By Calvin Essary
Happy the home when God is there
And love fills every breast
When one their wish, and one their prayer,
And one their heavenly rest.
Happy the home where prayer is heard
And praise is wont to rise;
Where parents love the sacred
Word and all its wisdom prize.
While I do not know who wrote the above lines, I do know that they go directly to the heart of the matter we are here considering. To have homes is a great privilege; to make them productive of spiritual good and happiness deserves a high priority indeed.
Christians are those people who are “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” having “put on Christ” in being baptized into Him (Gal. 3:26,27). As Romans 6:4 concludes, “. . . even so we also should walk in newness of life.” We will not be able to so walk, however, without a knowledge and application of the correct directions. These directions or instructions are furnished to us in their entirety in the Bible, the Word of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). We cannot know and apply these directions unless we give attention to them – study them, learn them, use them.
Bible Study In Action
Bible study is action, and produces attitudes and actions, leading even to eternal salvation. In the latter part of John 6:63, Jesus specifies: “. . .the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The Word of God is to be heard in regular and faithful proclamation in the public assemblies of the church (Acts 20:7), and in the ongoing work of each local church sounding out the Word of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:8). Christians need to take advantage as fully as possible of all this makes available to us as members of a local church. Yet if the sum total of all one gets in the way of Bible study is what goes on at the meeting house, we can expect great deficiencies and unnecessary problems in our overall attempt to “walk in newness of life.” Even if all the preacher’s sermons were always “the best,” and all the Lord’s Day and midweek classes were always “the greatest learning experiences,” and we never missed a one, a very big something would still be missing. In point of fact, if Bible study is absent on the personal and home fronts, it is far less likely we would even be all that involved in the “together” activities just listed anyway.
In The Home
In many families today, there seems to be no spiritual concern, including, of course, no Bible study. The results of this shake civilization, harm society, weaken the church, and cause souls to be lost for eternity. In families which include one or more Christians, the absence of Bible study should be unthinkable, and to the Christian or Christians involved virtually unbearable.
What do we really want and what do we really consider important for our children, husband or wife, self, and others who are a part of the home? Someone has well observed that the most essential element in any home is God. Surely Christians would agree to the statement, but will our placement of priorities in the functioning of the family testify for or against our statement? While growing up, I often heard a good preacher describe the attitudes of many as being “pleasure-mad and amusement crazy” thus without time for God and His Word in their lives. He was right then and that is still right. Recreation and fun have their rightful place and that place ought not be denied. But if every waking moment that can possibly be strained out of the family’s day and night is given just to tearing from the ball game to the television set to the club meeting to the concert to the camping trip to the next ball game, we are wearing ourselves out all right, but hardly “in His service” nor in our own! 1 Timothy 4:8 admonishes, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Furthermore, if parents “bear down” on the children to do their homework and to otherwise excel in connection with schoolwork and secular education, but show little or no preparation (or review) of Bible class lessons, and do not actively teach the children God’s will at home, what will they “know” the really important things about life must be? We could hardly expect them to get the idea from us that it is “the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), or that we thought there was much importance to bringing them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). On the other hand, what should we expect such a lack of spiritual encouragement in the home to produce? Surely not cleaner lives, better citizens, Christians, stronger marriages, leaders in the church, or much hope for our grandchildren; surely not the favor of Almighty God upon us for the eternity-reaching influences we are setting in motion. Let us think seriously here on the apostle’s admonition: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7)
To be sure, there are many obvious pressures and demands upon the time and energy of family members. But you will find upon the development of the good practice of family Bible study, that no part of your time will be more pleasantly and usefully spent, and pressures otherwise felt will thereby be greatly relieved. Once again it is the idea of “try it; you’ll like it.”
The next practical question that presents itself for consideration by the concerned family is “How do we do it?” Many personal factors will need to be taken into account in establishing and carrying forward your family Bible study. (The elders where you worship, or other mature Christians, will surely be happy to help you get your family started in this, if you will but bring to their attention your desires in this regard.) Work schedules, school schedules, and other things will be among the factors you will deal with. But there is the time for Bible study when there is the will. On school mornings while growing up, my brother and I found it waiting for us at the breakfast table. My children have found some of the same. During the summer months while school is not in session, seize the opportunities to get children additionally involved in reading and studying their Bibles. Depending on their ages, they would likely enjoy the challenge of a good Bible correspondence course offered by the local church, or by you! Remember too that the television set actually does have an “off” switch that even works after supper and before bedtime to clear the path for family Bible study and prayer! The main factors in how to” are (1) decide to, (2) do it, and (3) stick to it.
Bible study and the exerting of spiritual influence in homes, certainly where Christians are a part, must have the priority they so much deserve. Be assured God will bless you in your every good effort in this regard; often your heart will be gladdened and your steps lightened. In closing, may I suggest the following two things? (1) Go back and read again the poem at the beginning of this article. (2) Open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Acts 20:32 and reflect upon the implications of those verses with reference to the welfare of our families.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 20, pp. 623-624
October 18, 1984