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A Father's Heart

"14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. 21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?"
I Corinthians 4:14-21 

Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship!
We're so glad you're here

Today's Message: A Father's Heart

Let's bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father, 

Thank You for those who have been strong enough in their faith, in their love for others, to disciple and discipline us when we need it. And we know, that some of us have failed miserably in this area of really being all that we should as spiritual fathers. Lord, we would ask that somehow you would help us to see the error of our ways and guide us to make some fresh, renewed commitments in our hearts to be what we ought, to seek others out and to bring them to Jesus, to beget them and to love them, admonish them, and help us to set an example for them, teach them, discipline them in a way that they might grow and mature spiritually. Father, may it be, that we have such disciples who can go for us and even in the place of Jesus Christ. 
We pray this in His name

Open with me, if you will, your Bibles, to the book of I Corinthians chapter 4, in our ongoing study of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. I hope that you are having a wonderful time, as I am, in our study of I Corinthians, and I believe that our Lord has really been teaching us some very, very essential, fundamental things for our Christian Life, I hope that you agree.

One of the essential characteristic of a Christian leader is found in verses 14 and 15, "I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
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In the four chapters of Paul's letter that we’ve been studying, Paul has really been firing away at the Corinthian church. He has spoken boldly against their carnality, against their pride, against their love of human wisdom, against their sectarian spirit, their division, arguments over which preacher they like the best, who was more spiritual, preached better and so on.

However, in verses 14 to 21, Paul really tells them why he is so stern and why he is so strong and why he feels that he must speak with such conviction. And the reason is because he sees himself as their father spiritually. His purpose was not to humiliate the them. And, as with any good father, Paul admonishes them to correct this fundamental error in spirit and behavior. They may have many teachers to help them grow but there is only one person that is their founder. There was something unique in the relationship they had with Paul. Paul is showing the loving concern of a father. He loves them enough to correct them.

Now, I will tell you when I deal sternly with my children and I do, on occasion, have to deal with them sternly, I deal strongly with their mistakes and I deal lovingly with their lives, I often struggle diligently to conform them to the things I believe in, it is because I am their father and it is because I have great love for them. And as it says in 3 John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." As I'm sure most of you already know, it's not always easy, especially in this day in which we're living, however, it's always necessary to guide your children to walk in truth.

"How are you?" How many times in a day or week do you suppose that you ask that question or have it asked of you? It’s actually an intimate question. We’re not asking something that is peripheral like, "How tall are you?" or "What did you eat this morning?" No, we ask how is the person doing. I know the question has really become an unthinking habit for most of us, one of social grace. And, let's be honest, we don't really want to know how someone is really doing. What we want is a token response of "I'm good" or "I'm fine."

In fact, the question captures the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule that is based on Jesus’ command to "love one another as yourself."
A Christian leader is to express the care of a father for his child. It’s another example of focusing away from himself to others and his Lord. The people who impact us are those who really care to know how we are. Leaders initiate love.

In verses 16 and 17, here is another characteristic of the Christian leader, which is example.
We as parents know that children learn from observing the example of their parents. Children not only need to be taught not to lie, they need to see their parents tell the truth. One of the great needs in our day is for those who profess the truth of the Christian faith to connect it to their conduct.
Nobody is perfect, but every Christian parent is to live in such a way that he can say to his children, “Follow my example.” This is so important to Paul that he is sending Timothy to help them connect truth to behavior. If Paul could come, he would. Since he can’t, he is sending the next best thing, Timothy. That’s how important it is that they obey what they were taught.

There are some things we can learn from our text. You can program your TV or assemble a bicycle by reading the instructions. But has anyone ever seen a book by the title How to Ride a Bicycle? Nearly every one that I know that knows how to ride a bicycle, had some kind of help from training wheels and the steadying hand of a parent. In the medical community before a student of medicine is turned loose to perform all kinds of medical diagnosis and procedures, they require an internship under a tutor. If you want to learn to become an artist, unless you are naturally gifted, you usually sign up for a instructional class with someone, who is going to show you how the techniques of how to paint.

And of course, you can read your Bible and learn much about God. However, there are things about God you will never learn in isolation. You need the fellowship of the church to model the breadth of the love of God and length of his forgiveness.
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One of my concerns is our young adults who are wanting to build Christian families. All of them want a Christian family, however, a good many of them have never seen a Christian family. They have an idea, a concept of what a Christian family is supposed to be like, yet they are trying to do something that many of them have never seen in practice. That’s not just difficult, it is nearly impossible. They need to see families that have combined Christian truth with Christian conduct. They need to be involved in a church where the congregation and the leaders live out the truth of Christian families. Therefore, I believe, it is essential, that in this present day and age,  that it is absolutely necessary for Christian leaders to set an example of obedience to the Word and in truth.

Paul concludes with a warning to the troublemakers (v. 18). The emphasis in v. 19-20 is on the certainty of his coming and not the exact time of return. He wants to know if these troublemakers are demonstrating the true power of God to save and change lives.

He uses one more father-child metaphor. I know that many parents have, at one time or another, said something like this to their child, "Are you going to behave or do I need to spank you?" Paul is asking if this letter and Timothy will be enough to correct their arrogant spirit and bad behavior or will he need to discipline them when he arrives? His motive is still love but his manner will change if necessary.

Consider your spiritual father. Who was it that led you to Jesus Christ? It was your spiritual father. That’s what Paul is talking about. You may have 10,000 instructors. And the word here is, paidagōgos, including the word for a child and the idea of training a child, was not a teacher. A paidagōgos was a slave who was given the responsibility of the moral guardianship of a child, walking them to and from school, guiding the child in moral matters and decision making. So the word used here, depicts a moral guardian. Paul paints a magnificently beautiful picture of the ministry of a spiritual father. Nowadays, preachers are to be spiritual fathers, however, allow me add this critical point, so is every other Christian.

Since Paul doesn't specifically list the characteristics of a spiritual father, he doesn't say, here a list is what I do, but he rather lists them by implication, meaning we sort of need to draw them out of the text. So, number one, the mark of a spiritual father is that he begets. He begets.

In verse 15, "For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel," you have a lot of teachers, "not many fathers. No, for in Christ Jesus, I alone have begotten you through the gospel." Paul says, "I am your spiritual father first of all because I led you to Christ." That is begetting. And really, that’s where being a spiritual father has to start.
A Christian is a living thing, and we know that one of the characteristics of a living thing is the ability to reproduce. And so, a Christian should be reproductive. Every believer should be a spiritual father in the metaphorical sense, meaning bringing some one to Christ. And, I can say from experience, when you lead someone to Jesus Christ, you tend to feel a greater degree of intimacy and sense responsibility toward that person. That is what Paul is getting at here, when he says, "I have begotten you."

"In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." God does the begetting through the Word. That is what James is saying in James 1:18

The second thing a spiritual father does, is he loves. So a spiritual father not only begets but he loves.
And we see that is verse 14, when Paul says, "I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children." The word he uses here is the word is "agapētos" from "agapaō," meaning the strongest kind of love, the deepest kind of love, not just brotherly love, not just phileō love, the kind of love that can only be measured by God.

Then the third characteristic for a spiritual father, is if we’re going to raise a spiritual child, is we admonish them. Again we see that in verse 14, "...but to admonish you as my beloved children." Paul wanted to bring some shame on them but only in a sense that he wanted them to go from shame to a change in their behavior.
In other words, Paul is saying, "My intention is not to destroy you, but to reclaim you, because I love you."

The word "admonish" simply means to criticize in love with a view toward a change. "Admonish" assumes a problem, it assumes a weakness, and it assumes a sin. And it is saying, "I see a problem, I see sin, I see a weakness, and I correct it in love so that you might be changed." When you see a spiritual child doing wrong, you have to admonish them, otherwise you damn him for it. And, if you genuinely love them, something in you cannot allow that to happen, so you have to correct them in love with a view toward a change of behavior, in mind. That's love.

The fourth characteristic of a spiritual father is, he is an example to his spiritual child. That what Paul is saying in verse 16, "Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me." Contrary the world view, "Do as I say, not as I do," Paul says, "Do what I do, follow my example." The implication here is I lead you to Christ, I love you, I want to make sure you're heading on the right path, so follow me.

I'll tell you this, the most difficult place to disciple is in your own home. It's often challenging to put on your foot forward, you're worn out, your tired and its easy to stumble. That’s why the Bible says that an elder or a leader in the church should have godly children. Why? Because it gives evidence of the truth of his ability to live the life. 

Then in verse 17, he says, "For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church." Wait! What? I want you to follow me, to do what I do, therefor I'm sending you Timothy? How does that even make sense? Allow me to explain, Paul had done such a job on rearing Timothy that sending Timothy was just like being there himself. He had raised Timothy as his spiritual son so well, that Timothy could stand in for Paul in his place. Let me tell you this, that is absolute epitome of spiritual fatherhood. That's as good as it gets beloved! You build spiritual children who then can go everywhere with the ministry. 
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I realize that in our current culture, this is not a popular concept, however, Christian leaders have the responsibility to call God’s people to repentance. So, what I want to focus on is Paul’s assertion that Christian leaders are to exhibit spiritual power. The claims of the troublemakers simply will not hold up to this test. That is the power of God exhibited through a Christian leader.

All of us need to experience the power of God at work in applying the truth of God to our lives. Some have a habit that binds and burdens them. God has a power to break the chains of that habit. Some have fears that steal their peace and joy. God has a power to bring such peace that it defies explanation.

Wherever it is that you are feeling today, be it weak or defeated, God has the power to take the truth of His Word and make it come alive in your life. If the power of God is stronger than death, it is certainly strong enough for you and in the area where you need power.
So Paul says in verses 18 through 21,"Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?"

Christian leadership in sacrificial and exemplary service to God and His people.
Since everybody who is a Christian was led to Christ by somebody. Then, why aren’t we all spiritually mature? Because that someone who led us to Christ or some one else along the way, hasn’t cared enough to bring us to that spiritual place, because they haven’t been willing to discipline us when we needed it. I speak for myself, of course, however, I am truly grateful for those who have been willing to discipline me spiritually, and for those who still are. That's how we grow as Christians! That's how we mature spiritually.
The Christian life is supposed to be about Jesus and His message. The essential characteristics are a faithful steward, a humble devotion to Christ, love for others, living as an example, and spiritual power. When we build those characteristics into our life God can bless us and use us to bless others.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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