"As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him." - Psalm 18:30

How Can We. . .?

By Roger Leonard

Matthew 12:46–50 reads as follows: “While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak to Him. Then one said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.’ But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand towards His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.’”

The Lord’s family is the church of Christ, the house of God, the church of the living God. (Cf. Matt. 16:18; 1 Tim. 3:15.) These words do not indicate a title, but rather an identification of ownership and relationship to Christ. Jesus taught that the basis of this relationship is resolute faith in Him as the Son of God—deity—and failure to believe that results in being lost in sin in eternity (Cf. Jn. 8:24). Not only must one believe in Him, one must verbally confess such from the heart (Cf. Matt. 16:13-18; Rom. 10:9-10). Jesus additionally commanded His disciples to turn from sin in penitence (Cf. Luke 13:3, 5). In order to complete this initiation into the family of Christ, one must be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of or washing away of their sins (Cf. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16). In Acts chapter two, we see that those who gladly received Peter’s preaching were baptized and the Lord “added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:41, 47). “[T]he house of God. . . is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). Members of the Lord’s spiritual family must obey the will of His Father in all things. Jesus said,
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?"

This doing of what Jesus says includes “worship. . . in Spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24). Worship that adds mechanical instruments or special worship teams or clapping or dancing, etc., is not supported by God’s truth and is, therefore, in violation of God’s will. These ideas are “the doctrines of men,” which make worship “vain”! (Matt. 15:9)

The Lord likewise expects His family members to be morally pure. Jesus said that any (including unbelievers) who divorce and remarry for any reason other than fornication are committing (Greek present tense) adultery (Matt. 19:9). In Gal. 5:19-21 and I Cor. 6:9-10, Paul lists several things that will keep people out of heaven, including homosexuality, lying, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, covetousness, etc.

The Scripture has a clear plan for male leadership in God’s family. Elders and deacons are to be men (I Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). A woman does not meet the requirements for being an elder or deacon. Preachers and worship leaders are to be men whenever men are present (1 Tim. 2:8-15). All of the Lord’s apostles were men. Women have their very important role for teaching children and other women (Titus 2:3-5); but this role is never over a man in the Lord’s family. (1 Tim. 2:8-15)

What is the point in all this?
There are some in the church today who “have strayed concerning the truth” (2 Tim. 2:18) and are practicing these things at home as well as carrying them into the mission field. To stray "concerning the faith" is to move away from the Lord's will in the New Testament!

  • How can we bring people to the family of God if we do not understand the will of God?
  • How can we bring people to the family of God if we do not teach the will of God?
  • How can we bring people to understand the family of God if clear commands are cultural?
  • How can we bring people to be faithful members of the family of God if truth is subjective and simply relative?
  • We can’t!

Jesus declared in Matt. 12 that His family are those who do the Father's will. He came with a spiritual sword to separate us from our own will and to be joined to the will of God the Father. (See Matt. 7:21ff; 10:34ff.; Heb 4:12) That sword is the inspired “Word of God” (Eph. 6:17). May we die with that Word in our hearts, on our tongues, and in our hands! Then and only then will we be the people of God and bring other people to the Christ and into the family of God! - Roger Leonard, May, 2009