By James Wallace Adams
(Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Firm Foundation in 1935 and represents some of brother Adams’ earliest writing.)
When we hear the words of that beautiful old song, “Home Sweet Home,” tears dim our eyes, and our minds revert to our childhood. How sweet and sacred are the memories of that father and mother and those brothers and sisters who helped make our youth a happy and joyous period of our lives. A happy home is a beautiful thing indeed, but, on the other hand, what a sad and wretched picture a divided and discordant home presents. How sad it is that some have to be reared in just such a setting and atmosphere. Every parent, if he would but realize his responsibility, is shaping character and many times determining the destiny of his child by the influence under which the child is reared. I have in mind at this time three homes that it may be man’s privilege to enjoy: First, the earthly home which we have been discussing; second, the home that God has provided for the saved upon the earth, the church; third, the beautiful home of the soul, the “City which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Why do we speak of the church as the home of the saved on earth? We do this because in God’s holy word we find that God is spoken of as Father, Christ as the elder brother,’ obedient men and women as brothers and sisters, and that the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:19 speaking as the Spirit gave him utterance, says, “Now ye are therefore no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” From these thoughts we see that the Lord has brought us a picture of the church by comparing it to our earthly home. As we proceed with this discourse, we are going to strive to present to your minds several thoughts that are in keeping with this comparison.
The first thing to consider is this: How may we become children of God, members of God’s family? “Come let us reason together saith the Lord” (Isa. 1:18) – a wise admonition and an invitation to profound thinkers to reason thus: In being born into our earthly families there must be a conception; second, there must be a change in physical characteristics; last, there must be a birth, a delivery. Just so it is with the family of God. Faith is begotten in our hearts by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17). There must be a change of life or a turning from darkness unto light which constitutes godly repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). Last, there must be a birth; we must be born again (John 3:7). We must be born again of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:5), of incorruptible seed (1 Pet. 1:23). This is accomplished by the ordinance of baptism which perfectly shows forth our delivery or our birth into the family of God. We make this statement because we find that Christ is the head of the body, the church (Col. 1:18), and that we are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27), therefore we are baptized into the church for the remission of past sins (Acts 2:38). We are delivered from the waters of baptism to walk in a newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and as newborn babes in Christ desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2).
We are now children of God, newborn babes in Christ, so the question comes to our minds: What is my name, or what shall I be called as a child of God? My Father’s name is Adams, and I too go by the same name. “How strange,” say all ironically! The point I wish to make is this: No one thought it out of place nor criticized me for wearing said name; in fact, the law of the land demands that I wear it. Yet when godly men became convinced by consecrated study and prayerful consideration of the word of God that obedient men, inasmuch as they are children of God should wear the name Christian and no other, and that God’s family, the church, should wear his name and no other, they were condemned, persecuted, and derisively labeled Campellites. All of this my just and reasonable friends, because they followed a natural and, may we say, logical procedure, in the earthly sense upheld and demanded by the highest courts of this United States.
It is the duty of every child to love his earthly father and, in loving him, to respect his laws and regulations concerning his home and to obey him. We owe our fathers love and obedience because they have cared for us through our helpless period of life, and have reared us to full grown manhood and womanhood. We are indebted to them for our very existence. To our heavenly Father there is an even greater obligation for “in him we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), and through him we have eternal life by the death of his dear Son on the cross. The Lord said, “If ye love me ye will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). What are you doing, my brother, in regard to the Lord’s commands?
In my father’s house, each child had his particular duties to perform. My father chose which duties each should perform according to our preference and fitness for the task. Now each child of God has certain natural talents, and God expects him to use those talents in his service. From the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we learn that God expects only that which one has the ability to perform, and that it is not enough to simply not transgress God’s law, but that each must serve God according to his ability. We are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord.
Another thing that is well to mention at this time is the support of the family, financially speaking. We as children are duty bound to aid our earthly father in the support of the family. How truly ungrateful we would be to spend money foolishly when our father’s family is in need. Christian friend, you who are supporting the fraternal organizations of this world with your time, energy, and money, the Lord’s work is direfully in need of the same, and you must give an account of your stewardship to God. The question might be asked you: What have you done with Jesus?
In the grand and illustrious old families of long ago, the son was duty-bound to marry and have childrefi to perpetuate the family name. In the family of God, every Christian is duty-bound to do all in his power to plant the seed of the kingdom in the hearts of a lost and dying world. Never pass an opportunity to teach and preach the word in its purity and simplicity, for it is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 16:16). In doing this you will save souls from death and be a means of perpetuating Christ’s church upon the earth.
It is the privilege of every child, as we all know, to eat at his father’s table unless there has been a separation of child and father because of the child’s disobedience. We can eat at our heavenly Father’s table by study of the word at home, in the church school, and in the preaching service. We make this statement because we are told to “desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2) and “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). We may also literally gather around the table of the Lord and commemorate his death and sufferings on Calvary. In my home, when the family would gather at the table, father would always notice should one be absent and make inquiry as to his absence. If no satisfactory reason could be given, the child himself would have to give an account for his absence. Your heavenly Father notices your absence from his table, and you will be called to account for the same in the judgment. A disobedient Christian does not have God’s approval at his table until he has confessed his wrongs and prayed to God for pardon (Acts 8:22).
Another privilege of the child is that of an heir. God’s children have an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for them. Our earnest plea is that men and women will not, by disobedience, alienate themselves from God, thus losing their part of the inheritance which is eternal life in the city of God.
Think of the home over there, of its beauty and its joy, and prepare today to place yourself in the position of an heir and a joint-heir with Christ and of heaven our home. If you have strayed from the Father’s house, our prayers are for your early return; and, if you are not a child of God, can you not hear the voice of the Savior say, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?”
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 23, pp. 720-721
December 3, 1987