Believe God For The Salvation Of Your Whole Household
By B. Davidson, former missionary to India
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31).
It is the will of God that your whole family should be saved. There is no more welcome message to the child of God than to be assured of this.
God has formed heaven on the family principle. Heaven is called by the great Son, "My Father’s house," (John 14:2), where He lives, loves, rules, and blesses. There is a deep consciousness in the heart of every child of God that heaven is our eternal home. God has patterned earth on the same family principle, and it is His will that each family on earth should be a miniature of heaven.
In Genesis 7:1, "The Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark." The ark is a type of Christ, and the flood a type of the judgment of God on sin. All who were in the ark were saved from the flood. It was the expressed will of God that all Noah’s house should be saved, and he had faith "to the saving of his house" (Heb. 11:7). God is no respecter of persons, and He still gives the same invitation to every one.
The Lord said of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household...and they shall keep the way of the Lord" (Gen. 18:19). God wants the head of every house to have a holy command over his household. The Heavenly Father is our pattern on this point. Just as He rules His family in love, patience, wisdom, sympathy, and justice, showing a good example, so we should aim to be like Him.
One of the most serious evils of the present time is lack of parental authority, and it is the cause of untold mischief to the whole community. This defect largely arises from not going to the Bible to get God’s commands on the subject. Eli’s history is a clear proof of the wrath of God on even the high priest – because he was lax in parental control.
"I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not" (1 Sam. 3:13). Eli’s lax control of his house cost the loss of his sons’ lives, the loss of the sacred ark of God, national defeat, and the loss of many lives, including his own. May this be a solemn warning to those who "restrain not" their house.
Some parents rule their houses in a way they call righteous, but it is done in a cold, hard, and rigid spirit. The result is that the children break out in unusual excesses as soon as they have freedom. God does not rule His house in a cold, harsh way: He remembers the age and temperament of each one of us, and does what is best for us individually.
There are likewise capable Christian businessmen who can control large business concerns successfully, but these same men at home are like Eli. There is overcoming grace for every one of us, if we see our need, and appropriate the grace.
When the Lord instituted the Passover, He said, "Take...a lamb for an house" (Ex. 12:3). The Passover was one of the clearest types of redemption – salvation by the blood of the Lamb of God. God here shows that He reckons the "house" as the unit for salvation.
Of course, each person in each house must repent and believe personally on the Lord Jesus Christ, but God will accomplish that, if we trust Him to save our house. It is a great encouragement to faith to see that God wants to save "all thy house."
Pharaoh wanted to keep "the little ones" in Egypt, while he permitted the others to leave Egypt in order to worship God. He knew well that if he kept the little ones he would soon have the parents back in Egypt also. Moses would not listen to the proposal. Each father took his family with him out of that land – which typifies the world.
How many Christians are there today who have left Egypt themselves, but have left their children behind in it, with worldly environment, companions, books, education, and amusements? Thousands have been ruined in this way who should have been claimed and trained for God.
Rahab is a beautiful instance of a sinner turning to God and getting her whole household saved. Joshua 2:9-13 shows that she had true faith in God, and pleaded for "father, mother, brethren, and sisters" (v. 13). When Jericho’s walls fell flat, Rahab’s house did not fall, although it was built on the wall; that house stood a solitary monument to the faithfulness of God, in His desire to answer the prayer of a poor sinner for her household.
Joshua 6:23-25 tells us that her father, mother, brethren, and all her kindred (or families, margin) were saved.
A young man living a sinful life was saved. He belonged to a family of nine, but all the rest, including parents, were unsaved; he began to pray for the salvation of his house, but Satan said to him, "Look at your past life; how can you expect God to answer your prayer for your house!" He said, "Yes, that is true, but I am not worse than Rahab, and God heard her prayer for her house."
He spoke to his brother, and soon he was saved; that young man persevered in praying, speaking, and writing until his parents and every one of that family were saved. Rahab’s experience shows that God will answer the prayer of any member of the house for the salvation of all the rest – if they will believe.
Joshua, that good, sturdy servant of God, could in effect publicly say, "If all others run away from God, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Read Joshua 24:15.
When the Lord Jesus healed the nobleman’s son, the nobleman "himself believed, and his whole house" (John 4:53). This was very beautiful, and just as it ought to be. We can imagine the joy of the Lord when He saw the whole house believe on Him.
Cornelius, a captain in the Roman army of occupation in Palestine, was brought up as a heathen, but while he lived among the Jews, he heard of the true God.
The Holy Spirit convicted him of sin, and he began to pray for salvation. God heard his prayers, and sent an angel with a message direct from the heart of God: "Send...for...Peter, who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:13-14).
Cornelius believed God, and sent two servants for Peter. It is interesting to trace the real faith of Cornelius in this matter, and also the width of his love for the salvation of others. Cornelius "called together his kinsmen and near friends" (Acts 10:24).
God promised that all his house should be saved, but this earnest man brought in "his near friends" as well. They were all waiting when Peter came, and he "found many that were come together" (Acts 10:27). God honored that man’s faith by pouring out His Spirit on "all them which heard the word," and they all believed and were baptized (Acts 10:44-48).
If there is joy in heaven over one sinner repenting, how much more over a whole household being saved! God loves to save whole households. It is His will that there should be complete, unbroken families in heaven. And He acts consistently on this principle – with everyone who will believe in Him for it. (See Luke 15:3-10.)
Let us remember that God made families. We have no choice as to the family we are born in, and God Who made the families wants to save them all. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). God is more willing to save families than we are to have them saved. Each person or family saved is an addition to God’s own glorious family, and this brings Him joy and glory. Cornelius would be a good witness for the Lord in telling others the willingness of God to save households, and near friends.
Lydia was a capable, successful business woman with a house and means large enough to entertain friends. She listened to the preaching of Paul, the Lord opened her heart, and she received Christ and "was baptized, and her household" (Acts 16:15). Stephanas and his household were also baptized (1 Cor. 1:16).
The story of the Philippian jailer is a most interesting record of God’s desire to save households. Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God at midnight in that prison, and God sent an earthquake. The jailer was convinced of his need of salvation, and he cried, "‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house’" (Acts 16:30-31).
We know that this precious promise, in its entirety, is as much for any one else as for that jailer. It is the way in which God wants to save souls – "thou, and thy house."
The jailer was simple enough to believe the whole promise for his house as well as for himself, and at this midnight hour he brought Paul and Silas into his house, "and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in the house" (Acts 16:32); the result was that they believed, and were baptized, he and all his, and he "rejoiced, believing in God with all his house" (v. 34).
What a happy sight, a believing, rejoicing, saved household! How was it accomplished? By a simple, sinful man believing in the promise of God, which is as free to every one as to him. God honors His word, and He honors those who will simply take Him at His word.
A man’s house is an integral part of himself, and it is the unvarying will of God to save every believer and his whole house, if he or she will trust God to do it. Of course, the believer must seek to walk honestly in all the ways of God before he has a right to the promise. Jesus said to Zaccheus, "This day salvation is come to this house" (Luke 19:9).
God wants our houses to be models of His house, and if we enter into God’s purpose, and seek to rule our house as He rules His, our whole house shall be saved. I preach this precious truth in India, and God is faithful. About ninety percent of the converts are won on this principle.
The greatest hindrance that a Hindu has to contend with in accepting Christ is that he will be cast out by his family and will lose them; but when we show him that the promise of God as here set forth is that if he believes, both he and his house will be saved, then he is greatly encouraged.
A policeman was saved in India; he was a drunkard, an opium smoker, and guilty of other vile sins. I told him the story of the Philippian jailer. This inspired him with faith to seek the salvation of his relatives. He visited them; he spoke, prayed, and pleaded with them to come to Christ; he suffered persecution, but persevered, and when I left India, twenty of his heathen relatives had been saved and baptized.
Years ago I engaged an unsaved cook, and as he thus became a member of my house, I had him in at family prayers. He was saved, and since then over thirty of his relatives have been saved, and some of them are now preachers of the Gospel. I could go on for a long time telling of such incidents, because God always keeps His promise.
A Christian lady once told me that her son was breaking her heart with drinking, bad company, and even was in jail. I pointed out to her God’s purpose and promises regarding our "house," from Noah down. She said, "Since that boy was born twenty-six years ago, I have prayed for his salvation every day."
I pointed out to her that she trusted God for the first part of His promise to the Philippian jailer many years ago, and God saved her. I asked her if God would not be equally faithful to fulfill the latter part of that promise if we trust Him to do it.
She said, "Of course, He will, and I will claim and accept my boy’s salvation today." On bended knees we did this, and I got a letter from this lady four months later saying, "My son is back with me, saved, and the joy of my heart!"
– Reprinted from an earlier issue of Herald of His Coming.