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Contemporary Issues

"The Kingship of Christ in our Home"

 

by Rev Jack Sin 

(Pastor, Maranatha B-P Church)

 

 

 

Introduction

The 21st century homes have a greater exposure to temptation and distractions than those in the past. Christian families are under great duress due to the exacting demands of work, leisure and childrenís attention and the Internet today. Sadly, Christ and the bible are often relegated to an insignificant place, even in the Christian home. Career, Internet, TV, leisure or children took centre stage. Believers desperately need to be reminded and challenged to return or maintain to a Christ-centred covenant home (Ps 127:1).

One of the joys and duties of family life is to bring up children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The psalmist quipped that "Children are a heritage of the Lord"(Ps 127:3), and parents have an accountability to God concerning the way they relate and nurture their children in a covenant home. Do not belittle or despise them that are young. They need the gospel of salvation too and we are to train them up in the knowledge of the Lord in their tender years. That is our sacred joy and bounden duty. Our Lord says,"Suffer [or, permit] the little children to come unto me" (Mark 10:14). We ought not to neglect our children and substitute with other activities no matter how important they may seem to be.

 

Relationship of husband and wife

Let us begin with the models of the home, which invariably will be the father and mother. Is there a close walk and regular devotional life because what you do not have, you cannot give? Husbands and fathers have to set a good example first and wives must submit to the husbands so that the children will recognise and respect the authority figure in the home. Husbands, we are to love our wives as Christ has loved the church (Eph 5:23-7). Beware of the temptations of the day devised by the devil that draws us away from keeping our covenant vows Are we committed to a covenant home, based on biblical principles? Are there daily worship, prayer and constant sharing of Christís principles and convictions where there is an opportunity? Be rooted and grounded in the Word first. Did you cleave to God and to each other, forsaking all others? There is a time for examination and reflection. You are the best model for your children to emulate.

 

The Nursery of Godliness in the Christian Home (2 Tim 1:5)

The home is the most fundamental of all human institutions and it is the basic building block of the church and society. Formal or informal Christian education starts from the parents from the day they are born to such a time that they leave the home and it is the primary duty of parents and not the church nor the school (even then Christian education should still continue). There is a sober duty of every parent to fulfil in the Lord.

 

Young Timothy was taught at home by his godly grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Tim 1:5, 3:15) and Augustine and John Wesley by their godly mothers, Monica and Susanne as well. The Jews have a strong home-based religious influence and the Torah is commonly read during the keeping of the convocations like the Passover and Feast of Tabernacles. Note the words of Deut 4:9Ė10 which says, "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sonsí sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children."

 

Moses had specific instructions to the Israelites to propagate Godís law to their descendants in the years to come. Not only are parents responsible to teach Godís law, children are also responsible to know and keep it (Deut 6:2).

 

In Deut 6:7, Moses said, "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." God has maintained that the daily and constant reminder of His law would have a positive effect on the children of believing parents. Parents are to heed this biblical advice seriously and diligently. We are to bring our children to worship on the Sabbath every Lordís Day, and help them to grow in the grace and knowledge of saving faith. Spend quality time with your children daily. Do not be carried away with secular duties to the neglect of the family. Deut 31:11Ė12 says, "When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law." Let every Christian father rally the children often together to seek God, ponder His goodness and mercies and instil good moral and ethical principles and hence good demeanour in them.

 

Glimpses of the Biblical View of the Family

Firstly, the all-important theme of the Christ-centred family is emphasized throughout the whole Bible. Families existed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, long before human societies and nations were formed. We assert the crucial importance of Christ centredness through the teaching of scripture and not worldliness with regard to the upbringing and education of children. Eph 6:4 echoes this same theme by reminding parents to nurture their children on the discipline and instruction of the Word.

 

Secondly, a Christian family is characterised by discipline with dignity. Hebrews 12 reminds us that effective discipline is not abusive but corrective and it is a mark of sonship. Some are afraid to discipline and others overdo it. There is a fair and proper discipline, which builds up character and virtue and yet not discourages the childís spiritual, intellectual and social development. Excessive beating or scolding may have the opposite effect and hardens the child. The lack of it may nurture a rebellious one. Withdrawal of benefits at certain times may be effective coupled with rewards as well for good behaviour and obedience.

 

Pray for wisdom what to do the right thing in each situation. Above all, spend quality time together to build a strong and intimate relationship with them and know them well and not be ignorant of what is going on in their lives.

 

Thirdly, the Christian family seeks to follow Godís will and values in daily living (Jas 4:13Ė17). Decision-making is centred on God and preceded by family prayer, led by the father. The child learns that every time he / she needs to decide on something, he / she has to consult God first through prayer and patient waiting. The child should learn morality (what is right or wrong), not from the TV, videos and questionable websites but from the Word of God and by their parentsí examples. Values like thrift, diligence, respect, honesty, humility, godliness are inculcated over time. Beware of the influence of worldly companions and magazines or websites that are unedifying or even immoral or ungodly. The child should grow in dependence on God, and not on himself / herself or on his / her parents or his friends or teachers.

 

Regular and Meaningful Family Worship

Bible reading and family worship is a necessary characteristic of a covenant home. Fathers take the initiative and the Lead as well. Spend time with God yourself and prepare to lead your family in worship. The family that worships and prays together stays together. Worship is our privilege, joy and the corporate body of a church / family is commanded to worship God together. Try the following prayerfully:-

 

1. Find a suitable time and place in the home for all to meet regularly, say thrice a week for a start, on a Sunday afternoon / night or weekend before dinner.

2. Sing a psalm / hymn together and open with prayer.

3. Let every member share his or her needs and / or thanksgiving.

4. Listen attentively to one anotherís sharing, show concern and care for them.

5. The head of the home reads a passage and share a short exhortation. It can be reading from a devotional book. One or two appropriate practical points will do.

6. Take time to pray and let everyone have a chance to pray, if possible.

 

You can even have the Shorter Catechism or study a book of the Bible as a start to teach them Bible doctrines systematically, or topical series that are relevant to Christian diligence, responsibility, holiness, honesty, integrity, purity, worship, godliness, stewardship, etc.

 

From the Scriptures, emphasize different principles of practical life and encourage obedience to the Word. Cultivate the fear of God in them and use daily events to teach a lesson (eg: Recently, in the newspaper, a police officer was punished for briberyóno stealing or there are consequences, someone died from fightingó control your anger; no fist fights, be patient and temperate, spiritual lesson on the recent air crash of our Singapore airlines at Taipei Airport on the sovereignty of God and brevity of life). Other relevant questions can be discussed as well, eg, use of Internet, what about tattoos, strange dressing, charismatic, vulgar language, drinking, dancing, watching movies, discos, BGR, etc. There could also be discussion on schoolwork, or church ministry or family projects, like reaching out to grandma or third uncle, or studying through the Psalms together as a family. Stay relevant and know what is happening to your kids.

 

Note that children needs special attention and nurture if you donít remember others will and that may or may not be desirable (ie: if there is bad company).

 

The Spiritual and Social Development in a Child includes the following

1. Reading the Word personally, meditating on it, applying and memorising it.

2. Learning to pray, both privately and publicly and discover and obey Godís will.

3. Learning the importance of reverential worship, honouring and obeying God.

4. Learning to serve and to be a responsible steward of the manifold grace of God.

5. Learning to share the gospel and to give a tract to friends effectively.

6. Learning to fellowship with others and reach out to and care for others selflessly.

7. Learning to give proportionately and to trust the Lordís grace to provide for our needs sufficiently.

8. Learning to honour God and his parents with respect and love.

 

The Loving Headship of Husband / Father

The biblical teaching on the family is a hierarchy of God-given authority. Hierarchy in the family means, first of all, that the husband and father is the accountable head for what happens and the one who is finally responsible for seeing that essential matters are happening in a family. Calvin had written, "Let the husband so rule as to be the head . . . of his wife and let the woman . . . yield modestly to his demands." Luther had stated that "a wife is indeed to live according to the direction of her husband; what he bids and commands is to be done." And Katherine von Bora lived up to that expectation supporting the ever-busy 16th century German reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546). Idelette de Bure, a capable woman, was a great helpmeet and blessing to the French and Genevan reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564). Anne Judson too to Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) the pioneering missionaries to Myanmar.

 

If we reverse the order, we court trouble in the home. Remember that the man is the head of the house and the woman the heart of the home. Let each do their part in the upkeep of a hospitable and caring home that is a blessed refuge and nursery for their godly offspring. Man must take the leadership and responsibility lovingly and make a conscious effort to guide and direct the family in its daily decision and not relegated it to the wife or the children. Modelled on Christís Headship of the Church, the husbandís headship is not a ticket to tyranny but a charge to responsibility based on love for his wife and submission to God (Col 3:22Ė25). Every husband is to be responsible to guide and lead the family in the right direction. The husband is the head of the home; the wife is the heart of the house. She is the God-ordained partner in the management of a Christian home. The support of a godly spouse is a favour from God and blesses all those around them (Prov 31).

 

An Exemplary Parentage in the OT

The godly man Job, has an excellent family practice recorded in Job 1:5, "And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." Do we remember to pray for and with our children every morning? Monica prayed fervently for her son and he turned out to be the great theologian, Augustine, who stood against Pelagianism in the 4th century. Susanna Wesley, another prayerful and godly lady, had two sons, Charles and John Wesley, who revived England together with George Whitefield in the 18th century. Within a family, it is important to know that a bad example can wipe out good instruction. Be sure to set a good example before your children. Other methods of instruction will not do much good, if you do not teach them by a godly example. Your children will not mind the good rules you give them if you do not act contrary to those rules yourselves. If your counsels are good, but your examples are contrary, your children will be more likely to be hurt by the latter, than benefit from the former.

 

Remember the negative example of Eli and his recalcitrant sons, which he did not discipline (1 Sam 2:12-17,22,34). Someone said, If parents would have their children blessed at church and at school, let them beware they give their children no corrupt examples at home by any carelessness, profaneness, or ungodliness. Otherwise, parents will do them more harm at home than both pastors and schoolmasters can do them good. In practice, parents have to earn the right to inculcate values and biblical principles in their children.

 

Remember this: "The best gift you can give another is a worthy example." You can easily nullify what you have taught by doing the exact opposite. Imagine a father says to the son, "Do not watch too much TV (on computer games) it is no good for you. Now go to bed." The next thing is that the child wakes up in the middle of the night and discovers that his dad is still glued to the goggle box. So much for precept when it is not matched by practice. Things like honesty can only be taught if you are consistent (eg pirated software at home?), or diligence, industry (are you hardworking?), or godliness (do they see you praying or reading)?

 

The Picture of the Family as a Church

A good image for the family is the church. Richard Baxter wrote, "a Christian family . . . is a church . . . a society of Christians combined for the better worshipping and serving God." William Gouge said that the family is "a little church," while William Perkins wrote, "These families wherein the service of God is performed are, as it were, little churches, yea, even a kind of Paradise upon earth." We need to know that the church can never be a substitute for the religious life of a family. In fact, the health of the church depends on that Christian in the family. Richard Gresham claimed that "if ever we would have the church of God to continue among us, we must bring it into our households, and nourish it in our families." William Cartwright insisted that catechising should be carried on "both at home by the master of the house, and in the church by the minister." To the question, "Why at home?" He replied, "Because houses are the nurseries of the church."

 

Wise Solomon in Proverbs 24:3Ė4, says, "Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches." So the home is not a matter of concrete bricks, but of spiritual wisdom and the understanding of Godís Word. The rooms in the home are not just filled with worldly things, clothes, accessories, but spiritual knowledge of biblical truths andthe wardrobe of godly characters are to be put on everyday. That requires great energy and effort to prayerfully build up a spiritually stable and sound Christian home. The architect is God and He used the parents as His agents and instruments. To construct and erect a vibrant, blessed, Christ-centred outfit and testimony of covenant grace and mercies for the inhabitants and all around them. We need to depend and submit to God alone and put Him first always.

 

Conclusion

The family provides a good test case for us to apply our belief in covenant theology.Covenant means relationship and a set of privileges and obligations to abide by, first to God and then to other persons. The purpose of a family is to glorify God. The family is ideally a place of sanctified relationships and the worship of God and the enrichment of one another. A well-ordered family is a hierarchical one in which the husband/father is the accountable head, the wife/mother his subordinate with her own spheres of responsibility, and children subject to the discipline and nurture of both parents (Eph 5:24Ė26; Col 3:24).Proper child development is not about building self-esteem or positive thinking as some secular psychologists would have told us to do. Like us, children are fallen creatures whose sinful bent is to be redirected toward God and moral goodness through Jesus Christ our Lord. The foundation of good childbearing is the influence of example of parents and other "significant others" as well as precepts of the Scriptures, and a balance between restraint and positive support. Above all, the parents are to teach their children the knowledge of the Christian religion so that God willing, our children may receive eternal happiness through the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

A historic document concerning the family was the 1677 resolution of the members in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to undertake a reformation of their lives. Part of the covenant that they signed was the resolve: to reform our families, engaging themselves to a conscientious care to set up and maintain the worship of God in them and to walk in our houses with perfect hearts in a faithful discharge of all domestic duties: educating, instructing, and charging our children and our households to keep the ways of the Lord.We need a reformation today too. It is not a resuscitation of an ailing economy, it is a reformation of domestic life and it starts with our individual families when we humble ourselves and cry to God for repentance and assistance to bring up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Deut 6:6Ė7).

 
 
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