The American Home (3)

Bob Jones Sr.

This article first appeared in the first issue of the magazine, Faith for the Family, published March/April, 1973.It is reproduced here by permission.

This is the THIRD of three parts • Part One • Part Two

In Part One, Dr. Jones introduces his theme and his concern for Christian homes. In Part Two he began to draw some principles based on ideas he finds in his text, Deut 22.8. Here, in Part Three, he brings his message to a conclusion. The style reminds us of a day that is gone, but the kind of home he envisioned would bring glory to God today.

The Rooftop — Its Walls

Now here is your flat topped roof. I am going to suggest that you put up four sides when you build your home. On this side put family discipline. Do you know that it is as much a mother’s duty and a father’s duty to discipline their children as it is to pray for them? We have no discipline in the average home today. That is what is the matter with this country. That is why we have so much crime. Family discipline! God says to bring up a child in the way he ought to go; and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). You have a responsibility. If you have children whom you do not discipline, God Almighty pity you! They will break your heart some day. We have found that every year the students who come to Bob Jones University have had a little less discipline than the ones who came the year before. Up and down this country today there is more criticism of the discipline here at the University than there is about our orthodoxy. What a description of the day in which we are living! Have we come to times when people do not believe we should obey rules and have standards of decency? Do you mean to tell me that when God Almighty says to flee youthful lusts (II Timothy 2:22) He means for us to throw ourselves into the arms of youthful lusts? We are living in terrible days. Nowadays, people say, “I don’t want to be told what to do.” Nobody does, but we all need to be told. If you do not have any discipline in your life, lusts will drive you like a slave. Every sinner is a slave. Discipline is not slavery. Discipline is Biblical and Christian. If you ever have a home, put up a wall of discipline. Start right off. You will not have a Christian home without it.

Put up your walls. On this side over here put reverence for the Bible. This Book is God’s Word. People today trample on the Word of God and go along with the crowd. The worst thing that can happen to a man is to treat lightly the authority of the Bible. And mark my word — if you throwaway some of the Bible, you will soon throw away all of it. Men are slandered in this day because they stand for the Bible. This world is moving toward Hell faster than it has ever traveled. The standards are being pulled down. The foundations are being destroyed. But this Book is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89).

On another side I suggest you put up a family altar. As I have already said, people can climb over a family altar and go to Hell; but they do not often do it. In my evangelistic work so many times I have had folks come to me and say, “I tried to go to Hell but the family altar in our home pulled me back.” This is a topsy-turvy world we live in that does not have time for God. Take time to put up the wall. It will be the best time you have.

There is yet one other wall, and it is consistent living. Do you know that the hardest job you have to do in the world is to be a consistent Christian? We are in a world that is unfriendly: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are going against the current of the age. You will have a hard time being consistent.

You have your house built. Now what? Go on building. If a home is run right, the folks in that home do not go to Hell. Put up the walls. If they fall down, you help set them up again. If you have been a problem to your parents, go back and tell them you are sorry. If you have not been what you ought to be, when you go back home, go back right. You may change the whole atmosphere.

I remember a story about Henry Grady. He was a Southern orator during the Civil War period. His mother lived up in North Georgia. One day Henry Grady was in his office, and he said: “I have been down here in Atlanta, editor of this paper, fighting; and I have kind of lost my religion. I am going to be out of town a day or two. Every time I lose my religion, I go back to my mother. I’m going back home to see my mother and try to get it back.”

So he went up to his North Georgia home. His old mother met him at the door. Her “baby” had come home. Funny how these mothers are. They do not even know when their children grow up. She met him at the door, and she was so happy to see him. They sat out on the porch and talked, and then she said she would fix some supper. I think I know what she fixed him. I know what my mother would fix me. I think she made him some of those old-time buttermilk-and-soda biscuits — not those baking powder, dollar-size biscuits; I mean those great big luscious ones that when you take the lid off you can smell them over the whole place. I think she gave him some of that old-time country ham. I am not talking about this “embalmed” ham “that you buy at a store. I mean that ham they used to hang up in the smokehouse, and the dogs would stand around at night and bark because they did not have any of the ham they could smell.

Then after a while she said, “Son, supper is ready.” This great, brilliant man walked in and sat down at the table. There were those old milk-and-soda biscuits, that country-fried ham, and there was brindle gravy like they used to make. He took one of those biscuits and lifted the lid and got some of that gravy and poured it on; then he let it go down and soak as long as he could stand it. Then he made a “pass” at it — it was a half-moon; the second lick was a total eclipse.

After they had finished their supper, they went out and sat on the porch. He held his mother’s old, tired hand; and she told him how proud she was of him. She was so glad to hear of the moral stand he had taken down there “in the city.”

After a while she said, “Son, go on up to bed. I’ll come up and tuck you in.” This brilliant orator went up the steps and got in bed; and after awhile his old mother came up the steps. Her shoulders were drooped under the weight of the years. She tucked him in as she used to do when he was a little boy. Then she moved a table with a light and a Bible up close to the bed. “I’m going to read to you out of the Bible like I used to do.” I do not know what she read, but I imagine it was this: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Then she got down on her knees by the bed and prayed for her boy. She asked God to take care of him. When she got through, she said, “Son, say your prayers.” And this brilliant man stretched his hands across his breast and said, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. This I ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.” The mother got off her knees, dropped a tear on his brow, and left a kiss with the tear. “Good night, Son; you’ll be all right in the morning.”

The next morning he came down the stairs with the joy bells ringing in his heart. He had breakfast and said, “Mother, I’ve got to get back to Atlanta. I’ve got to go to Boston to make a speech up there.” He went to Boston and gave one of the most famous orations ever given on this continent.

You know, if I were a mother or a father and my children went to somebody else to find out what to do to be saved, I would feel a little embarrassed about it, wouldn’t you? If you are going to be the right kind of mother and the right kind of father, do not go against the will of God and marry a sinner and call it a Christian home. If you marry outside the will of God and contrary to the Word of God, do not say, “Lord, I married against Your orders; but I want You to take care of me just the same.” You have no right to ask any thing contrary to the Word of God.

Young people, it will not be long until the years pile up. It does not seem so long since I was in college. You might be thinking about these things. It might be the very sermon God wants you to have. It may put somebody’s son or daughter on the mission field. I hope you will have a home and the right kind of home. It will be the right kind if it is built according to God’s instructions. “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thy house, if any man fall from thence” (Deuteronomy 22:8).

Remember that God has a will about everything you, as a Christian, do. Be dead sure that the thing you want is the will of God. Do not try to sell yourself on something that God forbids. And when you build a home, do not build contrary to the Word of God; but ask God to reveal to you what He wants, for His will is the most important thing in your life.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., was the founder and first president of Bob Jones University.

Addendum: The original article was accompanied by a biographical sketch of Dr. Jones which we publish here with the conclusion of the article:

“Evangelist Bob Jones” was a household word for years before God laid upon the heart of this servant the burden of founding a school that would “stand without apology for the old-time religion and for the absolute authority of the Word of God.”

Dr. Bob was born to preach. On the farm on which he was reared, he “played church” with the children of the neighborhood (he was the preacher, of course, and adults often hid behind trees to listen to his sermons) and even preached to the mule with which he plowed the fields of his father, Alex Jones.

Dr. Bob’s first public speech was in Alabama at a “Children’s Day Program” at Mt. Pleasant. According to page 13 of the minutes of the Beulah Church, “Although he was only ten at the time, he really preached a sermon.” At the age of twelve, he made a “public speech in defense of the Populist party.” A newspaper account of this speech states, “Such rare ability as a speaker did he exhibit that he held the crowd spellbound for 20 or 30 minutes. When he ceased, he received an ovation which outrivaled anything theretofore in Dothan.”

Uncompromisingly, unflinchingly, and undauntedly, he lived by the policy that when he had a job to do, he must do it to the best of his ability. Whether in the field as an evangelist, or at the University as its Founder and President, this tender-hearted but dynamic man had the supreme desire to stand for the Word of God, to win souls, and to lead others to follow suit.

“This great man,” says a biographer in Builder Of Bridges, “was a link between two eras. At the age of thirteen he held his first brush arbor meeting, which meeting foreshadowed the sawdust trail, which in turn foreshadowed what some have labeled the ‘plush carpet on the sawdust trail.’ He acted on the principle that not only the message of the Word is important but also the method by which the message is presented…”

At his death, it was stated by an editor, “Dr. Bob Jones had his foes as well as his friends, his detractors as well as his devotees, but none among them can deny that even at the age of 84, when he met his Maker face-to-face on Tuesday he stood four square as a man of conviction — not compromising.”