Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Family or the Church?

A friend of mine mentioned to me today an experience whereby an elderly gentlemen was commenting on how nice my friend's family was. This man was a World War II veteran who was in the second wave of the Normandy invasion. He was 91 years old and had trusted Christ as his saviour in 1947 after he returned home from the war.

His comments to my friend was that "God loves families. You know, He created families before He created the church."

I love families too. I love my own family enormously. Yet, as my friend relayed this story to me I felt an uneasyness. There was just something that wasn't quite right about this man's comments.

I began to ponder the question, "Which came first, the family or the church?"

The Belgic Confession declares in Article 27:
This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end, as appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects.

So, the author of the Belgic Confession confirmed my suspusion. But I wanted something a little more concrete than a confession that is not even the primary confession that I adhere to. (which is the London Baptist Confession of 1689)

Scripture is the ultimate authority. What does it have to say about the family?

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.
(Luk 14:26)

What does it have to say about the church?

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
(Eph 5:25-27)

So, I believe it is clear from scripture that Christ esteems His church above families. But there is still the nagging question; Did He create the family before He created the church?

The first family was made up of Adam and Eve. They had their beginning in the Garden of Eden. But when did Christ create His Church? First we must ask who is the Church? The Church is made up of all Christ's elect. The Church is and has always been God's people throughout the ages. Thus it is not incorrect to call ancient Israel, "The Church."

So, when was the Church created? It was created when He elected His own. I believe this verse speaks clearly as to when the Church was created:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
(Eph 1:4)

So then, I submit to you that this elderly gentleman, in spite of the honour I have for him in serving our country, is wrong when it comes to the dicotomy between the Church and the family. The family is certainly a blessing from God. But His Church is the apple of His eye.

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