“A Little Heaven to Go to Heaven In”
“Society is composed of families and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are ‘the issues of life’; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.” The Adventist Home, 15
The members of the home, through their speech and interactions with each other, will prove to be a blessing or a curse. Thus, much is at stake in the home. Now, more than ever, Satan is attempting to sabotage this critical establishment of society that God Himself instituted in Eden. The goal of any home should be to provide “a little heaven to go to heaven in.” The Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.
“The family on earth should be a type of the family in heaven. The home that is beautified by love, sympathy, and tenderness is a place that angels love to visit, and where God is glorified. The influence of a carefully guarded Christian home in the years of childhood and youth is the surest safeguard against the corruptions of the world. In the atmosphere of such a home, the children will learn to love both their earthly parents and their heavenly Father.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 206.
“The home in which the members are polite, courteous Christians exerts a far-reaching influence for good. Other families will mark the results attained by such a home, and will follow the example set, in their turn guarding the home against Satanic influences. The angels of God will often visit the home in which the will of God bears sway. Under the power of divine grace such a home becomes a place of refreshing to worn, weary pilgrims. By watchful guarding, self is kept from asserting itself. Correct habits are formed. There is a careful recognition of the rights of others. The faith that works by love and purifies the soul stands at the helm, presiding over the whole household. Under the hallowed influence of such a home, the principle of brotherhood laid down in the word of God is more widely recognized and obeyed.” The Adventist Home, 31.
The devil does not want you to have such a home. He is determined to destroy the happiness in your home. One of the principal ways he does this is by influencing the members of the family, including the husband and the wife, to speak in an unsanctified way to each other. Here is an inspired description of this transgression. Notice that Satan’s ultimate goal is to destroy the church by destroying the family.
“Well does Satan know what heaven is, and what the influence of the angels is. His work is to bring into every family the cruel elements of self-will, harshness, selfishness. Thus he seeks to destroy the happiness of the family. He knows that the spirit governing in the home will be brought into the church.” The Upward Look, 163.
Another method Satan uses to attempt to destroy the happiness of the home is by leading the husband into a misunderstanding between what it means to be the head of the house and what it means to be God. God has absolute authority. When God told Abraham to kill his son, Abraham was under moral obligation to obey. But no human being, whether husband or wife or employer or ruler, has absolute authority. All human authority is to be subservient to God’s authority and under the rule of His government. The following statements clarify this subject that is widely misunderstood.
“If the husband is tyrannical, exacting, critical of the actions of his wife, he cannot hold her respect and affection, and the marriage relation will become odious to her. She will not love her husband, because he does not try to make himself loveable. The Lord Jesus has not been correctly represented in His relation to the church by many husbands in their relation to their wives, for they do not keep the way of the Lord. They declare that their wives must be subject to them in everything.
“But it was not the design of God that the husband should have control, as head of the house, when he himself does not submit to Christ. He must be under the rule of Christ that he may represent the relation of Christ to the church. If he is a coarse, rough, boisterous, egotistical, harsh, and overbearing man, let him never utter the word that the husband is the head of the wife, and that she must submit to him in everything; for he is not the Lord; he is not the husband in the true significance of the term.
“If the wife should have the same mold of character as her husband, woe be to the children; the whole family would be a blot upon the earth. Instead of being a house-band, to bind the family together into the unity that is symbolized by the unity of Christ and the church, he will break every tie of affection, and the members of the family will be scattered, filled with bitterness and hatred one toward another.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 215, 216.
Not only does the husband bear a critical responsibility to represent the character of Christ in his family relationships, every member of the family is to bear a degree of responsibility as well.
“Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his Satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any sacrifice we can make for God, for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 310.
We need to remember always that the words that we speak will be one of the major factors that determines our eternal destiny.
If our speech is to be reformed and changed, it must happen in this world before the coming of the Lord. This cannot be done in an instant and is why Ellen White told some people that they did not have a moment to lose. She cautioned that if they did not live long enough so that their speech could be reformed, they would be excluded from heaven. This idea is very unpopular today. Most people, including probably the vast majority of clergymen, believe and teach in effect that you can live like the devil without overcoming your character defects, but if the moment before you die you say, “Lord save me,” you will be saved. Wherever this idea originated it is not in the Bible and it is not true. The story of the thief on the cross does not substantiate this theory—see the description of that person who was saved at the 11th hour in The Desire of Ages, pages 749–751.
Notice how clearly the Spirit of Prophecy warns against the error of delay in self-reformation.
“Few have that genuine faith which works by love and purifies the soul. But all who are accounted worthy of everlasting life must obtain a moral fitness for the same. ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure’ (1 John 3:2, 3). This is the work before you, and you have none too much time if you engage in the work with all your soul.
“You must experience a death to self, and must live unto God. ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’ (Colossians, 3:1). Self is not to be consulted. Pride, self-love, selfishness, avarice, covetousness, love of the world, hatred, suspicion, jealousy, evil surmisings, must all be subdued and sacrificed forever. When Christ shall appear, it will not be to correct these evils and then give a moral fitness for His coming. This preparation must all be made before He comes. It should be a subject of thought, of study, and earnest inquiry, What shall we do to be saved? What shall be our conduct that we may show ourselves approved unto God?
“When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.
“How long a time are you designing to take to prepare to be introduced into the society of heavenly angels in glory? In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose. All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censuring, no unloving words, no clouded brows, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness. Study to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on everlasting life.
“Forever cease your murmurings in regard to this poor life, but let your soul’s burden be, how to secure the better life than this, a title to the mansions prepared for those who are true and faithful to the end. If you make a mistake here, everything is lost. If you devote your lifetime to securing earthly treasures, and lose the heavenly, you will find that you have made a terrible mistake. You cannot have both worlds. ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul’ (Mark 8:36, 37)? Says the inspired Paul: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).” Testimonies, vol. 1, 705, 706.
In this world we are actually in an all or nothing warfare of which there is no escape. It is a war in which we either win everything or lose everything. Our speech in our families, to stress a point already made, will be one of the most decisive factors as to where our eternal destiny is going to be.
There is an excellent testimony written to “Brother M” in volume 2 of the Testimonies, pages 84–88, in which strong counsel is given that details many of the errors made within the family that prevent the home from becoming “a little heaven to go to heaven in.”
The concluding paragraph of this testimony provides food for thought that all who have a deep yearning for heaven—not just a heaven-like atmosphere in their homes, but an eternal abode—should give deep thought and make a matter of earnest prayer:
“If you lose heaven, you lose everything; if you gain heaven, you gain everything. Do not make a mistake in this matter, I implore you. Eternal interests are here involved. Be thorough. May the God of all grace so enlighten your understanding that you may discern eternal things, that by the light of truth your own errors, which are many, may be discovered to you just as they are, that you may make the necessary effort to put them away, and in the place of this evil, bitter fruit may bring forth fruit which is precious unto eternal life.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 88.
We may not carry all of the errors that Inspiration pointed out to Brother M in this testimony, but it is true for everyone that “if you lose heaven, you lose everything.” May God, in His providence, guide us as we seek to make our homes “a little heaven to go to heaven in.”
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.