Evaluate along this same line the infulence of the school your children attend. If God says that the fear of God is the chief part of knowledge, then I think it is right to say that the absence of the fear of God is the chief part of folly. And if that is true, many children are under calculated folly day in and day out in their public or state school system. They are taught that life can be lived without reference to the fear of God. You may say there is no teacher that ever says that. But by the very absence of any attempt to teach any standard of ethics and morality rooted in the fear of God, they are saying the fear of God is not needed.
– Al Martin – The Forgotten Fear, 124
How does one know they are saved? How do you know if you truly know God? 1 John 2:3 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” When someone is truly saved, they desire to keep the commandments of God and to run from sin.
To hear more from Jeff Pollard on the subject of holiness, please come to the Highway of Holiness conference, Oct. 29-31, at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in Asheville, NC. To register, go to the events page for the conference.
Thomas Doolittle gives us seven reasons families should pray:
Because we receive every day family-mercies from the hand of God. He loads us daily with His benefits (Ps. 68:19). When you wake in the morning and find your dwelling safe, not consumed with fire, not broken through by thieves, is not this a family-mercy? When you wake and find none dead in their beds, that news is not brought you in the morning, there is one child dead in one bed and another in another, and there is not a lodging-room in the house but the last night one or other died in it; but on the contrary you find all well in the morning and refreshed by the rest and sleep of the night— are not these and many more such mercies to the family, that when you rise you should call them all together jointly to bless God for? If it had been otherwise, [if] master or mistress [were] dead, children or servants dead, would not the rest say, “It would have been a mercy to us all, if God had spared him, her, or them?” If your house had been consumed by flames, and God had turned you all out of doors before morning, would you not have said, “It would have been a mercy, if God had safely preserved us and our dwellings and caused us to rest and sleep and rise in safety?” Why, Sirs, will you not acknowledge mercies to be mercies, till God hath taken them away from you? And if you do, should you not give the praise daily unto God? Was it not God Himself that watched over you while you did sleep, and could not, did not, watch yourselves? “Except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain…for so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Ps. 127:1-2).
And as you have had many family-mercies in the night to bless God for in the morning, so you have many family-mercies in the day to give thanks to God for at night before you go to bed. Methinks you should not quietly sleep till you have been together on your knees, lest God should say, “This family that hath not acknowledged My mercy to them this day, nor given Me the glory of those benefits of which to them I gave the comfort, shall never see the light of another day, nor have the mercies of one day more to bless Me for. What if God should say unto you when you are laid down in your beds, “This night your souls shall be required of you, you that went to bed before you had given Me the praise of the mercies that I had given unto you all the day, and before you had prayed for My protection over you in the night.” Take heed: though God be patient, do not provoke Him.
There are numerous church growth books and manuals flooding the market, but surprisingly few of them address internal growth through the Holy Spirit as He sovereignly blesses the raising of children in biblical truth. Yet, historically, Reformed Christians have acknowledged that their most solid, genuine church growth has been through the conversion of youth reared in the church. Charles Spurgeon wrote to Edward Payson Hammond, author of The Conversion of Children, “My conviction is that our converts from among children are among the very best we have. I should judge them to have been more numerously genuine than any other class, more constant, and in the long run more solid.” Andrew Bonar concurred and also wrote to Hammond, saying, “In awakenings that have been given us, the cases of young people have been as entirely satisfactory as any cases we have had. If conversion be God’s work, in which the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to the soul, surely His work can take place in children as really as in the old.” (more…)
Fathers are commanded to read the Word of God to their families, and to instruct them in it. If they are to read the Word of God to their families, then they must pray with them as well. It is critical that families pray together, and Thomas Doolittle in this article titled, “The Word of God and Family Prayer,” shows why families must pray together if they are commanded to read the Word of God together.
The Word of God and Family Prayer
THOMAS DOOLITTLE (C.1632-1707)
Masters of families ought to read the Scripture to their families and instruct their children and servants in the matters and doctrines of salvation. Therefore, they are to pray in and with their families. No man that will not deny the Scripture can deny the unquestionable duty of reading the Scripture in our houses, governors of families teaching and instructing them out of the Word of God. Amongst a multitude of express Scriptures, look into these: “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacriﬁce of the Lord’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses” (Ex. 12:26-27). And there is as much reason that Christian parents should explain to their children the sacraments of the New Testament, to instruct them in the nature, use, and ends of baptism and the Lord’s Supper: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach [whet or sharpen] them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up,” that is, morning and evening (Deut. 6:6-7; 11:18-19). “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). And God was pleased with this in Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD” (Gen. 18:19). This then is undeniable, if the Word is to be believed, received as our rule, and obedience to be yielded thereunto. And the Heathens taught a necessity of instructing youth betimes.
The reason of this consequence, from family reading and instructions to family praying, is evident, (we need to beg of God the illumination of His Spirit, the opening of the eyes of everyone in the family, the blessing of God upon our endeavors, without which it will be to no saving beneﬁt) and will be more manifest, if we consider and lay together these things following:
1. Whose word it is that is to be read in the family together—the Word of the eternal, blessed, glorious God. And doth this call for and require preceding prayer, no more than if you were to read the book of some mortal man? The Word of God is that out of which God speaketh to us. It is that by which He doth instruct us and inform us in the highest and weightiest concernments of our souls. It is that from which we must fetch remedies for the cure of our spiritual maladies. It is that from whence we must have weapons of defense against our spiritual enemies that do assault our souls and be directed in the paths of life. And is not prayer together needful then, that God would prepare all their hearts to receive and obey what shall be read to them of the mind of God? Is all the family so serious and so sensible of the glory, holiness, and majesty of that God that speaketh to them in His Word, that prayer is not needful that they may be so? And if it be needful, should it not ﬁrst be done? And when it hath been read, and the threatenings, commands, and promises of the glorious God been heard, and your sins discovered and God’s wrath against them, and duties enjoined, and precious privileges opened, and promises of a faithful God, both “great and precious promises,” made to such as do repent, believe, and turn to God with all their hearts unfeignedly; for have you not all need together to fall down upon your knees, to beg and cry and call to God for pardon of those sins that by this Word you are convinced you are guilty of and to lament them before the Lord? And that when your duty is discovered, you might have all hearts to practice and obey, and that you might unfeignedly repent and turn to God, that so you may apply those promises to yourselves and be partaker of those privileges? From this then, there is great reason, [that] when you read together you should also pray together.
2. Consider what great and deep mysterious things are contained in the Word of God which you are to read together. And there will appear a necessity of praying together also. Is there not in this Word the doctrine concerning God, how He might be known, loved, obeyed, worshipped, and delighted in? Concerning Christ, God-man, a mystery that the angels wonder at and no man fully understands or can express and fully unfold? Concerning the oﬃces of Christ—Prophet, Priest, and King? The example and the life of Christ, the miracles of Christ, the temptations of Christ, the suﬀerings of Christ, His death, the victories of Christ, the resurrection, ascension, and intercession of Christ, and His coming to judgment? Is there not in the Scripture the doctrine of the Trinity, of the misery of man by sin, and his remedy by Christ? Of the covenant of grace, the conditions of this covenant, and the seals thereof? The many precious, glorious privileges that we have by Christ—reconciliation with God, justiﬁcation, sanctiﬁcation, and adoption? The several graces to be got, and duties to be done, and of men’s everlasting state in heaven or hell? Are these, and such like, contained in the Word of God that you ought to read daily in your houses? And yet do not you see the need of prayer before and after your reading of it? Weigh them well, and you will.
3. Consider how much all the family are concerned to know and understand these things so necessary to salvation. If they are ignorant of them, they are undone. If they know not God, how shall they love Him? We might love an unseen God and an unseen Christ (1 Peter 1:8), but not an unknown God. If they in your family know not Christ, how shall they believe on Him? And yet they must perish and be damned, if they do not. They must for ever lose God and Christ and heaven and their souls, if they do not repent, believe, and be converted. And yet when that Book is read by which they should understand the nature of true saving grace, is not prayer needful? Especially when many have the Bible and read it, yet do not understand the things that do concern their peace!
4. Consider further, the blindness of their minds and their inability, without the teachings of God’s Spirit, to know and understand these things. And yet is not prayer needful?
5. Consider, yet further, the backwardness of their hearts to hearken to these weighty, necessary truths of God, and their unwillingness naturally to learn, show prayer to be necessary that God would make them able and willing to receive them.
6. Once more, consider that prayer is a special means to obtain knowledge from God, and a blessing upon the teachings and instructions of the master of the family. David prayed that God would “open thou mine eyes,” that he might “behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. 119:18). There are “wondrous things” in the Word of God. That fallen man should be recovered is a wondrous thing. That a holy God should be reconciled to sinful man is a wondrous thing. That the Son of God should take upon Him the nature of man, and God be manifested in the ﬂesh, and a believer justiﬁed by the righteousness of another—these are wondrous things. But there is darkness upon our minds and a veil over our eyes, and the Scripture is a clasped, closed book that we cannot savingly understand these great wonderful things, to have our love chieﬂy upon them and our delight in them, except the Spirit of God take away the veil and remove our ignorance and enlighten our minds. And this wisdom is to be sought from God by fervent prayer. You that are masters of families, would you have your children and servants know these things and be aﬀected with them? Would you have impressions made upon their minds and hearts of the great concernments of their souls? And therefore you do instruct them? But can you reach their hearts? Can you awaken their consciences? Can you not? And yet doth it not become you to pray to God with them, that He would do it? While you are a-praying jointly with them, God may be secretly disposing and powerfully preparing their hearts to receive His Word and your instructions from it.
From “How May the Duty of Family Prayer Be Best Managed for the Spiritual Beneﬁt of Every One in the Family?” Puritan Sermons 1659-1689, Being the Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, Vol 2, Richard Owen Roberts, Publisher.
What happens to a community of ten thousand people if suddenly two thousand of those people begin to walk in the fear of God? The conduct of those people is no longer governed by the eye of the policeman but by the eye of God. The students in the schools conduct themselves not with reference to the teacher’s eye but to the eye of God. The community becomes in great measure a little Eden. Why? Because the fear of God implanted in the hearts of a number of people begins to be the soil out of which grows a pattern of community ethical uprightness. People begin to be kind to one another and thoughtful of one another. Every genuine Spirit-wrought revival in history has always been the womb out of which great social and ethical changes have been birthed.
– Al Martin – The Forgotten Fear, 122
Did you know that the Sabbath was made to secure joy and justice? In Isaiah 56:1-8, we learn that the love of God is secured in the keeping of His commandments. As God’s people take hold of His covenant in the form of the Ten Commandments and keeping the Sabbath for worship, they come to the realization, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
In this video from our 2014 Burnings in the Soul men’s luncheon, Jeff Pollard addresses his audience of family-integrated church members and asks, “Do they love family too much?” Pollard stresses that we need to love Christ for who He is:
Christ is beautiful – the Scriptures make that obvious. Christ is holy, Christ is love, Christ is severe, Christ is mercy, Christ is sovereign, Christ is the judge. Do we love Him in all of those things? There’s far more! Do we love Him, if you know what that means. We want to love Him as He is, for who He is. Of course we love Him because He died on Calvary’s cross, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the Father’s right hand, and is coming back for us. But do we love Him because He is the judge of heaven and earth. Do we love Him for who He is? Do we love Him above all other persons, above all other things? Does He alone rule in our hearts, or have we let self, or something else usurp His throne?
Brothers, let’s work to make the defining characteristic in our lives our unwavering love for Christ.
Until a person knows the forgiveness of God based on the blood of the everlasting covenant, he will never rightly fear God. He may be terrified of God; he may have a dread of God, but that terror and dread will drive him away from God. The fear of God couched in the consciousness of forgiveness is a fear that causes us to draw near to God and to cling to Him and His ways… [T]he fear of God is the holy soil that produces a godly life.
– Al Martin – The Forgotten Fear, 111-12
In this message from our White Unto Harvest conference on the Great Commission, Paul Washer teaches us of the power of the Holy Spirit. Speaking on Matthew 28:15: “So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
In his introduction, Washer says:
You may wonder, going to the Great Commission why I would start at verse 15 and why I would end at verse 17. I want to talk about the disciples and a transformation that occurred in their life. First of all, I just want to take a look for just a moment at the disciples prior to the resurrection, that is, during the three year ministry of Jesus. They were often rebuked for their hardness of heart, and their unbelief. Jesus referred to them as men of little faith in Matthew 16:8. They argued about who among them would be the greatest in Mark 9:33. In their self-righteousness and prejudice they wanted to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans in Luke 9:54. Once Jesus said they were stumbling blocks to Him because they set their minds not on God’s interest, but on man’s. In Matthew 16:23, at the crucifiction, these men abandoned Jesus and even Peter denied him before a little servant girl, it’s important to remember that, a servant girl, he denied Christ before a servant girl. And finally, all in all, they were not great men of value, influence, or insight, but in the very words of Jesus, they were foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all the prophets had spoken. These were the men, who were called by Jesus Christ to change the world.
Now let’s look at them for just a moment, after the resurrection, from this passage. But before we do, look in verse 15. Talking about the soldiers who bore false testimony with regard to the resurrection of Christ is says “So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” and then you see 16 “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee.” Here we see a great division that still goes on even to this day. You see a group of men, who seek to do nothing more than discredit the witness of the Gospel, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact we see an entire world system, that unbeknownst to itself is in a great satanic conspiracy, to restrain and press down the Gospel, and it is against this entire world system that opposes the Gospel, that 11 men, 11 men like I’ve just described, are called upon now, to go out into that world like sheep in the midst of wolves, and give testimony to Christ.
Now, they’ve seen Christ by the time we get to verse 16, they’ve seen the resurrected Christ, but what do we find in this passage? We find a mixture, between the reality of the resurrection, and worship, and reverence, and unbelief. First of all, I want you to look at verse 16, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee.” – we see obedience. The master directed them, the resurrected Lord directed them to go on to Galilee, and that’s what they did. We also see reverence, or worship, when they see Him again, they worship him. So we see obedience, we see worship, everything is looking good. But then another word is used here, it says in verse 17 “But some were doubtful.” The word doubt here comes from a greek word which means “a double standing” – they did not know which foot to stand on, a foot of belief that this is the resurrected Christ, or a foot of unbelief… It’s the same word used of Peter when he’s called upon to walk upon the sea, and he’s filled with doubt and he begins to sink. So even after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and their visibly beholding Him, we can see that it has an impact upon them, but we see something very very important. Not even the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is enough to transform these men. They are still doubtful. They are still unsure.
Now, what am I trying to say? There is a need for pentecost, there is a need for pentecost, because when we get to pentecost, we no longer see any wavering among these men, we see nothing. Here is Peter, now I want you to think about this. He denies Christ, the Messiah, before a servant girl – a little girl! Now, before I go on, have you done that? Called upon to witness at a gas station, hand a tract to someone, just one individual, and you can’t muster up enough courage, you walk out of there ashamed. Can you identify with Peter? Let’s go on… After pentecost, we no longer see this type of wavering. What do we see? We see the very thing which Jesus promised, and here’s what He promised. Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” So here we see Peter denying Jesus Christ before a servant girl, after pentecost, we see Peter standing before the entire Jewish nation, all of it’s leaders, the very men who crucified the Lord, and boldly proclaming Christ. Now my dear friend, it may be good if we just dismissed right now and you simply try to wrap your mind around that.
Here is a great article by A.W. Pink on family worship:
There are some very important outward ordinances and means of grace which are plainly implied in the Word of God, but for the exercise of which we have few, if any, plain and positive precept; rather are we left to gather them from the example of holy men and from various incidental circumstances. An important end is answered by this arrangement: trial is thereby made of the state of our hearts. It serves to make evident whether, because an expressed command cannot be brought requiring its performance, professing Christians will neglect a duty plainly implied. Thus, more of the real state of our minds is discovered, and it is made manifest whether we have or have not an ardent love for God and His service. This holds good both of public and family worship. Nevertheless, it is not at all difficult to prove the obligation of domestic piety.
Today millions around the globe will be mindful of the cross. So should we. Don’t ignore the cross today. It is an opportunity to think and feel rightly about it – that is, biblically. For us, and for all true believers, the death of Christ on the cross is the center of atonement. In Isaiah 43:25, there is a prophesy that sins are “blotted out,” and He will “remember them no more.”
These words in Isaiah are a prophesy of our Lord Jesus hanging on a cross. Many have a fixation on the cross itself. That’s not what we should do. We don’t obsess about wooden crosses. But, we SHOULD BOAST, as Paul explains in Galatians 6:14,
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
This means that our meditation on the cross ought to draw our attention is on the substitutionary atonement that was accomplished on the cross. Christ was crucified so that sinners would be rescued from being crucified for their sins. Further, God uses the cross to declare the foolishness of those who are perishing,
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 1 Cor 1:18-19
For the apostle Paul, the cross was, as J.C. Ryle described it,
“the joy and delight, the comfort and the peace, the hope and the confidence, the foundation and the resting-place, the ark and the refuge, the food and the medicine of Paul’s soul.”
Samuel Rutherford explained how the cross means freedom,
“The believer is so freed from eternal wrath, that if Satan and conscience say, ‘You are a sinner, and under the curse of the law,’ he can say, ‘It is true, I am a sinner; but I was hanged on a tree and died, and was made a curse in my Head and Lawgiver Christ, and His payment and suffering is my payment and suffering.'”—Rutherford’s Christ Dying. 1647.
Ryle offers this citation, “By the cross of Christ the Apostle understands the all-sufficient, expiatory, and satisfactory sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, with the whole work of our redemption; in the saving knowledge of whereof he professes he will glory and boasts.”—Cudworth on Galatians. 1613.
Ryle concludes his sermon with these words, and so I conclude this letter,
“I lay these thoughts before your mind. What you think now about the cross of Christ, I cannot tell. But I can wish you nothing better than this—that you may be able to say with the Apostle Paul, before you die or meet the Lord, “God forbid that I should boast—except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
J.C. Ryle’s Sermon and some of the above quotations were taken from J.C. Ryle’s sermon that can be found here.
Here is a clip from Joel Beeke at last year’s men’s meeting titled “Burnings in the Soul.” This meeting is held each year directly preceeding our national conference in October. In these meetings, we invite the speakers to come up and share with us what has been burning in their soul. In this clip, Dr. Beeke addresses things such as pride, the translation of books into foreign languages, abortion, and homosexuality.
Please consider joining us next year at the “Fear of God” conference in Asheville, NC.
God is all good things, and every good thing.
He is self-sufficient, alone-sufficient, and all-sufficient.
Nothing is lacking in him–either for the soul’s protection from all evil, or for the soul’s perfection with all good.
If God were your portion, you would find in him whatever your heart could desire and whatever could lead you to happiness.
Are you ambitious? God is a crown of glory.
Are you covetous? God is unsearchable riches.
Are you lustful? God is rivers of pleasure and fulness of joy.
Are you hungry? God is a feast.
Are you weary? God is rest–a shadow from the heat and a shelter from the storm.
Are you weak? God is everlasting strength.
Are you in doubt? God is marvelous in counsel.
Are you in darkness? God is the Sun of righteousness, an eternal life.
Are you sick? He is the God of your health.
Are you sorrowful? He is the God of all comfort.
Are you dying? He is the fountain of life.
Are you in distress? His name is a strong tower, to which you may run to find safety.
He is a universal remedy against all sorts of misery. Whatever your calamity, he can remove it. Whatever your necessity, he can relieve it. He is silver, gold, honor, delight, food, clothing, house, land, peace, wisdom, power, beauty, father, mother, wife, husband, mercy, love, grace, glory, and infinitely more than all these.1
1. The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith, George Swinnock
It is not enough simply to know that you must have the fear of God and the things that constitute that fear. You must know where to get it. Crippling harm can come to you if you don’t know where to get the fear of God. This is a matter of great spiritual concern. What is the origin or source of the fear of God? First we will see that the fear of God implanted in the heart is a promised blessing of the new covenant. Second, we will note from Scripture how the fear of God is planted in the heart by the work of God’s grace.
– Al Martin – The Forgotten Fear, 90