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Family 101–The Woman

The last post discussed, in generalities, the responsibilities of the man, Adam. We saw that the man had many responsibilities and rightfully so, as he was to display the glory and image of God (1 Corinthians 11:7). These responsibilities, as demonstrated before, have not been changed, nor have they been abrogated by the fall, progress of revelation, or time. They are just as expected of men today as they were of Adam the day he was created.

Women also have responsibilities. It might seem that men supersede women or that somehow men are more important than women by stating that Adam was made to bear the image and glory of God. To some, especially in our woman-oriented, matriarchal, society, to say that man is the image and glory of God automatically assumes that women are not. And, once that is assumed, the assumption is also that the esteem of women and their worth are questioned. However, those assumptions indicate a lack of understanding concerning the instruction to women from Scripture. Therefore, to the degree that we must regain the basics concerning the man, we must also regain the basics concerning the woman as well. I believe this will be enlightening and invigorating for women in many ways.

The Creation of a Woman

God has now created the man. It is the middle of the day of day six of creation. The man has been given his instructions, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16). The man has also been made aware that he has no one to live with corresponding to himself (vv. 18-20). It is at this point that we pick up the narrative in order to examine the creation of the woman.

Verse 18 summarizes God’s purpose for the making of the woman: “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” God states here that it is not good for the man to be alone. Putting all emotion aside, the reason it is not good for man to be alone is because God is not alone (John 16:32). God consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity and existence with willful love for one another. All creation has been good up to this point because it has rightly represented the power and character of God as excellent and skillful (Proverbs 8:1ff.). However, since the man is to be the image and glory of God, and God is not alone, it is not good for man to be alone. Now, from that we also experience the fact that men need a wife for a variety of reasons (companionship, love, friendship, care of children, etc..). However, those things are auxiliary to the fact that a man cannot bear the image and likeness of God alone.

A woman, then, is created as an integral component of the life of the man, the image and glory of God. God will create another person who corresponds to the image of the man in order to provide for the man the capacity to replicate the glory of God, to her, to others, to God. At this point it becomes obvious that the honor of the woman and the glory of a woman is far greater than what is often thought. And, it is true that women are far too often treated as lesser-class citizens by rude, selfish, primate-like men who don’t know Christ, and some who do. In fact, whole societies can oftentimes rise up against women in order to beat her back and teach her a lesson (i.e. many in the Muslim world are becoming exposed as those who promote this thinking, and have, for centuries). The mere creation of a woman in order to compensate for the inability of the man to bear the image and likeness of God alone demonstrates God’s worthy and glorious purpose in the creation of this woman. She would complete for the man the ability to express the image of God, would be the recipient of the love of God and all His perfections of glory, and herself would be a glory to the man as well. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that the woman is the glory of a man (1 Corinthians 11:7). She completes God’s purpose in the creation of the man. Therefore, a woman who truly wants to be feminine in all that she does must comprehend these things and organize her life accordingly.

God makes Adam fall asleep. God takes a rib, with some flesh still attached, and from that material makes a woman. Now, much must be said about this. First of all, realize that God wanted to create a being for Adam (v.18 “…for him”). This being would not be unlike him (like the animals were), but like him. That is, she would correspond to him in likeness and image, so to speak. In Hebrew, the term “correspond” means “the front part” and it goes on to mean a picture, replica, or correspondence to something next to it (Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures [Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003], p. 530). That is, Adam and the woman, if both were to stand side-by-side, would have many similarities, or correspondence. That was God’s plan. And the pattern for the woman would be the man himself. The intent of God was to create a woman who would correspond to the man in many ways, and yet compliment the man in appropriate ways as well for God’s purpose. This is why it is very inappropriate to confuse the two, or try to make them the same- a man a woman or a woman a man. In the Law of Moses, it says, “

Deuteronomy 22:5

“A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

It is still an abomination today. The mixing of the sexes was not God’s design for His own glory. To confuse the two is to disregard the glory of God and reject His beauty (this is why, by the way, it is dishonorable for a man to have long hair-1 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The man now wakes up and sees this creation of God. I have always contended that she must have been the most beautiful woman to have ever walked this planet, and he the most handsome of men. His exclamation is appropriate:

Genesis 2:23

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,

And flesh of my flesh;

She shall be called Woman,

Because she was taken out of Man.”

Adam immediately understood that God created this woman from his own flesh and bone. How did he know this? Because there she was. That is, in the creation of everything, it would most make sense for that to be the case than for God to create from nothing, as He did Adam. Further, it would make sense that Adam would know that he was made to sleep for the first time for a reason. The man identifies the woman as one corresponding to himself and names her the feminine gender of the word for “man.” She is a picture of himself and made from his own body. This will become crucial later as we examine marriage itself.

Now, the man can be complete. Now, he is able to express the glory of God to this woman-His love, His unity, His joy, His justice, His commandment. The woman was not created for the man’s physical satisfaction. Although this aspect of marriage is crucial to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-5), it is not the primary motivation for the creation of the woman. The primary motivation is the completion of the glory of God in the man. This is why women are “for a man.” Most women desire to marry and to have a husband to loves her and cares for her. This is why.

Her Instructions

Now, having examined her creation, what does she do now? For that, we need to look at Genesis 1:28. In this verse, we see the man and the woman standing before God. They were both unclothed and there was no shame in that, neither was God ashamed. It was a glory, and is a glory, in marriage (Hebrews 13:4). And as they are presented before God as a newly created couple, they are given a charge. I have examined this before. However, as it relates to the woman, it is important to look at these instructions in relation to her responsibilities.

It would be nice if God gave a clear instruction to the woman as He did the man (Genesis 2:16-17). He did not. But, He did give instruction in Genesis 1:28 that sufficiently equips the woman of today in her responsibilities.

Genesis 1:28

28  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

We have already seen that the woman was created ultimately “for a man.” So, her priority is to be “for a man.” That is to say, a godly woman only is fulfilled when she is living for a man, her husband. She was designed and created for that purpose and that purpose has not changed. To love a husband, to like a husband, to be concerned for him, and to respond to him as he is the image and glory of God, is her greatest privilege and created purpose. She does not lose herself to him, she is herself most before God when she is “for” him.

And, this couple, now, have comprehensive instructions from God.

First, be fruitful. That is just what it sounds like. It is to bear fruit. This means to bear the product of something. It is a beautiful way of saying that the man and his wife are to make replicas of themselves. This is a direct reference to sexual intimacy, the ability that God has given to the man and the woman for enjoyment, intimacy of relationship, and child-bearing. Children are not produced any other way. And, the woman has been specifically created with the marvelous ability to bear a child. The intricacy of a woman’s ability to bear children is fantastic. She is a marvel in this aspect. Thus, the woman is innately given to love the fruit of her relationship with her husband. Just as the husband is called to organize his life provisionally in order to care for the “fruit” of the couple, so also the woman is to allow for this instruction in her heart.

Second, multiply. This is a term that refers to quantity. Fruitfulness indicates the actual act and product of the relationship. Multiply refers to the frequency. Obviously, bearing more than one child demands more than one encounter. It is in the context of a holy relationship, unmixed with shame, that God instructs the man and the woman to regularly engage in that which bears multiple fruit for them. It is important, here, to mention that God is the One who completes conception. David understood this in Psalm 139:13-16

 

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15  My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

Therefore, for a man and woman to multiply, there obviously requires intimacy. However, ultimately, the conception of the child in the womb is God’s decision (see Psalm 139:16 especially). The woman is uniquely given the ability to receive this marvelous work of God in her womb, which thereby completes the man in the sense that little images of him and her are created by them. This too is a glory and replica of the creative work of God. Or, to put it another way, God’s life-giving creation ability is given temporal expression by the ability of the man and his wife to conceive children. That is the joy, fruit, and reward of the Lord toward His own name as well as the man and his wife (Psalm 137:3-5).

Third, the result of fruit-bearing exponentially is that of filing the earth. This is exactly as it sounds. To fill the earth is to complete the earth. It is to inhabit the earth. It is to make it rich with people. Some of us pessimists might chagrin the idea of so many people. However, remember God’s intention in creation is the creation of a kingdom for the Son wherein He would have multiple brothers and sisters and the Father would have multiple children (Romans 8:28-30; Hebrews 2:9-14). These are the sons of God and they were God’s intention. So, to fill the earth with the sons of God is what is meant. However, Satan came along and introduced weeds, as it were, into the field and created tares (see Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43) hoping to destroy God’s intentions. He did not. He only accomplished them. So, there is a great need for godly parents to receive from God the conception of the sons of God, as it were, so that they might exist and have a home in which they can learn the fear of the Lord (Malachi 2:15).

Fourth, to subdue the earth means to bring it into usefulness. That is, to make the earth produce food, and, by extension, other necessities. The man and the woman are both to respectively work the earth. It would seem appropriate that the man would be the one to “cultivate and keep the garden” (Genesis 2:15) and thus actually produce the food. However, while he is producing, the woman is to be producing the meal. Given their condition, they had access to fruits and vegetables abundantly. However, Adam is required to continue to cultivate the ground so that food would continue to grow and thus they could all eat, as well as any children to come (Genesis 2:5). Therefore, the woman would not be required, nor expected, to do this work of provision. She would not cultivate the ground. She would not tend the garden, or keep it. She would take what she was given by the efforts of the man and make a meal from that. Obviously, in our day, this translates into pots, pans, stoves, silverware, water, electricity, gas, etc… This is what it means to “be workers at home” in Titus 2:5. To work at home means, essentially, to prepare meals. However, this includes so much more than simply picking a few things out of the garden and putting them on the plate. The planning, preparation, acquiring of food, and cleanup is immense. It takes skill, commitment to God’s design, and, if done for Christ, joy. Woman, your work in life is not corporate. Let Adam do that. Let him cultivate and tend the garden. You prepare what he brings to you so that he, and the children, as well as yourself, might enjoy what God has provided for and through you.

Fifth, the concept of ruling is here repeated. However, too often people want to confuse “rule” here with obfuscation of responsibilities. The man is created to “rule” in Genesis 1:26. This is the same Hebrew word as v. 28. It means to tread with authority and responsibility. It refers to treading upon your own land for purpose and enjoyment. But it can also refer to the care of all that you tread upon. The man would have a unique construct of “rulership” that would be unshared by the woman. Those things were outlined in the previous post. However, here the “rule” of the woman, as in this verse both are in view, yet in v. 26 It would seem that only the man is in view (since much has happened between the two verses, namely all of chapter 2). Yet, the rulership would be a shared one in the sense that both have authority to tread. Yet, that looks different for the woman from the man. She would have a shared authority over the fish, birds, and some animals. Yet, she would not have a displacing authority of the man, nor would she have authority over the man. She is still submissive to the her husband particularly since she has been created from him, for him, and alongside him (1 Corinthians 11:8-12). Adam has responsibility for leadership in the realms of glory of God, work/provision, the Word of God, worship, and his wife. The woman has responsibility in others realms. They are, her husband, their children, their home, and her own godliness as she should bear the reflected glory of her husband as he follows Christ (this is why it is so difficult for a Christian woman who is married to a non-Christian man to really grow to the degree she could. She is innately dependent upon her husband for his leadership. Thankfully, God is a husband to the widow, which spiritually she is, and a Father to the orphan-Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5; 146:10).

In Conclusion, as I said before in the posts for the man, if a woman organizes her life around these truths, she will be blessed of the Lord (1 Peter 3:1-6). Women are precious and are to be honored by men. Men are responsible for their welfare and care. That does not mean that women are a charity case. It means that a man’s wife should be given the means by which she can do what God has designed her to do (Ephesians 5:25-33).

Family 101–pt.1

Foundations are the most important part of any structure. For example, a five-million dollar home, with all of its detail and opulence is only as glorious as its structural integrity. If the foundation crumbles, the whole structure goes down and then where will the opulence get you? The five-million is only as good as the concrete below…and the skill of the man who put it there.

It is no different in the family. Structurally, you could say, the family is crumbling. Well, let me clarify a bit more. In reality, the family has been crumbling since Genesis 4. If you don’t believe me, consider Cain’s actions toward his righteous brother Abel. I would call that crumbling. So, please don’t believe the panic-mongers who alarm everyone by proclaiming the disintegration of the family and then call you to jump on their conference bandwagons (for a fee) in order to fix the problem. Now, I am all for conferences. They have their place in the church (e.g. Acts 15). However, to make a living at it, and to use the leverage of the hypothesis that the family has fallen from its once lofty position of the Early American Colonies is false. The disintegration of the family is nothing new and to believe that somehow we have overcome the heart of Cain toward the Abels in the world (and in the family)  is an illusion and fantasy. 

It is more appropriate to say, I believe, that the doctrine of the family  is disintegrating in the church. Let me say it again. It is not the family that is falling apart. It has always done so. It is the doctrine of the family that needs serious overhaul. In fact, if the inspector would come to the job site and examine the work of the men laying the foundation of that five-million dollar home, I believe He would halt the project immediately and declare the work not up to code and would demand that the foundation be destroyed and rebuilt. It is the doctrine of the family that is suffering from dilapidation and the fruit of it is the condition of families in the church today.

It is always the concern of pastors that God’s people believe the truth. In fact, I am more concerned about what a Christian believes than what they do. When a child of God is told that he/she has cancer, my greatest concern is that they do not believe error as a result of that discovery and blame God for His evil in their life. That is why a faithful pastor should visit his people at home regularly and in the hospital when necessary. In the same way, the result of what you believe about the family makes itself evident in the condition of the family itself. Even in the worst of family situations, the leadership and care of a faithful, godly, husband and father becomes evident. Not by the presence of swashbuckling boys and “damsel-in-distress” girls. But by the gospel being exhibited in that situation. Neither is it acceptable to simply resign your leadership, men, to the doctrine of depravity. “Sinners will do what sinners do” is a reluctance to obedience to God, who designed, created, and is the foundation of, the family. It is a rejection of the wisdom required and demanded of Christians in the home to rescue sinners.

Saying all of that, I have been recently reminded of the need to rebuild family foundations so that the Inspector will not come to the job site and condemn the footers and foundations of our homes. Before we begin this series, I want to say a few personal words. My family and I have learned that the priority in the home is the kingdom of God. Jesus instructed His church to

“seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (temporal needs-vv. 25-31) will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

The Lord’s instructions here are not meant to fill the shelves of theological libraries, although they do very capably. They are meant to be the pursuit of the children of God their whole life long. That includes submission to them in our homes. In fact, I will argue, it demands the priority of submission to them be in our homes before they are ever exhibited in the church or the world. To seek the kingdom at church, but shelf it at home is hypocrisy. To seek the kingdom on the street-corner with a soapbox and a bullhorn, but quiet down at home is hypocrisy. That is not from God. However, to seek the kingdom in your homes, even for singles, will insure that the kingdom will be prioritized in the church and in the world. It is not difficult to motivate Christians to evangelize once they have righted the ship and prioritized the kingdom in the home.

Second, the foundations having been built over the years are faulty. The material used to build the homes of far too many Christians include:

  • Natural revelation – “I feel that I should raise my children this way…”
  • Sacramentalism – “If we attend a church service, youth group, conference, regularly, my home will be fine.”
  • Peer influence – “My children must be around children their own age in order for the Bible to make sense.”
  • Neglect – “I am too busy in the ministry to bother with the concerns of my wife.”
  • Ignorance – “I don’t really understand why the family even exists.”
  • Shepherd-dependence – “My husband won’t…I need to ask my pastor what I should do.”
  • Societal emphasis – “I will avoid the really bad parts of society in order to ensure they don’t influence my family.”
  • Millennial mayhem – “My family is like the family of Israel and so I will make sure that I am a prophet and priest to them.”
  • Leavening – “I can’t shelter my children, so I will involve them with the world and hope things work out.”
  • Parental laziness – “My children are too high-maintenance. I need a break.”
  • Agnosticism – “The Bible does not give us comprehensive instruction about the family.”

The doctrines listed above are not acceptable in the building of the home. There are more. However, these are predominant and very influential ones of our day. The Word of God does not allow for these and neither should they be in our homes.

I want to explain comprehensively what the structure of the family is from Scripture, Old and New Testaments, such that God’s people, if they obey what is verifiably evident from His Word, will grow in the wisdom and understanding that is priority over all things in the home.

If you are reading this, please take the time to examine it carefully. Further, share this series with other Christians. The body of Christ is only as healthy and strong as the children, and families, in the churches. Because of that, we must have this series.

The Pastor’s Home-pt.2

Last post, we introduced the requirement, mandate really, of the pastor being proven and qualified by the condition of his home. We considered that the godliness of the people in the household qualifies a man for ministry because it is in the home wherein all the other qualifications play out and are demonstrated. If a man is above reproach, truly, it will be first and foremost demonstrated in the home. His wife and children will be able to testify and validate the temperance, faithfulness, and soundness of theology in the private times of the household. Again, a man can “flip the switch” and turn on godliness in public. But what he is in private is really him. His passions, his desires, his direction, his interests, all testify of the singular focus of that man’s leadership.

The impetus for this series was my observation of a number of situations over the years that were made known to me concerning the household’s of pastors. I have either observed, or heard of, a number of situations in which a pastor’s home had completely fallen apart. However, this is not simply in a divorce, or wayward child, or the like. This is also in a wife who is bitter about the ministry her husband is in. Or, a child who, although when younger appeared well-trained and on the right path, once older has decided that the world had more to offer than the church, or Christ. Or, a man who privately, repeatedly, committed adultery while in the pulpit. These are all stories that are far too common in the church, in pastor’s homes.

My intent in this series is not to point out all the failures of pastors. My real intention is: 1) to establish the fact that if a man cannot lead his household, he cannot lead God’s household. 2) to admonish that if a man is not leading his household properly, according to the instructions of the Word of God, he must either be taking steps to remedy the situation immediately, or step away from his ministry so that another man can take the leadership of the church. 3) to call churches to realize that they must hold their pastor or pastors to the standard that God has laid out in Scripture. This is not to beat him up, or seek to destroy his effectiveness. It is to increase it. The bottom line in this discussion is simply that man is not the head of the church. Jesus Christ is. As such, the Lord, who is glorious, holy, and exalted, is to be served by those whom He has qualified for that position. It is not a matter of making a man like that as it is identifying him. God makes the man.

I also want to add that I don’t have a wide readership. However, I do hope that those who do read these blogs will not be offended, or simply scoff at what is written. Rather, I am held to this same standard as will be outlined in this series and I would ask that the Word of God be taken seriously. I realize that it is hard to shepherd God’s people and raise a family and maintain a marriage all at the same time. There are so many pitfalls, temptations, lack of information, as well as the sin in our children, wives, and ourselves that keep us busy. However, men, that is exactly what God is calling us to. We must take up the challenge of leading in all these areas with holiness, godliness, righteousness, and capability. That is why I say that a man needs to be willing to humble himself and learn what is required of him, where he is not meeting those requirements, and be willing to admit that maybe God did not qualify him for ministry.

Given that, let’s review some basics about pastoral leadership.

First, our responsibility is a calling from Jesus Christ. When I use the word “calling,” I am using it in the sense of stewardship for which a person will be held accountable for faithfulness to the One calling him. Jesus taught this fact of stewardship in Matthew 25:14-30. In that parable, the emphasis is that the man who went away, after depositing varying amounts of money with his three slaves, will return and expect something for His investments. Two of the three slaves were faithful to make the most of the money and gain the praise of their master. The assumption is that the master expected that to happen and the slaves were faithful to do what they would expect their master to do. The third slave did nothing with his share, and received the punishment of the master. After all, he was a hard man (v.24). Essentially, the two slaves were faithful, the third, lazy. The two, as slaves, did their jobs according to their own ability (v.15). The third, had no ability by virtue of the fact that he did not do what his master would have expected with the money.

This really is a picture of many things which God has given to people. It does not mean to limit the parable to only one kind of work or person. The point is that God expects something from His slaves, and those who refuse to obey will be punished. Pastoral ministry was not created by man. It is a position of slavery to God created by Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ Himself said, "

Matthew 23:34–35

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Paul taught us that when Christ ascended, sent the Holy Spirit, He assigned certain men to positions of work by reason of their gifting.

Ephesians 4:7–8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

When we talk of pastoral ministry, very often it is full of the trappings that accompany the office in our day. We immediately think about counseling, preaching, taxes, conferences, and the like. However, for a faithful slave, there is only one thing on the forefront of his mind: “What does my Master expect? What does it take to get it done?” It is very common for pastors of our day to never have that kind of thought even enter their minds. Afterall, there are so many pressing needs in the church. Yet, according to the parable, those men who did not take what they were given and use it accordingly, all the while concerned about the Master’s will, are the unfaithful slaves who will never know the praise of the Master.

Second, since we are given our task by Christ, we represent Him. This truth is crucial. As a slave, your will is no longer in existence. You are subject to a Master. He determines where you go, what you do, and how you do it. And, in the end, he will reward you or not. His expectations, His instructions, and His “money” all express His person. It is to be used wisely.

I am afraid that many pastors think that they are the church. I was watching a man preach the other day in a typical Baptist church. This man makes his rounds in Evangelical, Bible-believing churches and is a big name in the one of a thousand movements in modern Christianity. As I watched this man, who said he was about 50 years old, and yet was obviously physically fit and spends a fair amount of time in the gym, I watched him “pose” as he was preaching. Flinging his arms, exposing his physique, and simply in general, drawing all attention to himself. It was deplorable. On top of that, what he was preaching was not worthy of “preaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The slave does not exist, except to serve his master. For a slave to replace his master is treason.

Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, were offering “strange fire” one day and God killed both of them on the spot. Why? Because they were not performing their “service” according to the instructions of the Master (v.1). Therefore, God punished them. The statement from Moses reminding their father, Aaron, is important to hear. He said,

Leviticus 10:3

Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’ ” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Aaron’s response was apt-he kept silent. What could he say? His sons were disobedient, and may have even been drinking (v.9). Aaron could say nothing. Men, realize that every Sunday, or under any other venue, when you ascend the lectern to preach God’s holy Word, you represent God, the same God who incinerated Nadab and Abihu and could do the same to you for offering “strange fire…which [God has] not commanded.” If for no other reason than that, take the money from the Master and use it accordingly.

Third, your homes represent the Lord as well. The condition of our homes, marriages, children and their submission to Christ, as well as finances, home orderliness, and a myriad of other things, are all meant to reflect the glory and beauty of God. As I mentioned before, most men can “flip the switch” in the pulpit and no one would ever know that he just had a knock-down, drag-out fight with his wife before church. However, that man who has done that really should not even “open the book” until he repents. Personally speaking, preaching is a very good way for me to not hang on to sin. I cannot preach unless I know that I have repented from any sins of that time prior to entering the pulpit. Sometimes, it is just a matter of confessing it in my heart and turning from it. Sometimes, it involves speaking with someone before service, or at home, asking for forgiveness. Whatever it is, I cannot preach in good conscience knowing that I have sinned against the God whom I am supposed to represent in the pulpit.

As we will see in our next post, the purity, wholesomeness, righteousness of our households, or the lack thereof, are the proofs of able-bodied, godly leadership in the home, or not. That is the man who has been qualified by God for leadership in His church.

The Pastor’s Home: A Prerequisite For Service-pt.1

A man cannot enter war without first being trained. We would not allow a doctor to perform surgery without extensive experience and training. We would not want a man to lead our nation who is not fully capable to do so. However, for most, the thought of having a pastor without adequate training, equipping, and qualification is okay. Some see training in preparation for ministry as negligible and nonessential. Some even deride those who pursue training in preparation for pastoral ministry saying that they are not filled with the Spirit (insinuating that they are). In the day of the pride of ignorance, many consider learning and exerting mental discipline almost a waste of time. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a person praise his pastor because he doesn’t prepare for his sermons. He simply gets up and lets the spirit speak through him. They say this to me with a very proud grin full of adoration for such a display of godliness. However, in my mind, I know that that man ought to be ashamed of himself. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

It is a shameful thing to enter into anything unprepared. It is not unlike the proverb that says, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly” (Proverbs 13:16). That is to say, the prudent man learns how to do that for which he is accountable. The fool does not and simply displays to everyone what little he knows.

An often overlooked (and undervalued) side of preparation for ministry is a man’s home. By “home” I think the Scripture primarily means the people who are under his care, and then, secondarily, the house in which they live. His home is the determining factor in his qualification for ministry. Why do I say that? As we will see in 1 Timothy 3, it is the place where the reality of his righteousness is displayed, and verified. It is easy for a man to “flip the switch” in public and act as if everything is fine at home, when in fact it is not. We fear the public disgrace of looking like we do not have control. But, it is altogether different when no one is looking. It is altogether different in the day-in and day-out realities of raising children and our relationship with our wives. Men in general have to learn how to faithfully lead his home. Unfortunately, some men never realize that. They often go from one distraction to another until the children are gone and then wipe their brow and think to themselves, “Whew, I am glad they are gone.” At that point, typically, they rationalize to themselves that the decisions their children make in the lives as they are on their own are not the parent’s responsibility. However, that is not true. The lives our children live in their own marriages and in their own homes demonstrate the capability of our leadership in the home. Or, to say it another way, the fruit of godly leadership in the home does not bear itself out until our children are no longer under our care. We may be able to suppress the rebellion of our children while they are in the home, and get by. But, the real question is, “What do our children do when they are one their own? What decisions do they make? Where is their heart?”

To begin this series, we need to establish the fact that raising children in a godly manner is crucial, necessary, for the qualification of a man to ministry. However, the condition of our home is only the fruit of the man’s leadership, not the definition of it. The sanctification of his wife, the godliness (not worldliness) of his children, his own level of holiness (especially when no one else is looking) all demonstrate the Lord’s qualification of that man.

A New Covenant ministry is unlike anything else that has gone before. One day, Jesus was speaking with the people and some disciples of John came to Jesus and asked Him if He truly was the Messiah (Luke 7:18-23). Jesus gave them instructions as to the proof of His ministry, as outlined in Isaiah 35 and 61. The messengers went back to John. Jesus took the opportunity to commend John before the people (vv.24-30). He spoke of John as the greatest of the prophets (v.28). He was the messenger in the vein of Malachi 3:1 (v.27). However, the Pharisees rejected John’s baptism of repentance and thus demonstrated that they were not interested in God’s purpose for them.

The Lord then gives a parable, that is apropos to us at this point. There were children in the marketplace and one group was calling out to the rest of the children. The first group of children played a flute, but the rest did not dance. They then proceeded to sing a funeral song, and the other children did not mourn. The point is, Jesus and John did not perform their ministries according to the expectations of the Pharisees and lawyers, and they did not like it. But the Lord makes a profound statement that we all need to consider. He said,

"Yet, wisdom is vindicated by all her children” – Luke 7:35

Jesus is speaking of the comparison of wisdom-His and John’s (ultimately, God’s) versus the Pharisees and the lawyers. In order to determine the quality of wisdom, look at what is being produced and compare that against righteousness. Then you will be able to comprehend wisdom. Or, to quote another teaching,

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:18–20

The “offspring” of God’s work are those submissive to God’s purposes. Those who reject those purposes, like the Pharisees and lawyers, are not wise. Therefore, look at what people produce in order to determine the quality, or qualification, of the wisdom used. Thus, it is a basic fact of like, a principle for everything-if you want to know the quality of a teaching, ideal, or leader, look at what is produced.

Paul takes that truism and establishes it in the life of the church. In the next post, we will begin to examine 1 Timothy 3:4-5. In the meantime, consider what the author of Hebrews 13:7 wrote,

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

If you want to know the viability of a ministry, elder, pastor, or church, do not look at what it boasts, teaches, or claims. Look at what that ministry, elder, pastor, or church produces. Consider (examine, scrutinize) the result of their conduct, and then imitate their faith.

Pastor or elder, how are you doing? What are you producing? What does your home life look like? My attempt here is not to set up an impossible standard built upon a contrived self-righteousness which only I can meet. My goal here is to understand what pleases God in the homes of the men called to lead God’s flock, and expect that from them. As with any job, there are standards, whether it is a sales quota, production quota, or some other standard of qualification for the work. How much more, then, the standards of representing the Lord Jesus Christ before His people (Leviticus 10:3; cf. Exodus 19:22).

Wisdom-The Replacement for Legalism

In the last post I had discussed the need for wisdom in building a home. I had asserted that wisdom is not learned, but given. This is because wisdom has as its source God. He is the originator of wisdom. He is the embodiment of wisdom. Moreover, wisdom is dispensed by Him as He alone desires. Therefore, when Proverbs 24:3 states matter-of-factly, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches”, it is saying, “A house is only truly a house when it is established and built with wisdom, God’s wisdom.” Further, this wisdom is a treasure. Thus, being a treasure, it is rare. However, like treasure, it yields itself when sought after with effort, diligence, and determination. Outside of this, a home is not established. But in all our efforts, the reminder remains: wisdom is given, never discovered.

Having said all of that, there is a fundamental issue that I believe needs to be addressed at this early juncture. The topic of legalism in the home is heated and ongoing. Legalism is the cry of those who deny the need for God’s righteousness in the home. The reason, I have found, that some have this perspective is because they cannot rise above their own level of righteousness. Thus, the home becomes a hodge-podge of rules and abstract standards that really have no bearing in God. Thus, children are confused (and so is the other spouse). This especially hits home when this haphazard approach to managing a home causes pain or destruction. For the time-being, a level of righteousness kicks in, but it is not God’s.

Let’s examine a scenario. Little Johnny has thrown a rock through the front window. He was told that he should not pick up rocks and throw them. However, Johnny did not listen and now there is a broken window letting all the cold air in, and hot air out. What does legalism do? Legalism cries, “I told you not to do that! Why did you do that! Why can’t you listen when I tell you something?!” But, wisdom says, “What did daddy tell you? Why did you pick up that rock? Why did you want to do something that I said not to do?” And going through the mind of daddy is that his little Johnny is only exhibiting his true nature-a sinner. Johnny, at heart, is rebellious, foolish, disobedient, and loves unrighteousness. Johnny can’t help but do what he shouldn’t. He is unable to obey fully, think wisely, exhibit distinctions between good and evil. Little Johnny has almost zero discernment. But, that does not let him off the hook. A transgression has been committed. A penalty must be enacted. At the premise level, the legalist is self-righteous and expects others around him to be so also. A wise man, however, has jettisoned his own righteousness for the righteousness of God out of the fear of God. In short, a legalist does not submit to the righteousness of God for fear of letting go of his own righteousness (Romans 10:3). And, since our own righteousness is so low, it allows us to “get away” with things that God does not allow. Yet, wisdom seeks to maintain the high view of God and His righteous character no matter the cost. Thus, he will speak to little Johnny attempting to bring him to the realization of what sin is, and what is the consequence of sin. In doing this, Johnny will learn a little bit about God from the broken window incident.

So, in order to establish a home, it needs to be driven by wisdom, not legalism. A home is a place, most of all, where the glory of God should be on display in the people who live there. Therefore, daddy’s response to that broken window, mommy’s response to losing sleep to a sick child, the children’s response to instructions from their parents that are not at all what they want to do, are all opportunities to put God on display, and not ourselves. It is time to elevate the righteousness of God, and not our own. It is a time to learn wisdom, cry out for it, and be trained to discern between good and evil thus maturing in the Lord (Hebrews 5:13-14).

This is really the direction teaching about parenting and the home should go. Instead, however, you often hear ‘Christianized’ elementary principles of the world along with success stories of the common experiences of life. Anyone can identify with those things. However, what needs to be explained and taught is a fear of God, the need for righteousness, and the wisdom of God that builds a home.

The Fear of The Lord

It is written,

“Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Ps 36:1)

 

The Psalm of David was the foundation of Paul’s words in Romans 3:18. David knew all too well that the wicked (or, “guilty”) have transgression “whispering” deep in his soul urging him on to do evil. The eyes of such a one are darkened. They cannot see the fear of the Lord. In his natural state, the hearts of every person are dark, deceived, wicked (desperately so) and perverse. They cannot fear God, nor do they want to. Rather, they resort to the antics of their father, the devil, and attempt to raise themselves above the throne of God. They believe that they are as good as they need to be to enter the kingdom of heaven, and they, of themselves, will not lift a finger to change that. Absolute inability to please God, and an absolute inability to want to. That is the condition of every person who is not clothed with Christ.

Thus, if wisdom has as its necessary starting point the fear of God, as Proverbs asserts, then it is no wonder that the ungodly are foolish. They lack the wisdom that was gifted them at the creation. They lack divine wisdom that was with God, and in God, at the establishment of the foundations of the earth. They lack the sense, as it were, to choose righteousness over evil. Wisdom cries out all day long to them and they ignore it. At this point, we need to understand that this is not a neutral posture. The ungodly does not simply reject wisdom and the fear of the Lord, he hates it. Paul wrote, “…mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8). There is a native hostility between man and God that rages everyday. Their heart, says David, devises evil when it should be sleeping (Psalm 36:4). He is not able to subject himself under the authority of the law of God, nor does he want to. It rebels against the authority of almighty God and revels in that rebellion. It is no wonder that mankind loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19) since, apart from the enlightening work of the Spirit of God under the direction of the Father, he is a slave of darkness. It is his nature!

Thus, with all of this in the heart of every person, religious or not, how is it that we think that any man has any level of wisdom in him? What I mean is, if Paul could not even trust himself (Philippians 3:3) for the wisdom that attains to religious satisfaction but rather died to himself in order to pursue Christ, then why do we believe that we can do better? Wisdom is as rare as gold and jewels. In fact, true wisdom is so rare, that it is only found in 1 part per 7 billion. That is, out of the 7 billion people in this world, only One has true wisdom-Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God” (1 Co 1:30a; cf. 1:24). Further, Paul wrote to the wisdom-loving Colossians, “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). Wisdom is rare because it is truly only embodied in one Person. And in order to know Him, you must fear Him (Matthew 10:28-Jesus, as the appointed Judge for all mankind, is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell by the authority given to Him by the Father). So, says Paul, there is no fear of God in the heart of the wicked, and Jesus Christ is God. He is to be feared. Therefore, for a person to be saved, he must overcome his lack of fear of God, and that cannot happen apart from the working of God in the heart of the person by the extended grace of God.

To fear God, as mentioned in the previous post, is to rightly understand with Whom you are dealing with and, correspondingly, who you are in relation to Him. God is life, we are dead in sins; God is light, we are darkness; God is holy, and we love transgression; God is eternal, and we are temporal; God is a consuming fire, and we are fit to be destroyed; God is love, and we love to hate. Thus, the fear of God is an appropriate heart condition in light of Who He is.

If a person wants wisdom, he must fear God. Unless a person fears God, he will lack God’s wisdom because He only gives wisdom to the upright (Proverbs 2:7).

Wisdom-The Building Block of the Home.

It is important that we understand that our homes are more than simply a place where some people live together. There is more to God’s creation of the home than what we typically understand or even expect. I would venture to say that if we gave the doctrine of inerrancy, or the doctrine of the church, or any other clear doctrine of the Scripture the same, superficial, attention that we usually give the home and the family, we would not even scratch the surface on these profound truths. Such is the case with the theology of the home.

You know the usual treatment of marriage and children, and topics surrounding the two. They are usually practical (Arminian) in nature and profoundly original, albeit shallow. Just like any other responsibility in a Christian’s life, if we do not have the doctrine understood first, our duty simply will not be what it should be. However, there are many from whom we never hear, whose marriages and families are wonderful and wholesome. But they are too wise to boast about it.

I would like to take opportunity to undertake a collection of posts on the issue of the Theology of the Home. As I have observed, although there are snippets of truth in a lot of teachings on the home, a full-orbed teaching is lacking.

 

In The Beginning…

It would seem to me that God knew what He was doing in Genesis 1-2 when He created the heavens and the earth. In this creation there would be animals, stars, water, and a myriad of others inhabitants and objects. But the crown of His creation would be a man and a woman. This man and woman would share in the likeness and image of God Himself. By His design, the man, being created first, uniquely reflects and represents God on this planet. The woman, being taken from the flesh and bone of the man, would derive her glory from representing the man who in turn represents God. Hers is a derived glory of God through the man. Thus, the man would be the image of God on this planet forever. His job? To rule. That rulership would be in wisdom and with the blessing and expectation of God. God would expect Adam to rule over the creation with skill, insight, and godly wisdom. Thus the man and his wife would give glory to God in their respective responsibilities together. This was a glorious and magnificent condition for this unique creation of God.

It is important to realize that the way that God created everything in the beginning was entirely sufficient to produce His glory. Everything that the man and woman needed for marriage, work, child-rearing, etc.. is all contained in the basic, consummate instructions and precepts of Genesis 1-2. It would all work out in the lives of the man, woman, and the children. However, with the fall, that wisdom and knowledge was lost. It was a wisdom that directed their lives and their relationships. This wisdom was sufficient for everything that the man and woman were required to do. But at the fall, the man and woman relinquished all rights to wisdom and rather gave themselves over to foolishness. It is important to understand this since these terms of wisdom and foolishness appear throughout Scripture.

To begin with, consider a few passages from the premier book on wisdom, Proverbs. Proverbs 3:19 states,

“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.”

The tool by which God created the earth and the heavens was wisdom. Wisdom was instrumental in establishing the universe, with all its diverse and wondrous phenomena. Further, it is this wisdom that He must have made available to Adam and Eve as well.

““The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:22–31)

Wisdom was the possession of God before, during, and after the establishment of the universe. This wisdom was present with the creation of the man and was pleased to see his creation. Inasmuch as this wisdom was present in the creation of the universe, it must also have been present in the man and woman as well. It was by wisdom they were created, and, apparently, the man and woman would have been created with this wisdom, to some extent, in them as well. The kind of thinking and understanding that would be required to create all that was created in six days is the kind of thinking and understanding that was in Adam and Eve as well, yet not as comprehensive. This quality of thinking is a kind of thinking that brings God glory. This wisdom is able to instruct Adam and Eve for eternity and this wisdom is able to instruct us as well (Proverbs 2:10-11; 6:22-23).

The source of all wisdom is God. His Word is wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7), King Solomon was given wisdom from God (1 Kings 3:6-15), and in times of pressure and temptation, the church is urged to cry out to God for wisdom in order to live righteously in the midst of trial (James 1:5). Further, wisdom is to be the quality of our ministry in the church (Colossians 1:28; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6f.). Wisdom is able to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:14-15), and, in fact, Jesus Himself is the embodiment of wisdom (Colossians 2:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24,30). Therefore, to ignore wisdom is to do harm to ourselves (Proverbs 1:20-33).

 

The Home-The Display of Wisdom

This wisdom is most necessary in the home. This is the summation of Proverbs 24:3. To manage a home well takes the wisdom that existed at creation, was in the heart of Adam and Eve before the fall, has as its source God, and is made visible in Jesus Christ. This profound and extensive wisdom is what it takes to build a home. This is obviously not speaking of laying concrete, building 2×4 walls, and a roof. This is speaking of the act of building a home-a place in which the relationships that God ordained between a man and woman and their children exist. Thus, the home is not a place that “just happens.” Building a home demands diligence, effort and complete dedication. There are those who would disagree with that last statement. They say, “I don’t think that is true. My home is doing alright. The kids are okay. My husband and I get along. We have good times, and yes sometimes bad, but who doesn’t.” However, you have to ask yourself what you are aiming at for the goal of your home. What is it that is actually supposed to be achieved in a home? If God says that a home is only built by wisdom and that wisdom is only given by God and that after searching for it as one would a hidden treasure of immense worth, then what does He mean? Is He mistaken?

If a home is only built upon the wisdom that is only available from God for the upright, then that would explain why so many households are simply not what they should be. Even in the church, households are not much above the quality of the world. Husbands don’t know how to lead their wives and children, nor do they think they are supposed to. Wives would much rather pursue a career than remain at home and build a place for her to express her love for her husband and children. Children are rebellious and expect the parents to give them their space. It seems that even the best of Christian homes are missing something. Could it be that we are missing wisdom? After all, it is as rare as a valuable treasure.

In order to address this issue, there needs to be more than one post dedicated to it, and there will be. We will be considering what wisdom is, what it does, what it does not do, and how to gain it.

Introduction

For a few preliminary thoughts, consider this. Wisdom is given, never discovered. That is, we gave up our access to wisdom at the fall (consider Proverbs 3:18 as compared to Genesis 3:22-24. We no more have access to wisdom, inherently, than we have access to the Tree of Life. Thus, it must be given by God, as the Tree of Life will be as well-Revelation 2:7; 22:1-9). Wisdom is from God and He gives it, not to the foolish, but the upright (Proverbs 2:1-7). For the fool, wisdom is too high to attain (Proverbs 24:7). It is like the space station in relation to his plight on earth. He cannot see it nor know that it is there. But it is there.

How do we get this wisdom? If it is given by God, how do we get it from Him? Is there a mechanism in place that will generate wisdom in us from God? The answer is in Proverbs 1:7 and repeated in 9:10. The fear of the LORD is the starting place for this treasure called wisdom (it also has shades of meaning in ‘understanding’, ‘knowledge’, ‘discretion’ and so on). The fear of the LORD is understanding the nature of God in all His power, majesty, and glory, and our relation to Him in all of our depravity, weakness, and foolishness. In other words, Jesus said to be afraid of the One who can kill both body and soul in Hell (Mt. 10:28; cf. Hebrews 10:31; 12:28-29). By His very nature, God should instill in us a real fear. He is absolutely unlike us. We are absolutely unlike Him, although we are made in His image (which is all the more tragic). This fear is the reality that in all His holiness, God has the right and the power to kill us and judge us for eternity for our sins. If a person does not fear after contemplating that, then he has no hope of gaining wisdom. He is proud. He is a fool.

Hope In Light of the Curse

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That verse encapsulates the problem with every person on this planet. Although many would deny the problem, that does not fix a problem that obviously exists. Paul would further write, “

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, NASB95)

How is it that all have sinned and thus fall short of the glory of God? Why is that the case? Because, Adam disobeyed God and thus, in him, we all sinned. Regardless of the difficulty of understanding ‘how’ all sinned in Adam, the statement remains clear. Adam’s singular disobedience inserted sin into the world that God created. Thus, since sin entered there, death followed. That is because sin is disobedience to God’s commands and Adam, the man made in the image and likeness of God, disobeyed when he took of the fruit and ate. Death, then, spread to all men through one act of sin.

So, what do we have in this summary of the entrance of sin? What is here is the reason why marriage is difficult and why childrearing is seemingly impossible. The fact that Adam sinned plunged every man, woman, and child into a condition in which sin reigns and the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Everything that God created in the garden, especially the relationship of the man to the woman and their relationship to God, is now inaccessible. The beauty, harmony, and glory is lost and cannot be regained by our own discovery. But, God, because of who He is, does not leave it there. He is a God of hope (Romans 15:13). In fact, it can be said that the entire fall occurred in order to usher in hope (Romans 8:20-21).

I have written about the fall and God’s promised redemption elsewhere. From what we encounter in Genesis 3, we understand that the wicked one has deceived Eve, Eve has enticed Adam, and Adam disobeyed God. We see that Eve believed Satan rather than God. We understand that Adam did not exercise rulership over the snake, the woman, or Satan. He simply chose to be under the sway of the deceiver. Satan was successful in bringing the man and the woman into his ‘kingdom’ and out from God’s rule. He was successful at setting himself up as god to the man and the woman and drawing the man and woman away from the true God. Thus, true to form, Satan robs God of His glory, at least it appears that way.

However, we see that God had cast sentence upon the enemy which will ultimately call for his destruction. This destruction will not simply be by a judicial act of God, but rather by the seed of a woman. In saying this, God is saying that a woman will bear the male child who will crush the head of the serpent and all his handiwork will disintegrate. Satan, from that point forward, lives in light of this sentence. Thus, God’s sovereignty is maintained. In fact, due to Satan’s diabolical work, God’s greatest glory will come to light in the redemption of sinners.

And that is what this is all about. The power and glory of God’s redemption is on display in the child of God. Both now, on this planet, and on the planet to come (Revelation 21:1). The fact that Satan tempted and deceived the woman did nothing to ruin the glory of God ultimately. In fact, his efforts were simply a key component in God’s ultimate and powerful display of His glory.

Most Christians do not see that great plan of redemption work out in their marriage. They love the doctrines of redemption and love to philosophize about it, but they don’t see that the very doctrines of redemption that they love, or say they love, are the foundation of their marriage. The home is the stage for redemption. Further, unfortunately, many marriage and home ‘ministries’ do little to identify, reiterate and explain this phenomenon. They do that to their own shame as they replace their own abilities to establish the home for the ability of God to glorify Himself in the home . As the Psalmist has said, “Unless the Lord build the house, you are wasting your time” (my paraphrase of Psalm 127:1). Thus, what is needed to make a home the stage for God’s redemption is clear. First, you need to identify sin. That might seem easy at first glance. However, truth is, many are so blind to what is expected of them in their homes, that they don’t see the sin. Thus, their minimized standards replace God’s high and lofty standard that gives Him glory.

For example, fathers are commanded to “train” their children (Ephesians 6:4). They are commanded by their Creator to be actively and profoundly training their children with all the resources of the Old and New Testaments toward the God of Scripture. This is an unending training that makes the home the training ground for children. However, how many fathers would rather fill their time with their own pursuits? How many Christian fathers would rather give their attention to their own hobbies and thus train themselves in proficiency of their own interests? The training that is called for is the truest and hardest expression of self-denial there is, next to marriage itself. Anything less than that kind of commitment is sin. Yet, we have pews filled with fathers, if they even come to church, who have decided that they don’t need to train their children. They are comfortable to let another man, or woman, do it telling himself that “they are the experts” all the while refusing to shoulder this command, take on the responsibility, and learn how to train his children.

Once that sin is identified, repentance is required. This is nothing less than an acknowledgement that there has been a failure in some area to give God glory. Maybe that father in the above example would identify that he has been lazy in his responsibilities, and he turns to God in his heart asking for forgiveness. God is quick to forgive, that is sure. However, the next step is to learn how to do what is required. He must give his heart completely to the responsibilities that God has given him. I personally have had a number of times of repentance when I would examine my own commitments in light of Scripture and see a very wide difference between the two. Obviously, the Scripture is not wrong. I was. By the mercy of God, I repented and devoted myself to the commitments God requires of me in my marriage and my family. I have never regretted turning away from the worthless things of this world and turning to the glorious provisions of God in a myriad of ways. For example, my family and I used to have Friday as our “movie night.” Of course, all week long we would be anticipating that 2 hour block of time when we dim the lights, pop in the movie and get lost in the story and action. As time went on, I began losing interest in those things less and less. At that point I began to examine why we were having movie night. Throughout the week, in the evenings, we would sit down and watch some show or some news as well. However, mixed in with the movies, the shows, and the news were some of the filthiest and most horrible pictures and scenes imaginable. Who has not had the experience of watching a show and a lewd advertisement comes on? Or, who has not watched some sporting event and the commercials introduce an ungodly habit, like drinking. Many Christians simply tell themselves, “Oh, I don’t do that so it doesn’t affect me.” Really? Job made a covenant with his eyes to not gaze at a virgin (Job 31:1). David got into trouble, initiated by looking, which affected his entire family for the rest of his life (2 Samuel 11:1-2). Jesus said that what you look at you think about (Matthew 6:22-23). That passage is especially pertinent because if you identify as light that which God calls darkness, you are really deceived! Nakedness, drunkenness, promiscuity, profanity, ungodly behavior (things that Jesus Christ would not Himself encourage), violence, and other behaviors are condemned by God, and yet we are entertained by them. What is worse, we let our children watch much of the same!

Therefore, Karen and I made the decision to get rid of our T.V. when we moved and we have never looked back. We have regained our children’s hearts, regained our day, regained our time, regained our conversation, regained our purity of mind. Our children are ignorant of many of the celebrities and superstars that are commonplace in the world and that is as it should be (Romans 16:19). They are unfamiliar with the degradation in the world around them and we are thankful. Why do I want to encourage the sin that is latent within them by placing ungodliness before them?

Once a sin is identified and repentance is sought, then conviction needs to be established. Having convictions very often is what establishes the heart. A conviction is some truth that you are convinced of in Scripture, whether by deduction or outright instruction, and thus your life now is subject to that truth (as an example see Romans 14:14). That is conviction. Paul told Timothy to be subject to the truths that he learned from Paul and those things that he has grown convinced of (2 Timothy 3:14). That is the idea. Once you become accurate in your interpretation of a passage, you subject your life under its teaching and you don’t move away from it for anything. The key, of course, is to make sure you accurately understand it. But once the Scripture is understood and rightly interpreted, obey it. Train your children also toward those convictions.

The display of the glory of God is the taking of a sinner and making him a son. When man was made in the image and likeness of God, that image and likeness most directly referred to the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. However, once sin entered in because of disobedience, something the Son would not do, the image and likeness, i.e. glory, was lost. Now, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that image and likeness is restored through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:10). That is the hope of Jesus Christ. And, that is the hope that resides in the home that is brought under the Lordship of Christ.

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