In Search of the Fathers of the Faith
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6)
These verses are the last two verses found in the Old Testament of the Bible. Between the Old and New Testament there was approximately a 400 year span that the voice of the Lord was not heard through any prophets. This prophetic word from Malachi comes during a time period after the temple in Jerusalem had been completed. Abuse had come into the sacrificial system of the priesthood, and the overall spiritual state of the people was in decline. Divorce was widespread (Malachi 2:14), mixed marriages were being contracted (Malachi 2:10-12), there were offerings of blemished sacrifices (Malachi 1:6-14), and people failing to pay tithes (Malachi 3:8-10), were all part of the life style during these times. Many theologians believe that God was silent during these 400 years allowing mankind to take charge of his own self destruction.
After this prophecy was given to the people of God, it became a custom while celebrating the Feast of Pentecost, for the Jewish people to place an empty chair at their table with a glass of wine in anticipation that Elijah would return. When the spirit of Elijah returned, the people would anticipate the fulfillment of this prophetic word. They would eagerly look for the return of fathers to their children and children to their fathers so that the earth would not be cursed. Centuries of restoration have been taking place, yet even today, the Jewish people are still looking for Elijah. They believe that this will be the sign of knowing that the Messiah's coming is near, and then, there will be peace on earth.
As I was doing research on this topic I found it interesting that the name "Malachi" means "messenger of the Lord." Following the end of the Old Testament we begin with the book of Matthew. His name means "gift of Jehovah." Matthew begins where Malachi left off four hundred years later, with fathers having sons from Abraham to Jesus Christ.
Many people skip over the first chapter of Matthew because it seems boring with just a generational history lesson. What appeals to me is that the four hundred years that theologians consider God to be silent, He is actually putting the fine tuning into manifestation of the coming of the Lord. Each of the fathers in Matthew Chapter One is recognized because they produced (begat) a son. Whether or not they were recognized for anything else in history, the one thing they did which was of great significance is to keep the lineage from Abraham going of a father to a son, and then a son becoming a father to produce a son until the birth of Jesus Christ. This tells me that God was very busy when others thought He was silent. He was putting the fine touches of completion to the salvation of mankind. Each father had to have an understanding of the vision and significance of the Abraham covenant to keep the desire to father a son; and each son had to have a relationship with their father to want to inherit that vision to give to their own son as expressed in Malachi 4:5-6. This is a heart's desire that comes from knowing God and believing God by faith as Abraham did.
Today, God speaks to us by His Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit versus the prophets. The difference between a Son and a child of God is a Son must mature into the position of doing the Father's business. His passion and heart cry must be to glorify His Father, and not himself, so that all that he says and does will be to draw others to the Father. As Sons, we are to be the expressed image of God's glory, His person. We are the touchable of the Father's image to the world. Do people hear the voice of their Heavenly Father calling them by name in love into a closer relationship with Him through our hearts and mouths? Do others see unconditional love, forgiveness, and peace when we speak; or do they hear Scripture quoted bringing justification and condemnation?
In I Corinthians 4:14-16, Paul considers it his responsibility of being a father to the Corinthians by referring to them as his sons. He does not desire to shame them, but to warn them of the direction they were taking in their Christian walk. What is interesting is that he points out that there are ten-thousand instructors in Christ, but not many fathers among them. If we apply this today we could say we have lots of men and women on the platform in our churches, but how many of them would be considered as fathers? Please keep in mind that in scripture, the term father is a spiritual identity of maturity in the natural, just as the word son is. We are given natural fathers as a type and shadow for understanding spiritual implication, but God is both male and female according to Genesis 1:27.
So what kind of person is this "spiritual father" that Paul refers to? In the natural, a father is one that has raised his children, passing on his genes, and the goodness of his identity. The children recognize their identity as the father's sons because of his name which carries honor and authority. The father does not look for glory and recognition, but knows that when his children come to a point in their lives where they talk and do their business as he did, then his own glory will come. Fathers get taken advantage of when their children are still children. There is no honor to a father to see his grown children still living as a dependent child not able to handle his own affairs. However, when a father sees his children working through their lives in the way they where taught by their parents, there is great joy to the parents.
Anyone can come and mesmerize a congregation with revelation knowledge from the Lord that will impregnate their spirit. However, Paul tells us in I Corinthians 4:15 that very few teachers are there to nurture the birth of this revelation allowing the spirit to grow and develop. This leaves a child with spiritual power, but no one to help them grow in wisdom, and know how to give glory to the Father. Galatians 4:1-2 tells us that it takes the heart of a father's love and wisdom to help the child grow up with understanding of Son-ship of our Heavenly Father. Many times we are asked, "What would Jesus do?", but few of us really allow the Son-ship of Jesus Christ to flow through our minds and bodies because we are not taught how to be sons. Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, yet very few churches will acknowledge that this should be our mind as believers of His body. Instead, we are as children searching for our identity of where we fit. We know who Jesus is, but we are not able to consider our true identity as His brother/sister in Christ, and the power and responsibility of that position.
Individuals with a calling to be an evangelist, teacher, prophet, apostle, or pastor are supposed to walk in their gifting with the heart of a father. However, many of them share wonderful Biblical wisdom on a platform, and then disappear in a crowd. The church was given the five-fold ministry as the hand of God to be "fathers" to the children. How many of these "fathers" are staying home raising their children versus coming to preach on Sunday mornings, stirring the children up with a good time party, and then taking off when a bigger and better opportunity arises? A father has a responsibility to seek out the children: watching, praying, staying awake late at night with concern about EACH one, letting none of his children lack or suffer in any way that he has been given responsibility for. He knows with an intimacy of knowing, and loves with a passion that cuts to his heart for each of the members of his congregation. He worries when the children are rebellious wanting to go in a different direction that is not like Jesus.
Jesus illustrated this for us when he prays to the Father in John Chapter 17. This prayer tells us that Jesus knew his responsibility was to show the disciples the Father through himself. He made sure that his work was completed and none of the disciples were lost that the Father gave him to minister to.
The church is a family affair. Father's should be "hovering" over the children of God to protect and discipline them in love rather than "ruling" them with judgment and condemnation. Paul told the Corinthians in I Corinthians 4:15 that he fathered them through the gospel; that his ways are in Christ, which is what he taught everywhere, in every church. The Corinthians were manifesting the gifts of the Spirit of God, but they were not reflecting the heart of the Father which is why Paul was correcting them. Paul was not withdrawing the significance of the gifts, but without love, they were just showing off and glorifying themselves. This is what we see even today in much of the church and the gifting God has given to the body.
Churches today lack the supernatural power of God because they have not kept the pattern of father and son relationship in Jesus Christ. When others see a Christian they should be seeing Jesus, and in turn be drawn unto their Heavenly Father. Jesus showed us that the life of God is manifested at the midnight hours of our lives where there is no yesterday and tomorrow isn't here yet. It is a moment of eternity in the midst of time that comes forth. If you go to your past to search for answers then you are out of covenant, and if you move forward with your own thoughts and ideas you are out of covenant. It can only be Jesus, not Jesus "plus" our own way. It is at this moment, that the supernatural power of God is manifested in the Sons of God.
In Matthew 16:15-18, Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was after they had just discussed that the people considered Him to be either John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. Peter spoke up and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus responds to this revelation that Peter received saying that it came from the Father of Jesus, and it is with this wisdom that JESUS will build His church, not man. Jesus shares in John 20:17 that his Father is our Father, and his God is our God. Jesus keeps the father and son covenant continuing with the lineage of Abraham by telling us that as the Father sent him, he sends us (John 20:21). This type of relationship crosses over from Old Testament to New Testament showing us that God is eternal and not limited to time. It was by faith that Abraham rested believing God that his seed would bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 22:18).
God came to Abraham to initiate His ways beginning in Genesis Chapters 12-22. If the fathers/leaders (the five-fold ministry covering of your church) are not in Christ, following after Jesus to build the church, then you won't see Christ. When people say, "I am a servant of the most High God", or "I am a sinner saved by grace", yet they have been a believer for a season in the body of Christ, they may sound religious, but in reality they are still children and not mature as Sons. They are not edifying the Father and building up the body of Christ with His power and authority, but are using their own ability in works to keep the body of Christ together. They are staying focused on themselves in a religious way versus moving forward to maturing and bringing the reflection of Jesus Christ for the world to see. Instead, they reflect immature behaviors of self-centeredness, rebellion, hurt feelings, pride, discomfort, and are easily offended. They are as children without power, authority, or influence lacking the ability to manifest the supernatural power of the Father (Galatians 4:1-2).
The kingdom of God is as the smallest seed becoming the largest tree. Abraham's faithfulness is what has kept the promise. Scripture shows us that each generation has a double portion of inheritance as illustrated by Elijah giving his mantel to Elisha because he stood with his father (2 Kings). The spirit of Elijah spoken of in Malachi represents kingdom order of a Father and son relationship. This prophecy was fulfilled with John the Baptist according to Luke 1:17. What will save the earth from a curse is getting the earth in proper alignment. God is after the father's heart to turn it toward the children, and then the children's hearts will be turned to the Father. When we go through life trying to possess the land our way, we have a mindset of telling God how to be God. God will not bless our mess. The most destructive answer we can get from God in answer to our prayers is for Him to say nothing, but allow us to continue in our own self destruction until we realize it is ALL God, and only God in ALL.
As Christians, we pray asking God to bless our confusion, but we are not willing to align ourselves up to the order of God for the blessing to flow. We play a game of hit and miss with God by dying to ourselves for a moment, and then after He has taken over the situation, we raise up the old man to live with the new, and wonder why God isn't answering prayers. We then try to justify our natural understanding by saying, "maybe it is not God's will for me not to be healed, or maybe He wants me to go through this because I must suffer first before being blessed." We justify the circumstance by what we see versus walking in faith of what we should believe Scripture tells us. We also look at things from the level of a child or at the foot of the cross, rather than the position of Son- ship which is resurrection power from death, hell, and the grave.
John the Baptist was the son doing the Father's business declaring for all to "prepare ye the way." His life was an illustration of how "the way" is prepared with his own head being cut off. This is a type and shadow to teach us that we are to have the mind of Christ by beheading ourselves as believers, and being crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). The life we now live in the flesh is Christ by the faith of the Son of God. We are to take on the mind of Christ, and not our natural understanding. This mind is the key to our inheritance of aligning our spirit, soul, and body with His. We must protect this inheritance by the words of our mouth and the mind set of our heart anxiously desiring to develop this inheritance, to pass it on with a double portion of blessing to our children. The inheritance of the Sons of God is not the cross, but the resurrection (Galatians 2:21-3:3, 13).
Jesus is the firstborn to bring the pattern of the old into redeeming the world. He is not just a savior or redeemer. He is the FIRST BEGOTTEN SON of GOD. He gave us the covenant of a Son. Being a child of God does not give a believer automatic access into the inheritance of God. Everyone is given the power to become Sons of God, but not everyone succeeds (John 1:12). A Son of God is revealed by the power of God being manifested in love, not personal edification. Signs and wonders follow behind Sons of God (Acts 5:15). Children are looking for them (John 4:48), and then running to and fro trying to possess them (Daniel 12:4).
In Genesis Chapter 9, we read about the story of Noah and his sons after the flood. Life is starting over for his family. They plant a vineyard; made up some wine; and then Noah indulges a little too much, and is found drunk and naked by his son Canaan. Did you ever wonder why, when Noah finds out that Canaan went and told his brothers about what he saw, that Noah cursed him, but blessed the other two sons? It wasn't that Noah loved the other two sons more than Canaan, but that Canaan was just as much a son as his brothers, yet he refused to grow-up, and therefore would be a servant versus a son. When Canaan saw his father drunk and naked the first thing he did was to play the childish game of telling a secret. He disgraced his father versus standing in the gap as a covering. Once the other brothers became aware of the situation, they took covering on their shoulders and walked backwards so they didn't see their father's nakedness, and then they covered him. The shoulders represent authority. Shem and Japheth were not making judgment on Noah by walking backwards, but acting as a shield of son-ship to protect their father from anything while he was in a vulnerable state.
The church of Jesus Christ is to be built where the gates of hell can not prevail against it. Satan should not be allowed in the house of God for there is no place for the devil (Ephesians 4:27). Yet, he is welcomed in through the doors of: gossip, complacency, denominational doctrines, theology, religious rituals, and self-centered Christianity. Churches today do not align themselves with the Son-ship of Jesus Christ which is why there is no power. There is an abundance of sickness, disease, poverty, depression, divorce, etc. inside most churches. Many times when people have exposed their personal struggles, conflicts, and sins for prayer request, this information becomes passed on as gossip in the name of needing prayer. A true Son of God would take what has been shared, lift it up to the Father, and declare by the power and authority of the name of Jesus that it is a finished work (healed, completed, satisfied, restored) according to John 19:30. Most people are still in a vulnerable state, and therefore it is up to the Son that received the prayer request to also be the intercessor, as a hedge of protection to believe by faith, that the issues are a finished work until the full manifestation is seen. The church should be setting an example for the world as a place of healing, wholeness, life, love, and peace. When a person comes into a place where the Sons of God are present, there should be a distinguishing presence of heaven on earth.
It took thirty years for Jesus to grow and develop into the understanding of his true identity as the Son of God, and his purpose on this earth. In Luke 3:21-22, we are told that heaven was opened when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. When a person is baptized, it means that the person you were a few seconds before going into the water, and who you are coming out of the water after being immersed, are two different people. The Jordan River represents death of the old man. When Jesus came up from being baptized a voice came from heaven saying, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (verse 21). From that moment on, Jesus had a responsibility to be about the Father's business so that when others saw Him, they saw the Father. Before the Jordan he was living a life as the child of Mary and Joseph, but after his baptism His whole focus was to reflect his identity as the Son of God.
Today, we have many children of God refusing to grow up. They believe that if they have received Jesus as their personal savior, they go to church, read their Bible, and try to be a good person for their family and community, that they consider themselves to be are mature Christians. This is not the Biblical definition of being mature in Christ.
A mature Christian is one that has the confidence and wisdom of our Heavenly Father to know His power and authority, and apply it to everyday life situations. They walk by faith, not by sight knowing that their Father judges no man (John 5:22), and that His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136). They look unto Jesus (to see the Father) to learn how to respond to the world issues, to pray, and to seek wisdom of unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness without bringing attention to self. They believe that it is their Father's will that none shall perish (2 Peter 3:9), and that they have a responsibility to stand in the gap of intercession for the lost sheep until ALL one-hundred percent have come back to the Father. The body of Christ can not be blemish-free without ALL of the "lost Adam linage" being returned to the Father.
Where do you fit in with the growth and development of being a Christ One? Are you about doing the Father's business, or are you looking out for yourself, being a good Christian and waiting to get to heaven someday?
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: note rendering evil for evil" (I Peter 3:8-9a). Peter tells us that we are all to have one mind, the mind of Jesus Christ. As the bride of Christ, we are a corporate body. If one person is lost, whether in the flesh, or out of the flesh, the body of Christ cannot be complete until we intercede to bring them out of hell or darkness. Jesus didn't send them there; we did with our thoughts and words by believing in tradition and denominational religion instead of allowing Jesus to build His church.
If we truly have a hearts desire to see the return of Jesus, we must be willing to change allowing the Sons of God to come forth bringing unity and wholeness to His body.
May this teaching bless you with the Father's love and your true identity in Christ Jesus.