Today marks the launch of a brand new series on the Grace To You blog on the family. One of the reasons we extended the creation series over several months was due to the intensity of opposition to the biblical view of origins, not just by the world, but by members of the professing church. The Bible’s teaching on the family, closely related to the doctrine of creation, has likewise been attacked and subverted from the very beginning, since Genesis 3.
The last few decades have been particularly brutal on families. In fact, our generation is watching the redefinition of marriage and the family to align the most intimate relationships with personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Immorality, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abortion, sterilization, women’s liberation, delinquency, and sexual rebellion are like strands in a cord that is strangling the family.
There are many opinions about the restructuring of the family. Some sociologists say marriages need to change. They say we need “open marriages,” “gay marriages,” or even “non-marriages.” Many seem to think it really doesn’t matter whether marriages continue as they have in the past. People are groping, without any base of authority, to try to find out how to make meaningful relationships in a disintegrating society.
It’s time for Christians to reiterate the divine pattern. Christian marriages and families should demonstrate a way of living that is rewarding, meaningful, and fulfilling—something completely counter-cultural. People need to see the divine pattern for relationships, modeled before the world by Christian marriages and families.
If we don’t preserve the family, society will crumble. The family is the basic building block of society. When it goes, everything goes. The ability to pass on meaningful advice to the next generation is lost when there is no communication and discipline. Without a sense of legacy, reinforced by stable families, the culture is dominated by the loudest, most brazen, and most vocal of its sinners.
Here’s the key to understanding the divine pattern for marriage and family: you must be born again. If you’re not a Christian, you have no power to make your marriage and family what God intends it to be. It’s not that nonbelievers can’t have meaningful relationships. They can—but only up to a point. They’ll never understand the true meaning of marriage; they’ll never know total fulfillment in the family.
Just as an individual can find fulfillment only in a relationship with God, so also a family can find fulfillment only when they pursue relationships defined, designed, and authored by God Himself. It’s God who created man, invented marriage and the family, and wrote the book on how marriage is to function. So, apart from knowing Jesus Christ, who brings you into a relationship with God, you can’t expect your family to be fulfilled.
But there’s more to having a meaningful, fulfilled marriage and family than just being a believer. There are many Christians who know and love the Lord, and yet they fail to live according to His moral, marital, or familial laws. Why? Because they are not filled with the Spirit.
It’s one thing to possess the Spirit of God; it’s quite another to be under His control. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” In other words, every Christian possesses the Spirit but is not always filled with, or controlled by, the Spirit. And when we’re not controlled by the Spirit of God, our family life will manifest that. You will always experience disharmony and discord in your relationships, especially at home, whenever you are out of step with the Spirit, walking in disobedience. Becoming a Christian is the indispensible first step; being controlled by the Spirit results in practical transformation.
Does it seem to you that we’re drowning in a sea of information on marriage and the family? Seminars, conferences, weekend retreats, books, and counselors all promise to revitalize our most intimate relationships. Whenever problems arise, people seem to run first to a professional counselor, psychiatrist, or analyst, buy a supply of books, attend a seminar, or take in more information (e.g., audios, videos).
But where are the results? Marriage and family materials have littered the shelves of the Christian bookstores for years. Can those resources adequately address the profound spiritual problems within marriages? Are they sufficient? Ultimately, the answer would have to be No.
This may sound like an oversimplification, but it needs to be said: If you’re not filled with the Spirit, you can attend all the seminars, read all the books, and spend thousands on counseling—none of it will matter. On the other hand, if you’re filled with the Spirit, He’ll control you and transform your relationships. Make no mistake—counseling, books, and seminars can be helpful for understanding what a Spirit-filled life looks like in your relationships. But you must understand: the key to the Christian life is to be filled with, controlled by, the Holy Spirit. Only through His power can our families be what God wants them to be.
So, our goal for the next several weeks will be to explore what God’s Word says about the family in general, and each relationship within the family in particular.
Ready? Here we go…
#1 Posted by
Dan Wilson | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
The Romans had sinful religions. I wouldn't like living in Rome
at that time.
This sermon series seem worthwhile. It's good to know stuff. I agree
that many couples buy books and etc. Why not God's Word? Proverbs seems
to be a medicine for a long and healthy marriage. Why do they avoid it
in a way? Looking to human wisdom seems dangerous, that might cause a
lack of trust in God. Sure, God can send someone to help, but it has to be right out of God's Word with the Lord. right.
#2 Posted by
John Wolf | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
I like much of what you say. However I often find that when I mention you, your books, or what not, people refer to me as "negative." I am also having a really hard time with people my own age and trying to get them to think in an intellectual fashion. So many these days could learn so much by the Bereans, but it seems as if getting someone to read your book, or another book by a Bible scholar is pulling teeth. Perhaps your short blogs would be better for people who often have low attention spans these days.
#3 Posted by
Kim Eriksen | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
thanks John for your teaching also love you on facebook..John start calling homosexuals what they are!!! homosexuals not Gay..Gay means your happy there is nothing happy about living in sin and rebellion against God!! do not go for the way sinners rename words!!! just a thought..
#4 Posted by
Elizabeth Krohn | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
Attn: John Wolf,
I'm not sure what you age is, but I can totally understand where you're at. I'm 23 (on Tues) and it is so very sad to see people in my generation that will accept any form of doctrine and run from "negative" thoughts(as you put it).
Please know that you are not alone in the battle of trying to reach other Christians to think BIBLICALLY and not Emotionally or Logically.
I am often viewed as "negative" "arrogant" and that I supposedly "put God in a box" (which is obviously impossible, but you understand the meaning).
Stay strong and remember that God is our strength and the giver of all wisdom.
PS- Its not the length of the blog, its what it contains. If people are really interested and seeking, they'll read it. Pray for them. :)
#5 Posted by
Keith Farmer | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
My wife and I recently attended Shepherding A Child's Heart with Dr Tedd Tripp...here is a link to the book:
This conference focused primarily on addressing the most important component of family life or personal life...the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 declares: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." A changed heart is the key to a successful marriage and a successful family (keeping it specifically in the context of this blog series).
May God give each of us a pure heart...a heart that seeks after His righteousness!
#6 Posted by
Scott Rick | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
Can't wait to dig in to this series! I'm sure it will be as excellent as the last one. I took away some reassuring knowledge as I just so happened to be debating a theistic evolutionist at that time. Looking forward to it John!
#7 Posted by
Jerry Boone | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
Submission: The word makes men in our society today shudder and strikes terror into women. Why? Seems to me it stems from an idea that might be summarized by: "I know the perfect truth, but the person over me doesn't...so how could I submit to a person who is imperfect?"
But consider: God (who is perfect) used an imperfect woman (Mary) to birth Jesus (perfect); or another: God (who is perfect) used prophets (who were imperfect) to write down the scriptures (which are perfect). Consider also, Daniel: God (perfect) used an imperfect king (Nebuchadnezzar) to work His perfect result in Daniel's life (salvation from the lions) which eventually caused the person in authority (the king) to acknowledge God. (see also 1 Pet 3:1-2).
When we resist the person in authority over us (work, family, church, etc) are we not really saying the ultimate authority stops with them? And are we not saying, in effect, my God is smaller than the person in authority over me? This is in essence, blasphemy against God...making Him smaller than my circumstance.
It seems to me we need a fresh look at the Biblical reasons as to why God has made submission a key element of our spiritual growth.
#8 Posted by
John Wolf | Sunday, August 08, 2010at
Thanks for the kind words.
Many age groups have this problem these days. Its the majority of the church! Check out Ashamed of the Gospel. MacArthur is just not "attacking" being "negative" or "picking a fight" he is telling the truth and I have seen it with my own eyes! What he writes in Ashamed of the Gospel was not made up to fit his agenda as some say.
I am often viewed as "negative" "arrogant" and that I supposedly "put God in a box" (which is obviously impossible, but you understand the meaning).>
Thanks. I often think I am alone.
PS- Its not the length of the blog, its what it contains. If people are really interested and seeking, they'll read it. Pray for them. :)>
Its the majority of Christians I am afraid. So sad.... But it was predicted in the pastoral epistles 1 Tim 3 I believe which is speaking about the Church in the last days. Try reading that in the NIV or the New Living as they illuminate the text clearer than the word for word translations which are more accurate, but often do nothing but confuse modern readers.
Thanks for your kind words. We should become friends....
#9 Posted by
Diane Lowell | Monday, August 09, 2010at
This is a tender subject for me. I have listened to the family series by John before and was greatly helped. I could use more about unequally yoked though. It is a hard life sometimes and takes much grace. Just one low day in the flesh can cause a big set back.
As for trying to share and coming across negative, I get that too. I was just told I come across critical. I think I am getting frustrated with the "all this and heaven too" attitude when the bible says we are in a battle. I can not make anyone take the time to rightly divide the word or obey it, I just know I need to. I'm sure I could use a little softening and pray the Lord grant that. In the mean time I pray for deeper desires in God's people to know His Word.
#10 Posted by
Jennifer Cordeiro | Monday, August 09, 2010at
Hello Christian Sisters,
God’s grace in my life looks like this: I was born and raised in California. I have a Master’s Degree from Stanford University. I thought I was so smart. No one could tell me what to do! I thought that I was a Christian because I went to church, but really I had no idea about what it meant to be saved.
My husband was born and raised in Northeastern Brazil. When he grew up it was a very conservative area, where men are in charge and women follow. Today, even there, things are changing to become more like they are here.
God put us together and we fought every single day for the first six months of our marriage. If one can imagine-I could not even understand the things he would say to me. He would talk to me lovingly about “respect” and I had no idea what that meant.
God began to work in my heart. I judged my husband to be wrong in many areas. I went to the Bible. There I saw instruction to me about: love, and service and silence and submission. God dismantled all my justifications about why I was right.
God made it clear to me that even if my husband were wrong, my job before God was still to do these things. Of course I did them imperfectly, and I can’t tell how many times I failed at being quiet when he would reprove me. My normal thing would be to answer back and explain why he was wrong.
Through this process God has taught me to be more understanding. My husband is a human being with limitations, and so am I. I understand now that most times when I thought I was right, I was actually wrong.
God has blessed our home. We live in peace. We love each other. My husband is an amazing blessing in my life. Today I love his rebukes, and I trust him completely.
What the world presents to us as ‘freedom’ is only freedom to destroy ourselves. True freedom is found in obedience to God! It is found by casting off our own ideas and replacing them with God’s Word and His truth. We are not able to do this on our own, but He can renew our minds.
I understand that there may be Christian Sisters reading this blog who face much greater challenges in obedience than I face. I trust that God will grant you wisdom and the strength to obey Him and trust His ways and wisdom over your own ideas.
I was reading today in Hebrews 12:1-11 about how God calls us to endure hardship as discipline. God uses hardship to draw us closer to Him. He breaks us down to remake us in Him. And it hurts. May God comfort you in a way that no person is able.
May God continue to strengthen us to live lives worthy of Him, and may He grant us the grace to obey Him. May He help us to hold Him alone as the most dear thing in our lives and to serve Him with love.
He is beautiful. His ways are beautiful. Blessed be the name of Jesus!
#11 Posted by
Mike Sexton | Monday, August 09, 2010at
Looking forward to seeing the discussion in this series. Satan began attacking families all the way back in the garden of Eden when he purposefully approached Eve over Adam to offer her the "gift" of knowledge and power first. It has happened since the beginning and it is more apparent today than ever.
There was however, a couple of sentences I kinda "speed-bumped" over.
"If we don’t preserve the family, society will crumble. The family is the basic building block of society. When it goes, everything goes."
I agree that the family is "a" basic building block of society, (Christ being "the" chief cornerstone of all godly families.) but the first sentence establishes what almost sounds like a dangerous premise. To establish a corollary between preservation of the family and the preservation of society almost smacks of dominionism. The course of nations and societies are set are they not? If our society is bound to crumble, like all others, can we really say that to fight for the biblical definition of family will somehow restore it?
Don't get me wrong, I think we should preach the Word exactly as it is presented. God clearly defines marriage as between a man and a woman united until death...period. We should stand up and defend the truth, but where do we draw the line between a statement such as this, and the idea that we can bring about God's kingdom (or any kind of stable, "Godly" society) if we all behave in a certain way? (Which is my understanding of dominion theology...it may very well be wrong!)
*To all: I humbly admit that I am an armchair theologian. If I have missed the point or hijacked the comment thread, I'm sorry. Correct or delete me gently and I will get the message.
#12 Posted by
Dan Wilson | Monday, August 09, 2010at
I was reading a passage in JM sermon. About gays.
I am single and proud of it. When I was young, my brother and I
was in church. A kid told our group that he was a homosexual.
We tried to encourage him to change but he just refused. I seen this evil generation almost 40yrs. It's just sad and it tears families. We
need to pray for them.
Posted above about word 'gay'
I agree about the word 'gay' means happy and joyful. Only one
#13 Posted by
Elaine Bittencourt | Monday, August 09, 2010at
#11 - Mike, I quote you:
"The course of nations and societies are set are they not? If our society is bound to crumble, like all others, can we really say that to fight for the biblical definition of family will somehow restore it?"
Well, the same could be said for families and individuals (not only nations). So according to your thought, it shouldn't matter if the biblical setup for the family is preserved or not.
In a way it's true that everything will get worse (I look around and wonder if that's even possible, it seems bad enough for me), but I don't think that excludes our responsibility in keeping and preserving the biblical family.
and I will add your little disclaimer at the end of my own post as well. =)
Grace and Peace!
#14 Posted by
Lenin John | Monday, August 09, 2010at
Great! I am getting married in 2 weeks. I was looking for sound doctrine in this area and God granted my wish. God bless Johnnie Mac.
#15 Posted by
Paul Tucker | Monday, August 09, 2010at
Howdy Folks: From my experience the difference between having Christ in a home and not being there is dramatic. I have lived around and about all sorts of marriages, those unequally yoked, those of professed believers, those who really believe. Some have gone through 5 or more marriages to those others with only one go around. Spiritual and non-spiritual. Those who commit their marriage to Christ, and live for Christ have it better. (I did not say easier)And their children have it better though it may not be easier.
I guess I should define "better". By better I mean that you have someone you can depend on to be there through the thick and thin, in joy and sorrow. Someone closer then family, closer then your best friend has ever been. They may not always accept you, they may fight with you and act like a two year old around you just like you act around them, but they stick around to be with you. Because they know that they are not perfect, and neither are you. And they know that it is what God expects them to do. "Better" is not sticking around to be physically abused when your spouse needs help. Just a thought.
#16 Posted by
Mike Sexton | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
Elaine- hello again my sister! I hope and pray that it is well with you. It's good to talk again and as always you show yourself sound in word and thought. I see what you're saying, but I think you might have misunderstood me on one thing.
You said, "Well, the same could be said for families and individuals (not only nations). So according to your thought, it shouldn't matter if the biblical setup for the family is preserved or not."
If you'll look back at the last paragraph of my post I said that we should defend scriptural truth...including the definition of marriage. But we should defend it because it is the truth of God's word...not because "it is "the basic building block of society" as the main article says. Again, I'm not saying that it is not a building block, I'm just saying that we can't expect to "save society" by acting or believing a certain way. It's kind of like with evangelism. God has already determined who will be saved, yet we are commanded to preach the gospel to all. We evangelize not because "if we don't, no one will be saved", though in a way this is true, but rather we evangelize because we were commanded by the Lord and because we (should) love telling of our God's great glory and mercy. Which I think is pretty much the same point you were making in your last sentence.
I absolutely believe we should defend the family, I just don't think we should do it under false pretenses (if indeed that is what this is...I could be (and most likely am) missing something or am reading too much into it.)
God be with you my sister!
#17 Posted by
Joey Hodge | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
#5 Paul writes:
I have lived around and about all sorts of marriages, those unequally yoked, those of professed believers, those who really believe. Some have gone through 5 or more marriages to those others with only one go around. Spiritual and non-spiritual. Those who commit their marriage to Christ, and live for Christ have it better. (I did not say easier)And their children have it better though it may not be easier.
Thanks Paul. This has been my experience as well. One thing that gets thrown in our faces a lot of times when talking with non-believers is the fact that the divorce rate for Christians is just as high as it is for non-Christians or that children from Christian families have just as many discipline problems in school as children from non-Christian families. My gut instinct is to get angry that so many of us Christians drop the ball when it comes to walking in obedience in our families.
But one thing to remember is that unlike non-Christian families, we have an enemy who takes an active interest in seeing us defeated, both in our relationships and in our walk. Let us remember to put on the full armor of God each and every day. Make no mistake. We are at war and our families are on the front lines.
#18 Posted by
Ramona Griffin | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
I have been happily married for almost 4 years. Some would say we are still newlyweds and have no reason to disagree, but I find that most marriages struggle in the beginning. We have never gotten into a fight and rarely disagree. I find that if you base your marriage on Philippians 2:3, "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" and similar passages (Romans 12:10) that you will always be treated likewise if you are married to a true Christian. If you are not, still hold fast to this passage and perhaps your actions and heart will melt the cold unbelief of your spouse. Our goal is to be like Christ, and Christ would never lord his authority and power over us in oppression. He wants us to follow him and be a willing participant to God's amazing glory. So we should consider others greater and they will consider us as well and everyone submits to the authority of God Almighty. Don't forget to be kind to your husband or wife and thank them for the nice things. This reinforces the behavior and really does create an amazing relationship that most will envy and few will understand.
#19 Posted by
Elaine Bittencourt | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
#16 - Mike. Hello there! =)
You see, that's why I claimed I was adding your disclaimer! hehe Imperfection.
I understand what you're saying, I just don't think that's what the text is saying. I understood it to imply that it was referring to the biblical definition of family. It is true that even the world once believed that the family was essential, I remember learning that in social studies in school (and that was a long time ago). Today not only the roles of husband/wife, mother/father is attacked, but before even that I remember the "takes a village to raise a child".
Maybe if this was a post on a secular website I'd see it under another light. Maybe. But take a look at the paragraph right before the one that talks about the society. The very end of that paragraph says:
"People need to see the divine pattern for relationships, modeled before the world by Christian marriages and families."
note the word "divine".
In the same way that we as individual Christians must give our testimony through our changed lives, the Christian family must do that as well. I don't think we disagree on that.
God bless you Mike!
#20 Posted by
Elaine Bittencourt | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
#17 - Joey. Nice to see you again! =)
Next time someone uses that argument with you, ask them their definition of "Christians". They are more likely including everything in the spectrum, from Jehovah Witnesses to Catholics.
Christians, real Christians who love the Lord and want to obey, are not dropping the ball.
You say: "But one thing to remember is that unlike non-Christian families, we have an enemy who takes an active interest in seeing us defeated, both in our relationships and in our walk. Let us remember to put on the full armor of God each and every day. Make no mistake. We are at war and our families are on the front lines."
So true! Like Fred says, better is not easier.
Grace and Peace,
#21 Posted by
Elaine Bittencourt | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
#9 - Diane. You sound like my twin, if I had one. =)
I will keep you in my prayers, I completely understand this: "Just one low day in the flesh can cause a big set back.'
Grace to you my sister,
#22 Posted by
Mike Sexton | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
Elaine...exactly. I figured we were in pretty much the same place. I just tend to grade text a little too snobbishly sometimes...which is why I said I was possibly reading more into than I should. Be blessed my sister!
#23 Posted by
Debby Longenecker | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
I began listening to this series yesterday. I wish that I would have kept listening to JM years ago. I have been listening to JM now for several months. I think that I have gone through the Beginning of the End several times now and many others. He is a man God is using and has used to teach truth and keep truth in the church. It is very sad that many so called preacher and teacher did and do not heed his Biblical teachings. I am going to listen again to the wives teachings and do my best to apply it to my life even more than I ever have. As I listened to the part 1 of the husband sermon my heart grieved....our daughter's now x husband introduced so many disgusting things into their marriage and he never showed her the love that Christ has for the Church even though he said he was a professed Christian. He hid his depravity well before the marriage and then not to long after their marriage he began breaking her down. She is so very wounded and she is still struggling in so many areas. She has 3 wonderful boys and their dad is basically not in there life...by his own choice. I pray that more people will listen to these sermons and seek the Holy Spirit in their lives, families and change their direction back to the Word of God. I pray God moves mightly through these word of JM.
#24 Posted by
Dan Wilson | Tuesday, August 10, 2010at
I was reading JM sermon about children.
This story is true. I was driving to bible study. I got stop cause three cows came in the road acting like children. One cow came at
my car and I honk at it 3 times and it backed off and fell in the ditch. The cow was ok and walked away.
The term of the true story I mention sounds like disciplining children
in a way what JM is saying. I notice kids around me are not getting enough discipline and they are put off. Like a easy way out. Which
there is no easy way out. Use the rod and your child will grow strong
and obedient to his parents and the Lord too. Amen.
It's good to use the rod. It must be in God's way, not our way. I am ashamed of myself that I should had been disciplined better as a kid. but can't change the past. God changed me and He does discipline me though His Word. I have a non-christian father and a christian mother which it's hard growing up like that. Thought to let you know that.
Remember if We are single or married. Let the Lord be in charge of
our life in everything we do. God bless.
#25 Posted by
Paul Tucker | Wednesday, August 11, 2010at
Hi Joey: Boy I'll say... in a society where money is made from instability in markets, buying and selling homes; forced movement due to job liquidity, and general unrest; the enemy really has an advantage. The lack of community keeps us from involving in the lives of those around us and church life is eclipsed because we're never settled due to work schedules. Fear of what kind of neighbors we might have can also have an effect because the amount of perversion "available" to the average person brings out the worst in humanity. The increased use of drugs and prescription medication has also had a effect. The impact of modern secularization is seeing the fruits of its labour. If it were not for the supernatural power of the Father through the Spirit of God working out the Word of God in our lives to form us in the image of "His dear son", Jesus, how could we stand against such an onslaught? Just a thought. (Its not just words-I'm going thorough it now)
#26 Posted by
Diane Lowell | Saturday, August 14, 2010at
Thanks Elaine, It is nice to know I am not in the trenches alone. I would have responded sonner but I've been busy up here on the front lines :) Praise God I know to keep my eyes on Him, my only hope.
Now if I can just get the walk in the spirit more than the flesh a little (lot) better I would be very grateful.
Thank you for your prayers and be sure you are in mine.
A quick word on family, even though I am in a house divided and try not to get caught up in the worlds lingo of being a doormat or if I am enabling or if I am not being consistant with my children enough or the many other views I have known about, I totally rely on being sure my heart is right in the matter before me (full time job), examining myself before God and then laying it all down, trusting He is faithful and WILL do perfectly all that concerns me. My soul, wait thou only upon God; For my expectation is from Him. Ps. 62:5