“Keep therefore and do [the statutes and judgments given by the Lord]; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” ().
“We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” ().
A beautiful illustration of this verse from Paul to the Corinthians was told by the first Protestant missionary to Japan. He went back to England on furlough, and there, in his apartment, he was visited by some members of the royal family of Japan. They were his acquaintances and were now touring Europe. After their visit, another group of Japanese tourists came to see the missionary. “Oh,” one of them exclaimed, “you have entertained royalty here today.” “What makes you think so?” the missionary asked. “Why, there is a perfume manufactured in our country for the exclusive use of the royal family. No one else is allowed to use it, and its fragrant odor is evident in this apartment. We can tell you have had members of the royal house to visit you here.”
Today, we profess to be fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the royal family of God. If we actually are what we profess to be, we will also leave behind us a spiritual fragrance which will identify us with the family of Heaven. Then, when people look at us, notice our attitude, and hear our words, they will be compelled to say about us what some of the leaders of the Jewish nations said of Peter and John: “These have been with Jesus.”
We have been put here for a purpose
There is a purpose for everything that came from the hands of our Creator. When God made human beings in His image, He made them male and female, for “it is not good that the man should be alone.” “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (). One of the intents of this twofold association was announced in these words: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” ( ).
“God himself formed the earth…; He formed it to be inhabited” (1). After the casting out of Lucifer and the angels that rebelled, “it was God’s purpose to repopulate heaven with the human family, if they would show themselves obedient to His every word.”
If sin had not entered into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, the purpose of God for humanity could have been accomplished in a short time. The human family would have become one with the heavenly family. But the entrance of sin brought a delay in the fulfillment of God’s plan. Sin caused the emptiness in heaven. Sinful humans could not fill a void made by evicting angels who sinned. Sinners must cease to be sinners before they can have a place among the heavenly family. And this change in sinners is accomplished through the plan of redemption.
The love of God is revealed in offering free salvation to all men. How sad that so few accept His love and are actually willing to be saved. “Many are called, but few are chosen” ().
Why do so many of us who are sinners disrespect God’s love and reject salvation? Because many prefer to follow the example of Cain in bargaining with God. They don’t want to be saved in the way that God has prescribed. If we actually want to be received into the everlasting kingdom at the coming of Christ, then we will take great interest in the program that God has established for us.
The Lord has called us “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (), that we may “shine as lights in the world” ( ). Christ said, “Ye are the light of the world” ( ). What a privilege you and I have! And what a responsibility! God wants every Christian to be an influence for good in this world. We are to experience here a foretaste of the delights of life in heaven. We are to let our neighbors gain a glimpse of the beauties of a superior existence. In other words, God has made every provision to enable us to partially enjoy and exemplify here on earth the “things which He hath prepared for them that love Him” ( ) before we enter into the actual and full enjoyment of these blessing in heaven.
And this is where the Christian home comes into the picture. God’s program for the Christian family has blessings in store for the builders of the home, the church, the society, and for the government. The Christian home will be a piece of heaven on earth. “A happy family,” said the English statesman Sir John Bowring, “is but an earlier heaven.”
Blessings in the home
One of the blessings that God wants us to possess is the blessing of happiness. A good family life can be a great source of happiness. This has been generally recognized and confirmed by many writers.
A. Edward Newton wrote: “If this world affords true happiness, it is to be found in a home where love and confidence increase with the years.” Goethe, German poet and philosopher, stated: “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”
In the Bible, a happy man is depicted, not as one who lives as a hermit, but in company with his wife and children ().
Notice that it is not enough just to have a home in order to enjoy the promised blessing. A secular man may say, “All is well with me and my family, without God,” but he is not blessed and happy in the fullest sense. Over the years I have observed that a person who does not have peace with God cannot be really happy. Such a person is deceived, without hope, and actually on his or her way to destruction. There can be no happiness in the prospect of extinction (). Not only non-Christians are deceived, but also half-converted Christians, who “profess that they know God; but they deny him in works” ( ). If we believe we can serve God once a week and walk in the ways of sin the other six days of the week, we are deceived. There is no greater deception than self-deception.
The love of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the covetous desires of the eyes, and the pride of life () come from him who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Satan “sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,” but made it very clear that the acceptance of these things involved a serious commitment: “All these things will I give thee,” said the tempter, “if thou wilt fall down and worship me” ( ). When we are tempted to love the world and the things that belong to it, do we realize whom we are tempted to worship through our wrong attitude?
The blessing that the Lord promised in Psalm 128 is for “every one that feareth the Lord” and “walketh in his ways.” Therefore, the most essential element in any home is the presence of the Lord, who says: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (). The Christian home is like a greenhouse where the precious seeds of the principles of heaven have the best chance to spring up, flourish, and bear fruit, if properly cultivated by the parents and other members of the home.
This blessing of God will lead every home that experiences the influence of Christ to demonstrate love for each family member. Each parent and child will be treated fairly, with dignity and benevolence. Firmness and mercy will be apparent. The well-being of every family member will be the constant goal of every family member.
Even for those that have been so injured by sin and Satan as to lose their family on earth, they can and will learn to treat those around them, their close friends and adopted “family,” so well that the world will know these suffering people have been with Jesus.
The influence on the children
“Immediately after the Bolshevist Revolution in the Soviet Union, the Russian leaders tried to destroy the family and marriage, eliminating the so-called capitalist monogamy. . . . Instead of the marriage institution, there was only a social contract entered upon between a man and a woman to live together for a period of time, as long as one year, one month, one week, or even one night. Divorce was obtained as often as desired. A few years later, hordes of homeless . . . children became a menace even to the Soviet Union. Millions of lives were ruined, especially of girls. The hatred and conflict amongst polygamists and polyandrists increased, and so did their psychoneurosis. Work in the factories decreased. This condition forced a change in the political arena. The State then exalted chastity and the sanctity of marriage, and a law was enacted in 1944 making divorce virtually impossible to obtain for the majority of the citizenry. These measures seemed to have ameliorated the situation.”2
An atheistic society, that did not acknowledge the home as a divine institution, came to the conclusion that the abolishment of the home is a social disaster and that the restoration of the home is an absolute necessity for the survival of society and the safety of the government. We as Christians go a big step further. We believe that the home is indeed restored only if the presence of God is there. Only from a home where God reigns supreme, where the principles of heaven are exemplified, can the children carry blessings, happy memories, and a clear discernment between right and wrong. Therefore, let us bear in mind that through our example, which may be either a savor of life unto life or a savor of death unto death, we are helping our children secure a passport—either to eternal life or eternal death.
A few examples will show how important a role Christian religion plays in the home, and how detrimental the absence of Christianity in the home is.
When the English theologian Henry Alford decided to give up his teaching career, he wrote to his wife:
“I anticipate with much pleasure our domestic life, now about to begin. May it be spent in mutual profit, and love, and improvement, and, above all, in the fear and love of God. Our dear children are of an age to enter into all our thoughts and feeling—[thoughts] of good characters and warm hearts. Don’t let us mar these. . . . I will try my part by guarding against suddenness of temper and hasty words; and you, darling, do yours by striving against coldness of manner. And let us both pray to our God that He will bless us to one another and to our dear children.”
Here, Alford reveals the blessings that belong to every real Christian family.
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss educational reformer, who established a method of teaching based on the value of hard work, praised the Christian home atmosphere in the following words:
“Our home joys are the most delightful [joys] earth can afford, and the joy of parents in their children is the most holy joy of humanity. It makes their heart pure and good, and it lifts men up to their Father in heaven.”
In contrast, please consider a very different example. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as in any other large city, there are many homeless children. Begging, stealing, and early prostitution are their means of survival. One day the police picked up a young boy and took him to the juvenile hall. “What is your name?” “Joe.” The routine questions continued and soon startled the officers. “Who is your mother?” “A harlot.” “And who is your father?” “The devil.” “Where do you live?” “In hell.” The officers could not understand him until, upon further questioning, it became clear that there was fighting between the parents practically every day. During the usual brawl the father would shout at the mother, “You’re a harlot,” and she would holler back, “You’re the devil.” And when not content with a bilateral stream of coarse and abusive language, they would come to grips. And finally, when calming down, they would agree on one point, “This is hell.” It was in this sordid environment that the boy had developed his peculiar state of mind, which was a great curse to him. This is surely the result of a lack of real Christian influence in the home. And what must be expected from children who come from such homes?
Hans Christian Andersen, Danish author, says: “Eighty percent of our criminals come from unsympathetic homes.” Certainly that cause would disappear as we allow the love of Jesus to fill our homes with Christian sympathy and goodwill.
Albert B. Hines, former director of the Boy’s Club of New York, asserted that eighty percent of the crime in the United States is committed by men and boys who have had no real religious training.
Samuel Smiles says that sociologists studied the hereditary effects of the character and deportment of two individuals with a view to ascertaining the influence that they exerted upon their descendants over five generations. One was a sailor whom he called Jukes. This man was a gambler, a drinker, a smoker, and a licentious man. The other, a certain Jones, was a sober, decent Christian. Jukes had five daughters, who got married but within a few years became prostitutes. In the fifth generation, Jukes had 1,200 descendants, among whom there were 450 syphilitics, 300 professional beggars, 130 thieves, and seven murderers. Among Jones’ descendants, in the fifth generation, there were 300 bearers of different university degrees, 100 lawyers, 80 government officers, 60 doctors, 60 writers, 30 magistrates, three senators, and a certain number of bankers and businessmen. In light of these statistics, who can deny that humanity is the product of home influences?
During a meeting held in Valparaiso, Indiana, U.S.A., a mother shared the following: “I was left with five children. My oldest boy became rebellious and I could do nothing with him. He would lie and steal, and I began to think that I would have to put him in the reformatory [the predecessor of juvenile detention]. One night I dreamed that a voice came to me telling me to read the Bible with my children. I had never read the Bible with my children, though I had a beautiful one for an ornament on the living room table. I began to read it with the children, and, oh, what a difference it made in our home! The children would gather around me as gentle as kittens, and my eldest boy, two or three days after I commenced, broke down and, putting his arms around my neck, promised he would be a good boy and be saved.”3
With David we must say, truly, “the entrance of thy words giveth light” (). The Bible transforms the home, and the transformed home transforms society.
The influence on society
The influence of the home on society is a well-established fact that no person will deny. “It is by the youth and children of today that the future of society is to be determined, and what these youth and children shall be depends upon the home. . . .
“Parents may lay for their children the foundation for a healthy, happy life. They may send them forth from their homes with moral stamina to resist temptation, and courage and strength to wrestle successfully with life’s problems. They may inspire in them the purpose and develop the power to make their lives an honor to God and a blessing to the world. They may make straight paths for their feet, through sunshine and shadow, to the glorious heights above.
“The mission of the home extends beyond its own members. The Christian home is to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life. Such an illustration will be a power for good in the world. Far more powerful than any sermon that can be preached is the influence of a true home upon human hearts and lives. As the youth go out from such a home, the lessons they have learned are imparted. Nobler principles of life are introduced into other households, and an uplifting influence works in the community.”4
The following quotation is reproduced from the Wall Street Journal: “What America needs more than railway extension and western irrigation, and a lower tariff, and a bigger wheat crop, and a merchant marine, and a new navy, is a revival of piety, the kind of mother and father we used to have; piety that counted it good business to stop for daily family prayers before breakfast, right in the middle of the harvest; that quit work a half hour earlier on Thursday night, so as to get the chores done and go to prayer meeting; that borrowed money to pay the preacher’s salary and prayed fervently in secret for the salvation of the rich man who looked with scorn on such unbusiness-like behavior. That’s what we need now to clean this country of the filth of graft and greed, petty and big.”
Someone wrote: “The picture of the family circle, the father, mother and children sitting together reading the Bible, is a scene of inspiring beauty. There, the Word of God is at work—molding character, lighting the path of good, inspiring deeds of service. Religion has a vital meaning, touching every aspect of life.” This is what the world needs more than any other thing.
Jane Addams, American social worker, directed an appeal to parents in the U.S.A.: “America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what it is taught, hence we must watch what we teach it, and how we live before it.”
William Aikman, famous English portrait painter, said: “Civilization varies with the family, and the family with civilization. Its highest and most complete realization is found where enlightened Christianity prevails.”
Much more than the force of any civil government, it is the well-ordered and solid home that exerts a powerful preservative influence, keeping society from utter deterioration. The Christian family, following the teachings of the Master of masters, is the salt of the earth.