If anyone in your family will be lost, it will happen here. Join AMBrewster as he shows Christian parents the nature and inherent dangers of the battlefield, but also the salvation available through God.
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“What’s a Family Anyway?” (episode 78)
“The All-Bible Family” (episode 181)
“The Four Children” (episode 55)
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Happy almost Family Day! National Family Day is the first Sunday in August, and over the past two years we’ve celebrated it with episode 78, “What’s a Family Anyway?” and episode 181, “The All-Bible Family.”
Those two episodes are linked in the description in case you’d like to hear them, and they primarily deal with biblical definitions and descriptions of Christ-honoring families.
Today’s episode is a little different. Given the definition of a biblical family, we want to discuss how that family may suffer loss, and prepare ourselves to win the battle that’s being waged all over the world.
But before we do that, I want to thank Ray, Carolyn, and Taylor for being awesome people and making today’s episode possible. Long ago, they clicked on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link, learned about our mission and goals, and decided to help us out by giving financially each month.
We are a listener-supported ministry, so whether it’s one dollar or one hundred dollars, it will go far in helping us continue to produce these free biblical parenting resources.
Thank you Taylor and Carolyn and Raymond for patterning with TLP!
Alright, now let’s talk about the battlefield on which the family will be lost.
For sixteen years the great military leader, Hannibal had managed to keep the Romans at bay. Then in BC 202, the Romans moved on an ancient North African town called Zama. Knowing his Carthaginian forces were outnumbered by about 15,000 men, Hannibal planned to unleash his secret weapon . . . 80 elephants. However, though he had previously routed the Romans for over a decade, his plan failed in Zama when instead of charging the Roman ranks, the elephants took the easier route and ran other way! Hannibal lost eleven elephants, he lost the battle, and he lost the war.
If we’re going to lose our families, this will be our Zama.
We’re going to read a passage we’ve discussed in the past, but we’re going to pull out a different application.
Romans 1:18-32 reads, ”For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
After reading that passage you may think that the battlefield on which the family will be lost will be the the battlefield of sexuality.
And I can see why you say that. The war on Christ-honoring sexuality is raging and has been for a long time. The Sexual Revolution is said to have started in the 1920’s, and the 1960’s gave us the Sexual Liberation. This generation is unfortunately going to be recognized as the Sexual Explosion.
It seems like a nearly weekly experience that I hear of another church changing their view on homosexuality or another family being told they have a homosexual child or another individual changing their sexual orientation.
But, we need to use our metaphor correctly. On a real battlefield, the consequence of loss is death and defeat. On this battlefield the consequence is defeat, and that defeat has many faces. Any time we give in to sin, we’re defeated. Sinful sexuality is not the battlefield, it’s just one of the forms of defeat.
So, we can easily say that any individual, family, or culture that embraces sinful sexuality has already been defeated on this battlefield. But what is the battlefield?
Let’s work backward through the passage:
3. Families will be filled with three lists of things: 1. Impure hearts, 2. Homosexuality, and 3. All manner of unrighteousness that sins in every possible way but also gives approval to those who practice such things. That pretty much describes the Western culture.
I think it’s valuable to note that the passage progresses from moral uncleanness to homosexuality to a broad list of sins that range from disobedience to parents all the way to murder. Now, that’s not to say that homosexuality is always the middle step between an impure heart and disobedience. But, I think it’s important to note that homosexuality does get its own category.
Anyway . . .
2. The families are filled with these atrocities because God gave them up.
Three times in the passage we read “God gave them up.”
Defeat doesn’t come about because God destroys us. No, defeat arises because God stops trying to hold us back.
That should really change the image of this battle in your mind.
Up until now, you may have imagined your family meeting hordes of darkness on an open field, and you imagine that if your family will be lost, it will occur because sinful sexuality or hatred or strife somehow overcomes your children.
But that’s not how it works. A more accurate description would be this:
Your family has been called to fight an enemy, God has given us everything we need to overcome it, but instead your family chooses to join the other side. And God let’s them.
Of course, once they join the enemy, they find that the reward for betraying God is a delicious poison. All the turncoats who flock to the enemy guzzle down the drink they thought would give them more happiness than God could, only to find that it immediately starts killing them from the inside out.
God didn’t destroy the family. The family did.
So, the defeat is evidenced in any number of ways — the family members suffer the consequence of sinful living. And this happens because God gives them up.
But why does He do that?
As we work backward through the passage we see that 1. God has called everyone to join the fight against sin, but those whom He gives up are those who already gave up on God.
The first verse we read told us that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
They knew the Truth, but they rejected it, and instead of worshipping God, they worshipped themselves by offering all sorts of sacrifices on the altar to self.
The family will be lost on the battlefield of belief.
But I need to clarify the scene for us a little more.
Again, perchance, we’ve imagined our families fighting alongside God only to be pulled to the dark side by immense temptation, but then God just gives up on us! And we’re eventually destroyed by our foolishness!
But that’s not an accurate picture either. Let’s see if we can get a better understanding of this battle.
Over 6,000 years ago this battle began. Everyone had the chance to be on God’s side, but Satan was the first to make his own side.
Shortly thereafter a third of the angels and all humanity followed him.
You and I and our kids weren’t born into this world on God’s side. No, we were born into the ranks of sin and death. And all mankind since Adam and Eve have entered the Battlefield of Belief dead set on destroying God’s Truth and setting up their own Failure Philosophies as the standard.
And God, who cannot be defeated by human or demonic onslaught lovingly and patiently beckons His enemies to join Him. In fact, He even went so far as to allow His perfect Son to take the penalty we all earn for being His enemy.
God went so far, not to fight us as enemies, but to create a way we could actually become His family. Of course, those who reject Him and die as a result of being finite humans in a broken world, must suffer the consequence of dying under the banner of sin.
But for those who are still alive, God sets out a beautiful feast in the middle of the battlefield and invites all of us to join Him. He surrounds us with evidence of His power and love and holiness and majesty so that we will easily be able to see how our side is nothing but darkness and pain and lies.
But those who repeatedly call Him a liar, those who continue to battle against His Truth, refusing to accept it, refusing to submit to it, instead suppressing it and applauding all those who reject it as well, those people God stops inviting. And when He packs up His banquet and walks back to “His lines” with His Son by His side, the foolish, blind enemies of God rush forward thinking they won. They plant their flag supposing that their “truth” is the only truth and they invite others to engage in the sinful lifestyles their “truth” promotes.
And that’s it. Those individuals are lost and will stay so because they absolutely refused to acknowledge Him, so God has rescinded the offer to join His ranks.
This is being played out in families all over the world. They’re repeatedly rejecting God’s summons, and they fight against His Truth so much that God finally walks away, and they’re destroyed by the consequences of their sin.
Now, before we make this applicable for your family, some people may ask why God walks away and when does He walk away.
My friends, I don’t know that I can answer that. I don’t know that anyone can, and if they could, I don’t know the balance of this episode would be enough to explain it.
So, allow me this explanation. God knows all things. He knows who will reject Him for all eternity and who won’t. But He graciously provides a general call to them anyway. God is so patient and kind and loving and gracious that He offers salvation to those whom He sovereignly knows are going to reject Him.
Imagine that! It’s like when Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do. He’d known it for the past three years, He knew it before He met Judas, He knew it in eternity past. And yet he invited Judas to follow Him. He invested in Judas, He served Judas, He love Judas knowing full well that Judas was not only going to reject Him, but betray Him.
The fact that God invites anyone shows His amazing grace.
So, why does He then stop inviting? He stops inviting because He knows it won’t do any good. It’s like when Judas asked Jesus if he was the one to betray the Messiah . . . all Jesus said was “What you are going to do, do quickly.” He stopped trying to convince Judas Who He was. He didn’t try to stop him. Judas had made his decision and no power on earth or in heaven was going to dissuade him.
So, the second question is “When will Jesus give us up? When will He give our kids up?” And the answer to that is unequivocally, “I don’t know.”
No one does.
So, what does this mean for your family?
And, by the way, all of today’s passages and points are available for you in our free episode notes at Taking Back the Family.
What does this mean for our families?
1. God will not give up His own. Therefore, Your family will not be lost on the Battlefield of Belief if they submit to God’s Truth.
Now, it must be more than a mental assent or behavioral conformity. To truly submit is to believe. To believe is to live. Your born again children who genuinely submit to Jesus as Lord and believe in all He is will be filled with the Holy Spirit and enter the process of sanctification where they slowly become more like Christ, not turn from Him.
It is impossible to lose one’s salvation. Therefore, those family members will never be lost.
Sure, they’ll still sin and need to be reproved and counseled and trained, but they will always eventually submit to Truth because God preserves His saints.
However, 2. Any family members who are not born again are still in danger of being lost on the Battlefield of Belief.
Those who have not yet submitted to God, those who are still fighting for their own version of reality, those who — whether they are a terrorist or a zombie or a seemingly sweet person just trying to live life for themselves — aren’t born again, every single one of them is in danger of God giving them up.
And we will never know when or if God will give them up. We’ll be able to see the increased consequences of sin in their lives, but we’ll never know God’s time table.
So, family members who are not born again are still fighting for the enemy and are therefore not safe. Therefore . . .
3. We must not stop engaging our family.
But what does it mean to engage them? Well, all the war allusions and illustrations in the Bible have often been misconstrued. Yes, we’re in a war, and yes, personally I need to fight the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life in my own heart, but when it comes to unbelievers, our engaging looks very different.
Do you remember how God is engaging His enemy? He’s not afraid of being defeated. He’s not trying to destroy anyone. God is offering life and that beautifully eternal!
If we are engaging our unsaved family members as God does, then we should be standing there next to God and lovingly and graciously inviting them to join us on His side. We need to be His Ambassadors to our family, showing them Who He is and what He’s like so they will become disillusioned with their own depravity and long to know Him.
And we will never really know when or if God gives them up, and that doesn’t matter. We just keep being His Ambassador as long as we can.
Therefore, even in the presence of impurity, homosexuality, and all manner of unrighteousness, we still need to be a city set on a hill. Because we’re not God, and because we don’t know the heart or the future, there’s never a guarantee that God has completely given them up yet.
It works this way: denying God’s Truth will lead to every kind of sin, but people can be saved out of every kind of sin.
So, even though your child may be disobeying you or participating in homosexual behavior or murdering people, they can turn from their delusion just like you did when God saved you.
Now, I want to wrap up here, but there’s one more important observation to make under this point.
We must never stop engaging our family because we rarely know who’s truly born again and who’s not. Yes, it should be safe to say that people engaged in consistent sin are unsaved and those who live righteously are born again, but it’s not that cut and dry.
And you know what the average Christian parent’s biggest fault is? Giving the benefit of the doubt.
Now, giving the benefit of the doubt is generally a loving thing to do, but it’s foolish when we do it because we’re ignorant, lazy, or playing God.
Too many parents are justifying their children’s salvation because their kids are generally well-behaved. Well, by God’s common grace, there are lots of people on their way to hell who live morally righteous lives. They even like church and read the Bible. They may even devote their lives to religious service and still be unsaved.
Ignorant parents aren’t aware that a kid can be “good” and still be on Satan’s side. Lazy parents don’t want to engage any more than they have to, so when the kids start “getting their act together” the parents stop pursuing their hearts as intentionally as they did when there were struggles. And the parents who like to play God believe they have it all figured out anyway.
If you’re not sure how that’s possible, just listen to “The Four Children” series. I’ll link it below.
And there are even parents who make excuses for their children’s sin. “He’s in a phase. Despite how she lives, she has a good heart.”
The easiest way I can put it is this:
Don’t stop parenting your kids because they’re being “good” and don’t ignore sin because “it’s little.”
Consistently address sin as God does, with His word through teaching, interpreting, counseling, and training.
As National Family Day approaches and you look at the people in your home with whom God has graciously blessed you, it’s easy to get the wrong picture. It’s easy to feel like you’re all on the same side, inviting others to turn to God.
And praise God if that truly does describe your family!
But the reality is that most of us have at least one unbeliever in our family. They may be the obvious one rolling around in the dirty and nasty of their self-worship, but it may also be the one who feels most comfortable sacrificing morality and the altar to self. That means their sinful heart will be discovered better through their motivations than their behaviors.
Either way, most of us have at least one.
So, what is the battlefield on which we’ll lose our families? It’s the Battlefield of Belief. So to steal a line from a man I deeply respect, each and every day we need to be the parents God called and created us to be. We need to make sure we’re on God’s side, constantly representing Him to our kids as His Ambassador, inviting them to join us in worshipping God and helping others do the same.
That’s all we can do, but it’s enough, because God will do the rest.
I hope this episode was a blessing to you. I hope you’ll share it with other families looking for answers in this sometimes frightening world.
And I hope you’ll join us next time as we ask “Does Your Family Mirror the Trinity?”
If our family is truly on God’s side, the we have no fear of ever being lost. But if we’re on God’s side, then we will mirror the Trinity as we conform to the image of God.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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