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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Family — 24 Comments

  1. This week we have been reminded of the importance of the home as a place of learning. As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, by the time I was five years old I had learned most of what I would ever learn. That learning was home schooling, private education, with Dad and Mum as teachers and my siblings as fellow learners. I have been a student in one form or another for most of my professional career, but that first 5 years set the scene and gave me the foundational skills for the rest of my life.

    And, I am not talking about reading, writing, maths, chemistry, computer science and so on. I am talking about living skills and spiritual values. Perhaps the most important skill that I learned was to integrate my faith into my living.

    The home is the first battle field in our lives between good and evil. It is where we often learn to love or hate God. I am not suggesting that if your children turn away from God that it is your fault. Children too grow to the stage where they make their own free choices. But, if we want to give them our best education we need to show that love and unselfishness that is characteristic of God's love.

    As a parent and a grandparent, I am very much aware of my own weaknesses and failings. All the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy reading does little to prepare you for the years of teenagers trying the boundaries and pushing the limits. As a teenager myself I remember my mother bursting into tears over us kids, claiming that she was a total failure as a parent. I thought at the time she was just being a bit soppy. Now, having had teenage kids myself, and now having grandchildren who are reaching their teens I can appreciate my own mother's frustration with us.

    We hear a lot about the work of the Holy Spirit and Jesus living in us, but the fine words and sentiments have to take a practical turn when you are working with family members. The Holy Spirit does not work magic. It works with you giving you the love and patience to deal with your children.

    You know that I often quote John 13: 35:

    By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. KJV

    Nowhere is that quote more important than in the home.

    I always think that 1 Cor 13 was written for parents:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 NIV

    How often do we have to ask our children for forgiveness when we forget those principles. Or, are we too proud to admit that we too are still students.

    Amen!(28)
    • Yes, Maurice - the Holy Spirit can do no other than to manifest itself in us in the desire to do right in the eyes of God first, and with this becoming a blessing that benefits the family and mankind in general.
      The Holy Spirit also leads us to an ever increasing intellectual, though spiritually perceived understanding of our true, spiritual nature; this understanding helps share His Love in its manyfold forms - practical as well as by passing on His imparted Truth - all rooted in His Love.

      Amen!(14)
    • What a summary to the lesson Maurice. I have two children, a teenager and one not yet a teen but going into teen hood in a year or two. My children don't call themselves Millenials, they say their are Generation Z or Alpha or something that I don't understand. The other day I was talking to my daughter she said she had nothing to talk to me about because the age gap was so huge. I just didn't fit in. Well I could have easily been annoyed about it. I guess 1 Cor 13:4-7 helps me a lot. My love for my children should not dwell on my children seeing the age gap. I should be patient with them because they are my gifts from God.

      I have been reading the book Child Guidance by Ellen White. It really has been a blessing to me. It has contributed to my education as a parent raising my children.

      Amen!(15)
    • Thanks for your insight Maurice. It brings tears to my eyes. I homeschooled my 3 children, birth thru High School. Yet I often question myself because 2 out of the 3 have left the church, although they still have an interest in spiritual things. They are smart, and funny, and successful, but I miss our spiritual conversations and connection. I intellectually know they have to make their own choices, but emotionally it is difficult to accept at times. I continue to love them all unconditionally and pray for them constantly. Anyway, I appreciate your insights into these spiritual topics. It gives me hope and helps me to give myself grace with the mistakes I made in parenting. Thanks, Tammy

      Amen!(6)
      • Tammy, I believe your unconditional love will do more to draw your children to God than any amount of admonition could.

        When the final events shape up, they will see more clearly how they should choose.

        I'm praying for those of our own children who are in the same place yours are. They are good and kind people, but they don't see their need for "religion" right now. I pray that they will see clearly when the time comes to make a permanent choice.

        Amen!(2)
  2. My understanding of what Jesus meant when He said Love the LORD with your whole heart, mind, spirit and body has been expanded by some research into the Greek words that are translated into English as love. “Agape” is one of several Greek words for love. When the word “agape” is used in the Bible, it refers to a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good. We can teach our children agape/love because it is not a feeling but a principle, a choice. The 4 most common types of Greek love are:

    Storge might also be called affection or familial love. This word isn’t actually used in the Bible, but the concept is there. Storge is based on familiarity. A person will love their family regardless of whether they are people the person would be drawn to otherwise; family members often have nothing in common except familiarity and blood. Storge is a comfortable affection that can be taken for granted, but it can also be very powerful.
    Eros is romantic love. Eros also isn’t a word that appears in the Bible, though it plays a major role in a lot of Old Testament problems. Eros encompasses sexual and romantic love. Lovers are often completely preoccupied with one another.
    Philia is friendship love. This word is used in the Bible. Philia occurs from bonding over similar interests. Whereas lovers are both preoccupied with each other, friends are both preoccupied with the same things. Friends, of course, care about one another, but it is similar interests that attract them to one another. “Philia” is the opposite of “phobia,” literally meaning that those experiencing philia are drawn to one another.
    Philia is often overlooked in modern culture, but it is exhorted in the Bible. In Romans 12:10, Paul urges the believers to be devoted to one another in brotherly philia. Philia can be strongly associated with agape as well. In John 15:13, Jesus said that there is no greater agape than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
    Agape love is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. This is the type of love the Bible speaks about the most. The New Testament references agape over 200 times.

    What Agape Means in the Bible
    To the Greeks, proper agape meant a general empathy or lovingkindness for all people. Christianity took this a step further, biblical writers used God as the standard for true agape.
    Agape love, in the Bible, is love that comes from God. God’s love isn’t sentimental; it’s part of His character. God loves from an outpouring of who He is. As 1 John 4:8 states, “God is love [agapos],” meaning He is the source of agape love. His love is undeserved, gracious, and sacrificial.
    We are to love God and others with agape love. Agape is a choice, a deliberate striving for another’s highest good, and is demonstrated through action. God set the standard for agape love in sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners.
    1 Corinthians 13 lays out a list of things that define agape.

    What Agape Means for Us
    Agape love does not come naturally to us in our sinful state. However, it does come naturally to God and is an integral part of Him. By drawing closer to Him and experiencing His love, we are able to begin to understand what this real love means. Only through Him can we show and experience agape love.
    Alyssa Roat, Contributing Writer
    https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-does-agape-love-really-mean-in-the-bible.html

    Amen!(15)
    • Thanks Shirley, I've heard sermons on this before, but it never impacted me as much as what you just wrote here. Thanks for taking the time to outline these different forms of love. Tammy

      Amen!(4)
    • Thank you, Shirley - I appreciate you researching and pointing out the type of Love we are asked to give our God we confess to believe in.
      I also want to include that with loving Him with all our being, we whole-heartedly ACCEPT ONLY HIS Authority to govern our life's affairs; that we honor Him by our faithfulness when we allow only HIS teaching to instruct us about who we are, were we come from, who He is, who Jesus is, what mankind's condition is and what this present age is about and where it leads us to.
      Again - Thank you!

      Amen!(2)
  3. When we learn about Christian living, we refer mostly to things which are spiritually guided and physically expressed. Thinking about what causes so much turmoil in families, I come to believe that it is because we really do not know who we are as Christians and how we change or have changed as it regards the life due to our new nature.
    Rom.8:7-9 - Christians are called Children of God if the Holy Spirit dwells within them. All children still learn their ways and parents need to maintain close communication with them. This is also true for Christians; we need to learn all there is to learn about who our Father is and who we - the born-again believers – are, our relationship with Him and how we communicate with Him when we learn.
    John14:19-21 – Jesus lets His disciples know that, even though the world does not see Him any longer, *they* will be able to see Him. (20)”At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
    Everyone who believes, showing that they ‘love’ Him by following His commandments, is a disciple of Christ and Christ’s Spirit dwells in them; we have received His Spirit - how else can Jesus say that we are in Him, He is in us and in the Father? We are either fully aware of this or we still need to learn about it. If not, we need to desperately hurry up and learn how to communicate with our Father through His Spirit. Loving Him with all our being starts us on the road to intimate communication with Him.
    I believe that if our children clearly understood that their parents are spiritual children of the Father and spiritually related to Jesus, it would help them form their own spiritual relationship with their heavenly Father – they would talk with Him like they talk with their parents (possibly more intimately,though). As long as we depict Him as a man with a body, beard and white hair looking like us(the aged Jesus), He remains tied to the Children’s Bible stories. We need to teach them to distinguish between our physical body and the spiritual essence, which is from God, residing in us. Our spiritual essence is were the ‘real’ life is lived; our body is its tool, the only way He can express Himself in our physical world – Rom.12:1.

    I searched ‘What constitutes a God?’ and clicked on the ‘Deity-Wikipedia’ link where I found so much interesting information which will benefit anyone who wants to learn about what historical mankind thinks (a) God is. Christians have learned from the Scripture to call Him ‘I AM’.
    Our children deserve to have an honest, open-minded dialogue about the God who we teach them to believe in, in which form He is present in our life and how the spiritual, eternal meets and interacts with the physical, finite. Though these topics seem to be theologically based, they need to be part and parcel of the education of our spiritually maturing children.
    When we teach our children about God, we have to eventually tell them that God is Spirit-expressed Love and not the physical man Jesus; that God sent His Spirit to reside in Jesus for us to see, observe and experience God; that His Spirit is His heavenly Son alive in Jesus. God is not defined by the body - He is Spirit.
    Heb.4:12 – This Word is not only the written word from Scripture, it represents the power Spirit employs using Truth.

    How can we successfully teach our children spiritually perceived Truth if they do not know that their real identity is resident within them in the form of Spirit? God gave us the Savior not to redeem our flesh but to again establish in us the new nature which is able to communicate with God the Father - spiritual communication between His Spirit and our Spirit?
    The eyes(mind) of the parents cannot see and respond to everything, but God’s Spirit can; it is only the mind of God that knows us intimately, who we really are!
    Our children’s Faith in God will be strengthened as they gradually grasp the mystery of the relationship between the invisible, spiritually present God and man whom He called to, again, become His Children.

    Amen!(1)
    • Brigitte, in your lengthy comment you include some observations about child training. You write

      We need to teach them to distinguish between our physical body and the spiritual essence, which is from God, residing in us.

      I must say that from my experience of raising 5 children to adulthood, I have not seen the necessity of such teaching, since it does not seem to have occurred to them to confuse "spiritual essence" with their physical bodies.

      Furthermore, I don't see any teaching of "spiritual essence" in the Bible. Thus this is more than a little confusing:

      Our spiritual essence is were the ‘real’ life is lived; our body is its tool, the only way He can express Himself in our physical world.

      By contrast, it seems to me that Paul is much clearer in Rom. 12:1-2 ESV: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." That tells me that God wants us to deny our natural tendency to indulge the desires of our flesh and, instead to serve Him with our bodies, according to His expressed will. And in the rest of the chapter he goes on to demonstrate what this looks like in the Christian church which he also calls the body of Christ on this planet.

      Amen!(2)
    • Your comment above includes an assertion that concerns me greatly, and I pray that none of our readers follow your advice. You write:

      When we teach our children about God, we have to eventually tell them that God is Spirit-expressed Love and not the physical man Jesus; that God sent His Spirit to reside in Jesus for us to see, observe and experience God; that His Spirit is His heavenly Son alive in Jesus. God is not defined by the body - He is Spirit.

      This sounds to me like a direct denial of the incarnation of God in man, something the Apostle John takes rather seriously. (See 2 John 1:7)

      For the sake of our readers, I want to affirm the doctrine of the incarnation here as held by Seventh-day Adventists:
      We affirm that Jesus Christ was and is a wholly new Person who did not exist before His incarnation. While He existed as God before His incarnation (John 8:58), He did not exist as the God-Man - fully God and fully human. God became flesh. (John 1:14) And He did not stop being "flesh" after His resurrection. He is still fully God and fully Man. (See Luke 24:36-43) Note that Christ here specifically denied being "a spirit." Christ will also return as a God-Man. Acts 1:10-11

      Your comment "that His Spirit is His heavenly Son alive in Jesus" also appears to deny the tri-une nature of God - as being three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) united as one God. You appear to say that there are only two - the Father and the Spirit-Son, rather than three divine persons.

      In this comment I cannot possibly cover all the issues brought up in your post, but since you are posting as a Seventh-day Adventist, I recommend to you that you review Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental beliefs.

      For starters, please click on the links such as 5: Holy Spirit and 2: Trinity and 4: God the Son Then follow up on the links inside those posts.

      Amen!(0)
      • Inge - I do not deny the incarnation of God in man! In fact, I have pointed out this very fact in the comment you quoted: "... for us to see, observe and experience God"... .
        The lesson topic my comment responded to is: "The Family". In my first sentence, I am referring to children of the story-book age and how they encounter Jesus; He is depicted as a man looking much like us. The child does not know that His true identity is the incarnate Son of God - which is Spirit and only made visible to the eye by the body of Jesus. When Jesus speaks, it is the incarnate Son of God who speaks. This is what I am attempting to clarify when I point out that we need to learn to separate the body from the Spirit.

        1Cor.15:50 - "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." You pointed to His words in Luke24:39 - they actually confirm that "spirit does not have flesh and bones". 1Cor.15:42-50 - When Christ ascended, He left behind His flesh and bones, being transformed just like we will be transformed - in the twinkling of an eye.

        [rest of comment redacted]

        Amen!(0)
        • Brigitte, you wrote

          In my first sentence, I am referring to children of the story-book age and how they encounter Jesus; He is depicted as a man looking much like us. The child does not know that His true identity is the incarnate Son of God - which is Spirit and only made visible to the eye by the body of Jesus.

          As a human being "as a man looking much like us" is how Christ presented Himself to the children of His day. And I believe that is still best today. Children in Adventist homes learn from babyhood that "Jesus" created the world and all that is in it. (While not technically correct, since "Jesus" is the name of the incarnate Son of God, who did not exist before the incarnation, it is appropriate for children.)

          I can not agree with a division between body and spirit because I see the Bible referring to humans as a single, indivisible entity.

          1Cor.15:50 - "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." You pointed to His words in Luke24:39 - they actually confirm that "spirit does not have flesh and bones". 1Cor.15:42-50 - When Christ ascended, He left behind His flesh and bones, being transformed just like we will be transformed - in the twinkling of an eye.

          I'm glad you brought up the example of Christ because it clarifies Paul's words to the Corinthians.

          You wrote that "When Christ ascended, He left behind His flesh and bones," but that is contrary to what the Bible teaches. When Mary and Peter went to the tomb, they did not see "flesh and bones" left behind. They found an empty grave. And when Jesus met Mary in the garden, He had a human body - the same body He had when He appeared to the disciples. In Luke 24:39 Christ confirmed that He was not "a spirit"(which does not have flesh and bones) but a real person with a real human body. He was both fully God and fully human after the resurrection, just as He was before the resurrection. However, His human body, resurrected from the tomb had undergone a change to "immortality" as detailed by Paul in
          1 Cor 15:52 " In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump... we shall be changed." This makes clear that we shall not leave "flesh and bones" behind, but our flesh and bones will "put on incorruption and ... immortality." We are unified beings both before the resurrection and after it. Just precisely what that entails, we shall have to leave with God since He did not explain it to us any further.

          You do affirm that Christ was "transformed just like we will be transformed - in the twinkling of an eye." In that we agree, but my mind cannot grasp how that is reconcilable with "flesh and bones" left behind.

          Amen!(1)
    • We must be careful trying to portray Jesus as not having a real body.

      “I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
      ‭‭2 John‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

      Amen!(1)
      • My concern is that Brigitte's comment seems to indicate humans are a body with a separate spirit dwelling in the body, whereas I believe according to the Bible humans are an indivisible unity of mind, heart, spirit and body that make up a living soul.
        So I also believe that Jesus was was not a body with a separate spirit dwelling in Him, He was God incarnate in person.

        Amen!(1)
        • Shirley - Rom.8:14-16 -(16)"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:".
          The KJV capitalizes the Spirit of God versus the spirit of man, but both are able to relate, communicate with each other; that is after we have received the Holy Spirit of God to take residence in us.
          Definition of 'incarnate':
          adjective - (especially of a deity or spirit) embodied in flesh; in human form. 'God incarnate'.
          verb - embody or represent (a deity or spirit) in human form. 'the idea that God incarnates himself in man".
          (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

          John14:16-20 - I hope this will give some clarity about the spiritual relationship we have with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

          Amen!(0)
          • Hi Brigitte,
            Thank you for your response. My question is if the Holy Spirit "takes residence in us" do we then have our own spirit and the Holy Spirit both in our hearts. I don't think so, when we receive the Holy Spirit and/or allow Him to work on our hearts, then our spirit communicates with the Holy Spirit.
            As far as I understand it, only Jesus was God incarnate, no human beings.
            My understanding is that we are an indivisible unity of heart, mind, spirit and body. We do not have a separate spirit in our body. When we accept Jesus we are a new creation in His image.

            All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. Desire of Ages, p. 668

            Amen!(1)
          • Hello again, Shirley – my answer to your question is ‘yes and no’. Yes, to “do we then have our own spirit and the Holy Spirit both in our hearts’, and ‘no’ to our spirit being equal to the Holy Spirit – Jer.17:9; Rom.8:7,8; 1Cor.2:14-16. Once we are willing to submit the nature of the old-spirit-self to the Holy Spirit, His presence will do away with our old ways as we die daily by refusing to follow the influence of the old nature. This will bring our spirit closer in relationship with the Holy Spirit.
            Rom.7:14-25 gives us a glimpse into Paul’s struggle with subduing the influence of the flesh, the old nature’s powers of 'self-will', to his desire and willingness to do what is the will of God. (v.25) “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

            As I see it, the ‘separation’ of the influence of spirits comes through the ability given by the indwelling Holy Spirit and our willingness to renew the heart, mind – the whole of our being; but because this is a process which goes on throughout our life, we will need to stay vigilant, using our renewing mind and now faith-love-based desire to live the Will of God, rather than to live by the desire of the flesh.
            We run the race, we work out our Salvation with fear and trembling, because our mind's old will is not eliminated, only daily subjected to the process of being formed in the image of the mind which was/is in Christ Jesus – 1Cor.9:24-27; Phil.2:5.

            I always appreciate when you include Ellen White’s writings to help clarify understanding – her insights are a blessing to the reader! Matt.22:37. I prefer to use the word ‘repulsive’ instead of ‘hateful’ to describe my reaction to sin.

            Amen!(0)
          • Hi Brigitte,
            I never said our spirit was equal to the Holy Spirit, but yes I agree the Lord has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in our body which is the temple of God 1Cor 3:16.
            I like what Paul told Titus and the Romans:

            when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life Titus 3:4-7
            And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Rom 5:5 NLT

            Amen!(0)
          • Thank you again, Shirley - you always find the most beautiful passages in Scripture to convey the wonderful Love our Heavenly Father has for us as He extends His Grace and Mercy!

            Amen!(0)
      • William - My comments did not portray Jesus as 'not having a real body'. As I pointed out in a separate comment, Jesus Christ was born in a miraculous way - Matt.1:20-25. Joseph was told that: "what was conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."They were also told to: "call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." ('meaning Saviour'(margins)).
        The name Jesus implies the dedication to a certain calling the calling of being our Savior - the term 'Savior' tells that He is the provider of Salvation. Jesus, the Savior, was the incarnation of the Son of God, Immanual - God with us!

        2John1:7 - "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
        Who is Jesus Christ? This verse speaks to 'Jesus our 'Savior' Christ the 'anointed one' "who is come in the flesh".
        William, thank you for expressing your concern - Thank God, I can whole heartedly confess that Jesus Chirst has come in the flesh, Immanual - God with us, and that I have never believed otherwise!

        Amen!(0)
  4. Hi Brigitte,
    So nice to see you posting here. God has a plan for us and our children. As we train and teach them to follow us when they are younger, as they grow and develop we (should) transfer that allegiance to God. the scary thing is, as they do that, they may not always agree with us! And yes, the Holy Spirit, alive in us if we allow Him guides us, as we read His Word and apply it to our lives.

    Amen!(1)
    • Hello, dear Ruth - what a nice surprise to find your greetings! Glad to see you being part of the fellowship of Bible students!

      Amen!(1)
  5. Brigette, you write:

    When we teach our children about God, we have to eventually tell them that God is Spirit-expressed Love and not the physical man Jesus; that God sent His Spirit to reside in Jesus for us to see, observe and experience God; that His Spirit is His heavenly Son alive in Jesus. God is not defined by the body - He is Spirit.

    I am not sure that I fully understand what you are saying here. I suspect that you are trying to make a distinction between God and Jesus that is not really supported in the Bible. It is true that the divine/human intersection of Jesus is a bit of a mystery, but that does not stop us from appreciating it. I like how John describes it in John 1:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
    John 1:1-4, 14 KJV

    The way you are expressing it is, I believe, pretty close to Docetism; the notion that the human form of Jesus was an illusion. I do not see a distinction between Spirit and body in the same sense that I think you are implying. Jesus who was with God and was God was made flesh so that he could be revealed to us. That is something that only God can do.

    Amen!(5)

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