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Praising God at Home

 

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you and cleanse yourselves and change your garments.’”

Genesis 35:1-2

Many Christians wonder why there are no Sound Doctrine churches or Reformed ones. I believe the answer is simply that many families, starting with the Elders, have forgotten the Family Altar. Many believe that Worship Services happen only on Sundays. Others believe that they hold no responsibility for their children’s salvation.

I would respond by saying that the Bible provides one of the best passages of the Old Testament for Family Worship: 

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you and cleanse yourselves and change your garments;’” (Gen. 35:1-2).

Family Worship Is A Divine Command

Yes. In Genesis 35, Jacob reveals to his home how praiseworthy God is. The violation of the first three commandments is enough evidence of how family worship is necessary, especially for Christian families.

“God appoints masters as faithful overseers as much as ministers, and if they neglect this duty, God will hold them accountable for the consequences because the blood of their families is on their hands. In addition to the benefits and convenience of regular interaction, engaging in such activities prepares leaders for this important responsibility. God will demand an explanation for the use of these abilities on the day of judgment.” (Modern English revised adaptation from A Family Altar, Erected to The Honour of the Eternal God by Oliver Heywood, Chapter 3, Page 36)

God commands that we must destroy our idols, not make new ones. That we should not use His name in vain, but worship Him with all our hearts and souls; not only ourselves but our sons. This is absolutely necessary to understand who God is and to realize for which reason they must praise Him.

God must be the only object of worship at home. If we were to apply this principle, our children would think twice before worshiping their Legos, Tablets, and Video Games. They would remember that God cannot be deceived and that they should honor their fathers and mothers.

We do not need much Exegesis to understand how the Family service would help us remove our idols from our homes. The devotion of the father of the household to the faithful exposition of the Word of God from a sound commentary, the lecture of a Puritan sermon, Study Bible notes, or the simple act of explaining and exhorting what the text exposes will cleanse the young man’s way: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” (Psalm 119:9).

At the altar that Jacob constructed for God and where he offered sacrifice, he revealed and made known the identity of God and His person. When we sing Psalms, pray, and catechize our children, we are making God’s virtuous attributes known: We must make God known to our children, for the good of their lives, and ours.

Do you hate your children so much that you are unwilling for them to meet and experience God’s love, mercy, and justification by faith? Is God exclusively for you as parents and not for 3-year-old children or even two-month-old babies? Is God exclusively for superior adult minds?

Brethren, we must make the One True Triune God known to our children for the good sake of their lives, and ours.

Taking Responsibility

The requirement is for the head of the family, and also for the single mother; and even when a family has an unbelieving spouse they should all make disciples by washing them with the word, love them sacrificially, and encourage questions at home (Eph. 5: 25-30; 1 Cor. 14:34-35).

Again…

“God appoints masters as faithful overseers as much as ministers, and if they neglect this duty, God will hold them accountable for the consequences because the blood of their families is on their hands. In addition to the benefits and convenience of regular interaction, engaging in such activities prepares leaders for this important responsibility. God will demand an explanation for the use of these abilities on the day of judgment.” (Modern English revised adaptation from A Family Altar, Erected to The Honour of the Eternal God by Oliver Heywood, Chapter 3, Page 36)

Fathers are designated as heads of the household because, akin to pastors, they lead their family congregation in the ways of the Lord. Parents serve as priests, cleansing the sins of their families before God through intercession and prayer, and take on a prophetic role by opposing the idols and sins within their homes.

The Nature And Purpose Of This Duty

Idolatry and false gods were removed from Jacob’s family. Our own families should be sanctified by God´s Word and Family Worship every day.

When we assemble for worship to sing Psalms, pray, and heed God’s instruction through The Word, it is a direct engagement with God alone. We don’t convene to discuss ourselves, the congregation, or, even less, our own testimonies. These moments are exclusively dedicated to the Lord without interruption. They are holy and pleasing sacrifices.

Let us think about the curse to the idolaters, and also to those who do not keep God’s Commands for many generations. Those who teach false or lukewarm religion will suffer the consequences. These generations will also teach their successors the same sins and therefore condemn themselves.

Woe to those cold and hypocritical parents who do not wish their kids to profess the true religion! On the other hand, those parents with holy fire in their hearts and faithful lives shall see their descendants by generations praising the Lord.

Beloved, the future of the new churches to come – The Ministers, Elders, Deacons, Missionaries, and Church Planters – falls upon the responsibility of those of us who share the Truth of God´s Word with our children.

We should build an Altar every day in our homes so future believers do not inherit a lukewarm or false religion. We must desire for our grandchildren to keep and protect the fire of the Reform in their lives; for our dear children to guide them with the Gospel of Christ. We must do this so that, on our deathbeds, we shall not gnash our teeth for the sake of our rebellious and hopeless descendants. I hope our children will not echo the warnings of Oliver Heywood:

“How will you respond to the accusation against you? Don’t your children cry out, ‘Have mercy, pray for us, cruel parents! You brought us, sinful creatures into a sinful world; help us escape this woeful state!’ But alas! You remain silent, indifferent to their precious souls, treating them no differently than animals. Their blood will be demanded of you. How they will condemn you in hell! They’ll lament, ‘Woe is me! If only I had lived in a praying family, I might have been converted and saved. I never heard a word of God, except blasphemies against His name.’ This will be a harsh reality for you to face and a source of deep sorrow in the future.” (Modern English revised adaptation from A Family Altar, Erected to The Honour of the Eternal God by Oliver Heywood, Chapter 5, Pages 6364)

For further reading
Family Worship Bible Guide By Joel Beeke
Thoughts On Family-Worship By J.W Alexander
A Practical Theology of Family Worship: Richard Baxter’s Timeless Encouragement for Today’s Home by Jonathan Williams
As For Me and My House: How May the Duty of Daily Family Prayer be Best Managed for the Spiritual Benefit of Every one in the Family? by Brett Anthony Baggett and Thomas Doolittle
Juan Salas

Juan Salas

Juan Salas is married to Karen, and together they are parents to four children. He previously held the role of Teaching Elder at Heritage Reformed Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and now serves as a church planter at Westminster Mission Church, a member congregation of the Reformed Orthodox Presbytery of North America, a presbytery based in Mexico. Juan also serves as the CEO of Credo Press and is the author of Holocausto Silencioso, a book centered on the topic of abortion in Latin America. Juan has earned a Church Planting degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is actively pursuing a master’s degree in Pastoral Theology at William Ames Reformed Theological Seminary.

January 26, 2024

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