This month we are focusing on God’s blueprint for the family found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In this post, I want us to consider the question from the other side of the cross. What is the significance of the family in light of the gospel and the church? Jesus says that he is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5)… how is this true for the family? I believe we can see this in at least 3 ways.
1. The Holy Spirit empowers the family
In Ephesians 6, Paul gives instructions for children and parents (in particular, fathers):
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
We need to note a few things in this passage. First, the imperatives for both the children and parents are to be one “in/of the Lord.” As Christians, everything we do as families, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we do all for the glory of the God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Children are to obey their parents in the Lord, ultimately obeying the Lord when they obey their parents. Parents are to raise their children in the ways of the Lord, glorifying God in their parenting. Everything we do should be done as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Second, this cannot be done without the Holy Spirit’s power. Ephesians 6 flows out of 5:15-20,
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15-20).
Directly after this passage is Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives, and then his instructions to the family. The strength to be a Christ-honoring family comes from being filled with the Spirit. How awesome is that?! The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers children to lovingly obey their parents. He also empowers parents to raise their children in the Lord. Sin can make these difficult, but thanks be to God that His Spirit empowers the family! We are not left on our own, the Holy Spirit empowers us.
2. We are adopted into a new family, the Church
In Romans 8, Paul demonstrates that the family is a beautiful picture of what God is doing in our salvation. We are adopted into God’s family, and share in the love between the Father and Son (Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:6-7, John 17:23). We were once dead in our sins, alienated from God, but we are now adopted into His family! With this, we are brought into the Church and given a new family. Not only are we saved from our sins, we are saved into a family. All throughout the New Testament, fellow Christians refer to one another as brothers and sisters. The Church is a family of believers that share the same Father, are saved by the same Son, and are united by the same Spirit. How comforting it is to know that we have a family that transcends flesh and blood. In reality, if members of our household are a part of this community, they are also our brothers and sisters. My father passed away when I was in high-school. I am comforted every day by the fact that one day, I will stand beside him as my brother and we will worship our good King Jesus forever. The same is/can be true for your family in light of the gospel.
3. God’s mission is renewed in our families
In Genesis 1:28, God gives humanity a mission to go into all the world, filling and subduing it for His glory. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Moses instructs families to raise and teach their children in the love of the Lord. In the Great Commission, both of these missions find their renewal. Jesus tells his disciples
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Genesis Mission is renewed – where God commanded mankind to subdue and fill the earth, Jesus tells his followers to go to all the world, to all nations, and make disciples. The Family Mission is renewed – where Moses commanded families to teach their children the things of the Lord, Jesus tells his followers to immerse others in the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, making disciples and teaching them in the ways of the Lord. Parents, you are fulfilling the Great Commission when you bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). When you do this, you are training them to go out and do the same.
The family is a beautiful thing that is re-affirmed and renewed in light of the gospel. The family is equipped for Great Commission work because of what Christ has done. When you are discipling your kids – when you are living out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – you are fulfilling the Great Commission. This builds the Kingdom, advancing the gospel-work of the Church – the family of God. This is a weighty responsibility, one that has to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, family is a good thing.
(This post is a modification of a previous article written by Pastor Wesley: https://intersectproject.org/faith-and-culture/love-sin-and-family-reflections-from-a-new-father/)