|Vol. 16 No. 4 April 2014||
Arlis D. Richardson
Recently while I was driving home from church services I noted a sign stating, “Home for Sale.” It reminded me of an event related to me some years ago and that has remained for consideration ever since.
A preacher friend told the following story. “I overheard the following and it made me very proud. My family and I had just moved into a new work, and we were busy getting settled. A new neighbor’s son was talking to my son. He asked, ‘Why don’t you people have a home?’ My son stated, ‘Well, we’ve got a home. Daddy just hasn’t found a place to put it yet! We’re just looking around for the right place to put our home.’”
Can you, dear reader, make such a statement? Do you truly have a home as God would have it, although your family isn’t settled in one place? Some 70 times the Bible mentions “home.” Several other passages set forth the relationship that should prevail in a home that God desires. Typical is Colossians 3:17-23, which enjoins wives to be submissive unto their husbands, children to be obedient to parents, husbands to love their wives and not be bitter against them, and fathers to not provoke their children to anger. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
Whether the family has a permanent dwelling or not, it can still have such a home. It all depends on attitude, and that attitude must be centered on God. Unfortunately, far too many families do not have such a home even though perhaps having a settled dwelling place. Yet, the faithful members of the Christian home have every assurance “knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). I am fully aware that the family who listed the home for sale didn’t fully realize what that sign could be implying. I pray that they only meant that the house was for sale. I truly hope that they will keep the home, even if they succeed in selling the dwelling.
To Christians who may have been overcome by self-pity, the Holy Spirit reminded, “…consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3, 4). It does not sound like a very compassionate tone, does it? So, the Spirit proceeds with a discussion of joyfully accepting Divine discipline. “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6). Such disciplining comments and exhortations emanate from love, not bitterness. They proceed from a God who wants us to be trained to be “partakers of His holiness” (12:10). The recipients count the comments not as pleasant, but if wise, as useful to be trained toward righteousness (12:11). After all, our physical parents have disciplined us for our good – why shouldn’t our Heavenly Father do the same (12:9)?
God’s discipline comes through words. Well, not just any old words such as might be used by an angry dad scolding a disobedient son. God’s discipline comes through inspired words that pierce the conscience-laden heart. His Word is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). When God speaks, we react not mindlessly as a dog, which is only sorry because it hurts from being hit with a rolled newspaper. We react as humans, endowed by our Creator with a sense of morality. We react as persons touched with guilt when confronted with the conflict between His will and our behavior.
Sometimes that conflict results in repentance. After the first Gospel sermon, the people were “cut to the heart” and desperately wanted forgiveness (Acts 2:37). After a later Gospel sermon, some self-righteous were also “cut to the heart,” but they reacted defensively and violently (Acts 7:54-58). The contrast effectively illustrates that God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). When God disciplines with His Word, it will have an effect. Man’s innate sense of morality will not allow it not to have an effect. The question is whether it will be a response of repentance or retaliation, of godly sorrow or mean-spirited anger.
To retaliate, to rebel against God’s discipline is hopeless and futile. His will shall be done. Our soul’s salvation depends on whether or not we respond appropriately to His chastening.
The body of Lenin lies in a crystal casket in a mausoleum at Red Square in Moscow, Russia. There is a sign by his casket that says, “For he was the greatest leader of people, of all time. He was Lord of the new humanity. He was Saviour of the world.” Notice if you will that the past tense is used to describe Lenin. The Bible speaks of Jesus in three tenses. In Hebrews 13:8 Paul said, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” John gives us Jesus’ own description of himself in Revelation 1:8 as, “…the Lord which is, which was, and which is to come the Almighty.” What a difference between the god of communism and the God of Christianity! Why not let Jesus lead you to heaven by allowing him to make a new man out of you (John 3:3, 5)? Why not let him be your Savior, the Author of your eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8, 9)?