By David Stahl

I recently had three emails shot gunned to me from an older fellow I recently met. Now I am not going to go into the fellow, but in one the fellow’s emails he mentioned, “due to my maturity in God I am a father in the LORD.” Now this fellow is a nice, stately, older man (really do not know him that well), very busy for God (maybe too busy), but older than I so I will respect him, but his statement really struck me odd. I thought how does one become a father in the LORD? What are the scriptural qualifications one must accomplish for God to be called a father? Do we have to be in service to the LORD for a certain amount of time, give a certain amount of money, or do mighty miracles, signs and wonders? I looked in the Bible and could NOT find any qualifications or requirements one must master to earn this title. Now I know where he and many in the church get this title. I cannot believe how title hungry some Christians can be. The push for knowledge, degrees, and such (in some circles) over revelation is very sad to me. After all the Holy Spirit said He will teach (see John 14:26) us all things. But back on thought. In 1 Corinthians Paul was chiding the Church at Corinth to pay attention, to “take heed” to themselves for they were not learning the lessons and teachings he brought them when he established the Church at Corinth and now he is coming back so he was scolding them for their wavering from the truth and their mixing of other religions with the Gospel message. Paul writes, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:14-16) Paul said of the Church at Corinth they gathered together for the worse than the better. Paul again writes, “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.” (1 Corinthians 11:17) They had every gift of the Spirit in operation, yet they were filled with strife, division, self-serving ambition, ungodliness, and great perversion. Paul was NOT telling the people to call him a spiritual father oh no, Paul was using an analogy, drawing into contrast the requirements for a son to learn from his earthly father. From this one verse (and maybe others) countless Christians think of themselves as spiritual fathers to other Christians whose light may not be as bright as theirs. After all if we can find another Christian whose light is not as bright as ours, well that makes our light even brighter. Sadly we see things in the Bible that appeal to our flesh and project them into our walk with the LORD and with our brothers and sisters. Who would not want

(not me) to have many spiritual children under their wing? Those babes in the LORD who lack initial guidance to get their feet on the ground. Heck you can even get money for this. The church (but we really know we are the church) of today is obsessed with titles such as being a Father in the LORD, positions, functions, and duties. Many Christians try to see how many letters they can get before and after their names. As if God is impressed with our degrees and accomplishments. I am sure when we stand before the LORD on judgment day (and we all will) He is not going to call us by our titles and degree. The only thing God is impressed with is our ability in Him to lower and humble ourselves before Him and our brothers and sisters in humility. In Romans Paul gives great advice to the Church at Rome and we should take heed to it also, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) The biggest title we can have in God is to be called a nobody. My friend the way up is down. The lower we can go in God the higher we can go in God. Jesus had a few titles while on earth, but never a father in the LORD or any title most Christians would like to identify with. Jesus had great titles like, “son of sorrows” or “son of man.” In Luke we read, “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. ” (Luke 9:57-59) “No place to lay his head” who wants to follow someone with no place to live? Most Christians want a big home, nice car, good job, and all the distracters of life. At least this guy was honest he did not have the heart and stomach to follow Jesus. I wonder how many Christians would like to identify with these words here of Christ? I cannot believe how fast some Christians become Bishops. In the Catholic Church it takes many many years of dedicated service, but in Protestant churches just start one new church somewhere and BAM you are a Bishop. This is really big in Africa. Funny I looked in the Bible at the qualifications to be a Bishop and I found nothing about starting churches. Paul writes to Timothy (who was not a Bishop), “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7) If you look at the words: elder, deacon, bishop, and teacher are all basically the same word used in the same context. Pastor (in KJV) is only used one time (Jeremiah 17:16) Strong’s # H7462 and means; companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman. And the word “pastors” (in KJV) is found 8 times (seven times in Jeremiah) and once in Ephesians Strong’s #G4166 with the same meaning. I think we need to remember the warning, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; I am sure when we stand before God He will not call us elder, deacon, bishop, teacher, preacher, minister, first lady, or pastor, but He will be looking for the qualities of Himself in us, He will be looking to see if we have learned the lessons He has been trying to teach us, if not we may enter in, but we will suffer loss. Again I do not see how a Christian graduates from being just a plain Jane, lowly Christian to become an apostle or prophet. Again there is no qualifications in the Scripture for this, but I can tell you how the folks (not sure if I can call them all Christians) I know who call themselves an apostle or prophet became apostles and prophets, they were made an apostle or a prophet by another person who call themselves an apostle or a prophet. Something is not right here. Man cannot bestow God’s spiritual authority. Man may be able to ordain someone into a denomination from a certain Bible School or organization, but man cannot ordain another man with God’s spiritual authority. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul was pleading with the Church at Ephesus for unity (because they were not in unity) he was NOT defining the five-fold ministries of a church. Read the context of entire 32 verses of the chapter, feel Paul’s heart for the dysfunction. Paul writes, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12) Paul was not talking about offices, but attributes that need to be found in the functions of a Spirit filled Body of Christ. He (being God) gave “some” who, “some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” for the Body of Christ. Paul is not talking about offices and duties (where you can get a job and make money), but qualities and attributes that must be operating in people for the Body of Christ to be in unity. We see the same message to the Church at Corinth, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all

workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:28-31) The “some” are people (not titles or offices religion does this) who have the attributes and qualities of God to edify the Body of Christ in these areas. After “teachers” (no evangelist or pastors here) are miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” They do not sound like titles or offices to me. If Paul was establishing offices and titles in the Body of Christ he forgot two major functions. Paul even corrects the Christians at the Church in Corinth, ” Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” Sounds like what is going on today in most churches. I guess it is true there is nothing new under the sun. Now do these happen in the Body of Christ? Yes absolutely 100% and they need too. God has provided to every child that comes unto Him the ability to do these things 24/7 and more if they desire to walk in obedience to God. The requirement and qualifications to be able to flow in these spiritual qualities and attributes will take us to the school of hard knocks (what I like to call the wilderness) so He can knock us down, break us so He can fix us, but when we stand up in God we will have something to give of eternal value. Am I a father in the LORD? I would say no. I have been walking with the LORD for over 58 years at differing degrees, but that does not make me a father in the LORD only “some” one who needs to be more humble and open to God. Anyhow Jesus told us not to go after such things. In Matthew he said, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:9-12)