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[Home]>[The Man-Made Church]>[13. The Spiritual Family]
This is the 13. Chapter of "The Man-Made Church."
by Frank L. Preuss
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (Matthew 19:3). Whenever religious people come to God, they come with carnal problems and so show their carnality. In this case it is divorce.
Jesus draws a clear line between the two families, the natural family and the heavenly family. For Jesus there is only one family of relevance and that is the heavenly family, the family of God.
Whenever people speak of the natural family, Jesus starts speaking of the heavenly family and so shows people to what family Christians belong and what family they should regard as relevant.
When Jesus was asked this question about divorce he ruled out divorce. If one has observed married life and all what it brings with it, then one might question if it is such a good idea to get married, because there is no way out of marriage; divorce is not permitted. And to exactly this conclusion are coming the disciples. They say, "It is better not to marry" (Matthew 19:10) and Jesus confirms this conclusion. He says, "He that can accept this should accept it" (Matthew 19:12).
So we have here a situation of one thing being better than another. Not to marry is better than to marry. This is the teaching of Jesus. The teaching of Paul is the same. He just goes into more details. Jesus says that "All men cannot accept this teaching, but only those to whom it has been given" (Matthew 19:11). Paul says, "But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry" (1 Corinthians 7:9). So Jesus and Paul are saying the same thing.
There will be people who will have problems to gain victory over their bodies, and for them the option to marry is open. Another scripture is 1 Timothy 4:1-3, that warns us of hypocritical liars, who forbid people to marry. So we have a situation where we are taught that to not marry is better than to marry, but that marriage is an option that remains open to us and that it is wrong to forbid people to marry.
The disciples say that it is better not to marry and Jesus confirms this. And Paul, the apostle, says the same thing. He says, "It is good for a man not to marry" (1 Corinthians 7:1) and "So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage does better" (1 Corinthians 7:38). It is a matter of a better option. The word "better" is the word that is of interest to us. This comes out also in 1 Corinthians 7:40, "But she is happier if she so abide." What is "better" for her will also make her "happier."
To get married seems to be more an option for people who have - or are not too concerned about - problems. Paul mentions lack of self-control. He says in 1 Corinthians 7:9, "But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry." He comes back to this in 1 Corinthians 7:37, where he says, that the man who has power over his own will, does the right thing in not marrying.
Paul also teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 that a person who becomes a Christian and is not married at that stage should remain unmarried. Now let us look at an example. There is a man who wants to become a "missionary." I put this word "missionary" between quotation marks, because there is no such word in the Bible. Most of our religious words we use are actually not in the Bible. Even a word like "apostle" is not in the Bible. It exists only in translations. The original does not have it. The Greek word apostolos is just an ordinary word for messenger or for "he that is sent" and has no religious connotations. It is used in John 13:16 by Jesus and is meant to be "messenger" or "he that is sent" and is also so translated by translators. So the translators translate the Greek word apostolos as apostle when it suits them, when they can introduce a nice religious word, and when it does not suit the situation, as in John 13:16, then they have to use the actually right word: messenger. Another example is the religious word "church." The Greek word "ekklesia" simply means assembly or community or gathering, but has no religious connotation - has no special meaning. In Acts 19 the word ekklesia is used for a pagan gathering, and is not translated as "church." It is used there three times. If the translators, with their religious mind, would have translated this ekklesia there as well as church, you would read something like this, "The church was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there." But actually a pagan gathering, a riotous mob, is described here. A gathering that was instigated in order to persecute the Christians. But when we take the word "church" as religious term and not as a Christian term, then may be this verse actually describes the man-made church quite well. The church is in confusion. Some "pastors" were shouting this theology and some "missionaries" were shouting "heresy." But most of the "laity" did not even know why they were there. It is a pagan thing. Confusion. A confusion of hundreds of different man-made churches, denominations, sects. In charge is the spirit of this world, nicely described in a scripture we just used, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." The spirits of which man-made churches are guided are deceiving spirits. They are straight from the master of deception himself. And the teachers are men who are hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron. Their whole outlook on life, their practising of life and their teaching is contrary to the teaching of Jesus.
We should notice that Paul writes a whole long chapter (1 Corinthians 7) - 40 verses long - that it is better not to get married, and that he does this in that letter of his that deals with denominations and their carnality and divisions. So the problem of bringing up the question of getting married is first and foremost a problem of carnal Christians.
Where does one find something like a "church wedding" in the teachings of Jesus. Just imagine Paul or Timothy dressed in funny garb - a long robe - in a cathedral and the church bells are ringing, the wedding march is played, and now he celebrates the "sacrament" of matrimony. Church buildings are sometimes the favourite places for demons, but at church weddings they really have a good time.
Now you say, this - what you are reading here - is all not true and just false teaching; the Bible teaches a lot about marriage and therefore marriage is something that is very much part of Christian life. Now I say, that you might have missed the subject. You are mixing up the subject of being married with the subject of getting married. We are speaking here of getting married, not of being married.
To show you the difference: the three married Christian couples we know from the Bible, are Peter and his wife, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, and Aquila and his wife Priscilla. They were married. The Bible does not give us details about how they got married, it is just stated that they were married. Peter had a wife because it is stated that he had a mother-in-law and it is also stated that he took a believing wife along with him. So Peter was married, but he was married before he became a Christian, because Christians started to exist with the rising of Christ and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So Peter got married before the new covenant. And the other two couples most probably also got married before they became Christians. There are at least no indications that they got married after they became Christians.
So teaching regarding married life is for people who are married. So there is no teaching in the Bible that encourages Christians to marry - to get married; but there is teaching that encourages us to do the rights things when we are married.
In order to show you how confused, or better uninformed, people are regarding marriage is the fact that most people believe that Christians are taught to have only one wife. There is no such thing. This applies to elders and servants (deacons) only. To give you examples: If a Zulu has three wives and 23 children and he becomes a Christian, he still has three wives and 23 children and he keeps them as well, because he is not allowed to divorce his wife or his wives. The same applies to a Moslem who is in a similar situation - a Moslem who becomes a Christian.
So there is a difference between teaching about married life and about getting married. We are talking here about getting married, not about being married.
The fact that the Bible teaches about married life, about being married, cannot be used by us to assume that getting married is a thing that is recommended and that is good. It is quite the other way round. The fact that the Bible teaches how to behave as a slave cannot be used by us to assume that to become a slave is a thing that is recommended and that is good. As a matter of fact these two positions, that of a married person and that of a slave, are actually used in the Bible to tell us that both are positions we should avoid being in, because we should not become slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23). And it is implied here, that when we marry, we become slaves of men.
Why we become slaves is expressed in 1 Corinthians 7:4. A man who marries becomes a slave because his body does not any more belong to him alone but now also to his wife. The same with a woman, her body now also belongs to her husband.
Now if the husband now decides to go out and work as a "missionary" he needs the permission of his wife. If the wife does not want to come with him, if she has to look after the children, if she insists on her rights to her husband's body, he cannot go. He is a slave. He has to keep his word and his marriage covenant. He can never do what he really wanted to do in life, because he got married.
But we also have to consider, that we should let a man marry who cannot control himself (1 Corinthians 7:9) or who has no power over his own will (1 Corinthians 7:37). Would he have this, he should not have got married. The fact that a Christian got married shows that he has no self-control or that he is ignorant of scripture.
Now how will such a man convince others to become Christians when they can see him being in disagreement with the Bible? And if he has self-control, how can he try to teach young Christians to make the word of God final authority in their lives, if he himself disregarded it and got married after he became a Christian?
Now we want to look at examples. Were in the Bible do we see a Christian getting married? Did a young man like Paul get married? Did a man like Timothy get married? Not only do we not find any record of a Christian getting married in the Bible, we also do not find any teaching in the New Testament regarding what to do to get married, how to find a spouse, how to court, how to find the right marriage partner.
If we look at the recommendations Paul gives to Timothy then we find plenty of details, but nothing in this regard. Quite contrary we find that he is admonished to treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:2). No indication and no advice given to him how to find a wife. It is completely contrary to the whole spirit of the New Testament to do this. Where do we find an atmosphere were Paul comes to town and now some women of the "church" are busy finding the right wife for him. Just think how inappropriate it would be if Peter's wife has Jesus in her house as guest and she is starting to think to find a suitable wife for him.
Now let us assume that our man who wants to be a "missionary" has become an overcomer and has now self-control. He therefore now also can control money and he only spends 50% of what he earns. He can now spend only half a year making money and be a worker for the things of God in his spare time after work and during the other half of the year as well. Now his wife has a baby and her income falls away and more children are coming and schooling and university fees force him to work fulltime. So his ability to be a worker in God's vineyard gets restricted to sometime after work. So basically his aim to be a "missionary" has vanished. Fortunately he can resist the offer of a "missionary society" to work for a salary, because he knows that that would be the end to his spirituality - peddling the word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17) and having now two masters: the Lord and the "missionary society." And because he knows that the society will stop paying him when he does not do what they want him to do, and that he will have to compromise the leading of the Lord. But even if he remains a spiritual person, the work he, and probably the Lord, had in mind, had come to an end.
We have come here to a place where we have to ask ourselves, what then is the role of the family in the life of a Christian? Christ gives the answer. It is called the "Pre-eminence of Spiritual Relationships." And this means that spiritual relationships are coming before natural relationships. It is also called "Jesus' True Family" or "The true kinsmen of Jesus." We find it in Matthew 12:46-50.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Jesus declares here the end of the importance of the natural family in the kingdom of God. The moment we have become children of God, we have become part of the family of God, we have become family - family of God. The natural family is a matter of the past. This sounds radical. But Jesus goes further. Here he declares that his mother and his brothers are not anymore his family, his family are those who do the will of God. And one of the "do"s is to follow Jesus. And his mother and his brothers were not following him, at least not at that stage. So we get the impression that Jesus, by pointing to his disciples and not to his mother and his brothers, excludes his natural family, at least at that point of time, from being his real family.
So if someone from our natural family is not a Christian, then we cannot count him part of our family. And by Christian we mean someone who "does the will of the Father in heaven." So a real Christian is not a person that calls himself a Christian but does not do what Christ says. A real Christian is one who does what Christ's Father says and therefore a man who might call himself a Buddhist, or a Moslem, or nothing like that, but who does what Christ's Father says. Such a man is a real Christian. So the label is not important, the content is.
So someone who says he is a Christian, but when it comes to the details of doing the will of the Father, says, he does not want to be alone for the rest of his life and when we say that when he becomes a Christian and is single he should remain single, he just looks at us as if that is of no concern to him, does not really seem to be a Christian, especially when he wants to become a "missionary." A Christian should have made up his mind to make the word of God final authority in his life.
We have said that Jesus goes further than that, further than declaring the natural family being of no importance compared to the spiritual family. We have what is called "Christ, a Divider" or "Jesus, the cause of dissension." Christ will divide people, especially natural families, into two groups: people who follow and love him and people who don't. Christ brings peace, but only for those who love him more than everything else. To others he brings the sword, the fire (Matthew 10:34-39):
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a manís foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
And (Luke 12:49-53):
I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And in these scriptures Jesus specifically mentions natural family relationships and gives several examples. The members of a natural family who follow Christ will be in complete opposition to the rest of the family. Natural family relationships do not mean much anymore, the thing that counts is our relationship to Christ. If someone from our natural family is not a Christian then there will be the sword between us and there will be fire between us. We who have Christ will be completely divided from them and we will be counted to the spiritual family of Christ. There can only be division between us and the world. We are not yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). That is really radical.
But Christ still goes further. Even when our natural family members are also our spiritual family members, we still have to be prepared to separate; we have to do it for His sake. We always have to make it quite clear that nothing is loved more by us than Christ. "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my nameís sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matthew 19:29). And if we read Luke 18:29, a parallel passage, we will see also there that Jesus includes even the word "wife" in the list of things we have to leave for the sake of the kingdom of God.
But Jesus still goes further. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). As long as our love for the Lord is not an undivided one, we have not arrived.
God's will is to be done on earth, as it is in heaven and they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage (Matthew 6:10 and Luke 20:35). We are espoused to one husband, to Christ, so that we may be presented as a chaste virgin to him (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The natural family was the means of procreation of the family of God in the Old Testament. When God made a beginning with mankind, he told them to be fruitful and multiply, and to replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28). Then God tried again with Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1+7). A third time God tried it, this time with Jacob. Also him gave he the command to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 35:11).
And this command lasted until the end of the old covenant. Up to then the children of God increased by means of natural procreation, but nothing of this is found in the new covenant. The new covenant knows only children of God who are born from above, born again through the spirit of God. A person does not become a Christian because his parents were Christians. Nowhere are we taught in the New Testament to increase by natural means. God has no grandchildren. Every human being has to make peace with God himself. His parents can't do it for him.
To use these commands given to Adam and to Noah and to Jacob as a backup to get married and to have children is an absolutely worldly approach. It is as worldly as to use God's commands in the Old Testament to fight the evil unbelievers with physical means and with the sword today and start to fight the devil by physical means and to start attacking people who are oppressed by the devil and to start shooting people because they are our enemies and are used by the devil.
In the Old Testament God made three times a start by giving the command to be fruitful and to multiply, but in the New Testament we have a complete new command and that is to go and make disciples of all nations. It is known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). And Christians over 2000 years have not done it, because they were busy with worldly procreation. They were busy with bringing up natural children, with getting married and with looking after wife and children. It drained their energy and left no energy for going and making disciples. They missed the invitation of the Lord to the great banquet because they just married a wife, and therefore they cannot come (Luke 14:20).
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all (Luke 17:26-27).
Our real family is the real assembly of believers and not the natural family and definitely not the man-made church. Our real children are the people we helped to bring to a knowledge of the Lord. Look at all the scriptures were Paul refers to his children or to his son and we know that Paul did not have natural children. They were his spiritual children. Paul even had a woman who was a mother to him. He had a mother inside the family of God, it was the natural mother of Rufus (Romans 16:13).
When children become Christians and have no father or no mother, or their parents do not become Christians, then they will find spiritual mothers and fathers in the real body of believers.
Now you might say, but why is this message part of the book of "The Man-Made Church"? It is because a main thrust of the devil in his man-made churches is towards the promotion of the natural family. And this is not because he wants to promote and support the natural family, but because it will keep the attention of the people away from the spiritual family. The spiritual family is the one that will prove stronger than the gates of hell, not the natural family. "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," says Jesus (Matthew 16:18). The natural family is no threat to Satan, it is the spiritual family that will overcome the works of the devil. So any means will do, as long as he can prevent the spiritual family from becoming active. So to promote the natural family is quite natural for the devil.
So let us build the spiritual church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that is built by Jesus.
This is the end of "The Spiritual Family."
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