The Three Mother Churches

In this article, we are going to study the three mother churches. If you are a member of a Christian church, one of these three mother churches is, no doubt, your spiritual mother. By the end of this study, you should be able to identify whose child you are.

Babylon—The Mother of Harlots

Revelation 17 tells about the first mother church we will study. Notice the characteristics of this mother church. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and the abominations of theearth.” Revelation 17:1–5.

In Bible prophecy, a woman represents a church. (See Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:15; 2 Corinthians 11:2.) There are whole books of the Bible, such as the Song of Solomon, that are written with this symbolism. In the book of Hosea, and in Ezekiel 23, an unfaithful church is represented as a harlot.

What is spiritual harlotry or adultery? Let me give an example to help us understand. When you get married, a part of your marriage vow is not only that you will cling to your husband or wife, but also that you will forsake all others. What if you do not forsake all others? Then, you commit adultery. It is this simple; if you have only one husband, then it is holy. But, if you have two or three husbands or two or three wives, then it is not holy any more. It is wicked!

When you become part of the church, part of God’s family, you claim to be joined to one husband—Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 11:2.) If you are “espoused to one husband,” and then you take your affection and you pour it out on people, places or things of this world, what have you done? We can read about it in Ezekiel 23:35, 38. “Therefore thus says the Lord God. ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.’ The Lord also said to me, ‘Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths.’”

When you become part of God’s family, you have one Husband and you are to be faithful to Him. You are to obey Him and keep His commandments. But if you disobey His commandments, then you have forsaken Him for others.

Consider again the woman, which we see in Revelation 17. She is a harlot church, or a church that teaches people to break God’s commandments. (In fact, they break God’s commandments as a part of their religion.) We read in Revelation 18:2, that this same apostate power has “become the prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” The devil is there, and through that system he teaches men to break the commandments. And if you stay there, if you are a part of Babylon, you will sin just by being part of the system. Revelation 18:4 says, “ ‘Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues.’” If you stay in Babylon, you are going to share in her sins and then you are also going to partake of her plagues.

A Worldwide Persecuting power

This system of Babylon, described in Revelation, is a worldwide phenomenon. It is not something that just takes place off in an obscure corner of the world. We read in Revelation 18:3, “for all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” All the nations of the world are involved.

“The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of the bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery, all nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” Revelation 18:23, 24.

I remember about thirty years ago, when I first read this and tried to understand what verse 24 meant when it said that Babylon was guilty for the blood of all the saints. However, as I studied, I found that this was not the first time God has made this pronouncement. Jesus told the Jewish leaders: “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Barechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” Matthew 23:34, 35.

Here Jesus told the Jews that they would have to give an account for all the righteous blood that is shed upon the earth. How can that be explained? Because they rejected the Messiah. Do you realize that if the Jews had accepted Jesus, all of world history would have been different? (For an interesting study, take these verses in Matthew 23 and read what Ellen White says about them. It is very ominous for Seventh-day Adventists. What happened to the Jews could happen to Adventism if the devil’s plan is followed.)

Just as the Jews will be held accountable for the blood of all the righteous in their day, so God will judge Babylon as guilty for all of the blood of the saints. A careful look at history, behind the scenes, shows the truth of this statement. Very few people really know very much about the true facts of history. But, someday, the curtain will be removed, and it all will be distinctly seen as God has clearly recorded it for every eye to behold when the harlot is judged.

Another proof that Babylon is a worldwide power, is the fact that the Bible says, in Revelation 13:8, that every single person in the world, whose name is not written in the Book of Life, will worship this power for a short time. However, eventually, they will all unite to destroy her when they find out the truth that they are lost. Because God does not desire any to be lost, His message to each person is “Come out.” Those who do not answer this call will meet the same fate as the devil and all of his angels. And so God, in His mercy, wants you to be saved and says, “Come out!”

Have you ever tried to think through what this means when God says, “Come out”? Does coming out of Babylon involve mostly where your body is? Or is it more involved with where your mind is? Does it involve more what church book your name is written on? Or does it involve more where your heart is? Coming out of Babylon is much more involved than some people think. It is much more than just what church book your name is on and where your body is. It has to do with where your mind and your heart are dwelling.

When God called Lot and his family to come out of Sodom, Lot’s wife got her body out but she never got her heart out. Have you ever asked yourself the question, Am I totally out of Babylon? Or am I like Lot’s wife? My body is out of Babylon, but my heart is still there.

From Milk to Solid Food

What we have just studied is an elementary principle of the Bible. But we cannot always feed on the milk if we are going to grow up fully into Christ, and so I want to study, in the rest of this article, some deeper Bible principles which are necessary in order for us to understand the last two mother churches.

We have looked, so far, at the first mother church, Babylon, or the harlot church. The other two mother churches we find described in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In Galatians 1:1, Paul makes it very clear that he is addressing his letter to the churches in Galatia. As Paul wrote this letter, he was in great agony of heart, because the churches were in a state of apostasy as the result of false teachers who had come in among them. Where did these false teachers came from? Did they come from Babylon, the center of the devil’s operation? No. They came from Jerusalem—the General Conference, or the world headquarters for the apostolic church.

In Galatians 4:8–16, Paul describes the apostasy these false teachers from Jerusalem had led the Galatians into. “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. [Some people try to use verse 10 against Seventh-day Adventists, but we do not qualify. We do not observe days, we only observe the seventh day Sabbath. Nor do we observe months or seasons or years in Historic Adventism.] I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

The very ones who Paul describes as leading the Galatians back to the “beggarly elements,” were teachers that came from the world headquarters of the apostolic church. The situation was so serious that Ellen White says the apostle Paul had to stand alone in opposition to the twelve disciples of Jesus—the twelve that were with Jesus when He walked among men. Paul even had to openly rebuke Peter because he was Judaizing. (See Galatians 2:11–14; The Acts of the Apostles, 199, 120.)

Can you imagine what a difficult situation it must have been for the Galatians, when leaders from Jerusalem, with the support of the disciples, began teaching that they had to keep the ceremonial law. Many must have thought, “These men must be right because they come from the disciples, the very men who walked and talked with Jesus. The apostle Paul, he must be speaking a dangerous doctrine!”

The situation was still more complicated because Paul was not dealing with the Jews here, he was dealing with Christians from the church at Jerusalem who were still keeping the ceremonial law, even though it had met its complete fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul continued: “They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.” Galatians 4:17–20.

The Bondwomen and the Free

Now, notice his arguments starting in Verse 21: “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Galatians 4:21–25.

So Hagar, it clearly says, is a mother, for she is still in bondage with her children. So, who then does Paul use to represent the third mother church? “But the Jerusalem above is free. Which is the mother of us all. For it is written: Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what does the Scripture say, Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” Galatians 4:26–31; 5:1–6, 11.

“As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast of your flesh. 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. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:12–15.

Let us consider what Paul was facing. Here were these false teachers coming from Jerusalem. But they were not Jews, they were Christians who were speaking the sentiments of the disciples, and they were teaching that the ceremonial law still had to be kept. Why did they believe it still needed to be kept? Ellen White is very specific that they kept the ceremonial law, not so much because they believed in it any more, but because they wanted to avoid persecution. (Have you ever heard anyone say, “It is not time yet to distribute The Great Controversy”? That reflects the same kind of thinking as these early Christians had.)

Children in Bondage

Paul repeats over and over again that Hagar, this mother church, is in bondage with all of her children. What does he mean that they are in bondage? They are in bondage to sin. That is the main difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, a person had to come every year to the Most Holy Place for the Day of Atonement. Why did they have to come every year? Because they had not quit sinning. If you quit sinning, Paul says in Hebrews 10, then you would not have to come anymore.

In the New Covenant there is no Day of Atonement year after year after year. There is just one Day of Atonement period at the end of the world. Why, because a way has been opened that men do not need to keep sinning and confessing and sinning and confessing.

Did you notice that the people who are in Hagar’s church, who have the Old Covenant experience, want to avoid persecution so they are keeping the ceremonial law. But who are they actually persecuting in the process? Notice it says in Galatians 4:29, “He who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the spirit. Even so it is now.” Who were they persecuting? They were persecuting the true church. They professed to be the true church, but Hagar was their mother. They were still in the Old Covenant experience and they still had a yoke of bondage.

What is the yoke of bondage? The yoke of bondage is the law that you cannot keep. Theologians have tried to explain it by saying that the Jews made so many regulations that the people could not keep the law. (And that is true.) Other theologians have looked at the yoke of bondage and have said, “Well, the yoke of bondage is this ceremonial law.” However, when you look at the bottom line, all the evidence points to one thing: The yoke of bondage is a law that you cannot keep. But when you come to Jesus, friend, you are set free and then you can keep this law—the Ten Commandments. You are free. You have been made free and you do not have to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

There is another identifying mark that differentiates between the two mother churches. One is born according to the flesh and the other is born according to the promise or according to the Spirit. All throughout Paul’s writings these two antithesis are presented. For example, Galatians 5:16–18. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

The Children of Promise

We have now looked at Hagar, the second mother church, let us now turn our attention to the third mother church represented by Sarah and by the New Jerusalem. Here are the identifying marks. (You can find all of these right in the book of Galatians.)

This church is born free. The first time we are born, we are all born in sin, and thus sons of the devil. 1 John 3:8. However, Jesus told Nicodemus, If you want to go to the kingdom of heaven, you must be born again. And when you are born again, you are born free, your are born in the Spirit, not according to the flesh. This church is born free, that is, they are born again.

The headquarters of this church is in heaven, it is not in this world. It is not in Jerusalem, not in Takoma Park, not in Hagarstown. It is in heaven. That is what Paul says in Galatians 4:26: “But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

The children of the promise do not have an Old Covenant experience, they have a New Covenant experience. In the Old Covenant the conscience is never purged from sins, so you must keep coming back to the Sanctuary every year and have another Day of Atonement, but in the New Covenant you overcome sin and receive the victory over it.

In heaven, Jesus will not be serving as a Mediator or as your High Priest through all of eternity. No, that will all be over because all who go there will have overcome sin and will have no need of a Mediator anymore. In fact, God’s children, that live in this world during the time of trouble, are not going to have a Mediator. They will not need one because they will have overcome all sin. (See The Great Controversy, 425.)

These are the children of the promise, and their future is wonderful. But what will happen to Hagar’s spiritual children? They will be cast out and will not inherit the New Covenant promises. (See Galatians 4:30.) This is very serious. If Hagar is your mother, you are not going to heaven unless you receive the adoption of sons. You would be just as lost as if you were in Babylon.

Stand Up!

What was Paul’s instruction to the Galatian churches who were being brought into bondage? “Stand up in the freedom in which Christ has made you free.” And who were these people? They were just little independent churches scattered all over Asia and Europe. And they must have thought, “But we are just tiny groups and we do not have all the experience that the leaders back in Jerusalem have.” But Paul said, “Stand up! You are free and you must not allow these false teachers to lead you back into bondage again.”

I want to tell you, people have lost freedom in Adventism today. When I was a boy in Adventism, anyone was encouraged to go anywhere they could and start up a church. Now they want to close all the little churches down. They are afraid of anyone starting a church, because they are afraid it might not be under their control. What has happened to people’s thinking? Do you recognize that when people start to talk like that and think like that, they are not part of the church whose headquarters is in the New Jerusalem? Through Christ all are free, and all have been given the commission to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tribe and people.

The apostle Paul knew that. He said, “We have hope of righteousness.” We expectantly wait for it. What is this righteousness? It is not a righteousness which you work out through certain religious rituals or political games. It is righteousness by faith—a faith that works through love. That is what counts in the sight of God.

What counts in your church, friend? Is it the equivalent of circumcision, religious rituals and political games, or is it faith that works by love? If your mother is the New Jerusalem, it is faith that works by love.

And what will we do if we are filled with this faith that works by love? Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the [condemnation] of the law.” Galatians 5:16, 18. If you are walking in the Spirit, overcoming the lusts of the flesh, you will also be bearing the fruits of the Spirit which Paul describes in Galatians 5:22, 23. You will become a new creation.

Who is the Israel of God? The Israel of God is not the children of Hagar who are in bondage to sin. I am not out to judge who is a member of what church but the fruit indicates that the great majority of Seventh-day Adventists, today, are children of Hagar, not Sarah. They are professors of Christianity, but everything in their system is down here in this world. They are in bondage. They have an Old Covenant experience. And not only that, they are persecuting the people who are seeking the New Covenant experience. They disfellowship them and get them out of their way. By the way, if you are persecuting people that do not think like you do on theology, that is absolute proof that your mother is Hagar. Anytime any person or any group of people decides they can disfellowship someone for non-Biblical reasons or stone them or take them to court or put them in jail or beat them up (all of those things have happened), that group of people does not belong to the New Jerusalem church. Hagar is their mother.

But the people, whose mother is the New Jerusalem, are born free. Their headquarters is not down here in this world. They have leaders and are organized, but their headquarters is not really down here. Their headquarters is in heaven. They are children of the promise. They stand in freedom and they hope for righteousness from the Holy Spirit that the Lord will give to them. They live by faith that works through love.

Who is your mother? Is she over in Babylon? Or does she dwell in earthly Jerusalem? Or have you been born free? Are you walking according to the Spirit? Are you a child of the promise? Are you receiving a righteousness that is not woven in any earthly loom? Are you operating on the principle of faith that works by love? Are you manifesting the fruits of the Spirit? Are you a new creation? I invite you to ask the Lord to work out this miracle in your life.

Message to Parents

Recently there have been repeatedly given to me messages of warning and instruction to parents, pointing out the need of diligent effort, and of seeking the Lord with close searching of heart and with earnestness of purpose. God desires us as a people to stand in a position where we shall honor Him; and we can do this only as we humble our hearts before God, bringing ourselves and our families into right relation to Him. We are safe only when we stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. Only there can God work through us to will and to do of His good pleasure, as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

The Lord desires to see both the youth and those older brought into a sacred nearness to Himself. Christ is not here in person, as in the days of His earthly ministry, to teach the youth; but it is the privilege of parents and teachers so to represent Christ in word and character that the light of heaven will shine into the hearts of the youth, and many will be converted to Christ.

Parents have a great and important work before them. With an eye single to the glory of God, they must work to fashion the characters of their children after the perfect pattern. Who is this pattern?—It is the Son of God. Christ came to this world as a human being, that He might by His example teach men and women how to bring their lives into conformity to the will of God. He speaks to fathers and mothers, saying, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Christ is to be the teacher of those who must train the youth. The law of the Lord is to be their rule of life, for this law is to be written on the hearts of the youth, or they will never obey the truth of God’s word. All the will must be yielded to God; He demands entire obedience. If the youth will learn of Him, Christ will impart to them the knowledge and wisdom needed to serve Him acceptably.

Fathers and mothers, how can I find words to describe your great responsibility! By the character you reveal before your children you are educating them to serve God or to serve self. Then offer to heaven your earnest prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your hearts may be sanctified, and that the course you pursue may honor God and win your children to Christ. It should give to parents a sense of the solemnity and sacredness of their task, when they realize that by careless speech or action they may lead their children astray.

Parents need the guardianship of God and His Word. If they do not heed the counsels of the Word of God, if they do not make the Bible the man of their counsel, the rule of their life, their children will grow careless and will walk in paths of disobedience and unbelief. Christ lived a life of toil and self-denial, and died a death of shame, that He might give an example of the spirit that should inspire and control His followers. As in their home life parents strive to be Christ-like, heavenly influences will be shed abroad in the lives of their family.

In every Christian home God should be honored by the morning and evening sacrifices of praise and prayer. Every morning and evening earnest prayers should ascend to God for His blessing and guidance. Will the Lord of heaven pass by such homes, and leave no blessing there?—Nay, verily. Angels hear the offering of praise and the prayer of faith, and they bear the petitions to Him who ministers in the sanctuary for His people, and pleads His merits in their behalf. True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence, and gives men the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to resist temptation.

As laborers together with God, parents, you are to carry out His plans for your children. This will call for continual watch-care, unceasing effort; for the enemy of souls is on the alert to lead them astray. So long as you live, your responsibility for them will not end. Your interest in their spiritual welfare must be deep and constant. But by your ministry for them, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, they may be led to see God’s purpose for them, and to accept His will for the disposition of their lives. Who can estimate the value of faithful work in the home? In the midst of difficulties and unceasing care, it is the privilege of parents to look forward to the joys of eternity, and by the eye of faith behold the reward of the faithful.

Until every member of your family is united with you in the faith, do not feel that you can relax your efforts. Through the pleasures and ambitions of the world, the enemy is working to draw the youth into his ranks, and he has much success. As we approach nearer to the close of time, he will invent every possible attraction to draw their minds into worldly channels. At this time we need a pure and undefiled religion. And if parents will make the training of their children their chief work, God will give them increased ability.

God calls us to come out from the world and be separate. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Christ declared. If we are indulging habits that unfit us for a place in the kingdom of heaven, let us in Christ’s strength overcome these habits. By our example of surrender to the will of God, we are to teach our children that if they would inherit eternal life, they must consecrate their lives to Him. If we share the joys of the redeemed in the future life, we must give no place in this life to foolishness and pride and vanity. We are to be overcomers over everything that wars against the principles of the kingdom of God.

We need to seek for a true understanding of how to train our children for the future life. At this time when wickedness is constantly increasing, we cannot afford to be careless or negligent. Our children are God’s property. Shall we let them depart from the paths of righteousness, and make no effort to save them? They have eternal life to win; eternal death to shun; and it is ours to help them to choose the good and resist the evil. When they learn to welcome the spirit of Christ into their hearts, the salvation of God will be seen in their lives.

It is sometimes essential to correct children; when this is necessary, do it in love. Show them that you punish them, not because you like to, but because you fear not to do so, lest they continue to cherish evils in their lives. Parents and children need the softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Often we do more to provoke than to win. Let your methods be of a character that they will create love. Love begets love. Do not scold. This will work counter to the results which God desires to see accomplished. An exhibition of passion on your part will never cure your child’s evil temper. Talk kindly with the children. Pray with them, and teach them how to pray for themselves. They will not forget these experiences, and the blessing of God will rest upon such instruction, leading the hearts of the children to Christ. The Lord wants you to lay hold of eternal things, and to have an experience in Christian development that will be marked by those with whom you associate. It is your privilege to give to the world a representation of the transforming grace of Christ that will cause them to wonder.

When children realize that their parents are trying to help them, they will bend their energies in the right direction. And to the children who have right instruction in the home, the advantages of our schools will be greater than to those who are allowed to grow up without spiritual help at home.

Do not be turned away from your God-given work by the fleeting and unsatisfying pleasures that the world can offer. Parents have no time to spend in parties of pleasure while their children are left to the temptations of the enemy. Say to those who invite you to join them in worldly pleasure, God has given me the work of training my children for eternity. I want them to stand by my side to help me, and I want to help them to accomplish all that they are capable of accomplishing through faith in Christ and His Word. I want to take my children with me to the city of God, to be crowned with immortal life. I want them to sing His praises in the earth made new. I cannot serve the world and accomplish this work.

Do not neglect your children for visitors. Your children should not be left to themselves because company has come to your home. Let your friends understand that your first attention belongs to your children, and that you cannot engage in pleasures that will divert your mind from the interest you should exercise in their behalf. You cannot afford to let any time pass unimproved. You cannot afford to let your children go hither and thither without guardianship or control. The solemn work given to you to do can be neglected only at eternal loss, but the reward for faithful effort is greater than human minds can compute. In winning heaven your children win an inheritance whose value is above that of any earthly possession. Great will be your satisfaction and reward in the future life when you see your children enjoying eternal pleasures, which might have been denied them, had you by the indulgence of self in this life withheld the advantages to be gained by an education in right principles and practice.

Do not spend your time in chatting on the trifling subjects of dress and fashion. Talk of the heavenly dress, the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness, which all must wear who stand in confidence before the throne of God. Talk to your friends of the truth and the requirements of God’s Word. As you make use of the knowledge you have, God will give you increased light.

We are facing events that closely precede the coming of the Lord. At this time it behooves us to be faithful, to guard well our words and actions. Let us not trifle with eternal realities. Those who would be prepared for the coming of Christ must make diligent work for eternity. They have no time to lose; for the end of all things is at hand. Let heart and mind be sanctified by the truths of the Word. Give evidence that you are preparing for the solemn events of eternity.

Will fathers and mothers work wisely for their children, helping them to form righteous characters? You with your children are to prepare to graduate to the higher grades of the school above. Then educate yourselves daily away from every tendency and practise that would unfit you to pass the test of the great examination day. Let it be seen by those with whom you associate that Christ is your pattern in all things.

Let the instruction you give your children be simple, and be sure that it is clearly understood. The lessons that you learn from the Word you are to present to their young minds so plainly that they will understand. By simple lessons drawn from the Word of God and their own experience you may teach them how to conform their lives to the highest standard. They may learn, even in childhood and youth, to live thoughtful, earnest lives, that will yield a rich harvest of good.

As united rulers of the home kingdom, let the father and the mother show kindness and courtesy to each other. Never should their deportment militate against the precepts they seek to inculcate. Parents, be in earnest in seeking to perfect in your children true wisdom,—the wisdom of righteousness. If you would do this, you must set them an example worthy of imitation. Should you be remiss in this respect, and your children fail in meeting the standard of the Word of God, what will you answer when they stand before the bar of heaven as witness to your neglect? How terrible will be your realization of loss and failure as you face the Judge of all the earth with the fruits of your unfaithfulness before you!

I cannot find words to describe to you the scenes of the judgment. I cannot represent to you how terrible in that day will be the disappointment of those who in this life have chosen to follow their own will instead of the will and way of God. The low standard of the world is not Christ’s standard. The world’s measurement of righteousness is not His measurement. Those only who in their probationary time use their capabilities to honor and glorify God will hear from His lips the benediction and welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servant:…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

To every father and mother God has given a work in soul-saving that they cannot throw upon others. In this work it is their privilege to draw from the Word of God instruction that will give help in every time of need. For all who make it their life-work to seek for the righteousness of Christ there awaits a welcome to the city of God, where they may join the song of triumph and praise, that the battle of life is over. O that we might as a people appreciate more fully the Word which teaches us the way of this wonderful salvation!

Taken from two Review and Herald articles of the same title, published on February 2, 1912 and February 8, 1912.

Children’s Story – A Mother’s Love

The story is told of a sharecropper family who lived in the South shortly after the Civil War. Every year when the crops were harvested, the family’s share was barely sufficient to provide food and clothes for the next year. There was never enough for any luxuries or things that could make life easier or more pleasant.

One year the fields yielded a bumper crop, and after all of the necessities were bought, there was enough money left over to buy something special for the entire family. The only condition was that the purchase had to be approved by every family member. So the mail order catalog was opened and the pages turned slowly. The pages pictured wonderful attractions for various members of the family, but nothing suited the liking of every member of the family until they came to the page featuring mirrors. When they saw the mirrors, the family decided unanimously that a mirror was something they could all use.

Well, the day came when the mirror arrived. The package was quickly opened, and the father beheld his own image for the very first time. At first there was a look of puzzlement, then a smile, and then great laughter as his face displayed the sheer delight of seeing himself in the mirror.

By now the rest of the family members were anxiously waiting their turn, and as the mirror passed from member to member, the response was the same, until it passed into the hands of the youngest member. In a moment the look of anticipatory joy vanished and was replaced by a look of grief and terror, as he saw his reflection for the first time. The family’s laughter ended abruptly as they all realized the little boy’s pain. As a baby he had been burned in a fire, and his face was badly disfigured.

Looking in the mirror, then back at his mother, then in the mirror and back to his mother, he said to her, “Did you know I looked like this?”

“Yes, son,” came her response.

Looking again in the mirror and then back at his mother, a tear running down her cheek, he asked, “How could you love someone as ugly as me?”

Grasping the child and holding him close, she looked deep into his eyes and said, “I love you because you’re mine.”

The love of a mother that looks beyond her son’s disfiguring burns and says, “I love you, because you are mine,” reminds us of God’s love that looks beyond our sins and weaknesses, that grasps us close to His breast with those same words, “I love you, because you are mine.”

God loves us so much that He wants us to live with Him in Heaven. He sent Jesus to show us how we must live each day on earth so we can go to Heaven. If you live like Jesus, obeying all the things God asks you to do in His Word, you will be able to see Him one day soon.

From the Pen of Inspiration – The Mother a Missionary

An important missionary field is opened before the mother. The humble round of duties which women have learned to regard as a wearisome task, should be looked upon as a grand and noble work. It is the mother’s privilege to bless the world by her influence; and in doing this, she will bring joy to her own heart. She may make straight paths for the feet of her children, through sunshine and shadow, to the glorious heights above. Let the mother go often to her Saviour, with the prayer, Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him? [Judges 13:8, 12.] This simple petition, breathed from the heart of the finite, will find its way to the heart of the Infinite. If the mother will but heed with care the instructions already given in the sacred word, she will receive further light and knowledge as she shall have need.

It is only when she seeks in her own life to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope to form the characters of her children after the divine pattern. In every generation there have been corrupting influences to blight and contaminate. Fashion and custom exert a strong power over the young. If the mother fails in her duty to instruct, counsel, and restrain, her children will naturally accept the evil and turn from the good. God would have parents enter upon their work with energy and courage, and prosecute it with fidelity. Whatever he has made it their duty to do, he will give them wisdom and strength to accomplish.

While they should, above all else, train their children for the future life, parents should by no means neglect to prepare them for the present life. The mother should study how she may best train her sons and daughters to become useful and happy members of society. She should remember that every habit formed, every thought or feeling cherished, every act performed, however unimportant, will either promote or hinder the accomplishment of this object. The Lord desires that we should enjoy the blessings with which he has surrounded us, and that in all the acts of our lives we should express our continual gratitude. We can do this, not by neglecting and abusing his gifts, but by putting them to a wise and noble use, by exerting a right influence over our fellow-men, by reforming wrong customs, instead of following them. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” [Psalm 97:11.] It is only in pursuing a right course that light and gladness attend our path.

Society is molded by the influence of the mother. She may be wholly occupied within the narrow limits of her home, apparently engaged in life’s humblest duties; yet if she does her work as well as she may do it, in the fear of God, she is gaining greater victories than the leader of armed hosts. She may send forth from her home young men and young women strong in right habits and firm principles. The upright deportment and unblemished morals of her children will be a blessing to the church and to society.

God brought the Israelites from Egypt that he might establish them in the land of Canaan, a pure, holy, and happy people. In the accomplishment of this object he subjected them to a course of discipline, both for their own good and for the good of posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite, in obedience to his wise restrictions, there would have been no feeble ones in all their tribes. Their descendants would have possessed both physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But the requirements of God were disregarded then as they are disregarded now. The people were dissatisfied with the simple, wholesome food which had been provided by their Creator. Habits of self-indulgence brought the sure result,—degeneracy and decay.

God’s commands are never designed to make men unhappy. They are the dictates of infinite wisdom, goodness, and love. While they secure the glory of God, they also promote the happiness of men. His restrictions are a safeguard against depravity of heart and corruption of life. The appetites and passions, indulged without restraint, enslave and degrade the higher and nobler powers.

Intemperance in eating and drinking leads to the indulgence of the animal passions. And those who, understanding the effect of their course, indulge appetite and passion at the expense of health and usefulness, are preparing the way to disregard all moral obligations. When temptation assails them, they have little power of resistance. This was the cause of Israel’s continual backsliding; and it is the reason why there is so much crime and so little true godliness in the world today. The only path of safety is the path of daily restraint and self-denial.

Nothing but the power of God, combined with human effort, can accomplish the work of ennobling and uplifting our race. Had men been willing to learn the lessons which God had given them, successive generations would not have deteriorated so greatly in physical, mental, and moral power. Christ, enshrouded in the cloudy pillar, had spoken again and again to Israel for their good; but they had not heeded his voice. Again he appeared to Manoah and his wife with definite instructions concerning the course she should pursue to insure physical and moral health to her offspring. God had a work for the promised child of Manoah to do,—a work which would require careful thought and vigorous action. It was to secure for him the qualities necessary for this work that all his habits were to be carefully regulated. There are today many statesmen, senators, lawyers, judges, and others in responsible positions, whose physical habits have been, nearly all their life-time, at war with natural laws. At the outset of their career, these men may have possessed rare intellectual powers; but the precious gifts of God have been soiled and dimmed, and in too many cases buried, in the mire of self-indulgence.

He who will observe simplicity in all his habits, restricting the appetite and controlling the passions, may preserve his mental powers strong, active, and vigorous, quick to perceive everything which demands thought or action, keen to discriminate between the holy and the unholy, and ready to engage in every enterprise for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity.

It is the mother’s work to train, to educate, and to discipline. While she seeks to store the mind of her child with useful knowledge, let her fortify the young heart with good principles. There is missionary work to be done at home by the fireside. This important field is neglected because of the difficulties to be met; because the work requires labor and self-denial. But will not the result compensate for the sacrifices made, the efforts put forth? Are souls in heathen lands more precious than souls at home? It is indeed a matter which should concern us, that in foreign lands young girls are growing up to wifehood and motherhood knowing nothing of their duties to themselves, to their children, or to God. But should we not at the same time give some thought to the fact that the girls of America are almost wholly destitute of that knowledge and training which would make them useful and honored as wives and mothers? Would that we could lead mothers who are now worshiping at fashion’s shrine to become missionaries at home, training their children to become an honor to God and a blessing to humanity. Would not our Maker look upon such a work with approval?

There is a wide field of labor opened before every mother. If her work is wrought faithfully, in the fear of God, it will bring forth fruit unto eternal life. The mother’s work should begin at home. This is the fountain-head from which her influence and usefulness should flow. If her duties here are discharged with fidelity, she will see all around her fields where she may work with the best results. And by-and-by those words from her Master will fall as sweetest music upon her ear—”Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . . . Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.] The Signs of the Times, September 29, 1881.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.

Mother-Love, God-Love

We equate mothers with active, giving love. We use the word mother as a verb, as in, “Look at that cat mothering her kittens.” Mothers who cease exhibiting active and giving love are unofficially stripped of that title by on-lookers, as in, “She’s not fit to be called a mother.” Fair or not, realistic or not, our expectations of mother-love are high and border on God-like quality.

Now, no human being can be God. Even the most loving mother will have her faults, but mothers have historically performed some act or made some sacrifice as to be an earthly example of divine love. Mother-love, in its ideal, can help us understand God-love.

A Personal Love

Mother-love is personal. There is an immediate bond between mother and child. There are stories from large hospitals with large nurseries that there may be eight or ten newborn babies crying and yet many a mother can recognize if her baby is one of them! Is that not like God-love? We are told that He will hear our cries. (Exodus 22:23.)

It has been reported that mothers could recognize their babies just by touching the back of their hands. A study was done with mothers who had been caring for their newborn babies for only one week. Blindfolded, they were asked to feel the backs of the hands of three infants. With 70 percent accuracy they were able to pick out their own baby!

There is no touch like a mother’s! In the family it is the mother who kisses a hurt to make it go away. It is her cool hand that soothes a fevered brow.

God-love is a very personal love also. With God we are more than a number, more than just another face in the crowd. Jesus told us, in Matthew 10:30, that He even knows the number of hairs on our head! Jesus’ touch healed the sick and the lame. His touch brought sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. When God-love touches you, it will affect eternally your life. “It is as the Spirit of God touches the soul that the powers of the soul are quickened and man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 3, 1074.

Does Not Quit

Mother-love is a love that does not quit. A mother took her six-year-old boy into a doctor’s crowded waiting room. As they waited their turn, he began to ask her all kinds of questions. In half an hour he managed to cover almost every subject known to humanity. To the wonder of all the others sitting in the room, his mother answered each question carefully and patiently. Inevitably, he got around to God. As the other people listened to his relentless “hows” and “whys,” it was plain to see by the expressions on their faces that they wondered: “How does she stand it?” But when she answered her son’s next question, she answered theirs too. “Why,” he asked, “doesn’t God ever get tired and just stop?”

“Because,” she replied after a moment’s thought, “God is love; and love never gets tired.”

Witness the patient, tireless love of mother-love and you witness God-love. God-love never gets tired. God-love never quits.


“How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings . . . .” Matthew 23:37. The story is told of a man who was looking over the charred remains of his farm after a terrible fire. He noticed a lump of something in the barnyard that was still moving. He kicked it and from underneath came a little chick. That mother hen had faced the fire and had given her life to protect the chick. That is how God described Himself, “How often would I have gathered thy children . . . .”

One of the best-known examples of a mother’s desire to protect her child is given in Exodus 2:1–10. What mother-love was exhibited by the mother of Moses, that she would hide him away for three months to preserve his life then place him in an “ark of bulrushes,” trusting God to watch over him!

God-love is evidenced in His desire to protect us. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:1–4.

Mom’s Law

In their mother-love, mothers seem to take on an extra-ordinary wisdom about many subjects. Surely many of us remember things we were told, such as:

  • Medicine: If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they’re going to stay that way!
  • Humor: When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.
  • Our Roots: Do you think you were born in a barn?
  • Anticipation: Just wait till your father gets home!
  • Receiving: You are going to get it when we get home.
  • Nutrition: If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.
  • Maturing: When you get my age, you’ll understand.

But more importantly, may we remember the godly admonitions given in mother-love. We are told, in Proverbs 6:20 to “forsake not the law of thy mother.”

Recently an essay called “The Meanest Mother in the World” caught my eye. In part, it read: “I had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids had candy for breakfast, I had to eat my cereal and toast. While other kids had cakes and candy for lunch, I had a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than other kids’ supper too. My mother was so mean that she insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were in a prison or something. She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing. I am ashamed to admit this, but my mother actually had the nerve to break the child labor laws. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make the beds, and learn how to cook and clean. I think my mother must have stayed awake at night thinking of things for us to do. And she insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She never let me get away with anything. By the time we were teenagers, my mother was even wiser, and our lives became even more unbearable. She would embarrass us by insisting that our friends come to the door instead of honking the car horn for us to come running. And she always insisted that we be home early on school nights and never let us stay out late on weekends like all our friends. Mother was so mean that she would not let us date at the mature age of 13 or 14, like so many of our friends. She kept telling us that there was a lot of time, and that we needed to grow up a bit first. Mother really raised a bunch of squares. None of us was arrested for shoplifting or busted for dope. And who do we have to thank for this? You’re right, our mean, old mother.”

Oh, for more such “mean” mothers! To obey our mother’s godly teaching is to honor her as commanded in Exodus 20:12.

Just as the writer of the above essay benefited from following his mother’s instruction and laws, we will benefit from God-love as we daily obey His Law. “The principles of God’s law will dwell in the heart, and control the actions. It will then be as natural for us to seek purity and holiness, to shun the spirit and example of the world, and to seek to benefit all around us, as it is for the angels of glory to execute the mission of love assigned them.” Sons and Daughters of God, 51.

Sacrificial Love

“You have probably heard of the sad story of the mother who, with her husband and child, attempted to cross the Green Mountains in midwinter. Their progress was arrested by night and a storm. The husband went for help and lost his way in the darkness and the drifted snow, and was long in returning. The mother felt the chill of death coming upon her, and she bared her bosom to the freezing blast and the falling snow, that she might give all that remained of her own life to save that of her child. When the morning came, the living babe was found wrapped in the mother’s shawl, vainly striving with smiles and with a babe’s pretty art to arrest the attention of the mother’s fixed and frozen eye, and wondering why she did not awaken from her sleep.

“Here is seen love stronger than death, that binds the mother’s heart to her child.” This Day With God, 230.

Such mother-love is surpassed only by the God-love that sent His only Son that we may have life eternal. “We are not to entertain the idea that God loves us because Christ has died for us, but that He so loved us that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for us.” The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895.

Welcome Home

The story is told of a godly mother in London whose daughter had run off into a life of sin. This mother went to her pastor with a burdened heart, not knowing what to do. Her pastor asked her to go home and get as many photographs of herself that she could find and bring them to him. When she returned with the photos, he wrote at the bottom of each one this simple message: “Come Home.” He then placed them all around the city in the places of sin where he thought the girl might go.

One night the wayward girl entered a bar only to find a picture of her mother and the message, “Come Home.” When she read the message, she knew her mother meant it. She knew her mother loved her and would forgive her.

She made her way back home, and as she opened the door, her mother greeted her with her arms outstretched. The girl’s mother cried out, “The door has never been locked. I have been looking for you, watching for you, and praying for you.” What unconditional mother-love!

God also desires us to “Come Home.” Ellen White wrote: “The great God, whose glory shines from the heavens, and whose divine hand upholds millions of worlds, is our Father. We have only to love Him, trust in Him, as little children in faith and confidence, and He will accept us as His sons and daughters, and we shall be heirs to all the inexpressible glory of the eternal world. All the meek will He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His way. If we will walk in obedience to His will, learn cheerfully and diligently the lessons of His providence, by and by He will say: Child, come home to the heavenly mansions I have prepared for you.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 653. What marvelous God-love!


Mothers come in all different shapes and sizes, but they all come with mother-love! It is essential for us to recognize that this mother-love can give us a glimpse of God-love—love that is personal; love that never quits; love that is patient; love that protects; love that welcomes us home.

Anna Schultz writes from her home near Sedalia, Colorado. She may be contacted by e-mail at

First Things First

[Editor’s Note: This sermon was presented at the Steps to Life Camp Meeting, July 2003. The conversational style of the speaker has been preserved.]

In case you do not know it, homes in America have been falling apart by the hundreds and thousands. That is not new. Homes have been under siege since the Garden of Eden. We find that almost every day we are assaulted with news stories about mothers drowning their children so they can run off with their lovers. Husbands and wives are killing each other; fathers and mothers are locking their children in dingy, stinky closets where the children live in filth.

We have to ask ourselves, What is really going on in the minds of human beings today? Well, we would say it is the signs of the times. Yes, it is the signs of the times. Jesus could see what would happen near the end of time, and He prophetically gave us insight into those things. He gave us this insight so when we would see these things come to pass, we would begin to understand that the Bible is true, and we would prepare our lives to meet Jesus when He returns.

I really believe, and I have been a pastor long enough to know, that in the heart of every one of us there are troubles in our families that we wish were not there. Maybe not in our immediate family but in the extended family. Why are so many homes experiencing troubles? There is an answer, and it, too, is very basic.

Failure to Obey

It all boils down to the failure to abide by the Law of God, to our failure to teach it properly in our homes. The first commandment says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. On a spiritual level, God is the only god that is to be recognized. Jehovah, Yahweh, the Lord, is His name. He is the only one. He is a jealous God, and He said, “I am the only one who is to be worshipped.” He is the creator of all things. The responsibilities to God are spelled out in the first table of the law.

The second table also has its first commandment, which is really the fifth commandment of the total law. The first commandment deals with the respect for the Creator of human life. The second table, in reality, is connected very carefully and is a part of the first table. The first table lays out the spiritual relationship that we are to have; the second table deals with human relationships. They are all tied together. The second table, I believe, helps us to understand the relationship of the first table.

Childhood Influence

How many times I have had people tell me about their childhood—how they are the way they are today because of how they were raised. Some of those comments have been positive, but usually most have been negative. “My dad did not like me.” “My mother whipped me too much.” “I had chores to do.” I had this and I had that as a bad experience in my life.

All that might be true, but we do not have to stay there. Growing evidence suggests that the structural and functional brain reserves, thought to develop in childhood and adolescence, may be crucial in determining when cognitive impairment begins. A leading researcher, Robert Abbott, says that there is a whole constellation of diseases out there that occur in later years that are associated with how children are treated early in life.

Foundation of the Home

The fifth law of God’s Ten Commandments is terribly important. The fifth law, in reality, is the whole foundation of the home. Do you think that we have need of restoring the family? I think it is one of the most crucial needs that we have in Adventism today. A lot of times it is easy for us to point out into the world and say, You know, this is taking place in the world, and the world really needs to come to grips with its problems and resolve those things. I would like to suggest that we need to resolve some problems within the church, and we have the tools with which to do that.

Exodus 20:12, the fifth commandment, says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

This is the first commandment that is foundational in understanding who God is. I say this, because where does a child learn about God? By reading the first commandment that says, “I am the Lord thy God”? No. They learn it from mom and dad. The fifth commandment is foundational in understanding every other relationship that we have on this earth. I think that this is where we have gone astray. This is where we have failed, as Seventh-day Adventists. We claim to be the people of the Book; we claim to be the repairers of the breach, the restorer of paths to walk in, and yet have we really understood the law ourselves so that we can teach it to our children in the right and proper way?


Previous commandments to the fifth law have dealt with the object and the manner of worship—God and the Sabbath. This commandment deals with the nursery and the school of worship. Where is the discrimination taught to really discern between good and evil? This commandment, I believe, would solve all those problems, if it was rightly understood and rightly taught, because it is profoundly deep in its concepts.

Let us consider what this commandment teaches. First of all, it is absolute. Parents are to be honored, whether they are living or dead, known or unknown, good or evil. Now that is kind of a big order, is it not? But I did not write the Ten Commandments, God did, and God does not qualify His commandments. He does not say, Honor thy father and thy mother, if they treat you right, and they do not spank you very often. Honor your father and your mother if they are sober and if they are good, upstanding citizens. That is not what the commandment says. It is absolute.

I am the first one to confess that this can be hard. Yet there is one thing that I know about God’s Law; it is always possible to keep it. God never asks us to do something that is impossible. Perhaps we were raised in a home where we have carried a lot of “extra baggage”; we have had a lot of problems; we cannot relate to our parents in the right way. Then we read God’s Law, and we come to the fifth commandment that says, “Honour thy father and thy mother . . . .” We swallow hard and say, “I do not think I can do that.” Know for a certainty that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do it. There are consequences for not doing it, and there are consequences for doing it—one has good consequences and the other has bad consequences.

Present Society

Today, the society in which we live does not promote honoring father and mother. For years, there have been many television programs that have depicted the father as a buffoon and the mother as incompetent, that family life in the home is nothing but a joke, and that the children are petted and allowed to do just about anything and everything they want. We have grown up on those kinds of examples that have come to bear on our lives. So when we come to a church setting and a spiritual teaching that we are to honor our father and our mother, it kind of flies over our head because of how we have been trained.

We can honor our parents, though, from the standpoint of a child, even those who may be despicable. A father may be a reprobate, guilty of all sorts of crime, but God, in His wisdom, sees how that can make children better for the honor they pay to their parents. It is kind of designed as a two-edged sword. The Bible talks about a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. This commandment deals not only with parents, but it deals with children and with children and parents.

There is damage that can come because of disrespect of parents. There is nothing honorable about being ashamed of one’s own parentage. A lot of times we think it is smart to be ashamed, especially as young people growing up. I remember what it was like when I was growing up; we thought it was cute and cool to talk about our parents as “the old man” and “the old lady.” Maybe some of you have been there, too. I am ashamed of that kind of thing, as I understand now exactly what God requires of me, but there are still some young people today who have that kind of disrespect in their heart relative to their parents. Somehow we, as Seventh-day Adventists, need to tighten the screws down a little bit in our thinking as to how we need to understand God’s Law, because whether you are as old as I am or much younger, this still applies to us in a multitude of ways. There is never an excuse to continue being disrespectful or dishonorable of our parents. People see us. People watch us. They watch how we relate to our family. They watch how we relate to other positions of authority around us. They watch how we relate to God.

No Respect, No Reverence

We preach reverence in the church sanctuary, and rightfully so. When we come into the house of God, there should be an attitude of reverent awe that we are coming into the presence of the Lord. I would like to suggest that this same honorableness needs to be in the home as well. Never should a child be allowed to be disrespectful to the parent. Never should a child be allowed to be disrespectful to the teacher. Never should a child be allowed to be disrespectful to the police officer. Never should a child be allowed to be disrespectful to the minister. Never should a child be allowed to be disrespectful to the President of the United States. You do not have to agree with everything, but do you realize that all those attitudes stem right back to this fifth commandment? Look at the irreverence that is displayed by young people today to the school, to the government, to the neighbor, to the environment by throwing trash out onto the road. The children displaying such disrespect have not been taught how to honor their parents, to be obedient to their parents. If they are not taught how to be obedient to their parents, they are not going to be obedient or respectful to anyone else.

As a little child grows, that little child, looking to the earthly parent, sees the only God he can understand. Worship, like other things, comes by practice and experience, and those first lessons are taught in the home. This is why Ellen White makes such an important point about bringing the nature of that little child into harmony with God’s plan of salvation while it is still an infant in arms. (See Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4b, 132, 133.) Many times children are petted and allowed to do whatever they want. Oh, someone may say, they are just babies; they cannot learn. That is not true; what they say is not according to God’s plan. Children need to learn, from the time they are just little infants in arms, how they are to relate to God through the parent. Now that puts parents in a very awesome position, does it not? Practically speaking, God is revealed through the parent to the child. If there is no reverence, no respect for the parents, there will be no reverence for God.

Restore the Home

How do we restore the home? How do we accomplish restoring the home and restoring the family? Malachi 4:4 says, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the statutes and judgements.”

God is saying, through the prophet Malachi, remember the Ten Commandments. I gave those to Moses in the mount, along with the statutes and the judgments.

Continuing in verse 5, we read, “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” What is being spoken of here? This is the Second Coming, is it not? Elijah was long off the scene, but Elijah was manifest in John the Baptist, in the Elijah message John the Baptist preached. The Elijah message has come again in the person of Ellen White, through the gift of prophecy.

The coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord is the Day of Judgment. We are living in the time of the judgment. God is saying that there is going to come a reform. In the last days, just before Jesus comes, that work is going to be under the Spirit of Prophecy. This Elijah message will be of such a nature, “He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Verse 6.

What a message we have here! The last message is going to be a message of restoring the family. I am thankful for the gift of prophecy that sets us in a proximity where we can know every truth that God has for us to develop our characters, so we can meet Him with peace in our hearts. In those messages there is the concept that is going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Do you think that needs to take place today? It most certainly does. And it is going to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. This is a message that we, as Seventh-day Adventists, need to understand, to put into practice, so we can be the light that God wants us to be.

The Elijah Message

The Elijah message is to do a special work. If we are ever going to be ready for Jesus to come, we can know about all the prophecies, and we can speak all the mysteries, and we can understand all these things, but if we do not have love, we are nothing. Where is love learned? Love is learned in the home. As a Seventh-day Adventist, we can draw out the chart of the 2300 days, with all its intricate inner portions, the 1260 days, and all the rest of that. We can understand all of those things, but if we do not have our own family with us, what is it really all worth?

I know that many of you have reached out to your families. You are praying for them right now. My wife and I are the only Seventh-day Adventists on either side of our family. We were converts to this faith. It is hard reaching out to families. The one thing that we have discovered is that we really cannot say much to them. We have to live the message, and then leave the rest with the Lord.

God has a plan. He says, “I am going to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers,” and that is going to have to be an accomplished fact before I can come back again. (Malachi 4:6.)

So in reality, what God is waiting for is for the Seventh-day Adventist message, through the Spirit of Prophecy, to sink into the hearts and the minds of those He has called to be His children. It needs to sink in to such an extent that the home base will change and there will be folks who will come to Him as changed people. Someone may say, “You do not know how I was raised. I do not know whether I would ever be able to change.” Do you think your battles are any more severe than anyone else’s? No, they are not. God can help you. God can take this message, and He can put it down in your heart and teach you to love that message so that it just kind of oozes out your pores.

If that happens, there is going to be a whole new set of circumstances that will begin to take place. The battle that we face individually will no longer be our battle but the Lord’s. It is His battle, and we can rest assured that whatever the consequences are, God will take care of it. That takes off a whole lot of pressure.

The Bible says that if you honor your father and your mother, your days upon the land are going to be long. Needless friction wears the life out. God knows that, so here is a blessing that can come to those who obey His command. They will not only build relationships but they will also have a long life because of the peace of mind they have.


There are carryovers to this, and I alluded to this earlier, about how what is done in the home affects the nation. Now, I realize that we are not in the game of politics, but at the same time, we have to live in the country, and the apostle Paul makes it very, very plain that we are to honor the governor and that we are to deal with civil matters in a right way. (See Romans 13:1–4.)

The reason why, when young people go to ball games and their team loses, they begin to riot and burn the town down, is because of the violation of the fifth commandment. They have not had any honor of the family at home, and as a result, they have no honor for anything in civil society either. In reality, home is linked with heaven, and God has ordained it so.

Linked With Heaven

We come together for worship, and we want the worship to be “just so.” How is it with our home? Do we want our home to be “just so”? Are we ordering the events in our home so reverence for God can take place when we go to church?

God has a message. He wants the home linked with heaven. The earthly parent He wants linked with the Father of eternity. Would you reach Heaven? Then reverence the home. Would you worship God? Then honor your parents, living or dead.

Back to Basics

“Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 11 Chronicles 20:20. “Here me, O Seventh-day Adventists, and ye inhabitants of Wichita, Kansas, or Denver, Colorado, or Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington, or where ever it might be that you live.” In reality that is what it is saying. Unless we personalize it, we are going to miss the point.

This test of prosperity is tied right in with the law. It says, “Honour thy father and thy mother.” We need to start with first things first. We are never going to be able to accomplish anything that is good unless we come back to the basics of Scripture. We must learn them, make the application of them into our lives, and allow them to be lived out in our lives. But so often we, in our own wisdom, try to do these things apart from God, and we fail. Maybe because we have failed so many times, it is now time for us to go back to the basics, back to the home, back to the instruction that God has given concerning the home. He says that He is going to restore the home before He comes.

If not us, then who? If not now, when? It has to start somewhere. I, like you, get older each year, and the older I get, I wonder, When is Jesus going to come? I believe that Jesus can come in my lifetime, and I want to do all in my power to hasten that day. I know that you do, too. I hope that by sharing some things old that it will help you to reflect a little bit more of perhaps where we have failed. There is nothing wrong in looking back where we have failed, but we must learn from it and go forward in the strength and the power that God gives to us.

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life Ministries. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Words, Part I

In Hebrews 4:2, the apostle Paul says, “For the gospel is preached to us as well as them, but the word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith.” Friends, I need to forewarn you. What we will be studying in this article could be very discouraging, if you do not have enough faith. But if you realize that for everything God has told us to do or not to do, He will give us the grace and power to do it—if we trust in Him and choose to follow Him—then what we are going to study can be very exciting.

Heaven Talk

Have you ever wondered how people talk in heaven? Do you talk in your home the way people talk in heaven? When do you think you should learn to talk like people talk in heaven? Now? Yes, now!

In the Book of James, we are told that the one who controls his tongue is a perfect man. (James 3:2.) If you are not yet perfect, do not be discouraged. Just take hold of the Lord by faith and say, “Lord, this is the way you want me to speak, and I am determined, by Your grace, to talk the way You want me to talk.” If you follow the principles, the Lord will give you the power and the grace to talk His way. Of course, we need to understand how God wants us to talk.

As I have studied the Spirit of Prophecy writings, I have been interested to discover how much Ellen White wrote on the subject of speech in reference to the family. We are going to look at some of these principles, and I hope they will be as great a blessing to you as they have been to me.

Plan Each Morning

One of the first principles is that we need to plan in the morning what we are going to say.

“The first missionary work is to see that love, light, and joy come into the home circle. Let us not be looking for some great temperance or missionary work to do until we have first done the duties at home. Every morning we should think, What kind act can I do today? What tender word can I speak? Kind words at home are blessed sunshine. The husband needs them, the wife needs them, the children need them.” Review and Herald, December 23, 1884.

What do you suppose, friends, would happen in our homes if every morning, every husband, before he got out of bed, was thinking to himself, “What kind word, what tender word, what kind act can I do today for my wife or for my children?” If every wife was thinking before she got out of bed, “What kind word can I speak to my husband today? What tender act could I do for him or for my children?” If we started making plans the first thing in the morning, like the Lord has instructed us, would that make a difference in our homes?

We need the sunshine of kind and tender words in our homes, but that is going to take some planning. Have you noticed that anything worthwhile does not just happen? Someone has to make plans. If we want our speech to be right, the time to start is before we ever get out of bed in the morning. We need to start making plans then—“What kind and tender word could I speak to my spouse today? What act could I do for my spouse today or for my children?” If we start making plans each morning, like the Lord has told us to do, it will have a tremendous influence in our homes. Who knows? We might even think of something kind and tender to say before breakfast!

How We Should Speak

How should we speak? In The Signs of the Times, November 14, 1911, Ellen White advised that we should “cultivate soft tones.” What is the opposite of soft? Harsh—so we want to avoid all harshness of expression.

Mrs. White also said, “We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones.” Ibid., February 22, 1905. We all like to be spoken to with pleasant tones. She also told us what to avoid: “Never let a frown gather upon your brow.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 532. That is a high standard! Did you know that people do not frown in heaven? They do not, and we are to cultivate a heavenly atmosphere in our homes.

She continued, “Never let a frown gather upon your brow or a harsh word escape your lips. Harsh words sour the temper and wound the hearts of children, and in some cases these wounds are difficult to heal. Children are sensitive . . . .” Ibid. Are your children sensitive? I have known for a long time that my children are sensitive, but I have learned, as I have studied this subject, that all children are sensitive. “Children are sensitive to the least injustice, and some become discouraged under it and will neither heed the loud, angry voice of command nor care for threatenings of punishment.” Ibid. Some become discouraged and may finally decide they do not care whether they are punished or not; they will do what pleases them. We do not want our children to develop that frame of mind, so we must avoid all harsh words and not let frowns develop on our brows.

Passionate Words

We are all tempted to speak passionately at times. What should we do when we realize passionate feelings are arising, and we are about to really let somebody have it? There are all kinds of expressions for this in our language. Have you heard anyone say that they are going to give somebody “a piece of their mind”? Usually they do not mean a good piece!

What should we do when such feelings start to develop? “When about to speak passionately, close your mouth. Don’t utter a word. Pray before you speak, and heavenly angels will come to your assistance and drive back the evil angels, who would lead you to dishonor God, reproach His cause, and weaken your own soul.” Ibid., vol. 2, 82.

When we are tempted to speak passionately, it is time not to speak. It is time to close our mouths. If we are really heated up, we might even need to seek a private place, get down on our knees, and have a session of prayer, asking the Lord to calm our souls so our spirits will not be chaffed. We cannot avoid speaking passionately if our spirits are chaffed. That irritableness in our spirits has to be taken away. The Lord has to take it away, or no matter what we say, our words will not be right. Friends, if we ask, God will give us victory over the passion of spirit. We must have that. Otherwise, when we open our mouths, no matter how good are our intentions, we will have a lot of apologizing to do, to say the least.

Begins in the Home

“The work of sanctification begins in the home. . . .

“In the home the spirit of criticism and faultfinding should have no place. . . .

“No harsh, passionate word is ever spoken without grieving the Lord Jesus, and hurting the heart of speaker and of hearer. From the Christian home all angry or trifling speeches will be excluded; for in the home above nothing of this character finds place.” The Signs of the Times, February 17, 1904.

We are to avoid all angry, trifling, passionate speeches. In the Christian home, those must be excluded, along with the spirit of criticism and faultfinding. That does not mean we are to close our eyes and not be aware of what is going wrong, but we are not to have a spirit of trying to tear down.

Have you ever noticed how sensitive we are to having our faults exposed? I have been amazed, over and over again, at how sensitive we as human beings are. We may have a hundred things wrong, but to have someone point out even one fault, just about tears us to pieces. Have you ever wondered about your children? Since we as adults are sensitive to having someone point out any fault that we have, do you suppose our children might be sensitive to having their faults pointed out? If you keep that in mind, it will be a great help to you.

We need to do a lot of praying, friends, before we seek to point out a fault in our children. Remember, they are just as sensitive as we are, maybe more so. It takes great tact and love and kindness to be able to point out a fault and have it received in the right way so that the child will be drawn to Jesus and be determined to correct it. Mrs. White talked about this: “When you are obliged to correct a child, do not raise the voice to a high key . . . .” Ibid.

Some of us have this problem. I personally have to do a lot of praying about this. It is easy for me to raise my voice to a high key. What happens when we do that? “Do not raise the voice to a high key bringing into it that which will arouse the worst passions of the child’s heart.” Ibid. When the voice is raised to a high key, what is a natural response for the listener? It is easy for the child to feel like he or she is getting scolded, and that might be exactly what is happening.

Hasty Speech

“Restrain every hasty speech that struggles for utterance. Before you speak that fretful, impatient word, stop and think of the influence which, if spoken, it will exert. Remember that children are quick to hear every word, and to mark every intonation of the voice.” Ibid.

I have tested this out on our dog. I did not want to test it on my children. I have found that I can speak the most severe reproofs, commands, and awful things to our dog, and if I speak softly, with a smile on my voice, she just wags her tail. But if I yell at her, telling her that I love her and that she is a good dog, she starts to cower. Children will respond just as dogs do. They recognize the tone of our voices. That is why we are to accustom ourselves to always speaking in pleasant tones.

Should we not reprove our children? God has commanded us to not allow the faults of our children to pass by without being corrected. Notice what Mrs. White wrote about this: “Under all circumstances reproof should be spoken in love. . . .

“Not one word is to be spoken unadvisedly.” Ibid., February 22, 1905.

Corrupt Communication

The Bible talks about corrupt communication in 1 Corinthians. What is corrupt communication? “No evil speaking, no frivolous talk, no fretful repining or impure suggestions, will escape the lips of him who is following Christ. . . . A corrupt communication does not mean only words that are vile. It means any expression contrary to holy principles and pure, undefiled religion. It includes impure hints and covert insinuations of evil. Unless instantly resisted, these lead to great sin.

“Upon every family, upon every individual Christian, is laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt speech. When in the company of those who indulge in foolish talk, it is our duty to change the subject of conversation if possible.” Ibid.

We do not want corrupt communication in our homes. We cannot have it in our homes if we are getting ready to go to heaven, because people do not talk like that in heaven.

False Witness

Mrs. White also gave the definition of false witness: “We think with horror of the cannibal who feasts on the still warm and trembling flesh of his victim; but are the results of even this practice more terrible than are the agony and ruin caused by misrepresenting motive, blackening reputation, dissecting character? . . .

“God’s Word condemns also the use of those meaningless phrases and expletives that border on profanity.” Ibid., March 1, 1905.

Do you know what an expletive is? An expletive is a word that is not used according to its dictionary definition, but is used to express emotion. Unfortunately, many people use the characteristics of God as expletives, thereby breaking the third commandment. The characteristics of God are listed in Exodus 34:6. “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth . . . .” Those are the characteristics of God.

One of the words used to describe His characteristics is the word merciful. Have you ever heard the word mercy used as an expletive? That is a name for God, friends. It is part of His character. To use that word just to express emotion is to break the third commandment. Part of His Name is the word gracious. To use that word in a flippant way is to break the third commandment.

There are all sorts of words that I do not want to repeat and develop bad habits of speaking by repeating them, but you know what I am talking about. Have you ever heard somebody say, “Oh, _____”? There are several words that could follow that. Some of them men’s names—and they are not used to refer to any man. They are just used to express emotion. Those are expletives. Mrs. White calls them “meaningless phrases.” Jesus never used those. You will not find any expletives that He ever used in the entire Gospel account, and He is our example.

Deceptive Compliments

The Bible condemns the deceptive compliments, meaningless phrases, and expletives that border on profanity. Oh, friends, this bothers me. This is a problem, friends, for Christians. We have a big problem in giving deceptive compliments, trying to make people feel good in saying something to them that we do not really believe. That is breaking the ninth commandment.

“The evasions of truth, the exaggerations . . .” You know, some people have become so used to exaggerating that in their common, everyday speech—whatever they are talking about—they exaggerate. That will not happen in heaven, friends. They do not make understatements or give exaggerations there. Since I have studied this, I am trying to correct my own speech. We need to be careful that our speech is accurate.

“Closely allied to gossip is the covert [hidden] insinuation, the sly innuendo, by which the unclean in heart seek to insinuate the evil they dare not openly express. Every approach to these practices the youth should be taught to shun as we would shun the leprosy.” Ibid.

Friends, if we are getting ready for heaven, we must train our children to not speak the way they hear other people speaking. Other people are not to be our guides. Jesus is our Guide. We must train our children from babyhood that they must not say anything that they hear other people speaking. This is one of the reasons we as parents need to take time to talk with our children. We need to know how they speak and what they are saying. If they are picking up phrases and expressions from someone else that are not suitable, not understanding what they mean, we must correct their speech and teach them how to speak appropriately. This is also a reason for being careful with whom our children associate.

Quarreling Children

What do you do with children in the home who are quarreling? Ellen White gave counsel regarding that. “Parents, do all in your power to keep disagreements out of the home circle. If the children quarrel, remind them that God has said, ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.’ Teach them never to let the sun go down on angry feelings or sin unconfessed. Teach them that harmony should reign in the home, even as it reigns in heaven. . . .

“Repress every harsh word. Remember that fretting and scolding are as injurious to your children as profanity, and that too much management is as bad as no management at all. Be firm, but let no loud, angry words escape your lips. [There, again, are two kinds of speech we are to avoid—harsh words and loud, angry words.] Rule your children with tenderness and compassion, remembering that ‘their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven.’ . . . Work with loving tenderness; for this is the way Christ works.” The Signs of the Times, April 23, 1902.

Of what are we to remind the children? Not to let the sun go down on their wrath. That is a very literal expression from the Bible. (Ephesians 4:26.) We are to tell our children to not let the sun go down before they have made things right—to not let the sun go down on unconfessed sin or angry feelings.


“God looks into every secret thing of life. By some a constant battle is maintained for self-control.” The Signs of the Times, August 23, 1899. Perhaps you have a constant battle with your tongue. God knows that, friend. You may have to keep up a constant battle your whole life, but God will give you the victory. “Daily they [those battling for self-control] strive silently and prayerfully against harshness of speech and temper. These strivings may never be appreciated by human beings. They may get no praise from human lips for keeping back the hasty words which sought for utterance. The world will never see these conquests, and if it could, it would only despise the conquerors. But in heaven’s record they are registered as overcomers. There is One who witnesses every secret combat and every silent victory, and He says, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.’ [Proverbs 16:32.]” Ibid.


A few statements about scolding have already been addressed, but in the following statement, we are given some counsel on dealing with children who are in trouble. Now, children from the earliest ages get into troubles of various kinds. Their feelings are aroused; maybe they are angry or depressed or hurt or discouraged. Children have all of these kinds of problems just as do adults. To them, their trials are just as severe as our trials are to us. How do we deal with these?

“The little ones must be carefully soothed when in trouble. Children between babyhood and manhood and womanhood do not generally receive the attention they should have. Mothers are needed who will so guide their children that they will regard themselves as a part of the family. Let the mother talk with her children regarding their hopes and their perplexities. Let parents remember that their children are to be cared for in preference to strangers. They are to be kept in a sunny atmosphere, under the mother’s guidance. Be careful that you are not rude to your children, either in speech or in temper. Require obedience, and do not allow yourself to speak carelessly to your children, because your manners and your words are their lesson-book. Help them gently, tenderly, over this period of their life. Let the sunshine of your presence make sunshine in their hearts. These growing boys and girls feel very sensitive, and by roughness you may mar their whole life. Be careful, mothers. Never scold; for that never helps.” Ibid., August 23, 1899. We do not want to do something that would never help, do we? That does not mean, however, that we should not be firm. The very next sentence says, “Firmness is ever to be united with love in the home life.” Ibid.


How much harmonious speech in the home means to the children! “Allow in the home nothing that savors of cheapness or commonness. You are preparing your children for entrance into the City of God, and nothing that defiles can enter there.

“Be pleasant and cheerful. Remember that love is the power that binds your children to you.” Ibid., September 16, 1903. We should always remember that sentence. It is the power of love that binds our children to us.

“Keep your words and actions free from anger. Do nothing that will destroy the harmony of the home. Let the sharp words [there is another type of word to avoid] that you are tempted to speak die unspoken. Such words wound and bruise the hearts of the hearers.” Ibid.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Words, Part II

A statement in The Signs of the Times, November 11, 1903, speaks of the power of love: “Never treat your children harshly; for harshness arouses stubbornness and resistance. You will find that they are most easily and successfully governed by kindness and gentleness.” Kindness and gentleness is what we need. “Love breaks down all barriers, and gentleness subdues the most stubborn will. Treat your children as you would wish to be treated were you in their place. Let there be no scolding, no loud-voiced, angry commands.” Ibid. Do not be discouraged, friends. Remember to have faith and say, “Lord, this is how You have told me to speak. I am choosing to follow Your counsel. Give me the grace to speak this way.” Friends, the Lord will do it. The Lord will answer your prayer. If you keep praying, the Lord will keep answering.

No Disagreements

Counsel is also given that the father and mother, in reference to their speech, should not have verbal disagreements between themselves in the children’s presence. Mrs. White says, “Not a particle of variance should be shown by parents in the management of their children. Parents are to work together as a unit. There must be no division. But many parents work at cross-purposes, and thus the children are spoiled by mismanagement. If parents do not agree, let them absent themselves from the presence of their children until an understanding can be arrived at.” Review and Herald, March 30, 1897. Oh friends, if parents would honor this, it would save so much trouble in the home.

As parents, we must have a united front. We must not have the father saying one thing and the mother saying another. That will destroy harmony, and it will ruin the child. Having said this, it does not mean we are to be wishy-washy. When we say, “No,” it has to mean no, and when we say, “Yes,” it has to mean yes.

“Scolding, loud-voiced commands, or threatenings should never be heard. Parents should keep the atmosphere of the home pure and fragrant with kind words, with tender sympathy and love; but at the same time, they are to be firm and unyielding in principle.” Ibid. If a principle is involved, we are not to give way. “If you are firm with your children [this simply means that when you say, ‘No,’ it means no], they may think that you do not love them.” They may think this way for a while, but Mrs. White says, “This you may expect; but never manifest harshness. Justice and mercy must clasp hands; there must be no wavering or impulsive movements.” Ibid.

True Words

Counsel has been given on a subject about which you would think Christians would never need to be counseled, but Ellen White spent considerable time on this subject. Our words at home are always to be true. Oh friends, one of my cherished memories of my own home is that I can never, ever remember either my father or my mother, at any time, telling me something that was not true. My parents did not have to explain to me, as I grew up, that there was not a Santa Claus, because they had never told me that there was a Santa Claus. Neither did they have to explain to me that there was no real Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a hundred other things that some children believe. If you tell your children fictitious or untrue stories or speak anything that is untrue, someday their confidence in you is going to be weakened, because a child believes everything that their parents tell them—until they find out their parents do not always tell the truth. Then they flip the other way, and they do not believe anything their parents say.

Mrs. White says, “Never let your children have the semblance of an excuse for saying, Mother does not tell the truth. Father does not tell the truth.” Review and Herald, April 13, 1897. Children, from their earliest years, should have confidence that if mommy said it, it is so. If daddy said it, it is so. We often do not realize how our words affect whether or not our children are going to believe what they hear in Sabbath School or church.


Ellen White also speaks about criticism. She wrote, “We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891. Do you know what evil surmising is? I suppose it is something that every individual has been tempted to do at some time or another. Have you ever had suspicions about someone or something—you did not yet have the facts, but things just did not seem right to you? When this happens, you may have suspicions, and you may have to watch things develop, but it is dangerous to talk about your suspicions. This is evil surmising. You think something is bad; you do not yet have the facts; you do not yet have the evidence, but it looks bad. You think there is something awry, so you start talking about it, which starts all kinds of trouble in homes and churches and institutions and everywhere else.

“We should abstain from all evil-speaking and evil-surmising. Our children will be in danger of losing all respect for religion if we indulge in criticism of others.” Ibid.

I have thought about this so many times. How would I feel if someone who knew me really well began telling everybody all of the mistakes I have made? I have made so many mistakes that if anyone but the Lord knew them all, I suppose they would think that I am a bad person. I would prefer that all of the mistakes I have made not be publicized to everybody. Do you suppose that there are other people who feel the same way? When we are talking about the subject of criticism, people think that we are talking about something that is not true, but this is not the case. We can destroy each other while telling the truth! We can destroy our neighbors, and in the process, we will destroy our children. Ellen White says that they will lose all respect for religion.

Respect Those Older

The relationship of our children with the elderly has become very painful in America today. Our young people do not respect older people. Ellen White wrote: “Teach your children to be kind and courteous to all, and especially to respect the old. If you do all that God has given you to do, you will have no time to criticize your neighbor.” Ibid.

Jesting and Joking

I was once acquainted with a person who told a lot of jokes. He was one of the funniest persons I ever knew. When I was with him, I laughed and laughed and laughed, and everybody else did, too. He was a religious person, but when he would give a testimony in church, the young people did not give it much account. Our words need to be true.

When I was in academy, I learned how to tell jokes. I was very fortunate that about the time I started learning how to tell jokes, I read some statements in the Spirit of Prophecy stating that if I jested and joked, I would lose the Holy Spirit. When I found that out, I had to make a decision whether I was going to be a jester and a joker and a popular person, or whether I was going to have the Holy Spirit.

In the same article, it says, “Instead of indulging in jesting and joking, suppose you begin to exalt Jesus, talking of his wonderful charms.” Ibid. Oh friends, that is what we need in our homes. That is what we need in our churches. We need to be exalting Jesus and talking of His wonderful charms, the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The Way Jesus Spoke

One of the main facets of the unsearchable riches of Christ is the way that He spoke. When the people that were sent to arrest Jesus returned without Him, the rulers and the Pharisees asked, “Why did you not bring Him?” They said, “Never a man spoke like this Man.” (John 7:45, 46.)

Friends, if we would learn to speak in our homes as did Jesus, the Christian religion would have an irresistible power, a charm over our children. They would go out from home, telling whomever they meet that the Christian religion is true. They would know it is true, because they have seen the image of Christ demonstrated by their father or their mother. The way we speak at home can mean the salvation of our children. It could be one of the most powerful Christian influences on our children, if we learn to speak to each other in our homes like Christ spoke. You know the children are listening to the way that we as parents speak to each other.

“If you had good home religion, you would be a bright and shining light, and represent Christ to a lost world.” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.

“In the parable of the virgins, five were found wise, and five foolish. Can it be possible that half of us will be found without the oil of grace in our lamps?” Ibid. The apostle Paul said that our speech is always to be with grace. (Colossians 4:6.) “Shall we come to the marriage feast too late? We have slept too long; shall we sleep on, and be lost at last? Are there those here who have been sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, and will they continue to do so till Christ shall come?” Ibid.

Mothers’ Words

Ellen White had some special words of counsel to speak to mothers concerning their words. These are some of the most beautiful statements in all of the Spirit of Prophecy, in my opinion, in relation to speech.

She says, “It is the heart that needs culture; for it is with the heart-life that women have to do. . . . The precious, finer feelings are to be carefully nourished that they may bloom into actions of goodness, truth, and holiness. . . . The words that are spoken by a mother should be choice words.” The Signs of the Times, March 23, 1891. God will give you the power to do it. He will give you the grace to do it.

“The mother should keep herself under perfect control, doing nothing that will arouse in the child a spirit of defiance. She is to give no loud-voiced commands. She will gain much by keeping the voice low and gentle. . . . If she is a wise Christian, she will not attempt to force the child to submit. She prays earnestly, and as she prays, she is conscious of a renewal of spiritual power. She sees that the same power that is working in her is working also in the child. He becomes more gentle, more submissive. The battle is won.” Ibid., April 1, 1903.

Our Child’s Faults

We are not to mention our children’s faults in the presence of others. “Remember that your child has rights which should be respected. Be very careful never to bring against him an unjust charge. Never punish him [now read this carefully] without giving him an opportunity to explain. Listen patiently to his troubles and perplexities. Never tell others in his hearing of his faults, or his clever sayings or doings. Even in the presence of his brothers and sisters these things should not be spoken of.” Ibid., April 23, 1902.

She goes on to say, “By speaking of his bright words and acts, you encourage self-confidence. By speaking of his faults, you humiliate him without softening him. Hatred springs up in his heart against your course, which he regards as cruel and unjust.” Ibid.

Heaven Talk

Friends, the things we have been studying are the way in which people talk in heaven. They do not speak any unpleasant words there. There are no loud, angry-voiced commands there, no angry, passionate words. They do not utter any unpleasant words there. In fact, a statement from Upward Look, 163, says, “No unpleasant words are spoken in heaven. There no unkind thoughts are cherished. There envy, evil surmising, hatred, and strife find no place.” We are to learn here how to speak, so we will be able to go to heaven. We are to learn it here, and the place we learn it, friends, is in our homes.


When I was a boy, I thought that everybody in the Adventist Church understood this, but I have had cause to wonder. The apostle James says, “He that does not offend in word is a perfect man.” James 3:2.

I do not know about you, but I have had to go to many people a number of times in my life and confess that what I had said was either not so or not right. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Friends, the Lord wants to cleanse us from our improper speech. He wants to cleanse us from all the things that we have said in the past to our wives or our husbands or our children that have been wrong. But He cannot do it if we do not confess. This is so simple and basic; I was a minister for a number of years before I realized that there were many Christians who did not understand this.

Confession of sin is not just kneeling down by your bed at night and saying, “Lord, I confess my sins.” That is not proper confession; it is not wrong, but Ellen White states, in the chapter “Confession,” in Steps to Christ, that true confession is specific. Friends, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart right now and telling you that you have something to confess to someone about words you have spoken, I want to appeal to you to not forget it. Write it down right now. Do not let the day go by—maybe you need to write a letter or make a long-distance telephone call.

If we want to reform our speech, one of the first steps is to confess what we have spoken that has injured or damaged someone else or is untrue or is unkind. That is a first step in procuring the kind of speech we desire in our homes.

Maybe you need to confess something to your children. Your child will never turn away from the Christian religion because you decided to confess your sins, because you decided to say to him or her, “I am sorry I said or did this to you and I want you to forgive me.” Your child will not turn away from the Christian religion when you do that.

Unless we confess our sins, the Holy Spirit cannot come into our lives and give us the power that we need to change. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes [them] will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. That is talking about eternal prosperity, not just temporal prosperity.

Friends, I stand myself in very great need of mercy, do you? I know that if I am going to receive the mercy of God in my life, I must confess, and then I must forsake. Do you want that experience? Decide right now you are not going to let the day go by before making whatever confession to whomever you need to make it. It may take you more than one day.

When I first became convicted on this subject, it was as a result of a sermon I listened to by a retired Adventist minister who said that when he became a Christian, he had to write 726 letters of confession. I hope that you do not have to write that many, but I would write however many letters I need to write or call however many people I need to call, to have a clear conscience.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Ten Commandments, Part XII – It Will Go Well With You

In this series on the Ten Commandments, we have previously studied the first four commandments (Exodus 20:3–11), and we are ready to begin the second table of the Ten Commandment Law. The first table deals with the vertical relationship between God and us. The second table of the law deals with the horizontal relationship between our fellowmen and us. As mentioned in a previous article, the first table of the law came into practical application when God created Adam. The second table of the law came into practical application when God created Eve. The second table of the law is a very important aspect as we deal with our horizontal relationships.

The first table tells us how we are to worship God; the six commandments of the second table teach us how we are to treat one another. So often, religious people concentrate on the first table. Many theological discussions take place about how we are to worship God, but there are not many that make the application as to how we are to treat one another. It is part of God’s plan to regulate human relationships so we will be able to appreciate and love one another, as we love God and ourselves.

The first commandment of the second table reads: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 5:16.

Reading this commandment in Exodus 20, we see that it is a little bit different, just as the Sabbath commandment is a little bit different between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12. Do you see the difference? The difference is that Deuteronomy 5 says that if you honor your father and your mother, not only are your days going to be prolonged, but also it will go well with you.

Falling Apart

In my ministry as a pastor, I have observed that a lot of fracturing is taking place in families today. Once stable and strong relationships are no longer as strong as they once were. There is a little saying, “The family is falling apart at the seams,” and, certainly, this is true.

What is the reason for this dissolution? The reason is that we are in violation of the fifth commandment. As we go through this study, we hopefully will be able to better understand what is involved with this commandment that says, “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Respect for parental authority and obedience to parental law is the foundation of all order and organization. The fifth commandment deals with this. Another old saying that holds an abundance of truth is this: “As goes the home, so goes society, the nation, and the world.”

The family is the most important and fundamental unit in society and in government. In a speech given over two years ago, President George W. Bush, the forty-third president of the United States of America, emphasized the importance of the family and the home, and the significance that it consist of one man and one woman, a husband and a wife. He is determined to see that this is established and set, even going so far as endorsing a Constitutional Convention to pass an Amendment to the Constitution to establish it. This belief is in harmony with Scripture.

Families today are falling apart. I do not believe that there has been a time in earth’s history when there have been such large Social Service Departments to take care of homes that are falling apart at the seams.

Obedience to Lawful Authority

The first commandment of the second table, or the fifth commandment of the ten, is in a special position in the order of the total ten. Surely this placement is no accident, but divinely placed. Family relationships constitute the beginning of all human relationships that are set forth in the second division of God’s Law. In its broadest application, it deals with obedience to all lawful authority, in that formative part of life when characters are molded and destinies are determined.

Considering the nature of parenthood, parents, in many ways, stand in the place of God to their children until they reach the age of accountability. Then the children can transfer their accountability to God because He is ultimately the One to whom they are responsible in the final end of all things. Yet, there is still the force of the commandment that says to “Honor your father and your mother all the days of your life, so it will go well with you.”

In the earlier years of a child’s life, the parent is to that child what God is to the parent—the Lawgiver, the Overseer, and the Provider. The fact that the attitude of the child toward the parent determines his attitude toward God in later years gives the fifth commandment a double significance.

A Broader Application

When the home life is Christ-centered, the children are almost certain to fulfill both tables of the law and to respect both divine and human authority. This commandment has not just a literal application to mom and dad, but it has a spiritual application that forms the attitudes and the characters of how people relate to life from childhood to adulthood.

If children are brought up in a home where proper parental authority is exercised and where good and righteous commandments from the parents are handed down to the children, they will incorporate those into their lifestyles. They are going to relate to all other issues of authority in their lives in the right way.

This is why the commandment says, “Honor thy father and thy mother, so that it will go well with you.” Not only will it “go well with you,” but also your days will be prolonged. This is a promise from God! This is the first commandment with a promise.

Another evidence of the importance of this commandment is the fact that parenthood is a co-partnership with God in the work of creation. Reproduction is a form of creation. What greater honor could God bestow upon human beings than to share with them the power to perpetuate His creative works? If you stop and think about this, you realize that parenthood is an awesome responsibility. This is something that is not being taught to young people today.

Holy Function of Parenthood

One of the reasons, I personally believe, that God called the Seventh-day Adventist Church into existence was to bestow upon its members insights and situations where they could teach their children how to become better parents. It had to start at some point in time.

If you actually look at what was transpiring in the days when God called the Seventh-day Adventist Church into existence, you will see that parenthood and the kinds of relationships between fathers and their children that would give a right example to the children was almost nonexistent. So the children grew up with a very warped understanding of what it meant to be a parent.

So God gave counsels for us so the next generation, having exercised those counsels, could put them into practice and be better equipped to be parents. If the fifth commandment was understood, as God wanted it to be understood, not only would it affect children, but it would affect parents as well.

The realization of the holy function of parenthood will place marriage on a moral elevation that is seldom recognized in this world of sin. It will give sacredness to family relationships that will ennoble and dignify the marriage institution.

Human Relationships

While the law is divided into two tables of Ten Commandments, it is really still one law, the Law of God. Even though the second table deals with human relationships, its commands are nevertheless the commands of God, and we need to understand that the commands of God do not deal with just the first four commandments. They deal with the last six commandments also.

When we are called to give an account in the judgment, according to Matthew 25, one of the questions that will be asked is, “How have you related to those around you?” This commandment establishes that on a firm foundation.

Whole Duty of Man

Since this command is the command of God, it carries the same penalty for violation. Violation or transgression of the Law of God, the Bible says, is sin, and the wages of sin is death. (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23.) Anytime we sin against man, we also sin against God who created man. Our ultimate responsibility, then, is to be obedient to God as defined in these ten principles.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.” If we could really understand the first commandment and the fifth commandment, our lives would be revolutionized. We would have greater insight. We would have greater courage. We would have greater determination in our service to God and in our service to our fellowman. This is the whole duty of man.

A Matter of Being Perfect

Because the true relationship between parents and their children is based on the relationship between God and the human family, children should honor their parents, who symbolize God to them during the earlier years of their lives. While no parents in this world of sin are entirely perfect, they are usually more perfect than their children, if for no other reason than maturity. If parents are not a notch above their children in terms of maturity and righteousness, they have disqualified themselves as parents. They should always be better than their children because they have to set an example to their children.

Under most circumstances, parents are usually more perfect than their children, and that is a reason they deserve respect and courtesy from their children. Children owe their very existence to their parents. I have heard children say, “Well, I did not ask to be born.” No, they did not, but if they can ever get beyond this stage of development, they will appreciate life for what it is. They will find meaning and purpose in service, not only to God, but also to their fellowman.

My father once told me, “If you can just get a child past 17 years of age and keep him or her stabilized, he or she will usually come out on the other end pretty well.” There is a lot of wisdom in that.

One of the best ways to keep a child stabilized is to be an honorable parent. It is quite a responsibility, but a number of people do not even understand what it means to be a parent, let alone an honorable parent. In spite of this, children still owe their very existence to their parents; they are made in their image, inherit their characteristics, and depend upon them for things that sustain life.

Included with Honor

How could there be a more binding obligation of honor than that which children owe to their parents? Honor involves much more than just being obedient and doing the parent’s will. It includes affection as well.

Do you realize that there are many residents in nursing homes who never have a visitor? Oh, how I wish that was not the case. I wish that every child who has a parent in a nursing home would go to visit him or her on a regular basis.

Honor includes affection. Honor includes respect. Honor includes human reverence. Honor means to hold in high esteem because of recognition of superiority. Can you see how God placed these concepts in this commandment?

Magnify the Law

Jesus came, the Bible says, to magnify the law and to make it honorable. (Isaiah 42:21.) In the days of Jesus, there was no honor, no recognition, and no reverence of parents when they became old. They were just put away. There was given no high esteem or recognition of superiority.

Parenthood has been established by God and is, therefore, divinely ordained. He has placed this command concerning parents in the Ten Commandments because it is something that God foresaw as a need for the human family.

Family Government

As God’s representatives, parents are given divine authority to rule the family government.

Many people have problems with the Federal Government or their State Government. They do not want this or any other authority over them. Do you know why? Because they never had the proper government at home as a child. They were never taught the proper relationship to authority at home.

The lack of regard for authority, whether parental, civil, or divine, is the greatest evil of this modern world. One reason for this is the fact that ministers have preached for so long that the law was nailed to the cross. The prevalent message has been, we do not have to keep the commandments anymore; they were nailed to the cross. Now, after decades and decades of time, people believe this message, and we are reaping the results of this erroneous preaching.

There was a time when the Ten Commandments were strongly upheld and believed by the Protestant world. Every missionary sent out to other lands had the desire to not only present God but also to present the plan of salvation and God’s requirements of His people. They taught that the Ten Commandments were binding upon every soul in the world because that would be the standard of the judgment.

Then Seventh-day Adventists began to preach that the law is still binding, and specifically so as it is centered in the fourth commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” When the Protestant preachers, who had been upholding the law all these years, heard this preaching and felt the guilt and condemnation that came from their breaking the Sabbath day, they began to search for an answer, some solution that would soothe their own conscience and allow them to continue on as they always had. The only solution, the only answer, they had was that the law has been done away with, nailed to the cross. Truth was replaced with error. And as this philosophy began to be accepted, we can see that the next generation began to slip, and the words of the apostle Paul rang out loud and clear: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, . . . .” 11 Timothy 3:1, 2. In what time are we living? We are living in the last days.

We must guard ourselves very carefully that we do not find ourselves beholding and becoming like the maxims of the world, following the world’s traditions where we are taught that God’s Law no longer makes a difference; we should just do the nice thing. Situational ethics reign. We must guard ourselves against that, so we do not fulfill the prophecy we just read, given by the apostle Paul.

Respect for All

While the fifth commandment applies primarily to the honoring of parents by their children, in a broader sense it includes respect for all that are in positions of leadership and authority. Children should be taught to respect their schoolteachers. This is something that is on the skids today. The teachers know it, and the children know it. When children at large get into trouble at school today, they tell their teachers that they do not have to mind them because this is what their mothers tell them.

What example is shown to such a child? What is the home setting of such a child? This is the child that will ultimately find himself or herself incarcerated behind bars. Any sociological investigation will reveal that most individuals are in prison today because they have had faulty parental guidance in their formative and early years. They have not learned to honor authority and respect the laws.

Children should be trained to respect their teachers because, in fact, the teachers stand in the place of the parents while they have the children under their tutelage. Teachers also have superior knowledge and experience in thought, speech, attitude, and conduct. Honor is to be shown to whom honor is due, which includes all who are superior in position, in experience, and senior in age.

Hoary Heads

The Bible speaks of the hoary head, the white hairs. “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I [am] the Lord.” “The hoary head [is] a crown of glory, [if] it be found in the way of righteousness.” Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31. There is something that comes with white hair—more than wrinkles. There is wisdom that comes just by virtue of length of life.

Children need to understand this, but in many instances we do not see this concept being practiced in the world. We do not see it being taught in the school. We do not see it being worked out in business, in government, or in the church. Instead, there seems to be an “anything goes” policy. No honor is given to anything or anyone.

Rebellious Music

Much of the music that young people are allowed to listen to today is music that incites rebellion against not only parental authority but also any authority. That is totally contrary to the experience that God desires to bring into the lives of people.

Music with words that incite rebellion is usually accompanied by a rhythm that thrills the flesh. Many of the young claim that they do not listen to the words; in fact, they cannot even hear the words, but they do like the music. Do not think for a moment that the devil is not at work. He is attacking the fifth commandment because he knows that if God can get His point across, if He can successfully bring a reformation in the homes and in the families through the power of His Holy Spirit, the devil’s power is broken. The devil knows this, so he is working overtime and double time against the two commandments that bridge the law between the divine and the human—the Sabbath and the home.

If importance of the commandments could be rated, these two commandments should have more importance than the others because with these two there, the others are going to be naturally and automatically understood and obeyed.

The Cornerstone

Home government is the cornerstone of all government. The peace and prosperity of all people depend upon the recognition of all constituted authority, and this comes through the proper discipline in the home. There are times that a child needs to be told no and under no circumstances should it turn into a yes.

You know of situations, as do I, where a child is told no, but the child whines or cajoles until the parent finally changes it to, “just this once,” or “okay, under these circumstances.” This is the very worst thing that can ever happen.

Parents, even if you have made a mistake in saying no, you had better bite the bullet and let it remain no. If you give in to your child, your position of authority drops down a notch or two in your child’s mind. The honor your position deserves has been compromised. Do not think for a moment that the devil will not take advantage of such a situation. When you say no, mean no!

Power of Example

Parents should remember that a good example is always more powerful for good than just saying yes or no. The honor parents receive from their children depends to a large extent on their own conduct and their own discipline.

Through His messenger, Ellen White, God has given counsel to parents on the raising of children in books such as, Child Guidance and Fundamentals of Christian Education. The Adventist Home was also given as counsel for the adult sector. God has shown how we are to order our lives so that the whole movement can move together. That is what God intended should take place—reform not only from the standpoint of the young people, but also from the standpoint of the older people.

Parents need to remember that they must provide a proper example. The more honorable parents are, the more honor they will receive from their children.

Train up a Child

The promise is given, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. This text not only has a positive promise, but it has a negative promise as well. If you train up a child in the wrong way, when he is old, he is not going to depart from it either.

Statistics show us that the greatest time of reaping for souls is when people are young. The older an individual grows, the less likely it is that there is going to be any change because they become so set in their ways. This is why we are told that today is the day of salvation. (Luke 19:9.)

If you train up a child to go in the right way, when he is old, he is not going to depart from it. I have seen children who have been raised in God-fearing homes go over “Fool’s Hill.” Sometimes, years later, the Holy Spirit is able to draw these wanderers back to the path of salvation because their roots are in God’s Law. I have seen it happen over and over again.

On the other hand, I have watched undisciplined children who have been allowed to grow up as wild animals. They have not been disciplined or taught how they should relate to people or have respect and honor for their teachers and people in positions over them. When these children go out into the world, many of them will be lost to the kingdom because they were never taught how to respect or to honor anything or anybody but themselves. They have no roots in the law that the Holy Spirit can draw upon to bring them back into the fold.

It takes hard work to love and to train children. Nobody knows that any better than God does. In an effort to provide the right kind of foundation for our homes, He wrote His Law on tables of stone with His own finger and said, “These principles are going to last for eternity.”

Heaven on Earth

In this age, when nothing seems secure and love is empty, parents need to make the home as attractive, secure, and filled with God’s love as possible. The home can be a little heaven on earth when its atmosphere is filled with love and fellowship. This is why the apostle Paul concludes, in 1 Corinthians 13—that we are instructed to read every day—“The greatest of these is love.”

When love is the controlling principle in the home, it will be the most wonderful place in the world, and the children will delight to honor their parents, not only as they are being raised by them but as they enter into their elder years as well. The promise will be sure. It will be fulfilled as they move down through the years that if you honor your father and your mother, it will go well with you.

To be continued . . .

A retired minister of the gospel, Pastor Mike Baugher may be contacted by e-mail at:


The home is the heart and foundation of society. “Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are ‘the issues of life’ [Proverbs 4:23]; 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 elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us. As the youth are educated, and as their characters are molded in their childhood to virtuous habits, self-control, and temperance, so will their influence be upon society. If they are left unenlightened and uncontrolled, and as the result become self-willed, intemperate in appetite and passion, so will be their future influence in molding society.” The Adventist Home, 15.

“To a large extent parents create the atmosphere of the home circle,” and “there are weighty responsibilities devolving upon the parents to guard carefully the future happiness and interest of their children.” Ibid., 16, 21.

Since the home is the heart and foundation of society, the Word of God declares, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” “For out of it [are] the issues of life.” Psalm 11:3; Proverbs 4:23. If the family be destroyed, what shall the world do? We cannot underestimate the power of the role of the fathers and mothers in quelling the tide of evil.

Direction Needed

In the book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, the author, Tedd Tripp, makes the following observation regarding parenting in our modern culture: “By age ten to twelve, scores of children have already left home. I am not referring to tragic ‘Times Square kids’ in New York City or your community. I refer to numbers of children who, by age ten to twelve, have effectively left Mom and Dad as an authority or reference point for their lives. Our culture has lost its way with respect to parenting. We are a rudderless ship without a compass. We lack both a sense of direction and the capacity to direct ourselves.” (Shepherd Press, Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania, 1998, “Introduction,” xvii.)

In the light of the above observation, where do we look to find direction, the tools, and the ability for parenting in this contemporary world? As usual, the Holy Scriptures do not lack an answer to the crisis. The only safe guide is the Bible. It is the revelation of God who has infinite knowledge and can therefore give us absolute truth. God has given us a revelation that is powerful and complete. It presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of children, parents, family life, values, training and nurture, and discipline—all we need to be equipped for the task of parenting.

Special Promise

For in these last days of earth’s history, God gives a special promise regarding the family: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5, 6. [Emphasis added.] The message of Elijah will and has come. But where do you say it is? You do not have far to look. In the words of life, the Holy Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, are outlined the restoration of all the institutions given to bless and uplift man. True education spells out with eloquent simplicity the story of our restoration and redemption.

The promise is that God will, by His Spirit and Word, unite the heart of the children and their fathers (parents). Once again I quote from Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, “God is concerned with the heart—the well spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart. We tend to worry more about the ‘what’ of behavior than the ‘why.’ Accordingly, most of us spend an enormous amount of energy in controlling and constraining behavior. To the degree and extent to which our focus is on behavior, we miss the heart.

“When we miss the heart, we miss the subtle idols of the heart. Romans 1 makes it clear that all human beings are worshipers; either we worship and serve God, or we make an exchange and worship and serve substitutes for god—created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18–25). When parenting short circuits to behavior we miss the opportunity to help our kids understand that straying behavior displays a straying heart. Our kids are always serving something, either God or a substitute for God—an idol of the heart.” Tripp, “Preface,” vi.

Tripp further states, “When we miss the heart, we miss the gospel. If the goal of parenting is no more profound than securing appropriate behavior, we will never help our children understand the internal things, the heart issues that push and pull behavior. Those internal issues—self-love, rebellion, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride of the heart—show our children how profoundly they need grace. If the problem with children is deeper than inappropriate behavior, if the problem is the overflow of the heart, then the need for grace is established. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and died as an infinite sacrifice so that children (and their parents) can be forgiven, transformed, liberated and empowered to love God and love others.

“When we miss the heart, we miss the glory of God. The need of children (or adults) who have fallen into various forms of personal idolatry is not only to tear down the high places of the alien gods, but to enthrone God. Children are spring-loaded for worship. One of the most important callings God has given parents is to display the greatness, goodness, and the glory of the God for whom they are made. Parents have the opportunity, through word and deed, to show children the one true object of worship—the God of the Bible. We know that the greatest delights our children can experience are found in delighting in the God who has made them for His glory.” Tripp, “Preface,” Second Edition, vii.

Let Him Hear

With that said, let us comprehend the poignant messages written for us in the greatest love letters ever given to man. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 2:7.

Proverbs 17:6 declares that “the glory of children are their fathers.”

What, then, should be the picture of the father? Isaiah 40:11 is not silent on this. He:

  1. “Feeds his flock.” He provides spiritual and physical food, priestly and practical sustenance.
  2. “Gathers the lambs in his arms.” The arm denotes strength and protection. “The husband and father is the head of the household. The wife looks to him for love and sympathy, and for aid in the training of the children; and this is right. The children are his as well as hers, and he is equally interested in their welfare. The children look to their father for support and guidance; he needs to have a right conception of life and of the influences and associations that should surround his family; above all, he should be controlled by the love and fear of God and by the teaching of His word, that he may guide the feet of his children in the right way.” The Ministry of Healing, 390.
  3. “And carries them in his bosom.” “Fathers, do not discourage your children. Combine affection with authority, kindness and sympathy with firm restraint. Give some of your leisure hours to your children; become acquainted with them; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate friendship with them, especially with your sons. In this way you will be a strong influence for good.” Ibid., 391.
  4. “Gently leads those that are with young.” The father needs a right regard for his children, a resolve to hold them close to his heart, reminiscent of the priest’s girdle with the children of Israel over his breast.

In Proverbs 4, still greater detail is given the father in how to wisely instruct his children. “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, . . . for I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law,” teaches:

  1. The “good doctrine” of the word.
  2. Avoidance of needless pain. (Verses 13–18.)
  3. How to reason from cause to effect. “Ponder the path of thy feet.” Verse 26.
  4. How to order their speech. “Put away from thee a froward” that is, deceitful “mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Verse 24.

Commandment of Promise

Malachi says that the father’s heart would be turned to the children. It is easier for the fifth commandment to be kept when children have this type of father. Remember that this is the first commandment with promise—long life is added to the child. Consider what might have happened if Adam had been obedient to his Father. Nine hundred thirty years would only have been, as it were, a drop in the bucket. Unfortunately, we are seeing the ill effects on children today who have not come to honor and love their parents.

“It is by the youth and children of today that the future of society is to be determined, and what these youth and children shall be depends upon the home. To the lack of right home training may be traced the larger share of the disease and misery and crime that curse humanity. If the home life were pure and true, if the children who went forth from its care were prepared to meet life’s responsibilities and dangers, what a change would be seen in the world!” Ibid., 351.

Best Gift

Last, but not least, “The best gift that a man can give his children is to love their mother.” This is a sermon with which few words have to be spoken. In this equation, sweet mother is not to be forgotten. Her role is quintessential to a well-balanced and lovely home where her children desire to be.

“Our homes should be a place of refuge for the tempted youth. Many there are who stand at the parting of the ways. Every influence, every impression, is determining the choice that shapes their destiny both here and hereafter. Evil invites them. Its resorts are made bright and attractive. They have a welcome for every comer. All about us are youth who have no home, and many whose homes have no helpful, uplifting power, and the youth drift into evil. They are going down to ruin within the very shadow of our own doors.” Ibid., 354.

“The home should be to the children the most attractive place in the world, and the mother’s presence should be its greatest attraction. Children have sensitive, loving natures. They are easily pleased and easily made unhappy. By gentle discipline, in loving words and acts, mothers may bind their children to their hearts.

“Young children love companionship and can seldom enjoy themselves alone. They yearn for sympathy and tenderness. That which they enjoy they think will please mother also, and it is natural for them to go to her with their little joys and sorrows. The mother should not wound their sensitive hearts by treating with indifference matters that, though trifling to her, are of great importance to them. Her sympathy and approval are precious. An approving glance, a word of encouragement or commendation, will be like sunshine in their hearts, often making the whole day happy.

“Instead of sending her children from her, that she may not be annoyed by their noise or troubled by their little wants, let the mother plan amusement or light work to employ the active hands and minds.

“By entering into their feelings and directing their amusements and employments, the mother will gain the confidence of her children, and she can the more effectually correct wrong habits, or check the manifestations of selfishness or passion. A word of caution or reproof spoken at the right time will be of great value. By patient, watchful love, she can turn the minds of the children in the right direction, cultivating in them beautiful and attractive traits of character.” Ibid., 388, 389.

Biblical Example

In the life of Timothy, we see a wonderful illustration of the advantage that he had in a correct example of piety and true godliness. “Religion was the atmosphere of his home. The manifest spiritual power of the piety in the home kept him pure in speech, and free from all corrupting sentiments.” Conflict and Courage, 345.

The Bible declares, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 11 Timothy 3:15.

“God had commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their fathers. This was one of the special duties of every parent—one that was not to be delegated to another. In the place of stranger lips the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were to be associated with all the events of daily life. The mighty works of God in the deliverance of His people and the promises of the Redeemer to come were to be often recounted in the homes of Israel. . . . The great truths of God’s providence and of the future life were impressed on the young mind. It was trained to see God alike in the scenes of nature and the words of revelation. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, the lofty mountains, the rippling brooks—all spoke of the Creator. The solemn service of sacrifice and worship at the sanctuary and the utterances of the prophets were a revelation of God.

“Such was the training of Moses in the lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, the truths of Holy Writ.

“Parents, there is a great work for you to do for Jesus. . . . Satan seeks to bind the children to himself as with bands of steel, and you can attain success in bringing them to Jesus only through determined personal effort.” Ibid.

Divine Reflection

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: “Great efforts are put forth, time and money and labor almost without limit are expended, in enterprises and institutions for reforming the victims of evil habits. And even these efforts are inadequate to meet the great necessity. Yet how small is the result! How few are permanently reclaimed!” The Ministry of Healing, 351.

The family led by the Good Shepherd, with its tender ties of love, is a great tool to combat the ills of society. “Happy are the parents whose lives are a true reflection of the divine, so that the promises and commands of God awaken in the child gratitude and reverence; the parents whose tenderness and justice and long-suffering interpret to the child the love and justice and long-suffering of God; and who, by teaching the child to love and trust and obey them, are teaching him to love and trust and obey his Father in heaven. Parents who impart to a child such a gift have endowed him with a treasure more precious than the wealth of all the ages—a treasure as enduring as eternity.” Ibid., 375, 376.

Thomas Jackson, Ph.D., is Director and co-founder of Missionary Education and Evangelistic Training (M.E.E.T.) Ministry, a gospel medical ministry institute in Huntingdon, Tennessee. Dawn Jenkins is a lifestyle educator and therapist at M.E.E.T. They may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 731-986-3518.