The Vision of the Godly Father

The roots of every cultural crisis rest in personal crises. The failure of a culture is the failure of the men in it. A society cannot be vital and possessed of an on-going vigour if the men therein are marked by a loss of faith, a retreat from responsibility, and an unwillingness to cope with personal problems. A culture loses its will to live and to conquer if its members manifest a spirit of retreat and surrender… Not surprisingly, our world-wide cultural crisis is rooted in the failure of men.[1]

The Bible warns us that “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law” (Prov.29:18). What is God’s vision for us? In order to understand this, we have to go back to His original plan for man, in the beginning.

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves over the earth” (Gen.1:26-28).

We all know that the fall of man, and man’s resultant sinful nature significantly clouded his ability to “rule and have dominion.” Nevertheless, God said of Abraham that “I have chosen him, so that he may command his children after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him” (Gen.18:19). This implies godly authority and leadership.

In I Timothy 3:4-5 Paul discusses the qualifications for a man who wants to be a leader in the church. The most important area, writes Paul, is the condition of the man’s home. He must be one who “manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” He is expected to exercise authority and to have his children respectful, obedient and under his control.

The Greek word translated ‘manage’ means literally “to stand in front of.” It contains various related ideas, including “to rule,” “to protect” and “to control.” Essentially the word means that the father stands at the head of his home. He puts himself between his family and all the pressures and dangers of life. He also goes in front of them and sets an example of godly living. [2]

After the failure of the generation that left Egypt, God commanded Joshua to “give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (Josh.1:6). Even in the presence of sin, He expected His people to have a measure of godliness and responsibility, and that they should be the dominant people of the earth.

Now that Jesus has come as the “last Adam” (I Cor.15:45), and the “second man” (I Cor. 15:47), His death and resurrection have re-established believers on the surest possible foundation. The Christian person is one who has been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet.1:3), and the promise of scripture is that “sin shall not be master over you” (Ro.6:14). His Great Commission sends us into all the world to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mat.28:19).

The redeemed person therefore, should never be a wanderer without purpose. He may have a great number of uncertainties about tomorrow, even where he will lay his head. But,

 even as Adam was called to exercise dominion and subdue the earth (Gen.1:26-28), redeemed man is sent into all the world with the same commission under Jesus Christ (Mat.28:18-20). This requires Christian man to acquire eminence and dominion in every realm and to be an imperialist in Christ.[3]

What has happened to the Church today, that the original Biblical vision of the believer’s role has been so totally discarded? The Church for about 300 years has been influenced by what’s been called Pietism. Pietism, in the words of Francis Schaeffer,

made a sharp division between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘material’ world-giving little, or no, importance to the ‘material’ world. The totality of human existence was not afforded a proper place. In particular it neglected the intellectual dimension of Christianity.[4]

This meant that from this time onward (around 1700) Christians began to steadily withdraw from thinking and applying themselves to the affairs of the world, believing somehow that non-involvement would somehow be more pleasing to God.

But this was the very opposite to what God had intended for us. He wants us involved in the world. That is the very idea of us being “salt” and “light” in our respective communities. We are the ones who are to be making a difference, so “that the world may believe” (Jn.17:21).

Now, it is true that the Bible instructs us, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn.2:15). But this does not mean that we should not be interested and concerned about what is happening in our society; after all, this is where we live. Why shouldn’t we want it to be better?

The acceptance of Pietism was one of the most irresponsible things the Church could have done, because we have a clear interest for our sake, for our family’s sake, and for the sake of the gospel, in what happens in our community. Our job is to make it a whole lot better. That’s what Jesus came for.

The Bible says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (I Jn.3:8), and we have been instructed to utilise our talents productively and profitably (Luke 19:11-27) until our Master returns. We will give an account to Him.

God created us and commanded us to care for His creation and rule over it, and that requires that we use all of our faculties (including our intellectual ones), to accomplish that goal. Furthermore, every intellectual issue of our day is addressed in the Bible.

So what should be the vision of the godly father?

a) He has to be preparing his children for a life of service to God: a life of godly dominion, responsibility and power under Jesus Christ.

b) He has to be preparing his children for the future: work, marriage and family.

c) He has to be preparing his children to be able to deal ably and confidently with the issues of the day, including education, economics, politics, and many, many other issues under heaven.

Activating a Vision Requires Leadership: Nature abhors a vacuum:

Unbelievers have had their way in most countries in the world now for generations, partially because Christians have not been willing or confident to stand up for scriptural beliefs. The twentieth century was the most brutal in human history, and this was a prime example of what happens when Christians step back from providing Biblical influence in their world.

This must change, and the sooner the better, if the world we have around us is to be saved and reclaimed. The world needs godly leadership! You are important!

Leadership by example is God’s way. When Paul explained to Timothy the requirements of an overseer (see I Tim.3:1-7), implicit in his description is that the overseer is to be an example to those he leads, and Peter explicitly says that the elders are to be “examples to the flock” (I Pet.5:3).  Paul said, “the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil.4:6). He also said, “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (I Cor.11:1).

Gideon was similar. He said to his three hundred men, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do” (Judges 7:17).

Because the modern world (and often the Church) has emphasised academic or intellectual qualifications of leadership, or it’s supposed “charisma,” and neglected the primary Biblical obligation of leaders to be people of character and integrity (see Ex.18:21-23), this has led to all manner of distortions and abuse. It was Spurgeon who wrote that

 I have long, long ago given up estimating character by the amount of intelligence, for I sometimes find that the most intelligent are the best able to deceive me. How often in daily life we find that the most knowing are the most cunning, and the greatest scholars are the biggest rogues.

So, the important question is not whether we are leading or not. It is whether our leadership is reflective of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. How can we be confident about this?

Firstly, start with the really simple things. Paul talks about these in Phil.2:3-5:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…

You see, depth of leadership is essentially one of attitude; our attitude towards God, and then towards others. Is my attitude concerning God, one of obedience and complete dependence, or do I sometimes think that I can make it on my own?

In relation to others, do I see them as people to consistently show love, care and service towards (see I Cor.13), or am I intent like Diotrephes (see III Jn.9) on showing everyone that I am the most pre-eminent person around? The reason Paul could confidently commend Timothy to the Philippians, was because he saw him as one “who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” (Phil.2:20).

This is why it is always important to be developing in ourselves and those we are responsible for, a willing and joyful attitude in serving others. One preacher I heard thirty five years ago, used to say to budding leaders that “all authority is given to serve.” Based on the life of Jesus Himself, I consider that to be a most accurate and profound comment, for He said “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (Jn.10:11).

The greatest leader of men, was also the greatest Servant. The Last Supper certainly showed that. So leadership is important, and it’s actually dependent more than anything, on our attitude.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                     

Christian fathers need a Biblical vision for themselves, their families, their churches and their nation. Christian fathers must have confidence that this world can be a better place because of the influence of the Gospel, of Christian families and the Church. This vision will impact all that we do.

Is your vision for your children one of unbelief and fear, like the generation that came out of Egypt? Or is it one of confidence in God, and in His good plans for you and your family?

Are you willing to gain a Biblical vision for your family, that will bring confidence, hope and faith in God? Now is the time to gain that Biblical vision, and apply it for yourself, your family and your church. It’s within your reach, and is an essential part of “ruling and having dominion” in the service of Jesus Christ our King.

 

 

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.168-9.

[2] Derek Prince, “Husbands & Fathers,” 2000, p.86

[3] Rushdoony, ibid, p.86.

[4] Francis Schaeffer, “A Christian Manifesto,” 1981, p.19.

 

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