ministry based on what they hope to get from them are not true spiritual fathers, but “seed eaters”. True fathers impart their inheritance to their sons to establish them in the destiny and purpose of God.
True fathers are willing to take those things they have that are of value and inheritance and give, and impart them to their sons to see them rise to greatness. At times, a spiritual father might step aside to promote and develop the son in order for him to function and come to his place of inheritance. We should not be afraid to remove ourselves from the job in order to promote the growing sons and develop leaders. The basic goal of every family is to reproduce and to advance its heritage. If not passed on to the next generation, our accomplishments and inheritance are ruined.
A true spiritual father will help his son discern the voice of God and true authority. The son will mature and become responsible in God’s house. Our maturity and development lies in the hands of tutors. It comes by our act of submission and relationship.
Maturity is not measured by what is external and visible. It is not about numbers, structures, buildings or ministry style. Spiritual maturity is measured by the way we relate and fellowship ‘……and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.’ (1 John 1:3) Only God can measure our maturity.
Ephesians 4:11-12 speaks of the role of the five-fold ministry to mature the church until we come to the unity of the faith. This corporate development of the Church is a relational place where the revelation of God is received, and we speak the same word, which is reflected in our lives. This too is about sonship.
Every minister who does not have the apostolic covering of a spiritual father is spiritually bare. The church needs fathers that will cover their sons. True spiritual and apostolic fathers provide covering, and they bring instruction, correction and protection to their spiritual sons.
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children (bastards) and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:7-9).
Parents love their children and love compels them to lay down their lives, so that their children can become all that God has made them to be. Impartation from parent to child occurs through proximity and contact. Parents we cannot see physically and have no contact with cannot father us because there is no means for impartation. Books, emails, the media and other electronic means of communication, are not an effective way for parenting. After all, parenting is not achieved through these means. Electronic spiritual fathers cannot impart the blessing or lay hands upon us to release the gifts of God and activate prophetic destiny.
A father’s responsibility is far beyond mentorship, it is to impart knowledge gained by experience and revelation and to guide the son in God’s purpose. It is therefore of the essence to note that our mentors are not necessarily our spiritual fathers. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Often they are figureheads but we cannot draw upon them for moral and spiritual support.
Our spiritual fathers are those that we can have access to anytime and feel welcome and safe to share and express our pain and gain with. Access to a spiritual father is both welcomed and safe. They have the ability to speak into our lives.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:14-18).
Our spiritual father might not be the one who led us to the Lord. The apostle Paul was the spiritual father of Timothy who had already received salvation. Their relationship developed as Timothy submitted to Paul by the grace vested upon his life and ministry for the purpose of impartation. Hence Paul could refer to Timothy as his own beloved son in the faith. This level of relationship gave Paul the privilege of circumcising Timothy as his son according to the custom of the Jews (Acts 16:1-3).
“Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith:….” (1 Timothy 1:2).
“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son:…” (2 Timothy 1:2).
“But ye know the proof of him (Timothy), that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” (Philippians 2:22).
“As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11 – New Revised Standard Version).
“I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment.” (Philemon 1:10 – New Revised Standard Version).
There were others Paul fathered by leading them to the Lord or by adopting, plus churches over which he was a spiritual father. Timothy, Onesimus, Titus, Epaphroditus, the Church in Corinth and other house churches were under Paul’s authority, which never came from position or democratic appointment, but was always derived from fatherhood relationship.
The father-son relationship is a “covenant relationship” between two purposed individuals. It was never intended to be a “positional relationship”. Authority derived from true fathering is legitimate authority. Fatherhood is a legitimate biblical principle that was almost lost to the Church because of the loss of apostolic order.
Some authority in the Church today is derived from position, not from relationship. Positional authority is man-made (no legitimate fathers). Apostolic fathering is based on relationship and not on position. Apostolic authority is not based on organizational structure, but is relational. The “positions of authority” does not create effectiveness in relationship building; it is a controlling pattern. Manipulation is birthed when a position of authority is providing spiritual covering.
The relationship between a spiritual father and a son has nothing to do with religious circumstances or church positions and functions, but it is a divinely inspired alliance from God released between two people, designed for significant purpose and seasons in life and ministry. Paul was not an apostolic father to all churches, but only to those he had raised up in the Lord or had a direct authority over by relationship that was developed.
Apostolic fathers are not “institutional bishops”. Man made “institutional bishops” are an extra-local hierarchy that rule by position or title over the local church as we find in most denominations. It is not scriptural to be fathered by a religious position instead of a covenant relationship. There are those who are sons only by a religious concept. These relationships cannot endure seasons of transition.
Apostles (apostolic fathers) rule by relationship. True apostles and spiritual fathers will guide, direct and influence by virtue of relationship with a local congregation and its elders. If an apostolic father has no relationship, then he has little or no biblical authority. Apostles must come as a servant and not as dictators or masters to lord over the people.
Might a woman become an apostle? Certainly. An apostle (or spiritual father) raises up seed unto God. In the Kingdom of God, it is not just men who can become spiritual fathers. Women can become spiritual fathers and raise up seeds (Sons) unto God, because in the Kingdom, there is neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ. We are His seed. God is not gender-biased.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe
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