June 22, 2017

A Christian Father

Ben Strohbehn

A father was one day teaching his little boy what manner of man a Christian is. When the lesson was finished, the father was stunned when the boy asked, faith-for-the-family“Daddy, have I ever seen a Christian?” Undoubtedly many children today are asking this same question of their own fathers. So let’s face it, Dad, what kind of example are you as a Christian father? And what are you using as a guide to successful parenthood? Are you being influenced by today’s changing social structure — a change that has produced Women’s Lib and the feminizing of the male? Or are you being guided by the clear, authoritative teaching of God’s Holy Word? These two views are poles apart. There is a definite need to set forth the traits of a Christian father — traits that are gleaned from some of the outstanding men in Scripture.

A Christian father ought to be a man of position like Abraham. Genesis 18:19 says: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” This verse contains three significant statements setting forth Abraham as a man of position. First, “I know him” — Abraham’s acquaintance. Scripture designates Abraham as “the friend of God” (James 2:23). In a most definite sense, God treats Abraham as a trusted friend. In the passage in Genesis, the Lord reveals His purposes of judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham, as He seems to consider it unworthy to conceal His design from His friend Abraham. How often we hear the statement, “It isn’t what you know, but who you know.” And isn’t that what this passage of Scripture is saying, that it’s important for a Christian father to be acquainted with the Lord even as was Abraham, and to be able to enter into personal communion with Him?

Next, the Bible says of Abraham “that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” — Abraham’s authority. A man of position not only must be acquainted with God, but he must have the authority to direct his household in the ways of righteousness and truth. The Lord places great value on early spiritual training. He knew that Abraham would faithfully carry out the training of his family, not in the dictatorial tones of a tyrant, but by the power of a consistent life. Why is it that the children of some religious parents go back to the world? Is it because their parents have not provided a consistent pattern of the Christian life? Is it because parents have attempted to delegate to others the spiritual training of children forgetting that the Sunday School is designed to supplement, not supplant, home training? Remember, Dad, God is holding you accountable for the spiritual training of your children (Ephesians 6:4). He observes how you “command” your children and whether they “keep the way of the Lord.”

Finally, note Abraham’s accomplishment — “that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” God made the bestowment of blessings contingent upon the faithful discharge of duty. If Abraham had not been faithful in his communion with the Lord and consistent in the training of his household, his name would have died out, and there would have been no continuation of the narrative of his devoted life and his loyalty to the divine promises. Follow Abraham’s influence through Isaac to Jacob, who likewise cherished the promises and handed them on to his sons. The Jews preserved the knowledge of the One Who is the Saviour of the world. All this, however depended on the right training of Isaac. How clearly this demonstrates the importance of every father’s being a man of position with God, for God, and under God (I Corinthians 11:3).

A Christian father ought to be a man of passion like Jacob. The ideal Christian father is a man whose life is characterized by love; he is a man who endeavors to fulfill the expectation of Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” The Bible, in Genesis 29:20, describes Jacob as such a man: “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her.” In this verse, we see not the man of cunning devices, but one full of pure, self-sacrificing love. Although we do not admire all about the man Jacob, yet in this incident we are made conscious of the appreciation Jacob had for his future bride.

Every father and husband should heed the admonition so well expressed by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:14: “And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.” The Amplified Bible says love “binds everything together in ideal harmony.” Love is to be preeminent, “above all,” in our lives, our homes, our day-by-day relationships. God’s love as produced in the heart of the believer in Christ is to be given the place of priority, even above other Christian virtues. Love is also to be present, “put on.” Let love be seen “as the outer garment which holds others in their places.” Finally, love is to be permanent. “Love is the bond of perfectness.” It binds everything together completely in perfect harmony.

The greatest need is for every Christian father to demonstrate love, in his life and from his lips, being mindful that without love he is nothing (I Corinthians 13:2).

A Christian father ought to be a man of patience like Job. The Bible emphasizes patience as one of the outstanding qualities of life when it says: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” (James 5:11). Job was, indeed, a memorable example of patient endurance under troubles and unmerited reproaches. Patience is a trait to be sought by fathers who desire to be ideal Christian fathers.

However, patience seems not to be one of the outstanding virtues of some men. Having returned from a ride with his father, a little boy remarked to his mother, “We passed two idiots, three morons, four silly fools, and I don’t know how many knotheads. “

On the other hand, there are fathers, even like Job, who not only possess patience themselves, but also successfully teach it to their children. Many years ago a farmer had an unusually fine crop of wheat. Just a few days before it was ready to harvest, there came a terrible hail and wind storm. The entire crop was destroyed. After the storm was over, the farmer, with his little son, went out on the porch. The little boy looked at what was formerly the beautiful field of grain, and then with tears in his eyes he looked up at his dad, expecting to hear words of despair. All at once his father began to sing softly, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.” Years after, the little boy, grown to manhood, said, “That was the greatest sermon I ever heard.” The farmer lost a crop of wheat, but perhaps that was the turning point in the boy’s life. He saw in practice the faith and patience of a godly father.

A Christian father ought to be a man of perception like David. The Bible says that “David prepared abundantly before his death” (I Chronicles 22:5). The context of this verse speaks of King David’s helping in the preparations for the building of the temple, a task which the Lord had delegated to Solomon. Although David had expressed a desire to build the temple, that was not to be his privilege; however, he could at least provide necessary materials for the ultimate building of the temple.

All other times in his life, King David “prepared abundantly before his death.” Hear him as he instructs Solomon before the congregation of Israel: “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (I Chronicles 28:9, 10).

Hear David, just prior to his own death, as again he prepares Solomon: “Now the days of David drew near that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man” (I Kings 2:1,2).

Now hear what Solomon says concerning David’s attention to preparing abundantly before his death: “For I was my father’s son … He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live” (Proverbs 4:3-4).

What then, can we conclude about the perception of David? His concern was not so much in teaching his family “how to make a living, but rather how to live,” as Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., used to say. But even more important than that, David had prepared himself for his eternal destiny. No other man in history has had the reputation of being known as a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14). But so much for King David. What about you, Dad? Have you prepared your own soul for eternity? Have you personally accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Have you instructed your family in the way of salvation? Certainly every Christian father will want to be a man of perception like David.

A Christian father ought to be a man of prayer like Elijah. The Bible says “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Why don’t Christian fathers pray? Too busy? Yes, that’s often the excuse, but wasn’t it Martin Luther who said that he had so many things to do today that he must begin by spending three hours in prayer? Perhaps the biggest problem is that prayer is not given the priority it deserves. Men apparently still doubt that “prayer is the means whereby we accomplish God’s work on the earth,” and yet this is the principle by which God has blessed the ministry of Dr. Ford Porter, author of “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation,” the tract that has been used of God to bring thousands to the Saviour.

Elijah is one of the many examples of men of prayer in the Bible. Read what is recorded concerning his prayer life in James 5:17-18: “He prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” Elijah knew the power of prayer.

Hear also the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (I Timothy 2:8). Dad, there is power in prayer when men pray without defilement or doubting!

The Apostle Peter also mentions that answered prayer is contingent upon a proper husband-wife relationship, with the greatest responsibility for this proper relationship resting upon the husband. Peter says, “likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (I Peter 3:7).

A Christian father ought to be a man of purity like Daniel. How vital is purity in the life of a Christian father! Yet how many men have succumbed to the wiles of the Devil, have accepted the philosophy of this age of permissiveness, and their lives and homes’ have been shipwrecked. May God give us men like Daniel who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself’ (Daniel 1:8). Dad, remember that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). In other words, Dad, you could be Satan’s next victim unless you “resist steadfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:9); unless you “flee also youthful lusts” (II Timothy 2:22); unless you “abstain from fornication” (I Thessalonians 4:3); unless you “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18); unless you “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

Our nation needs to see Christian fathers who are committed to lives of purity. Dad, purpose in your heart not to defile yourself.

A Christian father ought to be a man of principle like Paul. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., used to say that “every successful man he ever met had at some time in his life come under the dominating power of a great truth.” This applies to Christian fathers too. But to those fathers who yet have to take a particular principle for their lives, may I suggest the principle of the Apostle Paul as stated in Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” A principle such as this will enable you to be a man of position like Abraham, a man of passion like Jacob, a man of patience like Job, a man of perception like David, a man of prayer like Elijah, a man of purity like Daniel, and a man of principle like Paul.


This article was originally published in Faith for the Family, November/December 1973. It is republished here by permission.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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