The Message

Household Salvation

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 carefully studying whether the written word is descriptive or prescribed. In the Bible,  a description is a spoken or written representation or account of a person or event, such as how he looks and sounds. It could also include places and things so we can easily mirror the actual message or get close to the truth of a given interpretation. A prescription is more of a command, instructions dictating what must be done to someone.

Three kinds of people are anointed in biblical times: Priests, Kings, and Prophets. At the same time, there were three groups of people also at the time: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Believers. It describes the class of people or things, their characters, and their beliefs. God is the main character in our belief system. He is described as loving, faithful, merciful, and graceful to all His children. His purpose and will are prescriptions that need to be followed, and they describe how they should be done.

We cannot attach descriptive accounts to any event without the truth, or the scriptures will be lost in translation. God’s prescription has no ifs or buts. It is a straightforward command that must be done; 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. Which is different from this; you have to do these things or else! It is the same command but has 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 do not resist the desire of our lust. Therefore, 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 family member 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. However, when God promised Cornelius that his whole household would be saved as described by his faith, it did not mean the same promise was prescribed universally to all the households across the board. Acts 11:14. The promise was described explicitly to a specific person at that specific event.

Did God promise to save the whole household based on Acts 16:31? Paul responded when asked by Philippian’s correctional officer 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 also be saved.” Likewise, Paul’s instructions to the jailer were not a prescription for all believers. Instead, they were described for our benefit.

A promise was made for one man, and for one man, his household would be saved. What is Paul’s authority to promise that a household will be saved? To what extent will this be a pattern to be adopted 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 applied this promise to every household believer when it is evident that Paul did not include this nor followed it up in any of his letters. 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 at a specific time of the event but instead, it will be described as salvation for all, with no exclusivity nor partiality, everyone that believes and obeyed will be treated equally.

Does Paul’s letter to the Corinthians talk 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 family member to believe, and the rest of the family will be saved. Paul described faith alone without work as a way to save a household, that an unbelieving wife can be saved through his husband’s faith in Jesus Christ, and that their children will be saved based on that faith. Considering what was described and what was prescribed, we will conclude that the teaching of the Scriptures never means that way but refers to the sacredness of the marriage.

Adam and Eve were husband and wife because God joined them. They became one flesh made perfect. This version of creation is universal and becomes a pattern that when a man and a woman get married, they become one flesh. Paul described not unequally yoked together to unbelievers, for they cannot perform the work 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 become a struggle but instead to become one with God.

A correctional officer, a centurion, and a believing wife with an unbelieving husband viz a viz; one family member 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 members of his household followed him. The saving of this entire family is accomplished through the faith of the family’s leader. The correctional officer is a well-respected and well-obeyed head of the family. A saying is that to be a good leader, you should develop good followers.

When a father is described as the head of the family and is a Christian, most likely, the rest of the household members become Christian until they are on their own. Many years ago, a Christian family baptized their children as infants, leaving no choice for the infants but to become Christian according to the concept of household salvation automatically. The belief is that once baptized, all sins are forgiven, and infant boys are circumcised, following the tradition of the Jewish people. However, this belief has changed and is now more of hygiene than belief.

Jesus in John 8:17 said, “You are gods; you are all sons of the Highest,” referencing 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 would fight those who fight you, and I will save your children, Isaiah 49:25. This word was given to the children of Israel and all humanity. 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.

From our personal experience and point of view, the passages are not a promise for all believers but Paul’s feelings, if not a suspicion at the time. Many individuals have come to claim Christ as Savior over the centuries, 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 very encouraging to be saved, but then again, we deny the truth. The Scriptures cannot be broken, and God’s faithfulness for His word will be doubted, making many conclude that there are no assurances that the promises are made and not fulfilled. God hates liars and is not a liar to make promises He will not keep.

We must never conclude that a statement from God will not be delivered. Instead, we must be mindful that God chooses to save those who wish to save, 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 evident that we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ before being saved. On the contrary, there is a universal condition for believers and unbelief to follow, and there are no excuses why we can’t take it joyfully except if we doubt 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 humanity. That promise is not only for one household but is entirely consistent with every other verse in the Bible that speaks of salvation. The promise is 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 toward the way of God, He never stops loving us in our journey to righteousness. Therefore, do not think that you have an unconverted son, daughter, and other family members who give you a burden and continuously pray 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 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 King 8:56).

Proverbs 20:7 NIV: “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”

Psalm 18:25 says, “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. To claim your loved ones for Christ, you must remain focused 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 must continue our relationship with God and pray until God moves punishment to forgiveness, suffering to great joy, mercy, and grace to fulfillment of everlasting peace.

The New Testament is also called the New Covenant of Grace. It taught us to repent, forgive, and love, but most of all, salvation is centered in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave him only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. In the Old Testament, people were considered God’s servants. In the New Testament, we are His children.

“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 waits 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

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