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A Plan for Your Family: God's vs. the World's, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2021 4:00 am

A Plan for Your Family: God's vs. the World's, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Can the family be saved? And I suppose for the sake of some people, we should ask, should the family be saved?

Is it worth fighting for? God has an answer to, should the family be saved? And God has an answer to, can the family be saved? In fact, we must understand the blessedness, the bliss, and the purpose of God that unfolds in the matter of marriage and raising children. Winston Churchill said that it's around the family that the most dominating virtues of human society are created, strengthened, and maintained. Churchill touches on an important biblical principle. The family is the fundamental unit in society, and God is the designer of the family. He knows how families work best.

So how can you make sure your family is working the way God designed? Find out on Grace to You as John MacArthur continues his study, The Fulfilled Family. John, we mention periodically that this series, The Fulfilled Family, has a unique distinction because of such a high response we get to this material and have gotten over the decades.

This is our most in-demand study. Does that surprise you at all? Yeah in some ways it does, Phil, because how many years ago did we do this series?

I know. 30 years ago? No, longer than that. More than 40 years ago. More than 40 years ago. So in that sense, I mean with the world changing so fast and rapidly, here we are 40 years later and we're playing the same series and it's still the most popular, that part of it surprised me. What doesn't surprise me is everybody still living in a family, right? So the issue of family hasn't gone away. Lots of things are changing around it and even to the family. But I would say if anything, the desperation about trying to understand how a family should operate is higher now than it's ever been.

I wouldn't be surprised if this series gets a response that may exceed even previous responses because the level of desperation is so high. You know, people in this generation are first of all terrified of marriage. So marriage gets, you know, set aside for many people for a lifetime. And when they get married, they're sort of fearful about having children and then they're not sure about how to handle those children. They're afraid of what's going to happen to them in school because they know what they're going to be exposed to.

They're afraid of what's going to happen to them in the world and the ubiquitous internet and all that. So yeah, I mean, family is still the core of civilization. It's still God's unit to pass righteousness from one generation to the next and building his kingdom. So it's still the critical reality and it's in, I guess you could say, worse shape now than it's ever been. And so, yeah, I'm not surprised in that sense that people are going to respond to what the Bible says about how to have a really fulfilled family.

And listen, this is practical stuff. What we're going to talk about is not just sort of theological talk. We're going to get right down to what it means to have a godly family, godly husband, godly father, to be the wife and mother the Lord wants you to be, to be the father God wants you to be, to be the kids God wants you to be. Fulfilled family is from heaven instruction for the kingdom people on earth. Yes, and friend, I think you'll be encouraged by just how much God's Word says about the family and how you can build a home where Christ is honored.

To start that building process now, stay here as John MacArthur begins his look at the fulfilled family. No one needs to prove to us that we may be watching the death of the germ cell of civilization, the family. All the signs are abundantly clear all around us. We could drag out all kinds of statistics to indicate the dire situation in the families in our culture. We are all constantly looking at the parade in the media of divorce, sexual rebellion, abortion, sterilization, delinquency, infidelity, homosexuality, women's liberation, children's rights and so on.

We are watching the formation of the rope that strangles the family to death. And many frankly are gladly carving out the tombstone for the family and really doing it happily. In a book entitled The Death of the Family, a British physician suggests doing away with the family completely, he says because it is a primary conditioning device for a western imperialistic world view.

Kate Millet, who is a very prominent feminist, wrote a book called Sexual Politics. And in it she writes that the family must go because it oppresses and enslaves women. On the other hand, others who are watching the death of the family see it as a disaster, a virulent disease. If the family cannot function, who will raise, who will socialize, who will moralize the next generation? Dr. Armand Nicolai II of Harvard Medical School sees the trend to destroy the family as a devastating trend. He points to married women with children working outside the home, the tendency for families to move frequently, almost constantly, the dominance of television in the home, the lack of controls in society, the chaos of moral confusion, the lack of communication among families and divorce and all of those things, he says, are threatening the very life which we live.

Let me quote from him. He says, these trends will incapacitate the family, destroy its integrity and cause its members to suffer such crippling emotional conflicts that they will become an intolerable burden to society. What about the future? First, the quality of family life will continue to deteriorate, producing a society with a higher incidence of mental illness than ever before. Ninety-five percent of our hospital beds may be taken up by mentally ill patients.

This illness will be characterized by a lack of self-control. We can expect the assassination of people in authority to be frequent occurrences. Crimes of violence will increase, even those within the family. The suicide rate will rise as sexuality becomes more and more unlimited and separated from family and emotional commitment, the deadening effect will cause more bizarre experimentation and widespread perversion, end quote. A frankly frightening picture and we are watching it being painted right before our very eyes. There is no question about the fact that the family is under a major assault, that people want to redefine family in absolutely any terms they want. There's no question that we are watching a generation of young people rising up who have no socialization skills and no moral sense at all. There is chaos, there is murder, there is crime at a rampant level.

There is even pleasure in shooting people incidental to you just for the sheer thrill of killing. It's a fascinating time in one sense to be alive right in the middle of this. The family is certainly at the head of the endangered species list, much more dangerous than the elimination of some species that occupy people's attention. And at that point we interject, can the family be saved? And I suppose for the sake of some people we should ask, should the family be saved? Is it worth fighting for?

And if so, how? I would add that the church has made some efforts. Certainly there has been a great preoccupation on this subject. Christian bookstores are literally filled with books on marriage and the family. There have been endless sermons and messages and tapes and seminars and conferences go on to deal with the issues of the family, but that too doesn't seem to make much difference.

God has an answer to should the family be saved, and God has an answer to can the family be saved. In fact, the Bible makes it very clear when it says marriage is the grace of life and children are a blessed heritage from the Lord, that we must understand the blessedness, the bliss, and the purpose of God that unfolds in the matter of marriage and raising children. Family is still the heart and soul of human society and family as it is defined by God. It is the place of intimacy. It is the place of joy. It is the place of memories that build the foundation of life. It is the place of love. It is the place of socialization. It is the place of morality. It is the place of security.

It is where you build confidence. Now for us to get a grip on what God says about the family, we really find ourselves best served by looking at Ephesians chapter 5. Paul's letter to the Ephesians sort of gives us a place where all of the pertinent material is pulled together and it's a great launching point for us. Around 60 A.D., the Apostle Paul wrote this letter and sent it off to the saints who are at Ephesus. It may well be too that the original manuscript didn't say Ephesus and it could have been a circular letter gone through all the churches in the area of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the first of those churches. But Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in that part of the world and one of the things that was on his heart was the matter of marriage. And when you come down to chapter 5 and verse 18, you begin to get in the flow that leads you to verse 22 and following where the issues of family and marriage are addressed. We're going to talk about a lot of things in this series over the next number of weeks.

We're going to touch on a number of subjects and interact with the divine revelation from God, but we'll constantly come back to Ephesians 5 as home base because it's a perfect launching pad for us. And keep in mind, this is not human opinion. I'm not here to give you my opinion. I really don't value my opinion at all. All I want to do is show you what the Word of God says and the applicable wisdom that comes from that.

This is the last word on the issue. We don't need experts and psychiatrists and psychologists and analysts and marriage and family people. We can go right to the Word of God.

We're not looking for tricks and gimmicks. We're looking for truth that can become part of our lives. Now in this wonderful epistle that we are familiar with, the epistle of Ephesians, as Paul begins to launch into this subject, he starts, at least for us, in verse 18 with a very key premise.

And let's begin there. He says, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. That really is the key that unlocks all the rest. From that great principle flows the instruction to the wife in verse 22, the instruction to the husband in verse 25, the instruction to the children in 6, 1, and the instruction to the parents in 6, 2. All of that marriage and family teaching flows out of this principle in chapter 5 and verse 18.

In fact, it is the first of several necessary prerequisites for any successful marriage or any successful relationship. And the contrast in that verse, as you see it there, do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, is quite dramatic and remarkable contrast. If you just pick up the book of Ephesians and read that, you might stop and say, well, why in the world would he contrast drunkenness with being filled with the Spirit? What is the point here? When a person is drunk, they've lost control of themselves and they wander around in an out of control kind of behavior. Is he saying, I want you to be out of control, but not by wine, but by the Holy Spirit? What is he saying here?

I want you to yield up the control of your faculties to the Holy Spirit rather than to wine. Why make such a comparison? Well, the answer is found in a bit of the historical context.

Let me give you a little bit of background. Ephesus, of course, was in Asia Minor and was dominated by Hellenistic or Greek culture, called Hellenistic from the Greek word Eleni, which means Gentiles. But the Greeks believed that the great god Zeus, they, of course, had a pantheon of gods and Zeus was one of the formidable ones. They believed that the great god Zeus had given birth to a son, Dionysios. Now if you ever study Greek mythology, you come across the name Dionysios quite frequently. Dionysios then, according to Greek mythology, spawned a religion, a religion of ecstasy, ecstasia and emotionalism. And the Dionysian cult, this religion of ecstasy and emotionalism, this frenzied kind of religion, saturated the Greek and Roman world. The Dionysian cult was a debauched form of worship and a popular, a dominant form. The worshipers committed atrocities with human organs.

They engaged in orgies of sexual perversion, along with music and dancing and feasting. But there was one common element to all of the Dionysian debacle and that was drunkenness... drunkenness. In fact, if you ever circulate in the Middle East or in the ancient Roman world, you will see Dionysios associated with grapes. When there is a statue or a tribute to Dionysios, some monument to Dionysios, it is always marked out by clusters of grapes because he became known as the god of wine. The Greek name of Dionysios became in the Roman language Latin, Bacchus. And Bacchus is the Roman god of wine. When people engaged in these unbelievable drunken brawls, they were called Bacchanalian feasts.

And if you've studied any of that, that's a familiar term, even today. Take your dictionary out and look up Bacchanalia and it'll say a drunken orgy. The key element then, the key element in pagan worship was drunkenness. That's how they got their inhibitions out. That's how they dealt with their normal restraint. That's how they dealt with normal feelings of guilt. That's how they dulled their senses sufficiently to quiet their conscience. That's how they dispelled their anxiety and fear and guilt over such vile behavior as they engaged in. That's how they induced a kind of giddiness that substituted for real joy and just catapulted them into this kind of horrible behavior.

They did it by getting drunk and losing all their inhibitions. So, they believed that drunkenness was simply the door into ecstasy, the door into religious expression. And that such drunkenness elevated the believer, the worshiper to total communion with the deities. So, drunkenness was the key to worship the communion with the deities.

The more inebriated they were, the more likely they were to get into the xtasia and enthusiasmos, two Greek words, ecstasy and enthusiasm that spoke about these horrifying, often demonic kind of activities. Number of years ago when I made a trip to Israel, I had the privilege of taking a special trek up through Lebanon, up through Beirut, back east of there in a fascinating journey to the city of Damascus. Damascus is pretty deep into the Middle East at this particular time. And when we went into Damascus, a fascinating opportunity on the way to Damascus, we went to the city of Baalbek, which was the easternmost point of the Roman Empire.

The great Roman Empire extended way to the Middle East, east of Israel. And we went to the city of Baalbek because there are some of the most marvelous ruins that have been preserved there and restored. And they have some obelisks that are almost impossible to understand.

To understand how they made them and how they moved them is an ongoing dilemma. Massive, massive pieces of stones. There also has been reconstructed there an incredible temple. And all across this temple, it was devoted to Jupiter, but all across this temple there are grape vines hanging on the columns and across the colonnades at the top. And you are told by the guides who take you through there that this is representative of Bacchus, that the Romans erected at the most eastern point of their empire a temple to Bacchus, and there they carried on their orgies. What is fascinating about it, for example, is that in the very center of this large place where they did this, there's a decorated area and then a hole, a deep hole, and that was in order that the people might vomit in the process and go back and indulge themselves even more.

An unbelievable kind of conduct in which they believed, and they did it in temples, that they were ascending to communion with the gods. That's what Paul has in mind. Now go back to verse 18. It takes on different meaning in the light of that context. He is saying to them, do not get drunk with wine. All that does is produce dissipation. All that does is take you down. If you want to commune with God, be filled with the Spirit. Our religion is not brought about in its fullness and its richness and its reality by drunkenness, but rather by the filling of the Spirit. Don't be filled with alcohol, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Literally, be being kept continuously filled by the Spirit. If you want true religion, if you want true communion with God, if you want true worship to take place, if you want godly living, if you want to please God, then you must be filled with the Spirit. Not controlled by alcohol, but controlled by the Holy Spirit. The parallel to this is in Colossians 3 16 where instead of saying, be filled with the Spirit, Paul says, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly because that's really the same thing. When the Word of Christ dominates your life and you respond in obedience to it, it's the same as being controlled by the Holy Spirit, of course, who is the author of Scripture.

Obedience to the Word is being filled with the Spirit. It's not some kind of mystical experience. It's not some kind of ecstatic thing. It's not something that comes over you and catapults you into some unconscious behavior. It's not being knocked over into a dead faint as you see so often on television.

It's not launching off into some ecstatic speech. It's not going out of yourself or being beyond control. It simply is to be continually controlled by the Spirit who does it through the Word, and that means we are obeying the truth. So we have to start at that point. Whatever we're going to do in terms of our Christian life, whether it's our marriage or our family, it has to flow out of a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. And that's why the society really has no chance, no hope.

They're not regenerate. They don't know God. They have no more hope of getting it right than the people at the Bacchanalian feasts did.

It's not going to happen. A right kind of marriage relationship and a right kind of family relationship is built on a redeemed life empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Word of God. Now look at verses 19 and 20, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Let me tell you something. Where the Spirit of God controls a life, where there is a life devoted to the Word of God and obedience to the Word of God, there is praise.

That's the first thing. There is praise. And I suppose, obviously, we could conclude that a worshiping life, a praising life, comes from a heart that is filled with joy.

It's this simple. You give me an obedient person, obedient to the Word of God. I'll show you a positive, happy, praising, worshiping person whose heart is filled with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, who is singing and making melody in his heart to the Lord, and I'll show you a person who can get along with anybody because they're lost in wonder, love, and praise, because they're worshiping the Lord. Verse 20 adds, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father.

I'll tell you what, it's very hard to argue with somebody who's thankful for everything, everything. You find a person who's filled with the Spirit. I'll show you a happy person. I'll show you a thankful person, a person obeying the Word of God, a person filled with joy and praise and worship, a person who has nothing but thanks for everything God has done, is going to be wonderful to live with.

It's the bottom line. We're really talking here not about some kind of gimmicks to make your marriage work. We're not talking about, you know, the kind of things that I read about all the time, and you remember some years ago I told you about a book I read about marriage and said, if you really want to have a great relationship with your wife, here's a good suggestion. Go buy her a teddy bear, a nice little teddy bear, one of those real soft ones, and bring it home. Wrap it in tinfoil and stick it in the back of the freezer.

This is in a book. Stick it in the back of the freezer. On the teddy bear, before you wrap it in the tinfoil and stick it in the back of the freezer, write words of romance and love, and then just stick it back there, you know, behind the old lasagna. And someday, and you don't know when, when she is looking for the old lasagna and she pulls that thing out and unwraps it and finds a frozen teddy bear with a romance note.

The book says, when you get home from work, it's going to be bliss. Are you kidding me? If you have a bad marriage, it's better to get hit with one that's not frozen. My suggestion would be, leave it thawed just in case. Stick it in the closet. Look, we're not talking about that. You're not going to be able to repair a marriage like that. You're not going to be able to make a meaningful relationship like that. I hear suggestions all the time. Take your wife on a date.

Take her out to dinner. That's all fine. That's not going to repair a marriage that isn't right. There's only one way to cultivate a right relationship with anybody, and that's to be filled with the Spirit of God, filled with praise and gratitude to God so that your heart is overflowing with joy, and that's what makes a person someone that you can live with, someone who's a blessing to you. It should be, frankly, almost impossible to start a fight with you because you're just too blessed, too full of praise, too full of thanks, too full of the overflowing grace of God, too controlled by the Holy Spirit.

You're so filled with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control that your spouse may just get upset at their inability to cause conflict. It has to start there. That's Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John is a pastor, author, and chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and the study he started today is his all-time most requested series. It's titled, The Fulfilled Family. Now keep in mind, we're going to be able to air only a small portion of this complete study, but you can own it all 11 sermons on MP3 or in a CD album. To get the entire Fulfilled Family series, contact us today. To order the CDs, call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go online to And if you'd prefer to download the messages from The Fulfilled Family, they are available free of charge at That's all 11 messages, including content we won't have time to air on Grace to You. Transcripts are available as well. To download the MP3s and get the transcripts, go to Also remember, there are thousands of other free resources available at the website, And if you're looking to grow in your love for God and His Word, you're wondering what Scripture says about how you can serve the church, or if you want to know how to interpret a particular passage, you will most likely find a sermon or a blog article or a devotional that will meet your spiritual need. That website again, Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson inviting you back for our next broadcast, when John's going to look at the biblical way to cultivate stronger relationships in your family. He's continuing his most requested study, The Fulfilled Family, with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 05:34:40 / 2023-12-02 05:44:49 / 10

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