<%@ Page Language="VB" ContentType="text/html" ResponseEncoding="iso-8859-1" %> Untitled Document WHAT GOD EXPECTS OF HIS FAMILY

There is no greater blessing for disciples of Christ than to share together family life as brothers and sisters in the house-hold of God.

Often in the Scriptures the relationship of the family is used to illustrate or describe the church. For example in Eph. 2:19, we learn that the Gentiles in Christ, were "no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Indeed, the church is the family or household of God. There is much to be learned from this analogy.

Different Roles: -- God is the Father in this spiritual family. It is not an accident that the apostle Paul begins nearly every epistle with the expression, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (see Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3). Those who have complied with His terms gain entrance into His spiritual family as children. Paul said, "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26,27). As children, we have the relationship to each other as brethren. This demands mutual responsibility (Gal. 6:1).

Different Stages Of Growth: -- Members of God's family are to "long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation" (1 Pet. 2:2). Growth is both commanded and expected (2 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:14). If we fail to outgrow this baby stage, we will die spiritually. However, as we grow in Christ, there are some attributes of a child that must be cultivated. Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:4). Humility is essential to our growth in

There are those in God's family who are old enough to know better than what they do. The apostle Peter becomes a classic example. In Acts 2;21, Peter quoted the words of Joel, "And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." In Acts 10:34, Peter had learned "that God is not respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him." Then again in Jerusalem, Peter defended the conversion of the household of Cornelius saying, "And the Spirit bade me go with them, making no distinction" (Acts 11:12; cf. Acts 15:7-9). A short time later however, when Peter was at Antioch, Paul "resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned." Paul explains Peter's hypocrisy, "For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision" (Gal. 2:11,12). Wasn't Peter old enough to know better than to make such distinction?

In God's family some are weak. Those who are strong are to encourage the weak (Rom. 15:1; 1 Thes. 5:14). One of our mutual responsibilities to one another is to build up and encourage. This is one of the purposes of our worshiping together (see Heb. 10:24,25).

Common Characteristics: -- Perhaps the most common characteristic in the physical family is love for one another. This should be true in the spiritual family, the church. Love of the brethren is commanded by Jesus as a badge of discipleship among disciples (Jno. 13:34,35; see 1 Jno. 4:19-21). This unselfish love one for another manifests itself with identifiable characteristics (see 1 Cor.13:4-7).

Problems: -- Most families have problems from time to time and so does the family of God. The real issue is what to do we do when problems occur. Begin by examining self! This is the instruction to preachers (1 Tim. 4:16) and to elders (Acts 20:28). In fact this is the instruction to all of us. Jesus said, "Take heed to yourselves; if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him" (Lk. 17:3). Paul said, "Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith, prove your own selves" (2 Cor. 13:5). Pray abut the problem. Indeed, we must pray for one another withthe assurance that "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (Jas. 5:16). Work to restore the onewho is the source of the problem (Gal. 6:1). Above all, don't spread what you think about the problem. This is nothing but gossip (see Jas. 3:5ff) and makes you a part of the problem.

Blessings Of Family Life: -- To be in the family of God is to be an heir to the riches of the blessings. Paul said that if we are children, then we are "heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). James tells us we are heirs of the kingdom (Jas. 2:5). Peter says that we become heirs of eternal life (1 Pet. 1:4,5). Can there be any greater blessings than family life in the spiritual family of God?

By Micky Galloway in Biblical Insights, Vol. 5, No. 2, Feb. 2005.

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