The Heart of Family Reformation

The Heart of Family Reformation

When culture rushes down on your family and the professing church is trying to imitate the world itself, how will your family keep from being swept away in its path? Only through the Word of God! Family worship, on a daily basis, is your hope that they will stand like steel piers against the prevailing tide.

When our children were younger we began the day with the hymn we are currently memorizing. When Laura was five, she sang for all of us the second verse of “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” by the Yale president of the late 1700s, Timothy Dwight. With a determined look, she sang out,

I love Thy church, O God.
Her walls before Thee stand.
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
And gravy on Thy hand.

My boys collapsed on the floor with laughter. The word is “graven!”

I value family worship, not only because it is sometimes humorous, but because it is glue that holds families together, stimulus for some of the family’s best discussions, and provides real strength for family member’s lives — it can become the heart, in fact, of family reformation.

The Puritans, long misunderstood, had an exceptional view of the family. We can learn from them even though we might not accept all they had to say. They often talked of the home as the “little church,” and the father as the pastor of his little flock. Lewis Bayly said, “What the preacher is in the pulpit, the same the Christian householder is in his house.” Family worship is the natural outcome of such a view. In homes without a believing father, the mother may fulfill this oversight role for children.

The practice of family worship (with or without children at home) is as forgotten to the church today as the dust in our attic, but this simple and effective method of restoring family spirituality is the most potent tool we have available to us—and every one of us can do it!

Why is Family Worship Critical?

First, family worship is critical because the placing of the Word of God in the hearts of our family members is indispensable to their conversion.

Paul reminded Timothy that, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3: 15).

Peter said that we are “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible through the Word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). This incorruptible seed of saving life (corresponding to the natural biological seed) is inseminated in the dead soul via the Word of God alone.

The Puritans believed this with a passion. This was the rationale for their long sermons, the catechizing of children, the morning messages in those cold church buildings prior to the work day, the daily meditating on the Word in private, and especially the practice of family worship. For the Puritan, family worship took place two times a day, as the “morning and evening sacrifice.” It was through this means that his children and wife, and any other guests or helpers in the home, might receive life!

Richard Baxter, one of the most famous of the Puritans, saw his village of Kidderminster, England transformed through this method. He stated:

I do verily believe that if parents did their duty as they ought, the Word publicly preached would not be the ordinary means of regeneration in the church, but only without the church, among practical heathens and infidels.

Second, it is critical because the Word alone enables your family to withstand the prevailing currents of an evil culture.

In the 2 Timothy 3 passage we find a torrent of base culture descending on young Timothy. “. . . In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers… disobedient to parents…without self-control. . . headstrong . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (vss.1-4).

How will you be able to rescue your family from the effects of such a culture? Only through the Word of God, according to Paul. The Word makes Timothy as the “man of God,” “thoroughly equipped for every good work” necessary to strengthen the church. His toolbox is complete and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (vs. 16) so that the people under his charge can withstand the flood of culture described in the previous verses.

In the same way, the shepherding father of the home (or the mother in homes without a father, which was Timothy’s situation) is made adequate to help his or her family. Paul tells Timothy, therefore, to “preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season” (4:2).

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth… (4: 3-4).

When culture rushes down on your family and the professing church is trying to imitate the world itself, how will your family keep from being swept away in its path? Only through the Word of God! Family worship, on a daily basis, is your hope that they will stand like steel piers against the prevailing tide.

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