Trivium Pursuit

On Family Worship: Biblical Facts, Biblical Foundations, and Practical Suggestions

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Introduction

Ask for the Old Paths

Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD,
Stand ye in the ways, and see,
and ask for the old paths,
where is the good way, and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls.
But they said, We will not walk therein.

The picture which the Lord, by the prophet Jeremiah, draws for us here is of a man standing where roads meet, trying to discern which road to take. The Lord would have him judge for himself, and not blindly follow after the blind. He admonishes Israel to return to the old paths in which the patriarchs and the prophets walked. Find the path in which walked Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Moses, David and Elijah. Follow them.

When we follow the path of revealed truth in the Scripture, there is light on the path and we can see the way. But when we stray from the path, things grow dark. We live in a land filled with darkness, because men have wandered far from the Lord’s ways. They have said, "We will not walk therein."

Judicial Blindness

When we continue stubbornly down the wrong path, God eventually strikes us with blindness and madness. We call this "judicial blindness" because it is the judgement of God. This blindness continues as long as we continue down the wrong path. No matter where we turn or what we do, it is wrong. There is only one direction we can go with any light ahead, and that is to take the path back. The only choices we have are to repent and retrace our steps all the way back to the beginning, or to turn in any other direction except straight back, and be destroyed.

A clear example of this is government education. Education is not within the government’s jurisdiction. When the government turned down this path of educating the population, it headed down the wrong path. Some "well-meaning" individual thought some parents were doing less than they should, and that the government could do a better job than the parents. So they created government education. Now the parents are allowed to do less than they should, but the government is allowed to do more than it should. The further the government travels down this path, the more the families are driven off the path, until eventually government completely takes over the job of the parents in education, and the parents cannot do what they should — they don’t even think it’s their job.

But what about education? It grows worse and worse. The path grows darker and darker. Judicial blindness. No matter which path they take, no matter what they try to do, it won’t work. They teach the wrong things. They teach by the wrong methods. They fail to teach the necessary things. They undermine proper authority. If they ever become effective in one area, that gives them the effective means to grow worse in all the other areas. Judicial blindness. If anyone even suggests going back to when education was truly free of government control and much more effective, they are scorned to shame. "We will not walk therein." Judicial blindness.

You can use a screwdriver for a hammer. It doesn’t do a good job of hammering, it ruins the nail, and it ruins the screwdriver. You can also use the government for education. It doesn’t do a good job of educating, it ruins the children, and it ruins the government. Why? Because the screwdriver wasn’t made for hammering, and the government wasn’t made for educating. It’s just that simple. God made everything for a purpose. It’s only when you stick to the purpose that you get satisfying results.

The Failure of Fathers

Though my example pertains to academic education, the same principles apply to Family Worship. The awful degenerate moral and spiritual condition of our culture may be traced back directly to the failure of fathers in their duty toward their families. It is the duty of Fathers to protect their families, to provide for their families, to direct the education of their children, and to instruct their families in the ways of God. But these duties have been largely abandoned to government, corporate, and religious nannies we call "bureaucrats," "social workers," "officers," "administrators," "employers," "agents," "superintendents," and "religious organizations." I place primary blame upon the fathers for this predicament, and ultimately it is only the fathers who can return this nation to "the old paths." I’m not primarily condemning governments, businesses, and churches. They most certainly have their place. If they would return to minding only those affairs for which God has given them jurisdiction — if they would only "ask for the old paths," they would find their efforts to be more effective and more satisfying. As things are, they hinder fathers from returning to their proper roles.

Biblical Foundations for Family Worship

What is Family Worship?

Is Family Worship saying a little prayer or reading a verse of Scripture before you eat a meal? This may be some people’s conception of Family Worship, but it’s not the Biblical model. If you had asked Abraham this question, how would he have answered? The Lord tells us something about Abraham which reveals how he led his family.

Genesis 18:19
For I know him [Abraham],
that he will command his children
and his household after him,
and they shall keep the way of the LORD,
to do justice and judgment...
that the LORD may bring upon Abraham
that which He hath spoken of him.

Abraham used the authority which God gave to all fathers in order to enforce the duty of godliness upon his children, to keep God’s ways and to do justice and judgement. Hence a father must both know God’s judgments and declare them to his own household. One does not imagine Abraham sitting everyone down at one time, giving them a lecture on keeping the Lord’s way, then dismissing them forever. No, it doesn’t work that way. He would continually instruct his children by precept and by example in how to continue in the way of the Lord in all areas of life, whether in government, commerce, or religion. He would pray for them and pray with them. He would teach them and guide them. He would show them the right way and the wrong way.

You might say, "But that was Abraham." Yes, but then Jesus said, "...If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham." (John 8:39) and Paul said, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7) If you are a believer, then you are a child of Abraham, and you would do well to "ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein."

The Patriarchs erected private family altars and worshiped at home. Noah built an altar to the Lord near Ararat. (Genesis 8:20) Abraham built an altar to the Lord in the plain of Moreh (Genesis 12:7) and wherever else he sojourned. Isaac built an altar at Beersheeba. (Genesis 26:25) Jacob built an altar at Bethel. (Genesis 35:1,2)

Yes, but you will say, "This was before the time of Moses. After Moses, Israel had congregational worship." No they didn’t. The nation Israel knew nothing of what we think of as "congregational worship" or "church." Israel worshiped at home. The annual feasts and the weekly sabbaths were all held in the home. All worship of God was centered in the home. With rare exceptions of monumentous events, there was no congregational worship in all of Israel. All holy convocations took place in their dwellings.

Leviticus
23:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them,
Concerning the feasts of the LORD,
which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations,
even these are my feasts.
23:3 Six days shall work be done:
but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest,
an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein:
it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD,
even holy convocations,
which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
23:21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day,
that it may be an holy convocation unto you:
ye shall do no servile work therein:
it shall be a statute for ever
in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

The males were required to present themselves at the tabernacle at some time during the three annual feasts in order to make an offering for their household. Portions of the offering were then taken back to the homes because the whole household was required to partake of the offering. But the tabernacle was not built for congregational worship. Try to imagine 603,550 men stuffed into an area less than one fourth the size of a football field, and you’ll see what I mean. If you allowed only two feet square per person — which is absurdly small, it would require 228 services in a 24 hour period, or about one service every six minutes, just to accommodate the number of adult males in Israel at the time the tabernacle was built, and that number would only increase over time. You can see why the tabernacle is never once spoken of in Scripture as a place for congregational worship. The tabernacle was the center for sacrificial worship.

The Passover, for example, was a family altar. On the fourteenth day of the first month in the evening each household slaughtered a male lamb without blemish, dipped a hyssop branch in the blood and sprinkled the blood on the side and upper door posts of their house, then they ate in haste the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs while dressed with their loins girded, their shoes on, their staff in hand. (Exodus 12:1-28)

Exodus
12:46 In one house shall it be eaten;
thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh
abroad out of the house;
neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
12:47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
....
12:26 And it shall come to pass,
when your children shall say unto you,
What mean ye by this service?
12:27 That ye shall say,
It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover,
who passed over the houses
of the children of Israel in Egypt,
when he smote the Egyptians,
and delivered our houses....

The Law of Moses did require that once every seven years, at the feast of tabernacles, the priests were to read the entire law to the people. Deuteronomy 31:9-13.

You may ask, "well what about their synagogues?" The synagogue did not develop until a thousand years later, after the Babylonian exile. The reason for Israel’s captivity is ultimately ascribed by God to the failure of fathers to pass on instruction to their children.

Deuteronomy
32:45 And Moses made an end of speaking
all these words to all Israel:
32:46 And he said unto them,
Set your hearts unto all the words
which I testify among you this day,
which ye shall command your children
to observe to do, all the words of this law.
32:47 For it is not a vain thing for you;
because it is your life:
and through this thing
[that is, commanding the children]
ye shall prolong your days in the land,
whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

Passing on the instruction of the Law to their children would prolong their days in the land. This is the very thing which they failed to do, which led inevitably to their captivity.

After the Babylonian exile, because so much instruction had been lost, the fathers had no idea what to pass on to their children. Thus we find in the book of Nehemiah that dramatic scene of the renewal of the feast of tabernacles which required that the book of the law again be read to the people.

Nehemiah
8:1 And all the people
gathered themselves together as one man
into the street that was before the water gate...
2 And Ezra the priest brought the law
before the congregation....
3 And he read therein ...
4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood....
5 And Ezra opened the book
in the sight of all the people;
(for he was above all the people;)
and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.
And all the people answered,
Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands:
and they bowed their heads,
and worshipped the LORD
with their faces to the ground.
7 ... and the Levites, caused the people
to understand the law:
and the people stood in their place.
8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly,
and gave the sense,
and caused them to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah... the [/governor],
and Ezra the priest the scribe,
and the Levites that taught the people,
said unto all the people,
This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep.
For all the people wept,
when they heard the words of the law.

This generation had never heard the words of the law. The synagogue was instituted after the exile not to replace the instruction of the family by the father, but to help fathers to restore their household instruction in the law.

What about the New Testament?

Under the New Covenant, the physical temple is entirely removed as a place for sacrificial worship, and the "church" emerges as a New Temple, and it incorporates congregational worship, because the congregation itself is the temple. But does this mean family worship disappears? Not at all. If anything, its importance is increased.

Fathers are Providers, Watchers Over Souls, Feeders of Flocks

Consider this basic principle:

First Timothy
5:8 But if any provide not for his own,
and specially for those of his own house,
he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Although this text is primarily talking about material provisions, how much more should it apply to spiritual provisions. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. If fathers, must provide their children with their daily bread from God, how much more must they provide their children with their daily word from God?

Hebrews
13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you,
and submit yourselves:
for they watch for your souls,
as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that is unprofitable for you.

Although this text is primarily speaking of pastors and elders in the church, it nevertheless applies to fathers who have the rule over their families and watch over their souls as those who must give account to God for their stewardship.

Acts
20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves,
and to all the flock,
over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers,
to feed the church of God,
which he hath purchased with his own blood.

If pastors and elders must be careful to feed the church over which God has made them overseers, then no less must a father be careful to feed the household over which God has made him the overseer.

Fathers are Elders Over Their Households

There is a direct link between the relationship of minister to his church and the relationship of a father to his household. The direct link is found in the qualifications of the minister.

First Timothy
3:2 A bishop then must be...
3:4 One that ruleth well his own house,
having his children in subjection with all gravity;
3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house,
how shall he take care of the church of God?)
3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife,
ruling their children and their own houses well.
Titus
1:5 ...ordain elders...
1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife,
having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly
[/insubordinate].

Each household is a microcosm of the church. Or, more correctly, each church is a macrocosm of the individual household. Fathers rule as elders over the house of God only after they have learned to rule as elders over their own households. To exercise an elder’s duties over his church, one must first have exercised the same or similar duties over his own house. You can’t play in the major leagues until you’ve shown your skill in the minor leagues. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." (Luke 16:10)

Duties of Fathers

Consider this:

First Thessalonians
2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted
and charged every one of you,
as a father doth his children.
2:12 That ye would walk worthy of God,
who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

What does a father do? He exhorts, he comforts or encourages, and he charges — literally "testifies" — to his children in order for them to walk worthy of God.

Ephesians
6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture
and admonition of the Lord.

This is a direct command to fathers. And lest you think this verse applies to parents in general, I encourage you to examine the context. Verse 1 commands children to obey their parents. Verse 2 defines parents as father and mother. But verse 4 addresses fathers in particular, and in Greek it is in the Vocative Case, a command of Direct Address. Paul is pointing his finger straight at fathers, "O YE FATHERS, provoke not your children to wrath."

Some have understood this to mean "don’t exasperate your children." In the Greek version of the Old Testament, however, this word is used to describe how one man’s unrighteous actions provoke someone else to wrath. In other words, this phrase means "don’t provoke your children to wrath by your unrighteous behavior," "don’t make your children angry at you for violating God’s law." Instead, you should provoke them to righteousness.

Here is a law of God which will help you to provoke your children to righteousness. Jesus called it the first and the great commandment.

Deuteronomy
6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God
with all thine heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy might.
6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:
6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
[at home and away from home]
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
[evening and morning]
6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
[you will make performing them a habit,
and you will write them on your memory]
6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house,
and on thy gates.
[you will post them for the family to see on your house
whenever they enter or leave,
and for every one outside of the family
to note on your gates
whenever they come by your property.]

We have liberty under the gospel to apply this commandment in different ways. But we have no liberty to disobey it. What is the reason for this commandment?

6:12 ...lest thou forget the LORD....

O ye fathers, practice the presence of God in your house, lest ye forget the Lord. Do not provoke your children to wrath by forgetting God’s commandments. Remember our father Abraham.

Genesis
18:19 For I know him,
that he will command his children
and his household after him,
and they shall keep the way of the LORD,
to do justice and judgment....

Nurturing with Scripture

Returning to Ephesians 6, the negative side of this commandment is not to provoke them to wrath. The positive side is to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." The word here translated "bring them up" [™ktršfw] is used only one other place in the New Testament, just nine verses earlier, where it is translated "nourish."

Ephesians
5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.
He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh;
but nourisheth and cherisheth it....

The word translated "nourish" literally means "to thicken up" like the curdling of cheese. This is applied metaphorically to the thickening up of children as they grow into adulthood. You thicken them up physically by feeding them. Hence it may be translated "nourish" "nurse" or "nurture." We husbands are to nurture our wives, and we fathers are to nurture our children.

How are we to nourish or nurture our wives?

Ephesians
5:26 ...sanctify and cleanse [her]
with the washing of water by the word,

In referring to wives, the word is translated "nourish" (5:29), while in referring to children, the same word is translated "bring them up (6:4)." Then a different word is translated "nurture." We are to "bring them up" or nourish them "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

(This can be a little confusing. In the Epistle to the Readers, the King James translators explained that they tried to translate each Greek word with as many English words as possible. It seems that they also tried to translate as many Greek words as possible by a single English word.)

This other word for "nurture" [paide…a] could better be translated "discipline" or "instruction." It includes the whole training and education of children, the cultivation of the mind and the morals. It is translated "instruction" in Second Timothy.

Second Timothy
3:14 But continue thou in the things
which thou hast learned
and hast been assured of,
knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
3:15 And that 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.
3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness:
3:17 That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works.

If we fathers are to instruct or discipline our children in righteousness, then we fathers must teach them and cause them to know the holy Scriptures.

The word for "admonition" [nouqes…a] in Ephesians 6:4 literally means "to set the mind." This can be in the sense of counsel and advise, or in the sense of warning and reproof. So fathers are directly commanded to nurture their children — to thicken them up — in the discipline — the mental and moral training, and in the admonition — the corrective counsel — of the Lord.

Husbands and Fathers are Commanded to Nurture

Husbands are commanded to nurture their wives with the washing of the Word, and fathers are commanded to nurture their children with the instruction of Scripture. Are you getting the picture? God has commanded you husbands to teach and admonish your wives and children with the Scriptures. This is not optional. And nurture is not done by delegation. Whoever does the nurturing becomes the husband to the wife and the father to the children. If fathers delegate this responsibility, they will be turning the hearts of their children and their wives over to someone else.

A pastor or elder who understands this principle — because he has practiced it in his own household — will labor to strengthen the husband’s and father’s role in the family. He will not try to take the father’s place. If you take the father’s place, you undermine his authority. If you undermine the father’s authority, you destroy the family’s order. If you destroy the family’s order, you break up the family. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.

The bottom line is that it is worshiping families which build a worshiping church. If the only worship which takes place is under the roof of the sanctuary or behind some closet door, then the fathers will fade away and the families will fall by the way.

Patriarchal Jurisdiction for Family Worship

Jurisdiction

When you build a building, you have to begin with a good foundation. So I want to begin by laying down some foundational concepts. To begin with, we must set up proper authorities in our consciences. I presume that we all acknowledge the triune God and Jesus Christ as our primary authorities. But who is the primary authority on earth under God and Christ? Is it the government? Is it the church? Is the government subject to the church, or is the church subject to the government, or do they have separate but equal spheres of authority? What about the family? Is the family under the government, or is it under the church, or is it under both? Or is the family a sphere of authority equal to the government and the church?

If you answered "Yes," to any of those possibilities, I believe you answered incorrectly.

Before we can discuss family worship, we must understand what the family’s jurisdiction is, and we must define the Biblical boundaries of jurisdiction for the family, for the church, and for the government.

Many persons have no idea what the term "jurisdiction" even means, let alone what the various jurisdictions and their proper boundaries are. "Jurisdiction" is the proper limits of authority, the boundary within which one can lawfully exercise a right to command or a right to act. There are four basic Biblical principles of jurisdiction.

1. The first principle of jurisdiction is that the creature is subject to the creator — the thing created is subject to the one who created it.

Psalm
24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof;
the world, and they that dwell therein.
24:2 For he hath founded it upon the seas,
and established it upon the floods.
Matthew
20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will
with mine own?...
First Corinthians
11:3 ... the head of the woman is the man...
11:8 For the man is not of the woman;
but the woman of the man.
11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman;
but the woman for the man.
Revelation
4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honour and power:
for thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

2. The second principle of jurisdiction is that the boundary lines of jurisdiction are distinct - jurisdictions are to be separated and distinguished from each other.

Matthew
22:2 ...Render therefore unto Caesar the things
which are Caesar’s;
and unto God the things that are God’s.
Romans
13:7 Render therefore to all their dues:
tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear;
honour to whom honour.

3. The third principle of jurisdiction is that some jurisdictions serve other jurisdictions.

Romans
13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers....
Ephesians
5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as unto the Lord.
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord:
for this is right.
6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters
according to the flesh,
with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart,
as unto Christ;
First Peter
5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.

4. The fourth principle of jurisdiction is that there is no conflict of authority in God’s order. If a conflict occurs, it can only be because someone has gone beyond the proper limits of his authority — outside of his jurisdiction.

Matthew
6:24 No man can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Acts
5:29 ...We ought to obey God rather than men.

God and Mammon cannot share the same authority, and the commandments of men cannot supersede the commandments of God. God has the superior authority and the broader jurisdiction over mammon and man, and all under Him must conform to His rule.

Romans 13 and Conflict in Jurisdiction

When a conflict of jurisdiction does occur, it means that someone has crossed the border line. The solution is not to change the boundaries, but to re-assert the original boundaries, the old paths. This is what Paul addresses in Romans 13. Unfortunately, this passage has been crusted over with some customary misinterpretation.

King James Version

Romans
13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God:
the powers that be are ordained of God.
13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,
resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist
shall receive to themselves damnation.

Very Literal Translation, with Emphasis, (additions for sense or style in parenthesis).

13:1 Let every soul set himself in order
under protective authorities.
For it is no authority unless (it is) from God.
Now those being (true) authorities
have been set in order under God
13:2 so that he who sets himself in order
against the (true) authority
he has stood against the arranging in order
(done) by God
Now those who have stood against (God’s order)
they will receive judgement for themselves.

The bottom line is:

We must get in line with those who are lined up with God’s order.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." (KJV)

"Let every soul set himself in order under protective authorities." (Very Literal)

We must not get in line with those who are lined up against God’s order.

"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." (KJV)

"so that he who sets himself in order against the (true) authority he has stood against the arranging in order (done) by God." (Very Literal)

The question is, what is God’s order, and how do you discern who is in line with it? Christians should be experts in this. But today, most Christians lack discernment in this area. They have essentially subscribed to the theory of the divine right of kings. They think they must submit themselves to every one who asserts his authority, especially if he has power to back up his assertion. My friends, the beast has power to back up his assertion of authority, but all who submit to him will go to hell.

Romans 13 describes those rulers who are in line with God’s order, and, by implication, those who are out of line with God’s order. Rulers who are in line with God’s order discourage and punish evil and encourage and reward good. Good and evil are defined by the standard of God’s law, not man’s values. Rulers who are not in line with God’s order discourage and punish good and encourage and reward evil. In other words, they redefine good and evil by any standard except God’s law. In the words of Hebrews 5:14, we need to eat the strong meat and be of full age so that "by reason of use" we have our "senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

An Illustration of Conflict in Jurisdiction

Here is and illustration of what I’m talking about. Let us assume that the Constitution of the United States is in line with God’s order, as the supreme law of the land, and it requires trial by jury in criminal cases. Let us also assume that congress passes a law which suspends trial by jury in criminal cases. If you are a judge, who are you going to obey: the constitution, or congress? If you are a sheriff and you receive orders to arrest a judge for continuing to have trials by jury and thereby disobeying congress, who should you, the sheriff, obey: the constitution or congress? If the supreme court rules that congress can pass a law suspending trial by jury in criminal cases, who should you obey: the constitution, or the supreme court? If the judge, the sheriff, or the supreme court obey congress, they will be falling in line with those who set themselves in order against the true order arranged by God, and they will bring God’s judgement on themselves. If you fall in line with them, you will bring God’s judgement on yourself. You, as an individual, must arrange yourself in order under the true protective authorities in God’s order, not under the false usurping authorities which stand against God’s order.

God’s World Order

You are no doubt asking, "what has all of this got to do with Family Worship?" The answer is, "Everything!" Once we discern God’s line of authority, and where the family fits into this line of authority, then we will appreciate the function and importance of Family Worship in the whole order of things. Unfortunately, I only have space to sketch this point out. I’ll have to leave it to you to fill in the details on your own.

Of course at the top of the line of authority is the triune God, and below God is the incarnate Christ, Who is God the Son manifest in human flesh. But who is next in line? Many people would answer "the kingdoms of this world," or "the church." Because these are larger jurisdictions, we are prone to think of them as higher and more important jurisdictions. But they are limited and derived jurisdictions. They are not the primary jurisdiction.

According to God’s order, the next in order under God and Christ is the family.

First Corinthians
11:3 But I would have you know,
that the head of every man is Christ;
and the head of the woman is the man;
and the head of Christ is God.

Christ is directly head over the man or husband. And, of course, the husband is directly head over his wife and the household.

Christ is also head over all other things. Christ is head of the Church.

Colossians
1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church....
Christ is head of all principality and power.
Colossians
2:10 And ye are complete in him,
which is the head of all principality and power:
First Peter
3:22 Who is gone into heaven,
and is on the right hand of God;
angels and authorities and powers
being made subject unto him.

You might conclude from this that the Family, the Church, and the Government are equal jurisdictions directly under Christ. You would be right in the sense that each are directly accountable to Christ. But you would be wrong in another sense, because the Church and the Government are derived jurisdictions — they are derived from the family. The members of the body of Christ, the church, come from among the families, and the members of the body politic come from among the families. The elders of the church and the elders who sit in the gate of government come from among the fathers of the families — at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be under God’s rule. So the church and the government are subject to the rule of Christ, who rules through the elders who are the heads of household.

If the government and the church would be removed, and society would collapse, you would still have the heads of household who rule directly under Christ, and they can rebuild the government and the church. But if you destroy the structure of the family, you destroy the very fabric of society and you undermine all legitimate authority and any legitimate concept of the government and the church.

That’s where we are in the world today. We are building a new world order which is contrary to God’s world order, and in order to accomplish this, the patriarchal family must be destroyed. "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter."

The Bible says it takes a family to raise a child, but the new world order says it takes the global village to raise that child. To build a new world order you have to remove the old world order — the old paths, the patriarchal order. You begin by undermining the authority of the family — the authority of fathers. And you begin undermining the authority of fathers by usurping their authority in education. It is the education of children which builds the culture. You cannot change culture unless you change what is transmitted to the next generation. Government education interrupts the normal transmission of culture from parents to children, and inserts its own artificial culture. Instead of a culture which is controlled from the bottom up through the patriarchal family, government wants a culture which is controlled from the top down through government education. Hence Homeschooling must eventually be outlawed by the new world order.

Whoever does the nurturing becomes the husband to the wife and the father to the children. The government has taken the place of the husband and the father. (Compare socialized welfare moms and socialized school orphanages.) Our society is turned on its head, literally. Men have been feminized in nearly every way except biologically. [But they’re looking for ways to get around that as well.] Our culture is at war with reality.

The family is the building block of society: of the church, of the government, and of the economy, and, according to the Bible, everything finally rests upon the fathers. As the male head of household, fathers stand under God and Christ at the very root of all legitimate jurisdictional authority in this world. Fathers are the head of their own household, and they are directly or by delegation part of the leadership of the church, the government, and the economy. As such, men have been Satan’s target since the garden of Eden.

We cannot rebuild our society until we rebuild the family and restore those things which we have lost, one family at a time. We cannot rebuild our families until we restore God’s order to the family, the patriarchal structure. Everything finally rests upon the fathers. Under God, only the fathers can set things straight.

Lawlessness and disorder abound because of the violation of the principles of jurisdiction. For whatever the reasons, father’s have retreated from their proper jurisdictions over their own families and over all spheres of society. They have abdicated their proper roles. They must be brought back. One of the first steps in bringing back fathers to their proper roles is the re-institution of Family Worship. Family Worship was once the universal practice of believing fathers. But today, fathers expect the church to train their children in religion. The church has been subtly transformed from a society of worshiping families to a society of families worshiping. The trend began in the 19th century, but God be praised, there are signs that we are turning back to the old paths. Welcome back fathers. You were missed.

Practical Suggestions for Conducting Family Worship

General Suggestions

First Peter
5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you,
taking the oversight thereof,
not by constraint, but willingly;
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage,
but being ensamples to the flock.

This text is addressed to elders of the church, but as elders are to be examples to the flock, so this example serves well as a pattern for fathers of families.

Whatever a father does in Family Worship should:

  1. 1) Feed the family, taking everyone into consideration. (When fathers take back this burden, this takes a big load off of the pastor’s back.)
  2. 2) Be done willingly and with some spontaneity. (If you don’t perform your duties willingly, you can expect your family to share your un-enthusiasm.)
  3. 3) Be done eagerly and deliberately (with full mind and heart).
  4. 4) Be done by way of example. (Don’t ask others to do what you don’t do yourself first.)

Acts
20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves,
and to all the flock,
over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers ...

Before you can feed others, you yourself must be fed. Elders were to take heed to themselves first.

Church is primarily for the fathers. The shepherd of the flock does not feed every little lamb. He makes sure that the mothers are fed, and the mothers make sure the little lambs are fed. So pastors should make sure the fathers are fed. That’s not to say nobody else is addressed in church. Paul and Peter addressed wives and children, masters and servants in their epistles, and their epistles were read in church. But when wives have questions, they are to ask their husbands at home, and when children have questions, they are to ask their fathers at home. Dad has a week at home to make the food from church digestible to his own little flock, to explain it to his spouse and sprouts.

Three Rules for Family Worship

1. Simplicity and brevity.

Ordinarily, you shouldn’t read long passages out of Job. Like at a dinner table, you must not weary anyone, but you must be sure everyone gets fed. Remember, you’re doing this every day, which means it will have a cumulative effect. You can handle everything in bite sized portions. You can have separate studies on specialized subjects with your wife or your older children.

2. Edification and order.

Edification means building up. You should try to build something new, or re-enforce something old, or take measurements to see if you are following the building plan correctly. You should be as orderly as possible — a regular time and place, a regular order in which you do things — so that everyone knows the rules and can play in the game.

3. Variety and balance.

This does not contradict the orderliness. Some things ought to remain the same and not be changed. But some things ought to be varied. Don’t read the Bible through in order from Genesis to Revelation. Instead, read through an historical book, then an epistle. If you have the time to prepare, do a topical study occasionally. Don’t focus solely on human responsibility, nor solely on God’s sovereignty, but emphasize both truths — you trust the sovereign and you obey him. Don’t focus solely on mercy to the exclusion of wrath. Don’t focus on law to the exclusion of gospel.

Specific Suggestions

Setting Apart Time

First, if you’re too busy with personal study and church activities that you do not have time for regular daily Family Worship, then you’re too busy. The Lord’s people are morally obligated to set apart time for Him. "Redeem the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). We are obligated to apportion time for the Lord — not merely one day in seven, but time out of every day in seven. You must set a regular daily time, and conform everything else to that time.

Setting and keeping the time may be the most difficult part of establishing Family Worship. It must be a time when everyone can be present and pay attention. Physical and mental distractions must be minimal. The world, your flesh, the devil, and your telephone will be used to test you on this, but you must resolve not to let them rule over you. Unplug the phone. If you resolve to awaken the family at 1 in the morning for worship, I can almost guarantee the moment you begin to pray, the phone will ring.

If someone comes to the door, have them wait while you finish — they may learn something. If you have guests in the house, invite them to participate, but don’t skip family worship just because they’re there.

Get rid of TV. If you’re watching television every night, then you’re already conducting Family Worship. If you don’t get my point, then you won’t get anything else I’m saying.

You may need to adjust things from time to time. A rule may have exceptions, but remember, the rule must not itself be the exception.

I used to set the morning worship time at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Everybody was always late. They said they needed some flexibility. So I said I’d give them flexibility. I set the time for 6:55 with five minutes flexibility. They’ll be there at seven, right? Wrong! They were just as late, because in their minds they rounded 6:55 off to 7:00 anyway. So I set the time at 7:00 but gave them 5 minutes flexibility to 7:05. Guess what? They started showing up at 6:55!

How often should we have Family Worship?

Every day

Psalm
145:2 Every day will I bless thee;
and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

Early in the morning

Psalm
5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD;
in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee,
and will look up.
Proverbs
8:17 I love them that love me;
and those that seek me early shall find me.
Psalm
63:1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee....

Better, twice a day

Psalm
42:8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness
in the daytime,
and in the night his song shall be with me,
and my prayer unto the God of my life.
92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD,
and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
92:2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning,
and thy faithfulness every night,

If possible, three times a day.

Psalm
55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray,
and cry aloud:
and he shall hear my voice.
Daniel
6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed,
he went into his house;
and his windows being open in his chamber
toward Jerusalem,
he kneeled upon his knees three times a day,
and prayed,
and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

When you meet in the morning, pick a time when everyone is up, dressed, and ready to start the day. I suggest the morning is a good time to focus on Bible study. (I’ll say more about Bible Study below.) But if your morning is pressed and you have time for nothing else, then at least praise God and thank Him and offer petitions before Him, imploring Him for mercies through the day.

If you meet at noon, I suggest this is a good time to focus on prayers as a family.

Many families have Bible study both morning and evening. Some families have Bible study only one of these times — morning or evening, and the other time they read other devotional materials or do catechisms or memorization.

I suggest you try to keep Bible Studies between fifteen minutes and a half hour in length. Less than fifteen minutes may be hurried. Over a half hour may be wearied.

Where should we have Family Worship?

Some do Family Worship around meals — breakfast, dinner, and supper, when everyone is gathered together to share God’s sustaining providence. You may wish to remove the mess from the table first, or else remove yourself from the mess and clumsiness of the table.

We have our morning Bible study at 7:00 a.m. in the living room, (20 or 30 minutes) our noon prayer meeting after lunch at the table, (5 to 10 minutes) and our evening devotional reading at 6:30 in the living room (about a half hour).

Suggested Method for Family Bible Study

1. Father presides.

Everything must be directed by the father’s authority. If the father can’t be present for a day, the mother may act for the father, doing what the father would do or directing others to do it in his name. If both mom and dad must be gone, dad may assign one of his older children the task.

2. Prayer

Choose a Psalm or Psalm portion to praise or pray. We go through the Psalter regularly. Implore the Lord for the guidance of His Spirit into the truth of His Word.

3. Read the Scripture.

Everyone should use the same version of the Bible to read. If you use the King James Version, be prepared to explain some of the archaic language. If you use one of the modern versions, be prepared to explain some of the dumbed down language.

Read a portion of Scripture: a chapter, a paragraph, sometimes only a verse. When children are very young, the father should do all of the reading. When the children get older, you may choose to let them read. There are seven in our family, so we just rotate reading by the seven days of the week.

When the children are small, I suggest you read larger portions of the historical sections of Scripture — Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Gospels, Acts. These are more digestible to everyone, but especially to children. When you cover a New Testament epistle, I suggest that you keep the portions very small — sometimes only a verse. Sometimes you need to keep repeating a passage in order to understand the logic. If you don’t know what I mean, try reading Ephesians chapter one.

Choose someone to narrate the portion back. If you have to repeat back in your own words what you hear, you’ll pay closer attention, and you’ll develop your memory and speaking skills.

4. Explain the Scripture.

Nehemiah
8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly,
and gave the sense,
and caused them to understand the reading.
Acts
8:30 ... Understandest thou what thou readest?
8:31 And he said, How can I,
except some man should guide me?...

After carefully reading the Word of God, paying attention to detail so that you know what it says, you need to cause your family to understand what they read by guiding them in the sense of it. Specific questions are very effective in drawing out the thinking process.

We used to take turns asking questions of each other. But one day I was reading about the Passover service, and I noticed that it was the children who asked the questions of the Father. It occurred to me that this may be much more effective. So we tried it, and guess what — this is the way to do it! The wife and children learn to think of questions. The father learns to study ahead and be prepared. I still ask questions or make comments if I think something needs to be brought out — especially in the epistles, but for the most part we play "stump the chump."

Reverse Catechism: Children Ask Their Father The Questions

Exodus
12:26 And it shall come to pass,
when your children shall say unto you,
What mean ye by this service?
12:27 That ye shall say,
It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover....
13:14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee
in time to come, saying,
What is this?
that thou shalt say unto him,
By strength of hand the LORD
brought us out from Egypt,
from the house of bondage:
Deuteronomy
6:20 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying,
What mean the testimonies,
and the statutes, and the judgments,
which the LORD our God hath commanded you?
Joshua
4:6 That this may be a sign among you,
that when your children
ask their fathers in time to come,
saying, What mean ye by these stones?

You should expect the questions to be on three different levels.

  1. Questions of the Knowledge level are questions of fact, details — who did what where and when? You should expect questions like this from small children. "How old was Adam when he died?" "What did God promise Abraham?"
  2. Questions of the Understanding level are questions of theory — why?— the implications and inferences from what has been read. You should expect questions like this from early teens. "How can the Bible say that God repents, and also that God cannot repent, all in the same chapter?" "What does it mean when it says ‘bring forth fruits worthy of repentance?’"
  3. Questions of the Wisdom level are questions of practice — how? — the uses and applications of what has been read. You should expect questions like this from older teens and adults. "Does Romans 13 mean we have to obey a law that requires that we disobey God?"

Don’t be afraid to say, I don’t know, I’ll have to study it. You may want to keep a concordance, a Bible dictionary, some Maps, a good brief commentary, and maybe an interlinear Bible on hand for quick reference purposes.

You want to avoid too much speculation. You can spend a lot of time running down rabbit trails. Stick to the facts, the direct inferences, and the applications. This is plenty to handle. Be sure to make an application whenever you can. The Scripture is profitable, but you have to make an investment in it.

Remember, wives also need to be instructed by their husbands, for the benefit of both the wives and the husbands, and children need to see their mothers instructed by their fathers, for the benefit of the children and the parents.

Ephesians
5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as unto the Lord.
...
5:25 Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it;
5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word....
First Corinthians
14:35 And if they [the wives] will learn any thing,
let them ask their husbands at home:
for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
First Peter
3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them
according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,
and as being heirs together of the grace of life;
that your prayers be not hindered.

5. Commit all things to God in prayer at the end.

Take prayer requests and lead the family in prayer. I keep a prayer list on hand, and I ask for additions to the list from each member of the family before I pray. Don’t make this a long prayer. Long prayers, with rare exceptions, are a waste. You’re addressing God, not your family.

Ecclesiastes
5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth,
and let not thine heart be hasty
to utter any thing before God:
for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth:
therefore let thy words be few.

Miscellaneous Comments

You could add memory work to your study, but be careful not to load the study down and make it a burden. Some fathers read devotional literature in the evening. If you do this, you should read critically, comment as you go, ask questions, and test everything with the Scriptures.

A few suggestions for Devotional Literature:

John Bunyan: The Pilgrim's Progress

Matthew Henry: The Secret of Communion with God

A.W. Pink: Profiting from the Word; The Attributes of God; The Sovereignty of God

If you haven’t been conducting Family Worship, but are now convinced you should, whatever you do, don’t begin with a big bang then fizzle out in the end. Take things in small increments and build up. You may begin by simply praying and reading every day with the family, then adding the questions and so forth over time. Begin with a morning exercise, then add an evening exercise once you’re settled in the morning. Don’t begin with the first five chapters of Job or the book of Ecclesiastes.

It is the long term cumulative affect which you want. Tender plants don’t need a gallon of fertilizer poured over them. They need continual care, nourishment, and weeding.

Accountability

When the day comes to render an account of our stewardship over our families, do we really think the Lord will excuse us if we claim we had no time for family worship, or we weren’t qualified to conduct family worship?

When a wife supports her own husband’s authority in Family Worship, she supports her own authority over the household under him. It is very important that the husband and wife be in full agreement on Family Worship. Without the wife’s full support the authority structure breaks down, which is to say, the family breaks down. If the father is weak, the answer is not to take the place of the father, but to strengthen and support the father. Children must respect their fathers, and wives must respect their husbands in this. Fathers are accountable to God in these matters. Make their task joyful, not grievous.

Hebrews
13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you,
and submit yourselves:
for they watch for your souls,
as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that is unprofitable for you.
First Samuel
2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith,
I said indeed that thy house,
and the house of thy father,
should walk before me for ever:
but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me;
for them that honour me I will honour,
and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

If every father did what I have described, then we would raise up a generation of learned elders who ruled their own houses well, and a generation of children who honored their parents and were prepared to raise up yet another generation. And we would have elders who could sit in the gates of government to keep the evils out of our cities and to enforce the boundaries of jurisdictions.

Some of the Benefits of Family Worship

Benefits to the Father:

  1. Family Worship teaches respect for father.
  2. It places father in the right role of teacher, guide, and example for his household.
  3. It causes father to grow in his understanding as he learns and applies Scripture.
  4. It gives father the venue for exercising the stewardship for which he is accountable.
  5. It prepares father for possible use by God in larger jurisdictions.

Benefits to the Family:

Family Worship establishes and strengthens the proper biblical roles and jurisdictions. Fathers are the responsible leaders in worship and instruction. Wives are not to be the spiritual leaders. The wife’s submission is very important as an example to the children of how they should submit to their parents And how the church should submit to Christ in all things.

  1. It reinforces the family’s daily dependence upon God.
  2. It provides a fresh stock of truth for the family to meditate upon on each day.
  3. It provides opportunities to address important family issues from Scripture.
  4. It provides opportunities for mutual sanctification. Daily mutual encouragement. Daily accountability to God.
  5. It creates a habit of faithfulness to God.
  6. It increases devotion to God in the family.
  7. Children grow up with the knowledge that God must be honored in everything.
  8. It causes growth in grace as a family, which affects the spiritual level of each individual in the family.
  9. It regulates the schedule of the household, and draws the family together instead of tearing it apart.
  10. It can be used to restrain outward sin and strengthen against inward sin.
  11. It opens the avenue for spiritual blessing for the family through God’s word.

Benefits to the Congregation:

  1. Family Worship removes burdens which were never meant to be borne by the congregation. The fathers take back the jurisdiction which is theirs.
  2. It provides for daily prayer for the congregation.
  3. It raises the level of spirituality, practical holiness, and maturity within the congregation
  4. It prepares the family for gathered worship with the congregation.
  5. It overcomes the "serve me" attitude in churches. Families come with something to give instead of something to take.

Benefits to the Kingdom:

  1. Family Worship raises the level of spirituality throughout Christ’s Kingdom.
  2. It will eventually bring greater order to society and culture.
  3. The light of truth will spread its influence to dispel darkness and ignorance.

Detriments from not having Family Worship

You will not have all of those benefits just mentioned. You will not have the abiding presence of the Lord in your house. Instead, your house will be out of order and your wife and children will belong to someone else. You will regret it in the end.

Objection to Family Worship

Objection: This will undermine the role of the pastor in the church.

Response: This will only undermine the improper role of the pastor in the church. It will actually enhance the proper role of the pastor in the church, and free him up to do his job, and help him to accomplish much more — instead of trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver!

Conclusion

Ultimately, Family Worship is a question of jurisdiction. Fathers need to reassert their jurisdiction. They need to ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and they shall find rest for their souls. Those who honor God, God will honor.

God specifically states that Israel was destroyed because the fathers failed to teach their children His word. Are you going to follow the new world order? Or are you going to line up and submit to God’s order?

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Psalm 78 Maschil of Asaph.
78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my law:
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable:
I will utter dark sayings of old:
78:3 Which we have heard and known,
and our fathers have told us.
78:4 We will not hide them from their children,
shewing to the generation to come
the praises of the LORD,
and his strength, and his wonderful works
that he hath done.
78:5 For he established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers,
that they should make them known to their children:
78:6 That the generation to come might know them,
even the children which should be born;
who should arise and declare them to their children:
78:7 That they might set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments:
78:8 And might not be as their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation;
a generation that set not their heart aright,
and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

Resources On Family Worship

Books:

We suggest starting your logic journey with The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning (for ages 12 and up).