Is it right to call one father in the Lord?


Q: Jesus was speaking in Matt. 23:8-10 and then said don’t call anyone on earth your father, because we all have the same Father in heaven.

-So is it wrong to call someone your father in the Lord?

– The whole father in the Lord thing and the kind of reverence and the notion that the pastor can’t be wrong and must not be questioned syndrome, isn’t that tantamount to placing a man like God?

– how did all these start, is it a cultural stuff mixed with honour and spirituality, because I’ve seen that the westerners seem freer in dealing with and relating with their pastors as compared to most people down here?


The first way to go about this is to ask yourself this question objectively, “If Mathew 23:8-10 means what it is commonly interpreted to mean, how come many of the Apostles were called spiritual father or called people their spiritual children? Did they not know that Jesus made that statement?” Paul called Timothy his son (2 Timothy 2:1-2, Phillipians 2:19-20) as well as several others (1Cor 4:13, Gal 4:19) and so did Peter (1 Peter 5:13). This should go a long way to tell you that there must be more to Matthew 23:8.

Upon careful study, you will easily discover that the context (the preceeding verses) was referring to the Pharisees and Saducees, and because they were hypocrites, blocking people from entering the Kingdom of heaven, none of them should be called father. Fatherhood is recognized in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As such, no man outside Christ should be called spiritual father.

Comparing the way Westerners go about their relationship will be a little misleading. It is a cultural thing. For instance, they call their parents by name, but we don’t. The idea is this, the bible commands us to esteem those who labour in word and doctrine highly. So, in the context of culture, we must honour men of God the way we know how to.

However, our number one loyalty should always go to the word of God. Where a man of God appears to be making you do something extrabiblical, you can respectful refuse to. Your honour for men of God is ‘In Christ’. Outside Christ or his word, we are expected to be smart.

Notwithstanding, the fact that some men of God abuse the privilege of their office will not justify those who choose not to honour men of God. We are instructed to honour them and we will.


Q: I gave my life to Christ at the turn of the New Year, precisely on 31st hoping to turn a new leaf as a result of this step. Before now, I have been involved in so many vices, so many which I have tried all my best possible to stop, from addictions to hateful behaviors and so many hurtful things which still taunt my imagination day and night. I heard someone say just after I gave my life to Christ that I am a new creature in Christ and that everything was now new. I searched that portion in my Bible and found it to be true. Please how then do I stop all these behaviors and end it for good… I have tried, even after my conversion to stop, but the thoughts, the urges etc. are still as strong as they used to be, please what can I do?


I often share three biblical steps with believers who have a similar challenge as you. All three are very important.

a) Acknowledge: This point simply says “Acknowledge that you are a new man”. You appear to be on track with this one. When a man believes the gospel, he is a new man altogether ‘in his spirit’ (2Cor 5:17). The bible says it and it is true. No matter the challenges that appear to contradict what the bible says in the life of that new believer, he must insist on what the word of God says. This is what the fight of faith is about. You are what God says you are. You are quickened! Once you were dead ‘IN’ sin, now you are dead to sin (Ephesians 2:1-3, Colossians 3:1-3). Believe and confess this regularly

b) Fellowship: You see, inasmuch as you are a new person in your spirit when you come to Christ, your mind and body remain pretty much the same. This appears to be the problem you have. What you need to do is to then renew your mind with the word of God, and present your body to God. How can you achieve this? Fellowship with the brethren. Many Christians try to stand alone whereas, fellowship with the brethren is designed to provide you the accountability and encouragement to live the life that God has called you to live. Hebrews 10: 24-25 says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”.

Fellowship with the brethren protects you from backsliding; Gal 6: 1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

c) Walk: We have been given a remarkable assurance in the scriptures and it goes thus: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” Galatians 5:16. It turns out your flesh is not as irresistible as you have thought. You have just been going about it the wrong way. A Christian who doesn’t cultivate the habit of praying and reading his bible regularly and complains about challenges in his walk with God is like a man who hasn’t eaten in three days and is surprised that he feels weak. It’s funny what we expect. We have been trying to stop habits and have failed. This is because the issue is not really with our habits, but with the absence of a culture that could have been it impossible for the habits to thrive. If I am fulfilling the lust of the flesh, it is because I am not walking in the spirit. No strategy for fighting lust will be as powerful as simply walking in the spirit. Begin to take morning devotion seriously. Study your bible every day. Fast occasionally. Pray daily and fervently. If you do not pray, you will fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41). It’s plain simple. Now the reason why the previous point on fellowship is relevant to this point is that fellowship provides you the accountability and encouragement that will help you create and keep a culture of walking in the Spirit, which will in turn help you win the battle against habits.


Q: I have been concerned for a while after I heard some teachings on spiritual growth, these so much on what to do to grow spiritually, however, I’m in doubt as to how well I am growing since… I’m not aware of how I could measure it.  I know it is a spiritual thing, yes, but could there be things or indices to measure how well I am doing spiritually? What is or what are the indicators of growth in the Spirit? 

I am persuaded that the number one indices for measuring spiritual growth is revelation knowledge. Paul says so:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: THAT WE HENCEFORTH BE NO MORE CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” Ephesians 4:11-14

How much of what Christ has done do you know and understand? Do you know the gospel so well that you cannot be beguiled by any message that sounds like it but is not it? This is the primary indices.


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Pst. Emmanuel Iren

Pastor Emmanuel Iren is the Lead Pastor of Celebration Church - a fast growing church in Lagos Nigeria Africa. He has a passion for helping people grow and 'go'.

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