Greetings MOL Family!
Welcome to our second-to-last lesson, of this beautiful study, on how to experience a little heaven on earth, in your home sanctuary.
To Restore All Things
You’ll remember that the angel who was pictured flying in the midst of heaven in Revelation 14:6-7 has the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth. Another translation calls it the eternal gospel, or good tidings. Truth is won from age to age. And yet it is also true that there are special times when present truth is due the world.
Noah had a message about the flood coming; that was present truth. John the Baptist had a message that the Messiah was about to appear; that was present truth. And you and I have a message that’s destined to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Christ is coming soon, and God has given us, praise His name, a message to get a people ready.
Let’s turn please to Matthew 17:11.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. – Matthew 17:11
This is the message of Elijah that God has committed to His people. Its mission is to do what? Restore all things. You remember that, in the Garden of Eden, two divine institutions were given to men. What were they? The Sabbath and the home. And the concept of the divine authority in each and the divine creation in each must be fully restored.
Has the devil tried to do away with both of them – pervert, twist, misapply? Yes. But one of the great purposes of this class is to help us get hold of beautiful concepts of the home and marriage. And this means all that marriage includes – the expression of love that belongs to marriage in the Most Holy Place of the home, the physical relationships that are involved in marriage, the bearing of children – all of these we need to have pure concepts of. We need to think of them as experiences ordained by God, arranged by God, for the purpose of revealing love, expressing love, perpetuating the race, and the other purposes that marriage was designed to bring about. And all of this is to reveal God’s love to (and in, and through) the family.
Let’s notice this in Hebrews:
Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. – Hebrews 13:4
The bed means the marriage bed – the physical relationship of marriage. He says, marriage is honorable in all. This doesn’t mean that everybody must get married. But it’s honorable.
Turn now to Adventist Home, page 121. It says:
Jesus did not enforce celibacy upon any class of men. – Adventist Home, pg. 121
In one church that calls itself “The Church,” the priests, in most cases, are required to practice celibacy – that is, they’re not allowed to marry. But this says Jesus did not enforce that. He came not to destroy the sacred relationship of marriage, but to exalt it and restore it to its original sanctity.
He looks with pleasure upon the family relationship where sacred and unselfish love bears sway. – Ibid
1 Timothy 4:1-3 shows that it is the spirits of devils that teach heretical doctrines such as “forbidding to marry.” Now, in the Spirit of Prophecy, we have, in different places, expressions recommending marriage especially for people in certain responsibilities. For instance:
It is better that our physicians be married men, whose wives can unite with them in the work. – Counsels on Health, pg. 585
Again, on the same page, we have another illustration of responsibilities that are especially for married people.
Connected with each sanitarium should be a man and his wife of mature age, who are as firm as a rock to the principles of truth, who can act as guides and counselors. – Ibid
Let me add on this. There are those who seem to think that anybody who is married must be a good counselor. You’ll notice that the Spirit of Prophecy more than once stresses the importance of maturity and experience. In Volume 6, page 74, it speaks of the mission home in which a number of workers are connected in a mission family. It says:
This should be in charge of a man and his wife who are persons of ability and consecration and whose influence will give character to the work. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, pg. 74
Again, in Counsels on Health, we read concerning a city work, a health restaurant:
With every restaurant there should be connected a man and his wife who can act as guardians of the helpers, a man and woman who love the Saviour and the souls for whom He died, and who keep the way of the Lord. – Counsels on Health, pg. 485
On the previous page, it states:
The girls and the young women in our restaurants need a shepherd. Every one of them needs to be sheltered by home influences. – Ibid., pg. 484
So you see in these various phases of the work – evangelistic, medical, health food, educational – we need at least some married people who can act in certain positions of responsibility involving the shepherding of various ones, young and old.
To Whom It Was Given
Though I’ve read sufficiently from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to point out the exalted character of marriage and the necessity of marriage, it is equally clear that God has called some people to the single life just as definitely as He calls some to the married life.
Turn to Matthew 19. Jesus had been giving some instruction concerning marriage and divorce, and as the disciples heard the high standard that Jesus had presented, they said:
If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. – verse 10
But Jesus said unto them:
All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. – verse 11-12
Now you notice that, in the statement Jesus is making here, before He makes it and after He makes it, He repeats that it isn’t for everybody. Is that clear? But nevertheless, He makes it; and He says, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” While Christ gave exalted concepts of marriage, He has clearly stated that there are some people who would choose not to marry for the sake of the work of God. This agrees with this statement of Paul:
For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. – 1 Corinthians 7:7-8
Paul recognized, as Christ recognized, that what was said along this line was not for everybody. My point is: It is for somebody.
Notice how Paul in verses 32-34 states some very plain facts:
But I would have you without carefulness.…
(That is, without worry and anxiety)
He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. – verses 32-33
Some may say, “What’s the matter? Paul is just stating a fact.” The truth of the matter is: When a man marries a wife, he’d better be thinking about how to please her, hadn’t he? Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what he promises to do? What Paul is saying is that there is a freedom to devote one’s entire energies to the work of God in the single state.
“Well,” says one, “couldn’t a person do that and be married?” I wouldn’t say it’s impossible; there have been a few people who have. There are a few cases in history when a man and a woman were married and yet devoted themselves both in an outstanding way to the work of God. Bro. James and Sis. Ellen White are good examples.
But, in most cases, in many cases, it doesn’t work that way. Notice the next verse:
There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. – verse 34
We’ll read some Spirit of Prophecy statements to go with this.
If Paul could remain single, and recommend the same to others, that he and they might be wholly the Lord’s, why not those who would be wholly his, and wish to make a sure thing of avoiding the cares, trials, and bitter anguish, so frequent in the experiences of those who choose the married life, remain as he was? And more, if he chose to remain so, and could recommend it to others, eighteen centuries since, would not to remain as he was be a commendable course for those who are waiting for the coming of the Son of man, unless evidences were unquestionable that they were bettering their condition, and making Heaven more sure by so doing? When so much is at stake, why not be on the sure side every time? – Review and Herald, March 24, 1868
With that, a statement in Volume 5 of the Testimonies says:
In this age of the world, as the scenes of earth’s history are soon to close and we are about to enter upon the time of trouble such as never was, the fewer the marriages contracted, the better for all, both men and women. – Testimonies for the Church, pg. 366
Note this statement in Series B:
I repeat, do not enter into a marriage engagement, unless there are good and sufficient reasons for this step—unless the work of God can be better advanced thereby. For Christ’s sake deny inclination, lift the cross, and do the work for which you are educating yourselves. – Series B #16, page 16
You see, the popular concept, at least in many minds, is that you really can’t do much in life until you get married. But here the prophet of God urges young people to get busy doing the Lord’s work and not let this interfere. Let me sum this up. We have, on the one hand, some wonderful statements in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy exalting marriage as a divine institution from the Garden of Eden. And every divine institution is to be restored in its fullness and beauty in these last days. We see the definite call, especially to some people with certain responsibilities to be married, to act as shepherds. And yet, with it, we have equally clear the call to some people to the single life – to devote their energies, without any distraction, to the one work of soul-winning and bringing the kingdom of God. It’s a wonderful thing to have your mind broad enough to take in both concepts, not one to the exclusion of the other.
God Has Offered The Choice
In the same way as we must have that broad vision on the point of marriage, we need an equally broad vision on the question of the bearing of children. From time to time, people raise the question, “What do you think? Should children be born in these last days?” Frankly, friends, I know of nothing in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy that teaches that we have now reached the time (or that we will reach a certain time) when we can say that it’s time that no more children be born.
Notice this wonderful chapter in Adventist Home entitled “Children a Blessing.” Down through the ages, God has made the bearing and the rearing of children not only a means to perpetuating the race; He has made it a wonderful means of education to the parents. We have an example of this in the case of Enoch in Genesis chapter 5. Enoch walked with God after he had begat Methuselah. He knew God before he had that child; but after he had that child, and the little fellow began to grow and toddle after him, Enoch learned a lot about God that he didn’t know before.
I call your attention to the exalted concept given here of the bearing and the rearing of children. For instance, this says:
Children are the heritage of the Lord.… A childless house is a desolate place. The hearts of the inmates are in danger of becoming selfish, of cherishing a love for their own ease, and consulting their own desires and conveniences. – Adventist Home, pg. 159
Two people that are married, they just look across the table every morning at breakfast, and every night at supper, and all they have to think about is themselves; they can get just about as selfish as anybody in the world. But let me tell you, by the time they have children, and they cry in the night and have to be taken care of and looked after when they’re sick, they don’t have near as much time to think about themselves. There are a lot of other things – the disciplining of them, the teaching – it’s quite an education.
On the next page, it says:
I have a very tender interest in all children,… I have always felt that association with the simplicity of childhood was a great blessing to me…. The presence of a child in a home sweetens and refines. – Ibid., pg. 160
Isn’t that nice? So, there is ample room for exalted concepts of the call of God to bear children. And God has called some people to adopt children, too. You’ll find a whole chapter on that in the book Welfare Ministry. But now, with that clearly before us, it’s equally clear that there’s another side to this question. There’s a tremendous statement:
Before increasing their family, they should take into consideration whether God would be glorified or dishonored by their bringing children into the world. – Ibid., pg. 162
Look at that sentence and tell me: Is God glorified by the bearing of children in some cases? Yes. Is it equally true that God is dishonored in some cases? And when are people to consider this? Before increasing their families.
On the next page, it says that they are not to increase their family any faster than the parents are sure of properly providing for them. At the bottom of page 165, we have a wonderful paragraph on the relation of this whole question to missionary work:
In sending missionaries to distant countries, those men should be selected who know how to economize, who have not large families, and who, realizing the shortness of time and the great work to be accomplished, will not fill their hands and houses with children, but will keep themselves as free as possible from everything that will divert their minds from their one great work. The wife, if devoted and left free to do so, can, by standing by the side of her husband, accomplish as much as he. God has blessed woman with talents to be used to His glory in bringing many sons and daughters to God; but many who might be efficient laborers are kept at home to care for their little ones. – Ibid., pg. 165
To some people, God has offered the choice of whether they want to have a few children of their own or whether they want to bring many sons and daughters to God. (That’s talking about spiritual child-bearing – soul-winning, in other words.) And I want to tell you, my dear friends, there are women who could win 10 times as many souls to God in soul-winning as they could ever have naturally born to them in a lifetime. But this isn’t to say that a particular person is not to have children.
You can see from what we’ve already read here that, in some cases, children are the way that God gets some people ready for Heaven! There are some people who are going to be in Heaven who never would have gotten there if they hadn’t had children; they’re so selfish. So you can see this is a broad subject, and we need to keep from being dogmatic and bigoted and narrow
We pray that you have been receiving a blessing from these studies, over the last several months! Please let us know, in the comment box, below… What principles have stood out to you?
Until our last lesson, next week – Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.