When I speak on the Christian family, I speak out of a special sense of conviction in my heart. It was my experience to learn of the love of God through believing parents in a Christian family. It was my experience to grow in the love of God in marriage with a believing wife, a gift of God, whom I cherish. And it is my experience to rejoice in the love of God in the gift of children within a Christian family. My experience has been the richest blessings of God to be found within a Christian home.
I am not telling you something new when I say that the attacks against the Christian family are legion. Even as the Lord inquired of the name of the devil who possessed the man who cut himself with stones and who lived among the tombs, and the devil responded, “My name is Legion,” so also the attack against the Christian family today is legion. Heading the attack is shameless, perverse, and wholesale sexual promiscuity. We read and hear of “safe sex” being advocated, of alternate life styles, of different sexual orientations. We live in a society which is saturated with fornication, with sexual-uncleanness before God, a world which is sold to lust, in which sex is open, accepted, advertised, and worshipped. It is this sexual promiscuity, sexual evil which constitutes a knife at the very throat of the family.
Following hard on the heels of that are marital breakdowns: divorce, remarriage. We live in a society which is also sold to self, to one’s own self-pleasing. And that always runs contrary to the demands of the family. We live in a day of day-care centers, where children are brought, rather than being brought up in the home. We live in a day when single-parent homes are common, and when it is thought that a marriage can be comprised of two homosexuals or two lesbians. Our day is a day of abuse, emotional and physical, of children; of neglect of children; of rejection of the traditional roles of a husband and wife; and of the rooting out of the biblical concept that the authority of the home is invested in the parents, the father and mother.
The result of all of these things and more is a nightmare for many in the family. Perhaps, personally, this is also your experience. We know that the family possesses the greatest potential for good in our life. But it also possesses the greatest potential for grief. The family touches our life at its nerve center. Perhaps your experience has been good under the blessing of God. But perhaps that experience has not been so good, so that the mention of the word family or marriage or parent or father puts a knot in your stomach and brings out anger and frustration and hurt.
Standing up against all of these attacks against the family is the Word and gospel of Jesus Christ that the Christian family is one of the greatest blessings purchased by His sufferings on the cross. The Bible reveals to us that God is pleased to care for us by placing us in families. Psalm 68:6 says that He places “the solitary in families.” And, again, Ephesians 3:15 tells us that God’s church is His family and that it is named after His Son Jesus Christ.
God is pleased to nurture our faith. He is pleased to show us His love within the context of a Christian family. He is pleased to mold our spiritual life, to comfort our sorrows, and to give us true happiness in a home, in a Christian family.
So we need to ask the question: How do I built a Christian family? Or better, in the words of Psalm 127, since we read in that Psalm that unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it, we need to ask the Lord, “Lord, build my home.”
In the building of a Christian family there are two things that are very important. When you go about building a house, you have to know, first of all, about the foundation upon which you build and, secondly, you have to be sure concerning the materials with which you build.
What is the only foundation upon which a home, a family, can stand? What are the foundations upon which you build? Jesus Christ, in Matthew 7, at the end of His wonderful sermon on the mount, said that there are only two possible foundations. One either builds his family-life upon the sand of man, upon the sand of refusing to submit and to subject oneself to the Word of Jesus Christ; or one builds upon the rock of the Word of God. Whosoever heareth and doeth these sayings of mine, Jesus said, I will liken unto a man who built his house upon a rock. The only foundation for family life, for the building of a Christian marriage or home, is the Word of God. Anything else is sand. If you build or base your idea of a family upon rationalism you are building upon sand. That is, if you make up your own mind, or if you consider current popular opinion to be the final bar of judgment, if you are building upon that, you are building upon sand. If you confront your home problems and marital difficulties with the question, “Well, what do I (or you) think?” – if that is the way you go about building a Christian home, it is on sand.
And if that is the truth we might just as well quit, because my opinion is no better than yours, even though a “Rev.” is in front of my name. No, it must not be upon our opinion, not what we think.
Nor must family life be built upon pragmatism. That means that we would build our home upon whatever works. We would ask the question, “Well, what works? And if it works, then it must be OK.” No, that is sand, too. We do not build upon our own mind, we do not build upon our own experience or upon what simply works.
There is only one rock. And that rock is the Scriptures. Everyone that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken to a man who built his house upon the rock. What has God said? Our conviction must be that whatever God has said is absolute and final because God is absolute and final.
We must go about the building of a Christian home with the conviction that II Timothy 3:16 is true, namely, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is, therefore, profitable for doctrine, for instruction, for reproof, for correction that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Why should we get our principles for family living out of the Word of God? Because the Word of God is the inspired, spoken, and written Word of the living God who cannot lie. We must not take our principles for family living from our own heads, not from society, not even from tradition, but from God, from His Scriptures, from the Bible.
We live in a day of experts. There are all kinds of experts for everything conceivable: experts on family, on marriage, on child-rearing, etc. We read in Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” That means that a man may have a degree in psychology; he may have a degree in marital counseling; he may have a degree in child-development, but if he does not speak according to the Word of God, there is no light in Him. That is why it is criminal when the church undercuts the authority of the Bible. Then the church is acting criminally towards her families, her marriages, and her dependent children whom the Lord has entrusted to her care.
Whenever the church calls into question, whenever the church brings suspicion upon the Word of God and begins to say, “Well, yes, the Word of God is very important and, yes, it is God’s Word, but you know that not everything it says is to be believed, not everything that it says is actually correct, because through our findings of science or culture or other things we have found out that there are certain mistakes or certain prejudices in the Bible that we have to discard.” Whenever the church does that it is not only attacking the honor of God as He has His honor in His Word, but that church is attacking the very foundation upon which a Christian family is to be built. And it is attacking the foundation which stands under the feet of every child in that church. Instead of building then, the church of Jesus Christ is removing the foundation from the home.
And when the home falls, when marriages fall, when children go forth wandering and wondering where to go and what to do and having no fixed, settled principles from the Word of God in their heart, then that church stands guilty before God. Jesus said in John 12:48, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
Everything in the Christian home must be built upon the foundation of God’s Word. Why should children obey their parents? Why should husbands love their wives? There is no satisfactory answer other than this: What does God’s Word say? Is that what God says? Then that is the sure foundation upon which you must stand.
I was saying that when we build a Christian home we must not only be sure of its foundation, but we must also be sure as to the materials that we use to build upon that foundation. Those materials which we must use must be an intelligent, believing grasp of the biblical principles on the family.
The materials with which we build a Christian home are those biblical principles that we must elicit, draw forth from the Bible in an intelligent manner. That means that we know them in our minds, and out of believing hearts we seek to put those principles into practice in our family life.
I mentioned a moment ago that we live in a society of experts. But we also live in what may be called a “how-to” society. Everything must be made “user friendly.” We look for a manual on everything. We even look for a manual on family problems, family difficulties, marriage difficulties, perhaps communication with teenagers. What we would like is to have this big, thick manual and just page through it and come to page 93 and find the answer to our problem.
That is not the biblical approach. The biblical approach is that we must go to the Word of God to learn those existing principles and then, with a believing heart, put those principles into action in our own home. If we are looking for a thick manual in which we can simply turn to a page to find the answer and not involve our own prayer and our own struggle and our own searching of the Word of God as a family, then we are lazy! Then we would be good Roman Catholics who want simply an authoritative church structure to tell them all that they must believe and not worry about anything else.
No, it must be the biblical principles taught in the Word of God on the family, on marriage, on child-rearing, and on authority.
I would like to bring out an example of this from the Bible, in the life of Jesus Himself. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 19. You will see that Jesus drives to the principle to answer the question that is brought to Him about the family, and more specifically, about marriage. The Jews came to Jesus and wanted a detailed answer to their problem. In fact, what they wanted to do was involve Jesus in a controversy that they had among themselves. And, of course, they wanted to find something in Jesus to criticize. The question that the Jews had among themselves was this: What constitutes justifiable cause for divorce? There was a difference among them as to whether it had to be a rather weighty matter, some serious thing, or whether it could be for a husband simply that the wife, for whatever reason, no longer pleased him, whether it was her hair or the way she cooked the food, or whatever it may be. That was the question they put to Him. What did the Lord do? He drove them back to the principles, to the beginning. He says, Have ye not read that in the beginning God made them one, that two became one; that a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife? The Lord brought them back to the principle found in Genesis 2:24 that God constituted a marriage of one man and one woman and that He said that these two were to cleave to each other. And, Jesus adds, what therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder. You have to understand what marriage is before you can answer that question. Marriage is the life-long bond that God makes between one man and one woman.
They did not like that. So they said to Him, as we read in that chapter, “Ah, but didn’t Moses say that you could give your wife a writing of divorcement?” And Jesus said, “Yes, but Moses did that out of the hardness of your hearts. And, further, from the beginning it was not so!” The Lord is saying to them that if they understood the nature of marriage they would find it unthinkable to put aside their wife for those petty reasons. The Lord is teaching us that if we are to live in marriage or in the family we must go back to the Scriptures and must understand those principles, specifically here that it is a life-long bond to reflect the bond of God with His church. As God loves His church faithfully and to the end, so must a husband and wife love each other and bring up their children in such a bond. That is the teaching of the Scriptures. That is very plain. That is undeniable from the Scriptures.
Ninety-five percent of our problems, if not more, are solved when the principles of the Word of God exist in a believing, loving, intelligent heart. Marriage problems, problems with children, parent/child relationships – we need to know with a believing heart the living principles, yes, the doctrines of the Word of God.
You say, but I do not feel like doing that. That is a lot of work! But that is the calling of the child of God. Do you wish to build a Christian home? Do you wish to build such a home for the glory of God, for the well-being of your children, for your own joy and happiness? Then go to the Word of God. Learn those solid, biblical, true principles.
In Philippians 3:14 the apostle Paul said, This one thing I do, “I press toward the mark.” So also we must press to apply the biblical truths to our life.
Next week we will return to this subject and look a little at what the Bible has to say about the relationship of a husband and wife, as that, too, is very foundational and basic to a Christian home.
Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, we pray that we may indeed build our homes upon the foundation of Thy Word, and that we may erect our homes with the materials of the principles of that Word. Drive those principles into our hearts that we might believe them, that we might understand them, and then that we might practice them in our life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.