I recently was privileged to speak at an ancient country church. It was a rural church, the kind with a fine graveyard, an old bell in the steeple, a formal “ladies parlor,” and a nice family in the fellowship hall making pecan pie for those gathered at midweek Bible study. When I arrived I was warmly greeted and soon had a good sense of the familial nature of this evangelical assembly. Clearly everyone was there because they were related to someone who had been there before. I was struck on that occasion by how the Bible is largely a collection of stories about families that are connected to God through covenant promises.
We see in the Old Testament that God worked through families to accomplish His purposes in establishing his covenant people. We read in Isaiah 59:21: “‘And as for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time forth and forevermore.’”
Before he dies, Joshua tells the children of Israel to abandon the worship of false gods and then states the ideal for all families: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
It is clear from reading the pages of the New Testament that the family continued to be one of the primary means of evangelism for those within the growing Christian church. The apostle Peter came to know Jesus because his brother Andrew engaged in some covenant evangelism and brought him to hear the Savior preach. Peter goes on to say at Pentecost (Acts 2:39) that this “promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The Bible is the story of a faithful, covenant-keeping God who uses faithfulness within families. Praise God for ancient country churches full of faithful redeemed families that are the instrument of God’s redemptive plan from one generation to the next. Praise God for our church families who are the living bride of Christ. Praise God for the family God has placed us in. Praise God that we are able to be faithful in word and deed to the knowledge of God we were given.
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