Once again, welcome to our continuing discussion on the topic ‘The Family of God.’ I pray that you will come to understand and appreciate this for the unity within the body of Christ (the Church).
Do you want to know the reason why the Bible gives this name to all true Christians? Would you like to know why they are called ‘a family’? Let’s see what the Bible says.
True Christians are called ‘a family’ because they all have one Father. They are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. They are all born of one Spirit. They are all sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. They have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, ‘Abba, Father’ (Galatians 3:26; John 3:8; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 8:15).
They do not regard God with a cringing kind of fear, as they would to a harsh Being that is always ready to punish them. They look up to him with tender confidence, as a reconciled and loving parent, as one forgiving evil and sin, to all who believe in Jesus, and full of pity even to the least and feeblest. The words, Our Father in heaven,’ are no mere form of prayer in the mouth of true Christians. No wonder they are called God’s family’.
True Christian are called ‘a family’, because they all rejoice in one name. That name is the name of their great Head and Elder Brother, even Jesus Christ the Lord. Just as a common family name is the uniting link to all members of a clan, so does the name of Jesus tie all believers together in one vast family.
As members of outward visible churches they have various names and distinguishing classifications. As living members of Christ, they all, with one heart and mind, rejoice in one Saviour. Every heart among them feels drawn to Jesus as the object of hope.
Every tongue among them would tell you that ‘Christ is all’. Sweet to them all is the thought of Christ’s death for them on the cross. Sweet is the thought of Christ’s intercession for them at the right hand of God; Sweet is the thought of Christ’s coming again to unite them to himself in one glorified fellowship for ever.
In fact, you might as well take away the sun out of heaven, as take away the name of Christ from believers. To the world his Name may not mean much, but to believers, it is full of comfort, hope, rest and peace. No wonder they are called ‘a family’.
True Christians, above all, are called ‘a family’ because here is so strong a family resemblance among them. They are all led by one Spirit, and are marked by the same general features of life, heart, taste and character. Just as there is a general bodily resemblance among the brothers and sisters of a family, so there is a general spiritual resemblance among all the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. They all hate sin and love God. They all rest their hope of salvation on Christ, and have no confidence in themselves. They all endeavour to come out and be separate from the ways of the world, and to set their affections on things above.
They all naturally turn to the Bible, as the only food for their souls and the only sure guide in their pilgrimage towards heaven: they find it a lamp to their feet and a light for their path (Psalm 119:105). They all go to the same throne of grace in prayer, and find it as needful to speak to God as to breathe. They all live by the same rule, the Word of God, and strive to conform their daily life to its precepts. They all have the same inward experience. They all are, in varying degrees, acquainted with repentance, faith hope, love, humility and inward conflict. No wonder they are called ‘a family’.
This family likeness among true believers is something that deserves special attention. To my own mind it is one of the strongest indirect evidences of the truth of Christianity. It is one of the greatest proofs of the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit. Some true Christians live in civilise countries, and some in the midst of heathen lands. Some are highly educated, and some are unable to read a single letter of the alphabet.
Some are rich and some are poor. Some are old and some are young. And yet, despite all these differences, there is a marvellous oneness of heart and character among them. Their joys and their sorrows, their love and their hatred, their likes and their dislikes, their preferences and their aversions, their hopes and their fears, are all most curiously alike. Let others think what they please; I see in all these the finger of God. His handiwork is always one and the same. No wonder that true Christians are compared to ‘a family’.
Take a converted person from one part of the world and a converted from the other side of the world, and let them suddenly meet for the first time. I assure you, if they can understand one another’s language, they will soon find common ground between them, and feel at home. The one may have been highly intellectual and have an affluent lifestyle. The other may have trained in the midst of gross heathenism, and accustomed to habits, ways and manners unlike the intellectual person as darkness compared to light. And yet in half an hour they feel that they are friends! The intellectual finds that he has more in common with this converted friend than he has with many of his old friends who are not believers. Who can account for this? How can we explain? Nothing can account for it but the unity of the Holy Spirit’s presence. It is one touch of grace not nature that makes the whole world family. God’s people are in the brightest sense ‘a family’.
This is the family to which I wish to direct the attention of my readers here. This is the family to which I want you to belong. I ask you this day to consider it carefully, if you never considered it before. I have shown you the Father of the family, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have shown you the Head and Elder Brother of the family, the Lord Jesus himself. I have shown you the features and characteristics of the family. All its members have great marks of resemblance. Once more I say, consider it well.
Outside this family, remember, there is no salvation. No one but those who belong to it, according to the Bible, are on the road that leads to heaven. The salvation of our souls does not depend on union with the church or separation from another. Anyone who thinks it does is miserably deceived, and will find this out to their loss one day, unless they wake up. No! The life of our souls depends on something far more important. This is eternal life, to be a member of ‘the whole family in heaven and earth’.
By Rev. Eric D. Maefonea