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God’s Design for the Family (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2024 4:00 am

God’s Design for the Family (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 20, 2024 4:00 am

You’ll often hear new parents lament that babies don’t come with manuals. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explains that much of what we need to know is, in fact, in the Bible! He begins a study on parenting by looking at God’s design for the family.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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Welcome to Truth for Life where we are going to you today. By you may the Lord proclaim so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Each time I conduct a wedding, I remind the couple that the strength and happiness of human society can only be strong, can only be meaningful, beneficial when the family unit, when marriage is held in honor. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the well-being of a nation begins in its homes, that what happens behind closed doors in the individual family units of this nation is the one largest single contributing factor to the state of our nation this morning. As much as we may want to point out and beyond and around to all kinds of influences which certainly have a part to play, the Scriptures are unequivocal in directing us to this foundational premise that the measure of respect for authority, the nature of love between husband and wife, the standard of purity, the dimensions of honesty, the compassion and care, no matter what area of life we may mention within the homes of our nations, we establish what will then be seen to flow through the rest of society.

Not only is the family the basic social unit of our lives, but it is also the foundational spiritual unit, the parents being entrusted with the unique responsibility of training their children in respect to all these things. You remember we said there were three things that were foundational in the life of a church that was going to be true to biblical convictions. One, the authority of Scripture. Two, the sufficiency of Christ.

Three, the priority of prayer. The question is, what does the authority of the Bible mean in practical terms? I mean, to say we believe in the authority of the Bible is one thing. It, after all, is true to the faith of our forefathers.

It puts us in the position of orthodoxy, but what does it actually mean? Well, one of the ways that we're able to illustrate that is to say, well, what does it mean to say that we believe in the authority of the Bible when it comes to the matter of family living? And then, you see, what we do is we come to family living, not on the basis of what our society tells us, but on the basis of what God's word dictates to us. Let me illustrate this by turning you, first of all, to Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24.

Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24. Jill Tweedy, a writer in the Guardian in Britain years ago, wrote an article which was entitled When Marriage is Just a Cage. And in the course of that article, I recall her saying, I hope now that I am free from marriage that out with the bounds and bonds of this ancient institution, I will be able for the first time to find out what true love is all about. Society today says that marriage is a social convenience, that marriage is something that through the course of time a man has opted into.

Society doesn't know what it's talking about. Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24 tells us what the foundation of monogamous relationships between a man and a woman are all about and from whence they come. God creates man. He creates woman. He makes a woman from the rib of the man. He brings her to the man. The man looks at the woman and says, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man. And then Moses records, for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.

They leave. They come together in marriage. They are united in sexual intimacy, the total reverse of contemporary Western culture. Western culture is you are united in physical intimacy. If it works or if you like it or if you aren't finished uniting with as many as you choose to unite with, then keep going.

But if not, maybe we will decide to set up home and to finally make this legal. What does the authority of the Bible say? The authority of the Bible says God's plan was this, that the man and the woman would be united under God and in the union under God and before society and before the watching world, whatever the cultural dimension of that would be in a society, they would then live together in all that cohabitual relationships would mean. Now, as soon as you lay that down and say that is foundational biblical truth, you realize how far away we are from what is being said in our culture.

The second thing we need to bring into it is just to go into Genesis 3 and to realize that what Genesis 3 says is that when sin entered into the world, sin had an impact on everything, not least of all, upon the marriage relationship. And it's not my purpose this morning to expound that, but if you read chapter 3, you understand why it is the way it is. Why is there pain in childbirth? I mean, why isn't there an easier way to have children?

I mean, why can't you get them off a Christmas tree or something? Why do we have to go through this stuff? God said this was how it was going to be.

Why do you sweat and why do mosquitoes eat you while you sweat? Because of Genesis chapter 3. The Bible is implicitly clear, explicitly clear. Also, in the midst of this, you will notice in verse 21 how the human family is served by the animal kingdom.

This is not distinctly on the topic, but I wanted just to mention it. God did not have any of the vegetarian hang-ups, which are part and parcel of so much that is going on today. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

So all this Melanie stuff from the 60s about, I don't eat animals and they don't eat me and all that jazz, which has become so much a part of our culture. We can interact with it as we choose, but just understand this, we can provide no foundational biblical basis for it. God has established man as a distinct being. He made woman. He gave them to one another. He established marriage.

He established family. He gave them dominion over the animals so that they would rule over them, which is totally counter to what is being said today, where man is just a kind of jumble version ape, a super transcendent freak, and he just has to take his place along with everyone else and every other creature. You see why the authority of the Bible is so important? If you don't start with the authority of the Bible, how are you going to have this discussion?

What are you going to say? Now, when we follow this through, it becomes very, very obvious that God is not unequivocal concerning these things. And when God says that children are to honor their fathers and their mothers, he absolutely means what he says.

And he is very, very serious about it. To notice how serious God was about the honor and respect which is necessary within the home, we need to turn to Exodus chapter 21. And in Exodus chapter 21, God lays down law in relationship to personal injury, law in relationship to how parents are to deal with their children, law in relationship to kidnapping. And then in verse 17, he says, anyone who curses his father or his mother must be put to death. So if you curse your father or your mother and you happen to be living around Exodus 21 vintage, you're a dead man or a dead woman. Well, you say that doesn't happen today. No, the penalty is no longer the same, but the place which God affords to respect for parents hasn't changed.

The only thing that has changed is the penalty, not the place of respect. God's view of a child's role within the home is as it was in Exodus 21, so that when children are disrespectful, cursing, and abusing their parents, they should be very glad that they're not living back in the Pentecuco period. But they should also realize that God has not changed his view regarding the gravity and the seriousness of what it means to live in submission to one's mom and dad. Turning around the other way, if you turn to 1 Samuel 3, you realize how God was concerned about this in relation to Eli. You remember he was the priest in the temple. He had two sons, one called Hophni, one called Phinehas.

Hophni and Phinehas were guilty of blasphemy and of immorality. The story in 1 Samuel 3, of course, is the story that many of us know from Sunday school about Samuel waking up in the night, and he wakes up in the night, and he hears someone calling, and he thinks it's Eli. He goes through and wakens Eli, and Eli says, I didn't call you. Go back to your bed. And he falls asleep again. Then he hears someone calling, and he goes back a second time, and Eli says, Stop doing this.

Go back to your bed. And the third time, Eli finally wakens up and says, It's not me calling you. It's the Lord calling you. Next time you hear this, just say, Speak Lord for your servant here. Well, Eli should have been a little careful about that because that's exactly what Samuel did. And Samuel then had the responsibility of conveying a message to Eli, which Eli didn't want to hear. And the message that he conveyed to Eli was this, Eli, you're going to be punished because your sons have made yourself contemptible, and you, Eli, have failed to restrain them.

You'll find that in verse 13. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about. He was culpable on the basis of his knowledge. He turned a blind eye to what his boys were doing. There are parents right here in this room this morning, and you're doing the exact same thing. You're turning a blind eye to what your boys and your girls are doing.

And you are in a dangerous, devastating situation. He knew about the sin, his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Eli was, if you like, a pastor. He worked in the church with great faithfulness. He labored in the morning, and he labored in the day, and he labored in the evening, and much of his time was spent with the concerns of other people. Doubtless people came and said, could you go here?

Would you go there? And Eli was glad to fulfill his obligations to the Lord. But in fulfilling his obligations to the Lord and to others, he failed to fulfill the obligations within his own home. Do you remember the quote from Jim Dobson's dad when he wrote to him, concerning his daughter? He wrote to his son, Jim, and he said, your daughter is growing up in the wickedest section of a world much farther gone into moral decline than the world into which you were brought. I have observed that the greatest delusion is to suppose that our children will be devout Christians simply because their parents have been, or that any of them will enter into the Christian faith in any other way than through their parents' deep travel of prayer and faith. But this prayer demands time, time that cannot be given if it is all signed and conscripted and laid on the altar of career ambition.

Failure for you at this point would make mere success in your occupation a very pale and washed-out affair indeed. God takes the affairs of family life very seriously, serious in relationship to the children looking up, as it were, serious in relation to the parents looking down. In Matthew 15, Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they said that the money that they should have been giving to their moms and dads to look after them in their old age, they were giving to the Lord. And so they said, we cannot give to you because we give to the Lord. And Jesus said, cut the nonsense out. You're setting your traditions above the requirements of the law. Don't you even know the Ten Commandments?

You're the lawgivers. Honor your father and mother that your days may go well upon the land which the Lord your God gives you. And don't give me any of this tomfoolery about you had to nestle it away in the affairs of the temple.

So you see, it's very practical. The authority of Scripture in relationship to family life has something to say at every point. What does it have to say then primarily to children?

And then finally, what does it have to say primarily to parents? Well, Proverbs is full of the instruction that is contained in Deuteronomy 5. We can't read it all, but let's turn to one verse. And some of you as youngsters ought to take notes. You ought to write this in the flyleaf of your Bible because it'll be very, very important to you.

Proverbs 23 and verse 22, listen to your father who gave you life and do not despise your mother when she is old. But I don't feel like it. We didn't ask you how you felt. I don't want to. Don't be disobedient. I don't like the implications. I'm not interested, says God.

This is not an option. This is an obligation. If we're going to obey God in relationship to the responsibilities within our home, then we pay heed to our dads and we don't despise our moms.

If we're going to fulfill this obligation, what is involved? Well, it involves real love, the kind of expression that you find in Genesis 46 when Joseph links up with his dad after a period of absence. And when he appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father, and he wept for a long time. There is no son ever able to do this without that the years of togetherness and the years of separation have built into life that which will make such an embrace possible. Well, good relationships between dads and boys are forged in the experience of life, in the incidentals of life, in the margins of life, in the apparent trivialities of life. And life goes by awful quick, does it not?

Quickly, I mean. It involves real love. So often, adolescence has a problem with this, doesn't it? I'm not kissing my dad. Heck, I'm not even kissing my mother.

Not if anybody's around at least. I mean, I'll kiss somebody else's mom, but I'm not kissing my mom. I mean, because after all, I mean, look at my mom. And all the other kids are coming around going, you know, your mom is so cool. I love your mom. Oh, you do? I like your mom.

You want to trade? I mean, is it… Genuine love gets through all of that. You'll get through it if you're in it. It'll come around. Don't go crazy, moms. Don't do all that lovey-dovey stuff on the high street. It really is a big, major turnoff. They'll come around.

They'll be there. It involves real love. It involves real obedience, real obedience, not simply external frameworks, not just keeping true to the guidelines, but an internal attitude. Obedience starts inside. Obedience is not outside.

Genuine obedience conveyed on the outside is simply the expression of hard attitude. Like the wee boy driving the car with his mom. His mom says, sit down, Johnny. He says, no, sit down, no, sit down, no. Finally, she takes him, pulls in, sits him right down and drives off.

And as she drives off, he turns to her and he says, I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside. And genuine obedience is sitting down on the outside and on the inside. And that's what is involved in honoring your father and your mother. It's about a hard attitude. It's not going up to your bedroom and kicking the door and closing the door and saying, fine, I obeyed.

But it is hard attitude. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg, and we're going to hear more about the Bible's guidelines for families tomorrow. As you can imagine, there is so much to learn in this series on parenting, no matter how old your children are. And of course, there's no shortage of books on parenting. So we took some time to carefully choose a book to recommend to you that gives a practical biblical framework for nurturing kind, God-honoring children. It's titled Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children for Life. One of the reasons we love this book is because it helps parents create a thoughtful plan for parenting before they find themselves in the thick of situations for which they are not prepared. If you're expecting a child currently, or your parents of young children, or even teens, this is a book that will help you and your spouse create a unified framework for how you will apply discipline, how you'll resolve family conflict, even the boundaries you'll set for technology and social media.

Each chapter will help you think through a key area that requires intentional planning before you find yourselves reacting to the latest crisis. The book is written by theology professor Andres Kostenberger, who's written several terrific books on parenting. He co-wrote this one with his wife, Margaret. They draw from their experiences having successfully raised four children to thriving adulthood. Ask for your copy of Parenting Essentials today when you donate to Truth for Life. And let me mention, this is a great book to give to your adult children if they're raising a family of their own. You can give online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. If you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to us at Truth for Life, Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Thanks for beginning your week studying God's Word with us. Tomorrow we'll hear the conclusion of today's message. Alistair will talk about how our parenting today will influence the chances that we will end our own days in a nursing home. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 07:49:43 / 2024-05-20 07:57:18 / 8

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