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Catching Up with the Bible – Whole Households Coming to Faith

August 3, 2010

The setting sun has slipped below the horizon here in Phoenix, Arizona, and the first stars appear above the palm trees. The western sky fades to robin’s egg blue. (I think robin’s egg blue is my favorite color.) Jan and I are walking around our neighborhood. She asks me what I’m thinking.

I’m thinking of my Christian friends who have devoted their lives to sharing the love of Jesus around the world. I’m thinking of all of my friends who are waking up on the other side of the world, and I’m thinking that they do not know how great they truly are. I am thinking that I have not told them that I love them, at least not often enough. They are acquainted with grief, like Jesus, and they will see God, because they are pure in heart. But oh, how I wish I could do more for my Frontiers friends; more to ease their way, more to comfort them in their disappointment. When I don’t know what to pray for them, I remember what Jesus prayed for Peter, “I have prayed that your faith fail not, and that you turn and strengthen the brethren.” Faith that faileth not! By faith tomorrow may be the day when my friends meet a man of peace (Luke 10:6) or a God-fearing Lydia (Acts 16:14) who will strike the match that lights a thousand candles in every Muslim city and village.

Tomorrow may be the day my Christian friends meet a God-fearing man like Cornelius who will say to his whole household (his oikos), “Believe the good news of the gospel.” We are paying more attention to the New Testament as a missions manual; and this is what we are learning: four times in the book of Acts the gospel spread rapidly after the leader of an oikos (a household) came to faith:

  1. Cornelius was a devout man who feared God with his entire household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God (Acts 10:2). The Lord instructed Cornelius to listen to Peter, because “he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved” (Acts 11:14). Cornelius’ household believed and was baptized (Acts 10:48).
  2. Lydia was a god-fearing woman; the Lord opened her heart to hear what Paul was saying. “Then she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:15).
  3. When an earthquake freed Paul and Silas in prison, the jailer drew his sword, intending to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Do yourself no harm; we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and threw himself down before Paul and Silas, trembling with fear. “Masters,” he said, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him and to his household, and they were baptized. The jailer set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God (Acts 16:28-34).
  4. Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized (1 Corinthians 18:8).
  5. One time Jesus told a father whose son to the sick to the point of death, “Return home; your son will live.” The father believed what Jesus said and started for home. When he was on his way home his servants met him with the news, “your boy is going to live.” So the father himself believed, along with his whole household (John 4:50-53).
  6. So, that makes five “household” occasions when a lot of people came to faith sort of all at once. This happened recently in a Baluch family in Pakistan; they all came to faith at once, through a dream, and they all got baptized (More about that later). Like Dr. Ralph Winter (he of blessed memory) used to say, “We are starting to catch up with the Bible.” Maybe our custom in America of pressing young individuals to declare their faith should be re-examined when we live among Muslims who, like people in the Bible, make their important decisions as a tribe or an oikos, following the lead of a god-fearing man or woman.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Greg n Cindy Hardy permalink
    August 10, 2010 4:43 am

    Hi Bob…We are catching up here in Lodi too! Thanks for all your words please keep writing to us.

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