The Family Manifesto: In the Beginning
About the Guest
"In the beginning" was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, says Dennis Rainey as he explains the Trinity and tells how each entity relates to the family.
Dennis Rainey explains the Trinity and tells how each entity relates to the family
The Family Manifesto: In the Beginning
Bob: Basic theology may sound like a course that ought to be taught at a seminary or a Bible college. Dennis Rainey says it's something that ought to be taught at home.
Dennis: We, as mothers and fathers, must pass these truths and the experience of God onto the next generation. Our children don't just need to know about God, they need to know Him.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 21st. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If we're going to pass on the truth about who God is to our children, there are something we're going to have clear in our minds first.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I know that most of our listeners who are going to be joining with us, participating in the World's Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt are going to be doing it this Saturday, the day before Easter, but we had some folks this past weekend who decided to get an early jump on the event and have already had their hunt and have shared the Easter story with lots of kids. We're hoping that this season more than a million children will hear the Gospel as a result of Resurrection Eggs in the World's Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.
Dennis: Bob, and I am pumped. I've heard some stories around the country of folks who have been in the process of planning this evangelistic Easter egg hunt, and I think it's exciting that the next generation of children in neighborhoods, apartment complexes, and public parks are going to have a chance to hear the truth about Jesus Christ and about the Savior who came to forgive their sins.
Bob: We've been hearing from a lot of listeners lately. It's fun to get the e-mails and the letters, isn't it?
Dennis: I tell you, you and I enjoy – we pass back and forth e-mails and letters that you get to first, sometimes I get a little jealous that you get to read them …
Bob: There's a root of bitterness here.
Dennis: It is, you know, I think sometimes our listeners don't realize the scope of what FamilyLife is all about. FamilyLife Today is just one of our many ministries but I enjoy listening to feedback from some of our 7 million listeners who listen every week to FamilyLife Today – six different broadcasts that we have, and I received an e-mail recently from Valerie.
"Hi, I've e-mailed you before asking for guidance, but now I just want to write you a little thank you with my story. A few years ago I started listening to FamilyLife Today. Unfortunately, it was for no other reason than to get on God's good side. All of a sudden, one day I was listening to what Dennis and Bob were talking about. For the most part, every Monday through Friday for the past few years, I was listening to them, but I wasn't really listening.
Well, since I've started actually listening, I've wanted to please God through my heart, mind, and voice. I wanted to, not just felt like I had to. I've started going to church with my husband and son, reading the Bible almost every night, and I've actually wanted to become a better person. FamilyLife is helping me with that.
A few weeks ago, there was a series on relationships, and it made me realize my husband and I are not alone in the fight for our marriage. We make it a point every Saturday night now to have a candlelight dinner at our house after our son goes to bed. The program on profanity really hit home. Everything this broadcast does in my life and everyone else's life that listens has made a difference somehow. I now have my husband listening to FamilyLife Today. It starts both of our days off better. It has made a wonderful difference in my life, my husband's life, and our family life, and I'm sure a whole lot of other lives as well.
Again, thank you so much, Valerie."
Dennis: And I just want to say to Valerie, thank you for writing. We love to get e-mails like this and hear about specific life change, because we know it's occurring in literally millions of people's lives.
Bob: When you sent that on to me, it made me think of an e-mail that came from Tiffany back last fall. She said, "I am listening to your show right now, and I believe the lady is Lisa," and it was when we had Lisa Ryan from the "700 Club" on talking about girls becoming Generation Esther, do you remember that?
Dennis: That's right, my daughter, Rebecca, joined us on those broadcasts.
Bob: Tiffany says, "Anyway, I was listening to what she was saying earlier about being set apart and stuff like that, and, I don't know, I'm looking for someone to talk to about what's going on in my life right now. I got saved about two years ago, but since then I have been backsliding so much. I want to recommit my life to Christ and start living my life the way I should, the way I used to, and I don't know how to do it. I have some really bad ungodly habits, and I don't know how to stop them. If you guys know of anyone or groups or anything like that, please let me know. I think I would feel kind of awkward just to walk into a church not knowing anyone. So if you guys know of anything, please let me know. Thank you so much, Tiffany."
Dennis: That's cool.
Bob: We got back with her and offered some suggestions on people and resources and websites and places she could go to help strengthen her relationship with God.
Dennis: You know, Bob, what she's pointing out is that life, marriage, and family are all, at their core, spiritual relationships. And if we're not properly related to God on a day-in and day-out basis, we're going to miss life as He designed it for us to live.
Bob: And if we're going to live life the way God designed it for us to live, then we have to understand what the Designer's intent was. One of the things we're doing this year is, from time to time, we're taking a day to work our way through a document that was created here at FamilyLife almost a decade-and-a-half ago now called "The Family Manifesto." It's a statement of core beliefs around a variety of subjects, looking at what the Bible has to say about these subjects and about how we ought to live in response to the Scriptures, and one of the topics that's addressed in "The Family Manifesto" is the topic of the Creator of the family – that's God.
Bob: When He made man and woman, He created us for relationship.
Dennis: He did, and it's a reflection of who He is. God, as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us, is one, an essence, but He is Three Persons. He is known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And as we talk about in "The Family Manifesto," and, again, I just want to remind you what Bob said about the "The Family Manifesto." We went to the Scriptures and researched the essence of what the Bible teaches about marriage and family and related issues, and one of the reasons why we want to start with God is because that's where life begins.
Bob: That's where everything starts.
Dennis: It is. Marriage and family owe their inception to God. And it's interesting, Bob, we've done some nationwide research in recent months here at FamilyLife. Do you know what the number-one issue that people want help with when it comes to their marriages and families? They want to know how to make a marriage and a family alive spiritually – how to experience God in the midst of their marriage as they raise their children, as they hammer out an identity as a family.
Bob: And if we want to understand what's behind the whole idea of family and relationships, we need to understand what was on the heart and in the mind of the Designer. We need to get to know the God who created us and who created this institution.
Let me read just a portion of "The Family Manifesto" where we talk about God the Father as the Creator of the family.
"We believe in the fatherhood of God. The title 'Father' implies that God is a relational being. The Bible reveals God has four primary relationships as Father. He is the Father of creation, He is the Father of the nations, He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of all believers. We believe the Bible presents the title 'Father' as one of the primary names Christians should use in addressing and relating to God. In doing so, Christians identify themselves as children who belong to the family of God. We are committed to proclaiming and demonstrating this truth about who God is and who we are so that God will be glorified and that He might use us to bring others into His family through a personal relationship with His Son."
Even in how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, the titles He has chosen, He puts it in the context of family, doesn't he?
Dennis: He does. He is our Heavenly Father. He is a personal being that relates to human beings that He created.
But, you know, he is more than just our Father, He is also a divine Judge who holds us accountable according to His standards for life. And we know what the Bible teaches about that. He is a holy God, He is a perfect God and, as a result, He expects us to be perfect. Well, all of a sudden, I feel woefully inadequate to relate to a perfect divine Judge because – what? I'm imperfect. I'm a lawbreaker. I've sinned. I sin in thought, in deed, and I'm in desperate condition as I approach this divine Judge.
Bob: And that's the tension here, because God invites us to relationship with Him, and then He also says, "And I want you to be blameless." Well, all of us have said to God, "We're not really interested in a relationship with You. We'd rather live life the way we want to live life, and we can't be blameless." And God said, "All right, I've got a solution for that, too."
Dennis: He does, He does have a solution, and I just want to read what we write about in "The Family Manifesto" about the Son.
"We believe God the Son, fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ was God's final sacrifice for the sins of man through the shedding of His blood on the cross and resurrection from the dead."
Bob: And, of course, this is the season of the year where that's our focus. Yesterday in most of our churches, we talked about Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This Friday is Good Friday, where we focus on the death of Christ on the cross, His substitutionary death, and then next Sunday we celebrate the fact that He is Lord over death; that He is the resurrected Son of God.
Dennis: This is more than just a story for us to tell at Easter. This is the offer of salvation to anyone who will believe. Jesus Christ went to the cross and paid the price for my sinfulness, my selfishness, so that I might be able to relate to God as Father, and I might be called His son, and I might be in His family.
Let me go on with "The Family Manifesto" – "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to know God the Father and to experience His plan for marriage and family. We are committed to introducing people to Jesus Christ in order that, by faith, they might personally receive Him, be born into the family of God, receive forgiveness and eternal life, and begin a relationship with God that is essential in marriage and FamilyLife.
Bob: In order for our human relationships to work, to make sense, our divine relationship has to be resolved, our sin, which keeps us from Him, has to be resolved, and that's what Jesus came and did. He solved the sin problem by dying on the cross, paying the price for our sin, and then inviting us to relationship with God, now through His sacrifice. And when that relationship is right, it makes it possible for our human relationships to be right as well.
Dennis: God not only gives us the invitation to join into His family, but He also gives us the mission, a transcendent cause to every marriage and family to introduce other people to the Savior, Jesus Christ. That begins with our children. One of the purposes of God that He has for marriages and families is that that marriage and family unit be an evangelistic unit to introduce children to the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. But you know what? He didn't intend for us to just focus inwardly as a family. He also wants us to focus outwardly. You know, that's what many families are going to be doing this weekend as they host the World's Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt in their homes and neighborhoods and parks around the country. They are going to be representing God's love and forgiveness to a world that desperately needs to know about Him.
Bob: So the Easter story – Jesus' death, His burial and resurrection from the dead, is what makes it possible for a man to have a right relationship with God and to be a part of the divine mission that you've described to share that good news with others. But God doesn't stop there. He not only gives us the invitation into relationship, but He gives us the power to carry out what He calls us to.
Dennis: That's right. He gave us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, and, I might add, the most neglected. Let me just read what we say about the Holy Spirit in "The Family Manifesto" – "We believe God the Holy Spirit is the agent and teacher of a godly marriage and family. We believe when Christian couples and their children consistently yield to His control and power, they will experience harmony in their marriages and families. Therefore, we are committed to sharing the ministry of the Holy Spirit with people so they may know God better, make Him known to others, and appropriate His power in fulfilling their duties in marriage and family relationships.
Bob: If we are to have any success in our human relationships, it has to be in the power of the Holy Spirit. If we try to do it on our own, we make a mess of things.
Dennis: We really do. In fact, you're never going to have the marriage, the family, or the life that God intended if you do not yield control of your heart and life to the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 commands us to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit means to allow Him to control and empower and use us for His purposes.
The Holy Spirit is a teacher, he introduces us to God, He explains the truth of God to us in our soul. He also is an equipper. He gives us the tools to be able to defeat our selfishness, our bad habits, to control our temper in the marriage relationship. And you know what? He also is a guide. He guides us into additional truth and shows us how we can make our marriages and families successful.
Bob: Jesus calls Him our "Helper," and that indicates that we need help, and we know we need help. But through the provision of Christ on the cross, as we come into a relationship with God the Father, we receive from Him the gift of the Holy Spirit who is now a permanent resident in our life and, as we look to the Holy Spirit and yield to the Holy Spirit and follow and obey the Holy Spirit, he is the one who helps us, who equips us, who enables us, to live the kind of life God would have us live, the kind that brings glory to Him and the kind that ultimately is going to satisfy the longings of our own heart and soul.
Now, there are some of our listeners who go, "Well, this is interesting to talk about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, but what does all this have to do with FamilyLife Today?
Dennis: It has everything to do with it. I think what we've got to do is, first of all, we must know what we believe about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and, first of all, be rightly related to Him as God, because we are accountable to Him for our lives. So the first question is – do you know Him as your Heavenly Father? Not as one who quotes a prayer that's been memorized since childhood. But do you have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ?
And then, secondly, as a result of having that relationship, are you now walking with Him? Colossians, chapter 2 says, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." Christ didn't die just to get us out of hell. He died to put heaven in our souls, and we weren't meant to experience that taste of heaven just when we die here on earth and go to heaven. We were meant to experience heaven now as we walk with God, as we obey Him, and as we experience God day in and day out.
And then the second aspect of this, Bob, and applying it to our lives, is that we, as mothers and fathers, as grandparents, must pass these truths and the experience of God on to the next generation. Our children don't just need to know about God; they need to know Him, they need to experience Him. They begin as little hitchhikers hitchhiking off of our faith, but they soon must experience God on their own, and that can't come about, Bob, unless we introduce our children to Him and then begin to cultivate their faith and show them how to grow spiritually, and that assumes, first of all, that we, as parents, are growing spiritually.
Bob: These three brief definitions of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, that we've read today from "The Family Manifesto" would be great conversation at the dinner table. In fact, you can just read through this with your children, interact with them – what does it mean to call God a Father? What does it mean to be a part of His family? What does it mean that Jesus made it possible for us to experience God's plan for marriage and family? What does it mean to introduce others to Him? What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit taking control of our lives?
This document is on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can go there and review the text. You can copy it and paste it and print it out yourself, or if you'd like to have a booklet that includes the complete "Family Manifesto," either for personal reference or to share with others in your church, you can buy this booklet individually or it also, I think, comes in packages of, I don't know 20 or 50 or something. Churches use this, pass it out to folks in their congregation. You can get more information about "The Family Manifesto" on our website at FamilyLife.com, and the document is also contained in a book that you wrote called "One Home at a Time," and that book really defines our goal, our mission, here at FamilyLife. It explains what it means to effectively develop your family as a godly family. And when you do that in your home and enough homes start doing that, we can see a cultural shift, can't we?
Dennis: We can see a family reformation. You and I started this broadcast by talking about a couple of letters from listeners – one from Valerie, whose marriage and family has been impacted by Jesus Christ. You know, that's our goal here on FamilyLife Today, is to day-in and day-out be a trusted source of biblical truth about who God is and how He wants to relate to you and your marriage and family so that you will be successful in the three most important relationships in life – your relationship with Him, your relationship with your spouse, and your relationship with your children.
Bob: We want to continue to do that by providing you with the resources that I've mentioned. You can access those resources again on our website at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. We want to continue to do that, as well, through this daily radio program that's heard more than 1,000 times a day on stations all across the country and around the world. And if we're going to continue to do that, we need many of you to stand with us and help with the financial needs of FamilyLife Today. In fact, if God has used this program in your life to help strengthen your marriage and your family, if He's used it the way He's used it with Valerie or with Tiffany, give us a call and let us know that, and if you can help with financial support, we would appreciate your partnership with us. We are listener-supported, and those financial gifts are essential, if we are going to continue with the mission of FamilyLife Today.
Dennis: Bob, you said that we need many of you to join with us financially in supporting this broadcast. I'd actually like to rephrase that. We need you, you the listener, to join with us in this endeavor. Too many times we think, "Well, somebody else will cover the cost of that broadcast or that ministry." You know what? You are the one listening, hopefully you are the one who has benefited, and if you have, we need you right now to pick up a phone, call our 800 number or go online and make a donation. And say, "You know what, Dennis, Bob, I stand with you, and I want to see this ministry not only continue but reach out to even more people."
Bob: Again, our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY. You can donate over the phone or online at FamilyLife.com, and we appreciate you standing with us.
Well, tomorrow we want to examine the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is it possible that someone actually died, was buried, and was raised again from the dead? In order to examine that evidence, we're going to hear a classic message that you first heard when you were in college, right?
Dennis: That's right.
Bob: From Josh McDowell – "The Resurrection: A Hoax or History?" I hope you can be with us for that tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Kenny Farris [sp], and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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