We cannot just assume that what was written in the Scripture will automatically be applied universally to all believers. Proper interpretation of the scripture requires that we carefully study whether the written word is either descriptive or prescribed . In the Bible, a description is a spoken or written representation or accounts of a person or events such as: how he looks like, how it sounds like. It could also include places and things so we can easily mirrored in our mind the true message or close to the truth of a given interpretation should be. A prescription is more of a command, an instructions dictating to someone what must be done.
There are three kinds of people that are anointed in biblical times, Priests, Kings and Prophets. While there were three groups of people also at the time, the Jews, the Gentiles and the Believers. It described the class of people or things, their characters and beliefs. God is the main character in our belief system. He is described to be loving, faithful, merciful and graceful to all His children. His purpose and will is a prescription that needs to be followed and it described how it should be done.
We simply cannot attach descriptive accounts into any event without the truth or the scriptures will be lost in translation. God’s prescription has no ifs or buts. It is a straight forward command that must be done or otherwise, we are not with Him and He will not be with us. A command is not a word of promise but a will to be obeyed; e.q. You have to do these things and I will reward you with these things. Which is totally different from this; you have to do these things or else! The same command but have two different results.
For example, we read about David’s adultery with Bathsheba in the Bible, but this account was not intended to prescribe that adultery is a pattern and allowed for believers. But instead it just described David’s sinful act so that from his experience we may be able to learn and avoid the consequences of sin. Our weaknesses can cause wickedness if we will not resist the desire of our lust. We should never let our focus be distracted by the world and let the word be our defense.
We have been hearing from many preachers that we only need one member of the family to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent by God and whoever believes in him will not perish and have everlasting life and through him the world may be saved. When God promised Cornelius that his whole household would be saved as described by his faith, it does not mean the same promise is prescribed universally to all the households across the board—Acts 11:14. The promise was specifically described to a specific person at that specific event.
Did God promise to save the whole household based in Acts 16:31? Paul responded when asked by Philippians prison guard how to be saved? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved, and thy house if they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ they’ll be saved also?” Likewise, Paul’s instructions to the jailer were not a prescription for all believers. Instead, this was described for our benefit.
For one man a promise was made and for one man his household will be saved. What is Paul’s authority to make such promise that a household will be saved? To what extent this will be a pattern to be adapted by all believers? According to Paul he spoke under the inspiration of the Spirit. How can we disagree with that? His words were prescribed solely for that man and his family. Many preachers then and now made this promise applied to every household believers, when it is very clear that Paul did not include this nor followed it up to any of his letters and if he did, he could have prescribed and described it repeatedly in his writings. When Jesus Christ made such promises, it will not only be for one household, in one specific place and specific time of the event but instead it will be described a salvation for all; no exclusivity nor partiality, everyone that believe and obeyed will be treated equally.
Does Paul letter to the Corinthians talking about different household salvation? 1 Corinthians 7:14— “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” This verse seems to prescribe that it takes only one member of the family to believe and the rest of the family will be saved. It is very clear that Paul described faith alone without work can save a household, that unbelieving wife can be saved through his husband’s faith in Jesus Christ and likewise their children will be saved base on that faith. In consideration of what was described and what was prescribed we will draw into conclusion the truth that the teaching of the Scriptures never mean that way but refer to the sacredness of the marriage.
Adam and Eve were husband and wife because they were joined by God. They became one flesh made perfect. This version in creation is universal and becomes a pattern that when a man and a woman get married, they become one flesh. Paul described not to be unequally yoke together to unbelievers for they cannot perform the work that is set before them. Instead of working together, they may be working in separate ways. We have to pray to God to help us not to let things becomes a struggle but instead to become one with God.
A prison guard, a centurion and a believing wife with unbelieving husband viz a viz; one member of the family is all it takes to save the whole household. Is this for real? The answer is, not at all! The jailer heard the Gospel delivered by Paul and believed, and then all the member of his household followed him. The saving of this entire family is accomplished through the faith of the leader of the family. The prison guard is a well respected and well obeyed head of the family. There is a saying to be a good leader; you should develop a good follower.
When a father is described as the head of the family and is a Christian, most likely the rest of the members of the household becomes a Christian until such time when they are on their own. Many years ago a Christian family baptized their children when they were infants and that leave no choice for the infants but to automatically become a Christian according to the concept of household salvation. The belief that once baptized all sins is forgiven and while an infant boys are being circumcised following the tradition of the Jewish people. This belief has change and it is now more of hygiene than belief.
Jesus in John 8:17 said “You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High” referencing from Psalm 82:6. Also repeated in John 10:34 “Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your Law: ‘I have said you are gods’? This word of Jesus is not for Jews alone but for all believers. When God said I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children, Isaiah 49:25. This word was given not only to the children of Israel but to all mankind when you read the context in full you will find out. One early Christian commentator explained it well: “We were lawful captives to the justice of God, yet delivered by a price of unspeakable value. Here is an express promise: Even the prey of the terrible shall be delivered. We may here view Satan deprived of his prey, bound and cast into the pit; and all the powers that have combined to enslave, persecute, or corrupt the church, are destroyed; that all the earth may know that our Savior and Redeemer is Jehovah, the mighty One of Jacob. And every effort we make to rescue our fellow-sinners from the bondage of Satan, is, in some degree, helping forward that great change.” Matthew Henry in response to Isaiah 49:24-26.
In our personal experience together with our point of view the passages is not a promise for all believers but Paul’s own feelings if not a premonition at the time. Many individuals have come to claim Christ as Savior over the centuries and yet there is no confession for the rest of the family to follow through. If we continue to believe Paul’s comment as a promise of salvation for all household believers, It is really very encouraging to be saved but then again we denied the truth and the Scriptures cannot be broken and God’s faithfulness for His word will be doubted that will make many to conclude that there are no assurances that the promises are made and not fulfilled. God hates liar and He is not a liar to make promises that He will not keep.
We must never conclude that the statement when comes from God will not be delivered but instead be mindful that God chooses to save those who wishes to saved, that He will have mercy on whom He has mercy; as stated in Romans 9:15 “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
It is not obvious that we have to trust the Lord Jesus Christ before we could be saved. There is a universal condition for the believers and unbelief to follow and there are no excuses why we can’t take it joyfully except that if we have doubt of the truth of the word of God’s promise of eternal life. God’s gift of salvation comes with our acceptance and there is no doubt that the root meaning is fully expressed as stated in John 3:16—“Whosoever believes” all we need is to believe and it is addressed to all mankind. That promise is not only for one household but is entirely consistent with every other verse in the Bible that speaks of salvation. It is the promise that if you believe in the Lord Jesus “you will be saved.”
“But now hath He (Jesus) obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)
Although we are commanded to repent from our sins and strive towards the way of God, He never stops loving us in our journey to righteousness. Do not think that you are having an unconverted son, daughter and other members of the family that gives you burden and continuously praying for their salvation, you are bearing one of the heaviest burdens of life. “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26, NIV).
“Who can snatch the prey from the hands of a mighty man? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captive go? But the Lord says, ‘Even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall all be freed; for I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children” (Isaiah 49:24 & 25, TLB).
“Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise” (1 Kings 8:56).
Proverbs 20:7 NIV: “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”
Psalm 18:25, “With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright.”
We may read more verses about the unsaved and rescuing the unconverted and God will not abandon what He promised and remain faithful. If you want to claim your loved ones for Christ, you must remain focus and stand still with His promise, He might not change His plan for the unbelief but through fervent prayer He may change the circumstances. We have to continue making our relationship with God and pray without ceasing until God moves punishment to forgiveness, suffering to great joy, mercy and grace to fulfillment of everlasting peace.
The New Testament also called the New Covenant of grace. Taught us to be repentant, forgiveness and to love and most of all the salvation is centered in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16… While in the Old Testament people are considered the servants of God. The New Testament we are children of God.
“God gives us the free will to choose either Him or against Him and then give us time to make that choice to build a greater relationship with Him. If we go against Him He is still faithful and patiently wait for us to come to our senses until the time comes.” “The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus said, “Whatever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it to you.” (John 16:23). All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37