Can A Home Be Happy Without Christ?
September 26th, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-26-82 7:30 p.m.
And what a gladness, what an encouragement to see this Christian academy here tonight, and the fathers and mothers who love these children; and what an encouragement to have our teen division here tonight and their leadership, Robert Jeffress, and all who make that ministry among those young people possible.
And may the Lord bless all of you who are listening to this hour from the First Baptist Church in Dallas on KCBI, the Sonshine station of our Center of Biblical Studies; and on the great voice of the Southwest, KRLD. This is the pastor of the church delivering the first in a series of nine nights of revival. The general theme of the nine nights of which this is the first one is "Great Questions of Life and Eternity," and the question tonight – and turn to Ephesians chapter 6, and we are going to read the background for it – the question tonight, Can A Home Be Happy Without Christ? Ephesians 6, the last chapter of Ephesians, and we shall read the first four verses out loud together. Ephesians 6, verses 1, 2, 3, and 4. Now let us all read it out loud together. Ephesians 6:1-4:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
A Christian Home, in the love, in the nurture, in the admonition of the Lord.
The average American home is worldly beyond any way to describe it. There’s a can of beer in the ice box where the milk ought to be. There’s a deck of cards on the table where the Bible ought to be. There’s a package of cigarettes on the dresser where the church envelopes ought to be. There’s a sex magazine in the rack where the Sunday school lesson ought to be. There’s a snarl and a curse where a prayer ought to be. And there’s a frown and a scowl where a smile ought to be. No wonder the average American home is a shambles of misery. And no wonder that half of them and beyond break up.
A fellow said, "You know, our dog is like a member of the family." And the fellow said, "Which member?" A fellow stood up from the poker table and said, "I’m going home. And when I get there, if supper ain’t ready, I’m going to cuss the devil out of my wife. And if it is ready, I ain’t going to eat it." He came down for breakfast and his wife asked him, "How do you want your egg?" He said, "Cooked." She said, "How do you want it cooked?" He replied, "I want one boiled, and one fried, and one scrambled." So he set down and glared at his plate, and she said, "What’s the matter?" And he said, "You scrambled the wrong egg!" Papa Bear set down at the table and looked at his empty soup bowl. And he said, "Somebody ate my soup!" And Little Baby bear looked at its empty bowl and said, "And somebody ate my soup!" And Mama Bear called out from the kitchen, "Shut up that yakitty yakin! I ain’t even poured the soup yet!" A sociologist avowed, "There are three types of marriage: trial, companion, and fight to the finish."
The average American home and the dissolution of the home in America is a harbinger of the dissolution of the fabric of our society. There is no nation yet that has ever survived the erosion of its domestic life. I suppose the greatest history ever written is that of Edward Gibbon entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And in those volumes he points out five reasons for the dissolution of the Roman Empire. And all five of them are internal; not external. It wasn’t the Vandal or the Hun or the Goth or the Visigoth that destroyed Rome. It was their inward decay.
I was amazed to read that in the first five hundred years of the history of the Roman people there was not one divorce, not one. Then it came in like a flood tide. And the Roman civilization was destroyed. And I think of America. I think of Dallas. More than half of the homes in Dallas end in divorce. And the percentage increases all the time. In Isaiah [59:19] the prophet says when evil comes in like a flood, God will raise a standard against it. And as I think of that verse and as I think of the modern American home and of our homes, I wonder of the destiny of our people, what of that family and what of that home? There has never been in my life a perplexity, a confusion, as deep and as traumatic as the one that I face when people talk to me about the breaking up of their homes and the separation of their families.
That was so tragically illustrated in my own heart; in these years and days gone by, holding a revival meeting in one of the tremendous churches of America, whose pastor was one of the most illustrious and gifted in our nation, that afternoon his daughter-in-law had come to me and laid before me all of the sorrows and disappointments of her young marriage and of her young home. And as I listened to her, I said to her, "What you ought to do is to break it up. You ought to divorce that fellow. Even though he’s the son of the pastor of this church, you ought to divorce him! Get rid of him! Walk out! Leave! Start over again with somebody else."
In one of those providences that is hard to explain, that night after church, the pastor went with me up to my hotel room and said, "I’d just like to share a burden with you and pray with you." And he told me about the trouble and the sorrow, in the son, of his boy and the girl that he’d married. He didn’t know that that afternoon she had just talked to me and told me of the sorrows of her heart. And he said to me – the pastor talking to me that evening – he said, "I’m doing everything I can to keep that couple together, keep that home together." He said, "I grew up on a farm in Missouri. I grew up in a home that was tragic." He said, "One morning I saw my father, in anger against my mother, take the plate of biscuits off of the breakfast table, and I saw him break that plate against the face of my mother, stalk out of the house." And he said, "I went to my mother – I was a younger teenager – and I said ‘Mother, let’s leave. Let’s go to St. Louis. And mother, I don’t know, but somehow I’ll work, and I’ll support us. Let’s go mother.’ And my mother said to me, ‘Son, through all of the generations, there has never been a divorce in my family, and I’m not going to be the first to break up our home. Son, your mother is not well. She’s sick, and she’ll soon die. And I’m going to die keeping our home together.’ And the preacher said to me, "My mother died and kept our home unto death."
And he said, "I want you to help me in prayer and maybe in consultation and encouragement to ask my boy to keep his home with his wife, and ask her to keep their home with him." I didn’t have the heart to tell him that that very afternoon I had told the girl to break up the home and to divorce the boy and leave him.
That has stayed in my mind through the years. I don’t know, as I face the trauma of the breaking up of our families and the divorcing of these couples who are married, I don’t know what to say. I just know it is one of the tragedies of life, and it is the undermining of the very fabric and foundation of civilization; the trauma of the broken home. Can a home be happy without Christ? How we desperately need the family in the church, in the Lord, in the circle of the love of Jesus.
You ask me why I go to church;
I give my mind a careful search.
Because I need to breathe the air
Where there is an atmosphere of prayer.
I need the hymns the churches sing
That set my faith and hope awing.
They keep old truths and memory green,
Reveal the things of life unseen.
Because my boy is watching me
To note whatever he can see
That tells him what his father thinks,
And with his eager soul he drinks
The thing I do in daily walk,
The things I say in daily talk.
If I with him the church will share,
My son will make his friendships there.
[from The Baptist Messenger, September 23, 1943, page B]
This happened right there. A doctor, a physician came to the pastor and said, "My wayward and prodigal boy, will you pray for him and help me with him? And the pastor said to the physician, "Do you go to church?"
"No, I’m too busy. I have my hospital rounds."
The pastor says, "How can you expect that boy to turn to God and to the faith and to the people of the Lord when you don’t?"
And the doctor said, "I’ll be there." And he came to the services. And upon a Sunday he came down the aisle and stood right there and gave his heart to the Lord and his life to the fellowship of this dear congregation. He didn’t know it, but that morning his boy was seated back there on a back seat. When that boy, during the invitation, saw his father come down to the front, unknown to the father, the boy came down and stood behind him. And when the doctor said to the pastor, "Pastor, I’ve given my heart to the Lord, and I’m giving my life to the church, now will you pray for my boy?" And the pastor said to him, "Doctor, turn around! Turn around!" And the doctor turned around, and there stood his boy! That’s the reason, if nothing else to have a godly, church-ly, Christian home!
Again, the appeal of Christ to give your life to Him:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord; holy, acceptable; your spiritual service.
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed, that ye may be able to understand and enter into what is that perfect will of God.
Your body; listen, youth, listen. These men in their advertisements and these creatures who come out of the sewer who entice you to drink, and to smoke, and to use drugs, and to look at pornography, and to be promiscuous – all they’re interested in, in you, is the money they can make out of you. You’re a sitting duck! You’re a sucker! You’re the fall guy! They’re not interested in you. They just know that they’re out of business if they can’t get you to use their products. Why not stand up in the strength of Christ and say, "I have given my heart, and my life, and my soul, and my body to a nobler cause than to drink or to use drugs or to live a promiscuous life." Why not? Why not?
You know what I think? And I may be mistaken in this. I think peer pressure – that’s what they call when your friends want to push you into something – I think peer pressure is nothing but another word for moral cowardice. A great big bully was at his locker by the side of a Christian boy, and the Christian boy had his Bible. And the big bully said to him, "You sissy! You pantywaist! Always carrying around the Bible." And the boy that had the Book took it humbly and sweetly, offered it to the big bully, and said, "Here, let’s see you carry it around for a while." Yeah!
It’s another word for moral cowardice. Stand with Christ! One and the Lord is always a majority, always. And to give your life to the Lord is one of the sweetest devotions now, in youth, in childhood, in manhood, in womanhood, in all of the years that unfold before you; there is nothing like it.
One time in the middle of Africa, I was seated by Dr. Theron Rankin who at that time – who’s now in glory – at that time was the executive leader of our Foreign Mission Board. And as I sat there by his side in the mission – that’s a word they use when they call all of the missionaries together and listen to their annual reports. Seated by the side of Dr. Rankin, I was looking at and listening to a brilliant young doctor. And while I was listening to him, Dr. Rankin evidently noticed my intense interest in the young fellow. He turned and whispered to me and said, "After the meeting is over, remind me, I want to tell you about him." So I was eager to know, and after the meeting was over, I asked the illustrious executive, "Now you tell me about that doctor."
"Well," he said, "born over there on the Eastern seaboard, and a scion of one of the finest families in that state, and in the medical school preparing to be a doctor, a physician, and even in a medical college in the days of his student days, one of the finest and most famous clinics on the Eastern seaboard invited the young fellow when he finished his medical degree to be a partner, a fellow physician in that great, famous clinic. But somehow," he said to me, "in the days of his medical education the young fellow found the Lord, gave his heart to Christ, and volunteered before the Foreign Mission Board to go out as a Christian physician wherever he might be needed. And we have sent him, as you can see, to Africa, and you listened to him in his report today."
He said, "That young fellow could be anything he chooses in America. Out of a wealthy family, the scion of one of the finest generations in America, there he is in Africa." At that time the salary of a foreign missionary was a thousand dollars a year. The executive said to me, "He could be back in America making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."
You know what? He came here to Dallas to see me. And I introduced him to our people. And when I did I said to our congregation, "Here he stands, God’s beloved physician." And I added, "And I don’t feel worthy to stand in his presence." That’s great! That’s the fabric that glorifies God and elevates human life.
I had walked life’s way with an easy tread,
Had followed where sins and pleasures lead,
Until one day in a quiet place
I met the Master face to face.
With station and wealth and rank for my gold,
Much thought for my body but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face.
I had built my castles and reared them high
Until they pierced the blue of the sky.
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace,
When I met the Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him and blushed to see
That His eyes, full of sorrow, were fixed on me.
I faltered and fell at His feet that day
While my castles melted and vanished away,
Melted and vanished, and in their place,
Naught could I see but the Master’s face.
I cried aloud, "Oh, make me meet
To follow the steps of Thy wounded feet!"
My thought is now for the souls of men.
I lost my life to find it again,
E’er since one day in a quiet place
I met the Master face to face.
["Rabboni," S. T. Carter, Jr., 1899]
Oh! There is nothing comparable to giving your life to the Lord, answering with your soul, "I take Him as my Savior." Answering His call, "I give Him the days of my life, all the strength of my years, now, tomorrow, and until we see Him face to face." Do it. It’s the most glorious pilgrimage and the greatest reward in the earth, now and forever. May we stand together?
Our Lord, what could be sweeter, what could be more precious than to take God into partnership in life? To walk with Jesus down the pilgrim road, to have a Friend who is omnipotent: who can see us through in every trial we face, who can open the door of glory for us is a world yet to come. O Lord that we might have in our hearts that wonderful, yielded, surrendered willingness. Take me Lord. I give my life to Thee.
In this moment when we stand before God in silent prayer, somebody you: "This is God’s night for me, and I’m answering with my life." A boy, a girl, a youth, a father and mother, a whole family: "Pastor, we’re coming tonight, we’re on the way." Make the decision now in your heart, and when we begin to sing, that first step will be the best, finest, greatest step you’ve ever made in your life. Down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles: "Here I am, pastor, I’m answering God’s call with my life," and thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest. May angels attend. May all of us rejoice coming to Thee. In Thy saving, keeping, triumphant, glorious name, amen. Welcome. A thousand times welcome as you come, while we sing.
CAN A HOME BE HAPPY WITHOUT CHRIST?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The worldliness of the average American home
A. Can of beer where the milk ought to be, cards where the Bible ought to be
B. Snarl and a curse where prayers ought to be
C. A shambles of misery
II. What shall we do before the floodtide of evil?(Isaiah 59:19)
A. For my home
1. There is no nation yet that has survived the erosion of its domestic life
a. Edward Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
2. My meeting with daughter-in-law of illustrious pastor – encouraged her to divorce
B. For my church
1. Poem, "Why I Go to Church"
2. "Doctor, look behind youâ€¦"
C. For my Lord
1. Give Him my body (Romans 12:1-2)
a. Advertisers only interested in your money – don’t care about you
b. Peer pressure another word for moral cowardice
2. Give Him my life
a. Young doctor gave life to serving in Africa
b. Poem, "I had walked life’s way with an easy treadâ€¦"