Understanding Our Purpose as a Family

“The typical vision of family in the church is so anemic that we think we’re doing well if we can keep a husband and wife together while they raise a child or two. We think if we succeed in doing this, we ought to win a trophy. A generation ago…they had a multi-generational view, whereas now we’re doing all we can simply to save the nuclear family.” -R.C. Sproul, Jr.

The family, Sproul says, is not only under attack by society, but because Christians have “drunk so deeply from the wells of the world”, we are often accomplices in its destruction. We look at family as a means of happiness and enrichment–a self-fulfilling institution. We want our children to “find their way in the world.” This is where we must be very careful to think biblically…while family can be enriching and fulfilling it is not our end to seek those things. It is our purpose, as a Christian family, Sproul says, to wage war.

Thinking biblically about family changes the way we live out our lives. From the story of Adam and Eve to the picture of Christ’s finishing work for His bride, the Bible, as Sproul says, is “one book, and that one book is a family portrait.” And the propelling charge for our families, generation upon generation, is to wage war against the enemies of Christ by living as good soldiers in a conquest for the Kingdom.

It’s not a physical war and the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” We wage war in the strangest of ways: humility, serving, loving, obeying and joyfully doing what God has given us to do, wherever we are.

This conquest binds us together–husbands and wives and children. We are not to function as people sharing living space while pursing our own, temporal goals. If we belong to Christ, our lives–our time, energies and pursuits belong to Him as well. We have a heavenly mission while we live here on earth. In all things we celebrate the glory of Him who made us. In all things (the diapers, the dishes, the errands, the work) we make visible the invisible reign of the Lord Jesus.

That is what we are made for.

“May He fill His church with families filled with a single passion: to seek first the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

From Bound for Glory: God’s Promise for Your Family by R.C. Sproul, Jr.

22 Responses to “Understanding Our Purpose as a Family”

  1. RJR says:

    Interesting post, Kelly. However, Christ said nothing about waging war on others.

    • I can’t speak for Kelly, but I don’t think she meant that we needed to wage war against other people. The war I believe she is referring to is the spiritual battle that Scripture clearly tells us we’re engaged in. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Also, the very nature of the armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-20 implies a need for protection in battle. We are fighting a very real battle in this world, and as families, we just need to make sure we are rooted strongly in God’s word and preparing our children for the battle we KNOW they are going to have to fight.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Heaven answers rightly…the “enemies of Christ” come in many forms, especially in the form of “spiritual rulers of this world”.

      Also, the “waging of war” in a spiritual sense rubs us the wrong way because we don’t remember what that means…we picture blood and hatred and force. The Bible speaks of waging war with “the sword of the Spirit”, the Word of God. It speaks of “loving our enemies” as one means of advancing the Kingdom. See, with God, everything is upside down. The war we are in is a fierce one, to be sure, against those in Christ’s army. But our waging war looks very different than what you might have pictured. It’s an army whose standard-bearer is a bloody cross which is foolishness to those perishing and power to those being saved.

  2. RJR says:

    Sorry, where *does* Christ mention war?

    Apologizing for my ignorance. . . .

    Rachel

    • Kelly says:

      The article says “we are charged to wage war” not that “Christ said to wage war”, though we understand that all of Scripture is the inspired Word of our Lord, just to clear up semantics.

      To understand what Sproul is discussing, I would recommend you read the book. In a nutshell, from the beginning, mankind was given a “dominion mandate” in the garden. Then “war” was delcared between the “seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman”, an allusion to Christ and the spiritual battle that would always exist because of sin. There are several places in Scripture that speak specifically of war, but Sproul’s explanation comes from the comprehensive understanding of Scripture and the proverbial conotations of “waging war”, as I explained in my above comment. The spiritual battle is declared in Scripture and alluded to throughout. The “sides” are clearly exposed (for Me or against Me). And where there is a battle there is war, so I’m not sure where you’re confused about the terminology being used here.

      Christ’s Kingdom is being expanded with Him as the captain. We are followers of this captain of a “heavenly army” against the prince of the world. If we aren’t *waging war*, we’re useless. We wage war when we love our enemies, we wage war when we represent Christ and his church within our marriages, we wage war when we are faithful to teach our children to love Him, we wage war when we allow the lordship of Christ to infiltrate every act of our lives. Anything that raises Christ defeats Satan, the enemy, and war is waged. I don’t know how to explain it any simpler.

  3. RJR says:

    Kelly, Thank you for taking the time to explain your views!

    Here’s my own thought. If Christ said to wage war, I would certainly do so. However, in this case, it is only another human who is saying we need to do so. While it is always helpful to read about another person’s reading of Scripture, I prefer to simply follow the Bible literally.

    Have a great night!

  4. Adeline says:

    I loved the quote.I think that is so true in todays families where we think that just staying together is a big acheivement.May God bind all our hearts to follow Him & be good examples of Him!

  5. Tami Lewis says:

    i kindly suggest that Heaven read ephesians 6 as another commenter said. this passage describes what armor we are to wear when we “wage war” against sin.
    then again- i think Heaven knows exactly what Kelly is saying and prefers to bait her.

  6. Tami Lewis says:

    sorry- Heaven was the one i was agreeing with. RJR was who i was talking to.

  7. Melissa says:

    I believe what she means by “waging war” is that we are to battle against Satan & his followers, such as demons.

  8. Becky S says:

    John Piper has a sermon on this topic that is great. Also the Tedashi song. We definitely need to be waging war – a lot of times the war is only against our own flesh, but we must be vigilant.

  9. Hayley Ferguson says:

    I loved this post it was so encouraging. So often I wonder how I am impacting the world for Jesus Christ and how is raising an imperfect family helping His cause. Recently, I have had a couple of positive witnessing experiences, because of how my family and I are living out our lives…praise be to God. I believe there are people who actually go around just attacking bloggers on their own blogs (I hope this makes sense). I just thought I’d say this to encourage Kelly because sometimes in the comments I wonder to myself, “why on earth is this commenter (sp?) even reading this blog?” It reminds me of the devils who followed the Lord Jesus around and heckled Him. Anyway, just a thought. You do a great job Kelly and your grasp of Scripture is inspiring.

  10. Margaret says:

    This is what is meant by “war” in Christian theological terms:

    “13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-18.

    So, we have there…truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Holy Spirit.

    Yeah. Not *quite* the same as physical warfare. The Kingdom is not a piece of ground on earth to battle over. The “enemies” are not human beings to hate and kill.

    Metaphor, people. Metaphor! 😀

    • Margaret says:

      Interestingly, even anabaptists, who are strictly non-resistant and accept *no* physical violence, understand and use the concept of spiritual battle. It doesn’t mess with their pacifism at all because they understand that it is *not* a physical war.

    • I agree with you…but in today’s Islamic Jihad atmosphere I think there needs to be a bit more explanation when using the term “war.” Also there are Christian groups who believe they are working toward “bringing in the Kingdom” of God physically here on earth. Our goal is to be clearly understood and to have the gospel clearly understood. Sometimes non-Christians read our statements and see them through an unredeemed thought process coming to the wrong conclusion. Jesus said we must be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

  11. Renata says:

    Thank you Kelly – I think it’s so true what you wrote & it was quite obvious (at least to me) that you were talking about spiritual battles. Thanks for your great posts
    Blessings
    Renata:)

  12. Keri Hurley says:

    Kelly,

    I understand exactly what you meant with this article! Having four young adult children that are working daily out in this world, I am reminded that it is a battlefield out there! They see it, they know it and they know how to deal with it. They don’t “fight” or argue with people.. They live their christian lives and talk about them or explain why they do or do not do things..They love people..They walk away when they need too! Our 24 yr.old son had a man coming after him for his christian stand..He was never disrespectful but would walk away at times. They man ended up getting fired..My son was not happy about it but saw the consequences of the man’s mistakes. We are in a “Spiritual Battle” with this old world..That is the war I believe this was talking about!!

  13. Keri Hurley says:

    I also would like to just say to all of you moms with little ones that if you will just keep loving your families..Love the Lord, Your husband and children and continue to train and raise your children for the Lord..that..in spite of your mistakes..(I’ve made many) that the Lord will use your children for “HIS GLORY” as they get older!!We are seeing this now in the lives of our older children and it is a true testimony of God’s Grace in our lives and the lives of our children!! Keep running the Race!!!!

  14. Remarkable issues here. I’m very happy to look your article. Thank you a lot and I’m having a look ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  15. Udom Life says:

    Jesus said in matthew 11:12. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and ‘FORCEFUL MEN’ lay hold of it.”
    I believe the words of Jesus above suggests we “waging war” (FORCEFULLY ADVANCING AND FORCEFUL MEN) against the enemies of the kingdom so we could lay hold on our inheritance in HIM. Blessings!

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