The Saving of the Home
April 23rd, 1989 @ 10:50 AM
THE SAVING OF THE HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-23-89 10:30 a.m.
And welcome, the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now part of our precious, wonderful, loving First Baptist Church of Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Saving of the Home. In our preaching through the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, we are in chapter 19. And the message is taken from a verse, verse 27 in John 19, “Our Lord, crucified, saith to the disciple whom He loved, John, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple, John, took her unto his own home” [John 19:27]. And the message is built upon that one phrase: “unto his own home.”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that all of the apostles were married [1 Corinthians 9:5]. One of the beautiful things that our Lord did, He healed the mother-in-law of Simon Peter, Peter’s wife’s mother [Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39]. Standing by the cross, Mary was standing by herself. That is, her family was not there [John 19:25]. The Bible expressly says that the brethren of Jesus did not believe on Him [John 7:5]. It was only after the resurrection from the dead that the Lord personally appeared to James and won Him to the faith [1 Corinthians 15:7]. James later became pastor for a lifetime of the church in Jerusalem. But on that day when Jesus died, beside a few women who loved the Lord, she stood alone [John 19:2]. And that is why the dying Savior addressed this appeal to John and to her. He spoke to John, saying, “Look, behold your mother!” And from that day John took her to his own home and cared for her [John 19:26-27]. Isn’t that like our Lord? In all ways, in every area, true to the commandments of God. Paul, in Ephesians, says, “The first commandment with promise is this, Honor thy father and thy mother” [Ephesians 6:2]. In the list of the commandments, the first one with a reward is that one: “Honor your father and your mother” [Exodus 20:12]. So, our Lord, on the cross, dying for the sins of humanity [John 3:16; 1 John 2:2], remembered His grief-stricken mother [John 19:26-27].
There is a famous picture drawn by an artist of this apostle John, leading the mother, Mary, away from the cross. And when you look at the picture, in her hand she is carrying something. What could it be? As you look more closely, it is the crown of thorns from the Savior’s brow—our Lord’s mother.
So that leads to the message today on the Christian home: the saving of the home. First, we shall speak of the biblical home. For the first about ten years of my pastoral work, I was single; I was not married. And I lived in the homes of the people, literally. And in those days a long time ago now, every one of those homes would have in it a big family Bible. And the Bible would be prominently displayed on a table in the living room. And so many times, when I would lead a devotional for the family, I would read out of that big family Bible. On the inside would be written the names of the children. And then so often times there would be a flower pressed, a remembrance from the graveside of a member of the home that had died. A beautiful thing—something that is rarely seen in this generation, but in that day was common—a family Bible. But it is not only a family Bible, it is a Bible of families.
If you go to the Word of God in order to read a history of humanity, or to read therein social, economic concepts or political agenda, if you go for a reason like that, you will be grossly disappointed because the Bible is a presentation, it is a record of the grace of God as it was worked out in the chosen families of the Lord.
The Bible is a book of families, and it follows that grace extended to the race through these chosen ones of heaven. Start with the family of Adam, then the family of Seth, then the family of Noah, then the family of Terah and Abraham, then the family of Isaac and Jacob and Judah. That’s why Ruth—the family of Boaz and the Moabitess, Ruth—then the family of David. And finally you come—I don’t know whether you see it or not in the translation—the first verse of the first book of the New Testament reads, “The book of the”—and you have it translated—“generation of Jesus Christ” [Matthew 1:1]. Well, they’re trying to follow the Greek word which is genea, “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ.” But if I could translate it exactly what that word means, it is “The book of the family of Jesus Christ.” All of those families in the Old Covenant, and now we come to the New Covenant, and it starts in the same way: “The book of the family of Jesus Christ” [Matthew 1:1].
So the story opens with Zacharias, and Elizabeth, and their son, John [Luke 1:5-25]. Then the story of Joseph and Mary and her Son, the Lord Jesus [Luke 1:26-38]. It is a book of families. That but reflects the basic foundational existence of humanity, of civilization, of culture, of being. The unit that comprises the structure of all culture and life is the family. And whatever the structure, the civilization, the national character may be, depends upon that foundational unit: the family. If you have a pagan family, you’ll have a pagan nation. If you have a sordid family—one of drugs, and drunkenness, and sin—you’re going to have a sordid nation. If you have a family that is worldly in its ideals and conquests, you’re going to have a worldly-minded nation. Contrariwise, if you have a Christian, godly home, you’re going to have a Christian and godly nation. Whether it is sordid or whether it is Christian depends upon that basic family unit.
These men who sought to change the organization and the foundation of life saw that from the beginning. If you’re going to have a socialistic, communistic nation, you’re going to have to destroy the home. That’s your first assignment. And you’ll see that throughout all the story of history. Starting with Plato’s Republic and all the way down in this last century to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, their first assignment is to destroy the home, the family. The reason is very apparent. When you have a home, when you have a family, there is a natural instinct on the part of the leader of it—for the most part, the man—there will be a natural inclination and affinity for him to provide for the family, which means a house, or a home, or a job, or some way to preserve and to protect these whom he loves. Now if I have a communist state, the children become the wards of the state, and all property belongs to the state and all the units of life are in the possession of the government. Therefore, the first thing that a communist, socialist order has to do is to destroy the family. And that’s where they inevitably fail. The first great failure of communist Soviet Russia is the family, and the very fabric of the Soviet Union is beginning to disintegrate. God made it that way—that the foundational unit of all existence lies in the home.
And that leads me to speak of our beloved America. Every schoolchild who is taught in the classroom knows that the Spanish conquistadors came to America, came to this part of our world, especially through Central and South America, the Spanish conquistadors came seeking gold. And they ravished the civilizations and the empires of the Incas and the Aztecs seeking that golden metal. That same schoolboy will know that the Pilgrim Fathers came to the shores of America seeking God. There were one hundred of them that landed at Plymouth in 1620. After the passing of the winter, and when they came to the month of May, one half of them had died, but the fifty that remained built that first Christian colony. They had thirteen homes down a little street, and at the head of it was the church of Jesus Christ. And out of that commitment and out of that dedication came the strength and the life of America. You can easily illustrate it in the years that followed after: the Christian ideals that lie at the basis of our national life, our government.
I went, for example—and this is but an example, taking one of the great loved presidents of the United States—I went through the monument to Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Missouri. Beautiful, beautiful with those quiet tri-lighted corridors, and the beautiful sarcophagus on which is written that word that Secretary of State Stanton said when Abraham Lincoln died, “Now he belongs to the ages.” And then like all of you before that, I stood looking at that magnificent Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, standing there—presiding over the majestic Potomac, and presiding over our nation’s capital—and looked at the great massive, heroic statue of Abraham Lincoln.
Then I went back to the days when I went to my little village church in Kentucky, and every weekend I’d pass by Hodgenville. A glorious monument in Hodgenville, Kentucky, built over a little tiny log cabin, and in that cabin there was a Baptist family—Tom and Nancy Hanks Lincoln—Tom and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. And in that little family of Tom and Nancy Hanks, a child was born whom they named Abraham. As you know, Nancy Hanks, his mother, died when the fellow was just a little boy. And he helped his father hew the wood and make the coffin and buried his mother away. But on the inside of that monument, there is a sentence—a famous one, a quote from Abraham Lincoln—“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” She taught him the Word of God. And in the life and statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, always there is that foundation of God’s Holy Word and the Christian faith. This is America, built on the Word of God and the grace of Jesus our Lord [Psalm 33:12].
Do you remember that famous poem from Lord Byron?
While stands the Coliseum,
Rome shall stand.
When falls the Coliseum
Rome shall fall.
And when Rome falls, the world.
[from “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Alfred, Lord Byron]
Could I parody it?
While stands the Christian home,
America shall stand.
When falls the Christian home,
America shall fall.
And when America falls, the world.
We had in our city of Dallas, in my days here, a poet laureate named Grace Noll Crowell, and one of her beautiful poems:
As long as there are homes
To which men turn
At close of day.
As long as there are homes
Where children are
And women stay.
Though darkness oppress the land
And nations grope.
With God Himself
Back of those little homes
We still have hope.
[“So Long as There are Homes,” Grace Noll Crowell]
In the disintegration of American culture and American society—one that is increasingly drug-ridden, alcohol-stained, ungodly—in this day of the tragic turning away of America, our hope lies in that Christian father and mother who will bring his children to church and rear them in the love and knowledge of the Lord. O God, that there might be a great turning among our people!
And that leads me to one last observation—the Christian home, the Christian family. There are many of you, I know, who have worshiped the Lord in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. In the middle of the nave of that marvelous structure that honors Christ, there is a very, very famous painting, called Jesus, the Light of the World. It is by Holman Hunt, and it is a depiction of our Lord standing outside of a door knocking, knocking at the door [Revelation 3:20]. There was a little girl who with her mother was looking at that picture; and as she looked at it the child said, “Mommy, did they ever open the door? Did they ever invite Him in?” As you know, there’s no doorknob, there’s no latch on the outside. The doorknob, the latch, is on the inside. We have to open the door and invite our Savior in. And the little girl asked, “Mommy, did the Savior ever get in?” How I could pray that the answer to that question in every family is, “Yes, He is the welcomed and invited guest in our house and in our home.”
What a vast difference it makes whether Jesus is in the home. Nothing could ever change the color and the destiny of life as that simple invitation: “Lord Jesus, You are welcome. Come in. Come in.”
I want to take a little aside in a story of our Lord here in the New Testament. The Pharisee, Simon the Pharisee, invited Jesus into his house. And as you know, when they sat down to eat in that day, they leaned on their left arm, and they ate with their right hand, and their feet extended outward from the table. Well, while Jesus was a guest in the home of this Simon the Pharisee, there came in a sinner woman—she’s a prostitute, she was a harlot—there came in a sinner woman. And she began to anoint His feet and to kiss them and to dry them with the hair of her head. And Simon the Pharisee looked at that, and he said, “You know, if this man were a prophet, He would know that woman was a prostitute, and He would not let her touch Him” [Luke 7:36-39].
Well, that’s the world, you know. And, of course, the story is that our Savior was the friend of publicans, and harlots, and sinners [Luke 7:34]. That’s what the story is about, but I want to show you a little aside in that story. It says there—just incidentally—it just said incidentally, in telling the story it said that when this sinful woman came and anointed His feet, broke an alabaster box, that the house was filled with perfume [John 12:3]. I want to avow that wherever the Lord is, wherever He is, the house will be filled with perfume. It’ll be filled with the fragrance of His presence. If Jesus is here, you’ll feel it. You can tell it. The house was filled with perfume, with fragrance [John 12:3]. Wherever He is—in your home, in any classroom, in any place of prayer—wherever Jesus is, you put it down, there will be sweetness, and glory, and life, and the presence of God in that place, if Jesus is there.
O God, what a wonderful thing to invite Him into our house and into our home! [Revelation 3:20]. Always He brings with Him an incomparable blessing. When He went to eat with Zaccheus, the hated and despised, the hated and despised tax gatherer; he was a midget, but in the presence of our Lord, he stood ten feet tall [Luke 19:1-5]. Blessing had come to that house! When Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus—when death came, Jesus was the resurrection and the life [John 11:25].
Did you know literary critics say that the most beautiful story in human language is the last chapter of Luke? Just not looking upon it religiously, but just aesthetically, literarily, the most beautiful story in the world is the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke: the two on the way to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-35]. Speaking to one another in sadness, in heartbrokenness because the Lord had been crucified, and the Lord, raised, began walking with them by their sides; just suddenly there [Luke 24:13-15]. And when they paused to turn into the home in Emmaus—the Stranger, as though He would go on, and they invited Him—they constrained Him to come in [Luke 24:28-29]. And when the Lord sat down with them, they asked Him to lead grace, to say the prayer before the meal. And they knew Him, they recognized Him, in the way that He said the blessing [Luke 24:30-31]. Jesus had a certain way of thanking God for food that nobody else could emulate, and they recognized Him. And He vanished out of their sight. And do you remember the next verse? And they said one to the other, “Did not our hearts burn within us, burn within us, when He talked to us by the way, and opened to us the meaning of the Scriptures?” [Luke 24:32]
You’ll find it always like that in your heart and in your home and in your house: when Jesus is there, your heart will burn within you. The blessing He brings is incomparably sweet and precious; perfume, fragrance fills the house. If I could contrariwise speak just this once; what a tragedy in the house—leaving God out of it and leaving Christ out of it!
There was a teenage boy in the court, and the judge said, “You will stand to be sentenced.” And the lad stood before the judge. And the judge said to him, “Young man, I knew your father. I honored your father. He was a great barrister. He was the ultimate authority on property, laws of property.” And with a gesture of his hand referred to a series of volumes of books and said, “Your father is the author of those books. And son, you have brought shame and disgrace on the name of your illustrious father.”
And the boy answered, “Yes sir, Your Honor.”
Then, the judge looked at him and said, “Son, why could not you have been like your father?”
And the boy replied, “Your Honor, sir, I never knew what he was like.”
And the judge said, “What do you mean, you never knew what your father was like?”
And the boy said, “I never knew my father. When I would go and say, ‘Dad, would you play with me, or would you walk with me, or would you help me?’ My father would always reply, ‘Son, go along. I’m too busy. I’m writing these volumes on property.’ And I never knew what my father was like.”
That’s as far as the story went, as I read it. But, I want to say something. I would bet my life that when that judge sentenced that boy, he did it with a heavy heart—a heavy heart.
However our life may be and whatever the interests of our days, great God, is not our first assignment, and calling from heaven, to take our family to the church, to rear our children in the love of the Lord, to take time for them with God? What a new day, and what a new nation, and what a new people we would be if, as a nation and a people, our families belong in the circle of the love and grace of our blessed Lord Jesus.
And that is our prayer and our appeal to you who have listened to this service on television. On the screen you will find a telephone number. There will be a godly counselor present to answer. Call us. Say, “Pastor, today God has spoken to my heart, and I am opening my house to the Lord Jesus. I am inviting the Lord into my home.” There is not a decision you will ever make that has the repercussion that this does of opening your heart to the Lord Jesus. “Lord, I want to be saved. I want to be a Christian. I want to know God. I want to go to heaven when I die. And I want the Lord to be my best friend in this pilgrimage.” You do that, and God will answer from heaven. He will be closer to you than a brother; nearer than hands and feet and breath. Call us, and if you don’t know how to accept Jesus as your Savior, ask us and we will guide you into the commitment of the heart and life that belongs to you, and will now belong to God [Romans 10:9-10]. God bless you as you seek and ask for the presence of the Lord Jesus in your heart and home.
And to the great throng of people in this sanctuary, in this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, “Pastor, today I am coming to the Lord. This is my family. We are all coming.” A couple or just one somebody you, the greatest decision you will ever make in your life is this one, “Lord Jesus, You come into my heart. I open my heart to You” [Revelation 3:20]. The best friend, the best guide, the best fellow pilgrim you could ever know will be the Lord God Himself, and He is yours for the asking [Romans 10:13]. He loves you [Galatians 2:20]. He died for you [1 Corinthians 15:3], and He is waiting for us someday to be with Him in heaven [John 14:1-3]. Make it now, make it now, come now; angels attend you in the way now, while we stand and while we sing.
THE SAVING OF THE HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. John’s “own home”
1. Apostles all married (1 Corinthians 9:5)
2. Jesus’ brothers did not believe on Him (John 7:5)
B. Jesus’ care for His mother (Ephesians 6:2, Exodus 20:12)II. The biblical home
A. A family Bible
1. It is a Bible of families (Matthew 1:1)
B. Reflects basic foundational existence of humanity
1. Basic unit that comprises structure of all culture and life is the family
C. The drive of the socialist world to destroy the familyIII. The home and the building of America
A. Spanish conquistadors came seeking gold
B. The nation they carved out of the wilderness based on Christian ideals
1. Abraham LincolnIV. The Christian home
A. His presence always a blessing (Luke 7:36-50)
1. Eating with Zacchaeus (Luke 10:1-5)
2. In the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:25)
3. The two on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:30-32)
B. A tragedy to leave Christ out of the home