Fathers, We Need You!
Revival is a mighty work of God where he saves the lost and sanctifies the saved in surprising numbers. This message has been boldly proclaimed for weeks as our church continues to preach through the book of Acts. Here at First Baptist, we have been praying that God would do this mighty work in our congregation, and in the city of Jacksonville, all for his glory. We want to see every man, woman, and child come to know and follow Jesus Christ as Lord. However, in order for revival to happen, we need godly fathers who will stand up and lead their families in worshiping our great Savior.
Now, please hear me, we also need godly mothers, single women, single men, teens, grandparents, great grandparents, and everyone else in between to be engaged. Revival is a work of God that involves all the people of God. Yet I am taking this opportunity, the day after Father’s Day, to write as a father to fathers in order to remind us of our biblical marching orders as those who have been entrusted by God with the leadership and care of our families. One can argue that strong churches are made up of strong families, and strong families are led by strong, godly fathers. Which is why I can say to have a revival at First Baptist that will reach all of Jacksonville, it must include fathers who catch the vision of what it means to be a loving leader in their home. Thankfully the Bible has a lot to say about what fathers are to be and to do, and the Apostle Paul provides a model to follow.
Paul wrote two letters to the church in Thessalonica, a church that started a revival (1 Thessalonians 1:3-8)! Within the first letter Paul explains his approach to ministry with this church as he writes, “You are witness, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Paul uses the analogy of a father with his children to describe how he cared for and led this church, giving men today a clear picture of what a godly father looks like, fathers who stoke the flames of revival.
As to character, Paul says that he and his team were holy, righteous, and blameless. This is the sine qua non of godly fathers and godly families. Dads must lead by example in what it means to put off sin, be renewed in the spirit of the mind, and put on righteousness (Ephesians 4:22-24). Men, what this means is that if you are struggling with sin, whether anger, sexual immorality, or laziness, you must cast off the desires of the flesh and walk in Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). Our church has many resources at your disposal to help you in this fight. All you need to do is ask. Your family needs you!
When it comes to conduct, Paul gives us a model to emulate for how fathers are to live with and lead their families. First, Paul said that he exhorted his spiritual children of this church. When it comes to fathers, this is one who comes alongside his children for the purpose of guiding and directing with wise counsel as he implores right living. Fathers are to exhort their families toward godliness. A great way to accomplish this is through family discipleship, which can be informal conversations in the car and around the dinner table as you biblically evaluate the issues of life, or more formal as you set a time each week for your family to get together to pray, read the Bible, and apply the truth to life. A great resource that can get you started is Family Worship by Donald Whitney.
Next, as a spiritual father, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, because fathers are to be encouragers. The emphasis here is the kindness and compassion that comes when you know your child is experiencing difficulty, or even failure in life, and you bring comfort to uplift the one who is struggling. This is the father who takes the time to have ongoing conversations with his son about sexual purity, or the dad who takes his daughter out for a coffee date to talk about life and helps her think biblically about a difficult friendship at school.
Finally, Paul gave a charge to his spiritual children, which is the same charge that all fathers must give, “to walk in a manner worthy of God” (v. 12b). What Paul envisions here is a father who knows the godly path for his children and provides the bold guidance that is needed. This charge is built off the character spoken of in verse 10. Paul and his team proved to be men of righteous character who lived to please the Lord, and he now tells this church to follow his example. A father cannot pass on what he does not possess, which means that Paul’s charge would be an empty boast if he were not godly. Fathers must be godly, and they must challenge their families to follow in their footsteps. Richard Philip’s The Masculine Mandate is a great recourse for growth in this area.
We have been praying for a revival in our church. Our city needs a revival, that mighty work of God where he saves the lost and sanctifies the saved in surprising numbers. What this means is that fathers, we need you! Your family needs you, and your church needs you! May the fathers of First Baptist live holy lives as they faithfully lead their families.