The Eternal God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to pen a masterful, eternal truth when he documented this end-time prophecy well over 2,700 years ago: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). “Testimony” is translated from the Hebrew term meaning prophetic injunction. So God revealed that unless knowledge is founded upon His eternal law and His inspired, revealed prophecies, it comes from a source other than His perfectly illuminated mind. It simply comes from darkness, inspired by the spirit of deception, Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9).
In the midst of the ministry of the latter-day Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, came the time for the eternal God to restore to the Church the wondrous revelation of marriage and family. The same lofty revelation of the mystery was understood by Paul the apostle. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:31-33).
As God brought the mind of Mr. Armstrong to bear on the subject of marriage and the family, he began to receive and understand the deep wonder of the God-ordained institution of marriage—that it was a natural union between man and woman, but also much more than that—a divine institution.
Perhaps the most wondrous of all truths that underpins this “great mystery” of which Paul spoke is that “[i]t is to teach us—to constantly remind us—of our sacred relationship to Jesus Christ!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Missing Dimension in Sex).
Since the split in the Church of God, which occurred on Dec. 7, 1989, Jesus Christ has overseen the progressive shattering of the body that was once His Church. This was prophesied by God over 2,500 years ago! “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:7).
The Hebrew word for “scatter” literally means to break in pieces or shatter. The original corporate body of the Worldwide Church of God is now split into numerous enterprises ranging from a handful following one man to quite sizable bodies of ex-wcg members following others. Search as you may and you will find only one singular entity holding fast to all of God’s truths as restored to the Church by Jesus Christ, through His end-time apostle Herbert W. Armstrong.
God reveals that where His lamp is burning brightly, one of the most powerful witnesses will be the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). Search again, and you will find but one singular Church that has literally been flooded with divine revelation of end-time prophecy since God split the Church. The Philadelphia Church of God, by its fruits, is proved to be the very Church which continues to revive and perpetuate all things that God restored to it through Mr. Armstrong. It is the true Church of the firstfruits. It has the law and it has the great vision of prophecy. “The firstfruits are being harvested now—this very minute! This is our moment in life. There will never be another like it throughout eternity! …
“‘Firstfruits’ is not just a word—it’s a vision! And what a vision it is. They are ‘holiness unto the Lord.’ The word ‘holiness’ means ‘set apart.’ God has set them apart to be the Bride of Christ—if they get ready today (Revelation 19:7)” (Gerald Flurry, Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible).
The Bride of Christ
As God has poured His revelation into His Church, constantly He has reinforced, reinvigorated, illuminated and magnified the wondrous mystery of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church, His affianced Bride.
No other vision has received such emphasis over the past 10 years within the inner court of God’s temple. God has emphasized and reemphasized the importance of this divine and exalted relationship between Jesus Christ and His specially chosen, loyal, spiritually chaste and devoted Bride, the Church of the firstfruits.
It is within this great revelation that the vision of godly child rearing gains true focus. By understanding the spiritual nature of the divine institution of marriage, we may comprehend the reasons for child bearing and child rearing. When we truly understand and fully grasp the reasons God created marriage and the family, we are ready to study and comprehend the God-ordained methods of purposeful child rearing.
“Only the Father begets His sons today. We can’t even come to God unless that happens. Then Christ takes these firstfruits, whom His Father chose for Him, and harvests them to be His Bride! If you really grasp this vision, it almost makes you faint! Christ is calling the firstfruits to be His ‘help meet’ (Genesis 2:18). We have the glorious honor of helping the Father and Christ harvest their children—their Family—and then introduce them to the entire universe. That is when God’s Work really begins!” (ibid).
The Spirit of the Law
God’s perfect nature is summed up in one word—love. And just what is the perfect definition of that love? “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
God’s love is bound up in and defined by His law. It is a perfect law that is outgoing, outflowing to the good of all. This love is magnified in God’s two great commandments, love toward God and love to our fellow man (Mark 12:29-31). The first four of the Ten Commandments state the broad principles of love toward God. The last six give the principles of love toward our neighbor.
Once converted, as we increasingly take on the mind of Jesus Christ, growing in grace and knowledge, God reveals that we are under a priesthood that ministers not of the strictness of the letter of the law, but of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6, 17).
Under the guidance of God’s ministry, we learn to look for the obvious intent, meaning and principle of God’s law as it applies to every circumstance and event in our lives. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy [Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). This is what spiritual discernment is all about. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). We take the spirit and intent of the law and we apply it. We do. It has an action end!
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:20-24).
Abraham understood and applied the spirit of the law. And what was the result in his family? Four generations loyal to Almighty God! They are all mentioned in the faith chapter, Hebrews 11. Abraham understood the vision, to the full extent that God was prepared to reveal it to him in his lifetime. Within the context of that vision of the coming Messiah and the future world-ruling government of God, Abraham taught and trained up his son in that way. The result was that Isaac then, within the context of the vision handed down to him by his father, adding to it the additional knowledge of his own personal experience and applying the spirit of God’s law, raised up Jacob in that same way. Then, in turn, within that extended vision, Jacob passed on the vision in training up his son Joseph in the way of the spirit of the law!
It Can Be Done!
So often we hear parents complain, “Oh it’s so hard to raise up obedient, respectful, God-fearing children in this evil age.” Be that as it may, it can be done, most successfully, and it has been done in times like these—and we have the example in Scripture to prove it.
“And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:10-12).
And so it will be at the time just prior to Jesus Christ’s return to this Earth. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Noah lived in times like these present times, an age of gross immorality, gross rebellion against God, a hedonistic, self-serving society, worshiping materialism! But Noah had a vision, a vision inspired and delivered to him by God. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
He taught his sons God’s vision! Result? God blessed Noah and his sons with the same blessing that He had bestowed upon Adam and Eve at the beginning. The sons were blessed because of their obedience—and they came out of an age in society so corrupt that God had to destroy it! (Genesis 8:15-16; 9:1).
To those of you who are parents struggling to raise your children God’s way, according to His very exacting and perfect standards as embodied in His law, you who say, “Oh! It’s so much harder to raise kids now than it was in our parents’ day,” to you let us clearly state, never in the history of mankind was such a greatly detailed, living vision of God’s plan for humankind opened to a people such as that which God has opened up to the inner court of His temple, His devoted remnant Church!
Get the Vision!
The key of David vision is so detailed in its present form that it unlocks our mind to comprehend the meaning of the whole universe! “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
“We experience trials and tests—or labor pains—as God prepares us to be born into His Family. We struggle and shed tears as a mother does to give birth—especially with the firstborn child. The firstfruits have a harder struggle to be born than the other children. But we are also given a much greater reward! So it’s worth it. We must keep our minds on what it means to be truly born again. Suddenly, we will become vibrant spirit beings whose faces will shine like the sun in its full strength! All we need to do is envision our birth to know the struggle is worthwhile” (The Key of David).
But reject the vision, and you lose the knowledge of the Family of God and of the spirit and intent of the law upon which God’s Family is built.
The more detailed our knowledge of the key of David vision—comprising the law, the statutes and covenants of God, the doctrines of the Church, the prophecies and revelation of God—the deeper will be our understanding of just how God is raising up His spiritual children. And the deeper our knowledge of God’s perfect methods of teaching, training and raising up His children on the spirit level, the deeper will be our understanding of how to raise up and prepare our children in physical form to receive that vision and move on themselves to become prepared on the spirit-level, to fulfill their ultimate incredible human potential: their potential to be born of God, as very Gods in God’s Family, at the top of the pyramid of God’s all-embracing, universe-ruling Family of God! True king-priests!
Get the vision first, and the method will become crystal clear. That’s where to begin with your child rearing. After all, that’s where we begin in marriage, isn’t it?
“Marriage is a physical union, but a divine institution. Almighty God ordained it! It did not evolve. It is not of man’s devising” (Missing Dimension in Sex).
Let’s follow the spiritual logic. God commanded Adam and Eve, within the context of this physical union and divine institution called marriage, under His blessing, within His law (obedience brings blessings, disobedience brings curses), to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth and subdue it and have dominion—rulership to govern it.
How were they to be fruitful and multiply? Within the divinely ordained union of marriage—one man, one wife, procreating by the two in union, as one, reproducing themselves through the union of a life-cell from each. With the aid of the Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit, we can see that within a godly marriage lies the greatest potential for a man and a woman to begin to understand that perfect unity yields life! (Genesis 2:24-25).
But Satan is a divider, a spoiler and a destroyer. He wants to break marriages apart. He wants to divide families and fracture them into total disunity. The ultimate perversion of the divine institution of marriage is for Satan to so sear a mind and so bend it out of complete context with God’s natural laws that it does not even desire union between man and woman. In fact, such a bent mind finds the union between man and woman repugnant.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness …. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools …. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:18, 22, 26-27). So we have the killer disease aids. Satan’s way is to create division, and perverse disunity leading to death. The very opposite of God’s mind!
Listen to Christ’s prayer for the unity of His Church, His affianced Bride. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. … Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me [in the future] through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:11, 20-23). Notice Christ’s plea for perfect unity of mind and spirit, in the law, in the Word of God. This is what produces true love and real abundant living at the human level in your marriages, in your own family within God’s universal Family!
Going back to Genesis 1:27-28, we follow the spiritual logic through from marriage to family—from parent to offspring. If marriage is a natural physical union but a divine institution, it follows that the extension or product of marriage, children, has both a physical component and a divine component. The family, though physical, in the Church of God becomes a divine institution—its full spiritual potential is unlocked, to be added to its physical and intellectual potential!
So! To understand how to raise children in God’s Church, in His Family, we must understand fully the divine nature of our child rearing! We must get the spiritual vision of why children are given to us, of what their full human potential is and how to go about maximizing their opportunity to fulfill it!
And thereby so many of us over the generations of the Philadelphia and Laodicean eras of God’s Church have failed. So abysmally in so many cases have we failed—else where are the second, third and fourth generations of the Church of God that Christ raised up through Mr. Armstrong? We must admit that among the greatest of our failures in the sixth and seventh eras of God’s Church have been marriage and child rearing!
Why? Too many simply did not get the vision within which to raise up their children! Why do some marriages work beautifully for decades, producing loyal God-fearing offspring to the second, third and even fourth generation—and so many others fail, and their offspring dissipate from the Church? The parents simply did not grasp the vision within which to raise the family. They did not elevate the teaching and child rearing from “the strictness of the letter of the law” (as Mr. Armstrong put it) to embrace the spirit of the law!
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). We have power, as spirit-begotten parents, to rear and train up potential saints for God’s service!
The very word “sanctify” means to set apart for a holy use or purpose. Almighty God puts His divine favor upon and sets apart the children of spiritually converted parents in His Church. When God blesses someone (Mark 10:16), He bestows His divine favor upon them!
Child rearing is serious business! God has bestowed a special blessing upon the children of parents within His Church. They are special! They are given to you as parents for the ultimate purpose of training them up in the way of God—to prepare them for spiritual conception and eventual birth into the divine God Family.
Understand that vision! These are royal children, of royal parents!