You can open to the twelfth chapter of the book of Luke. Luke chapter 12, verse 51. He says: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Now you may turn to the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew, and I am going to begin reading with verse 21. He says: “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Drop down from there to verse 33. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. And he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Now, when Christ was born you know that angels came down announcing his birth, and they said at that time, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” Peace on earth has nothing to do with peace in your heart, as some liberals and others will attempt to interpret this. Peace on earth does not mean peace in your heart. It means peace between man and man, according to all the Old Testament prophecies: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation: neither shall they learn war any more.” That is peace on earth; and this is what the angels sang about, and in effect promised, when Christ came. This is what his disciples were expecting him to give. Therefore, during his life on earth—during his ministry—he turns to them, and he says: “Don't think that I came to send peace on earth. I didn't come to send peace on earth; I came to send a sword.” Now, we have a little difficulty here. How is it that we have all of these prophecies in the Old Testament concerning peace on earth—nation not lifting up sword against nation any more—beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks—and this “peace on earth, goodwill to man” at the birth of the Savior, and yet when he comes to his time of ministry, he says, “I -didn't- come to send peace on earth”?
Very plainly (and I'm sure you all understand this without me telling you), all of those prophecies concerning peace on earth will be fulfilled when Christ comes -the second time-. But when he came the first time, he said, “I didn't come to send peace on earth—not this time: this time I came to send a sword.” Now, you know from what I've taught you on the real marrow of dispensationalism—the real difference between Old Testament times and New Testament times, and between New Testament times and the kingdom time, that when God comes down and lays claim to the –earth-, and establishes his dominion in the earth, so that there will be righteousness in the –earth-, and the effect of that righteousness will be peace and quietness and assurance forever in the earth, the very first thing that he does is execute a sweeping, unsparing judgement that destroys every ungodly person. He did it with the flood in Noah's day, and he did it (or at least ordered his people to do it) when he established them in the land of Canaan, and he's going to do it again when Christ comes back. And that is the only way that there will ever be peace on earth, when the ungodly are destroyed, and the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their father.
Now, it is not that Christ does not –desire- peace on the earth—of course he does—but what he is saying is this: “Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth; I did not. I –cannot- send peace on the earth—not without utterly overthrowing and denying everything that is revealed in the Old Testament, and everything that belongs to the nature of God and to the nature of the life of faith. I cannot send peace on the earth until that sweeping, unsparing judgement sweeps away the ungodly. As long as this earth is filled with violence, and as long as the wickedness of man is great on the earth, and as long as the ungodly fill this earth and rule over it, and I have these few righteous souls here that belong to me, there cannot be peace on earth.” So he says, “Don't get any such idea that I came to send peace on earth. I didn't come to send peace. I came to send a sword.”
Now observe, when the Old Testament prophesies peace on earth, it says, “-Nation- shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” But when Christ says, “I came to send a sword on the earth,” he never mentions –nations-. The only place he says that he's going to put that sword is in your –household-. You will find that in both of the passages that we read. First of all, in the one in Matthew chapter 10, he says in verse 34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” You see, these are all family relations. “And a man's foes shall be they of -his own household-.” Christ says, “I came not for peace, but to send a sword. And the place I'm going to put that sword is -in your household-.”
In the twelfth chapter of the book of Luke we see the same thing. Matthew says your foes are going to be those of your own household. Luke chapter 12, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one –house- divided, three against two, and two against three. The –father- shall be divided against the –son-, and the –son- against the –father-; the –mother- against the –daughter-, and the –daughter- against the –mother-; the -mother-in-law- against her -daughter-in-law-, and the -daughter-in-law- against her -mother-in-law-.” All of these are -family relationships-. Now, he says two things here besides a sword: he says, “I came to send –division- and –variance-.” Where? -In your household-. He never mentions nations. Never mentions cities or political parties or anything of the sort. The only thing that Christ ever talks about when he talks about sending this sword on earth is -your household-. And by the way, Christ says, “I came for this purpose: to put this sword in your household.” You say, “Well then, does Christ desire it? Does he want father against son, and son against father? Does he want mother against daughter, and daughter against mother? Does he delight in division and variance?” No—not as the real desire of his heart. But he can't do anything else without overthrowing the nature of God, and of Christianity, and of faith, and of the walk of faith, and of the Bible, and—as far as that goes—the nature of sin, and of the devil. As long as these things are together on earth, there's going to be a sword. And if these things exist together without a sword, something is desperately wrong. Christ says, “I –came- to –send- a sword.” It doesn't just say, “We'll tolerate this sword.” He says, “I came to –send- it.” He doesn't just say, “We can't avoid it, so therefore we'll endure it.” He says, “I came to –send- it. I came to make a division. I came to make a separation. I came to send division and variance.” Where? In your household. Why? Because Christ came into a world under the dominion of sin and Satan, to introduce the -testimony of God- there. And as soon as that testimony is introduced, division and variance immediately follow, and the first place where that division manifests itself is in the family. It will be altogether different at his -second coming-. Then he will not introduce the testimony of God into the midst of the kingdom of Satan, but will –first- bind the devil and destroy his kingdom, and then there will be “peace on earth.”
Now, let's look at some examples of this sword in the household. First of all, the principle is given to us in the fourth chapter of the book of Galatians. Galatians chapter 4, verse 28, says, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” So what he's saying here is, -nothing has changed-. Way back then when there was one son born after the flesh and one son born after the Spirit—one son of the flesh and one son of the promise—the son that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the promise. And he says, “even so it is now”—-and always will be. As long as you have those two classes of persons on earth—he that is born after the flesh and he that is born of the Spirit—he that is born of the flesh will persecute him that is born of the Spirit. Now, of course, the very first place on earth in which that persecution is going to manifest itself is—in your household. That's where people are closest together. That's where they know each other the best. That's where they have the closest contact with each other, and that is always the first place the persecution is going to manifest itself. Brother persecuting brother, brother delivering up brother to death, father delivering child to death, children rising up against their parents, father divided against the son, daughter against the mother, and mother against the daughter, mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.
Now observe—and this is a point of the utmost importance. Some men may preach it this way: “The reason that we have this sword is solely because he that is born after the flesh is going to persecute him that is born of the Spirit. That's why we have the division; that's why we have the variance.” But it isn't that way. The division of which Christ speaks comes -from both sides-. Christ says, “Not only is the father going to be against the son, but also the son against the father.” And every relationship which he names, he names from -both sides-. “I came to set the father against the son, and the son against the father.” If the father is ungodly and the son godly, then the father is against the son, but the son is also against the father. And that is what Christ says in every instance. Every relationship which he names, he names from both sides. If you have an ungodly mother-in-law against a godly daughter-in-law, then you also have a godly daughter-in-law against an ungodly mother-in-law. The division comes from both sides. What! is the devil against Christ, and Christ not against the devil? Christ says, “This is what I came to send—a sword.” Not only the ungodly against the godly, but also the godly against the ungodly. And if you're godly and you're not –against- the ungodly, something is wrong with you. Maybe we should turn back to the passage in the book of Luke again, just so you can see it with your eyes again in black and white. Luke chapter 12, and verse 52. He says: “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two”—yes, but also “two against three.” If the three are against the two, then the two are against the three. And he says, “The father shall be divided against the son, -and- the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, -and- the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” This sword works both ways. It is not –merely- a matter that the one born of the flesh is going to persecute the one born of the Spirit. The sword comes both ways—the variance and the division come both ways. If the father is against the son, the son is also against the father.
Now, back in the fourth chapter of the book of Galatians, where we have this set forth in principle, he says, “As then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” That's in verse 29, but the next verse says, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” You see, you have the sword working both ways. You've got the son born after the flesh persecuting the one born after the Spirit—mocking in fact—but you also have, on the other side, “-Cast out- the bondwoman and her son.” If the one is against the other, then the other is against the one. And I believe there is a great –deficiency- in the church of God in this matter. We don't see much in the way of a sword in most households. We don't see much of variance or division. Do you have foes in your household? Do you have enemies in your household?—variance?—division? Why aren't the ungodly against –you-? Very probably because you aren't against the ungodly. In other words, you don't take a stand for anything—or, maybe I should say—against anything. You may stand for a lot of things and not get too much persecution. You take a stand –against- a few things and you –will- get some. And of course, if you stand –against- something, you're going to be standing against him that does it.
Why did the world hate Christ? He says to his brothers according to the flesh, “The world –cannot- hate –you-; -me- it hates.” Why? “Because I bear witness of it that its works are wicked.” He took a stand first against the world; then the world was against him. The world hated him precisely because he took a stand against it, and said its deeds were evil—or, as I like to translate it—its works were wicked. The meaning is the same.
Now then, Ishmael persecuted Isaac. He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit. On the other side, the mother who gave birth to the child born of the promise says, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” The sword worked both ways. Now, you can turn back to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Genesis, and we'll see this actual instance that Paul is spiritualizing in the book of Galatians. Genesis chapter 21, verse 9, “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was -very grievous- in Abraham's sight, because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” In other words, God puts his stamp of approval upon this sword working both ways. He puts his stamp of approval on Sarah's words: “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” God says, “In everything that Sarah has spoken unto you, hearken to her; do it. Ishmael is not my child—in Isaac thy seed shall be called.”
Now, there arises a –difficulty- at this point, and it is the precise difficulty that arises in the heart of every one of us, and it is this, verse 11: “The thing was -very grievous- in Abraham's sight.” He didn't want to do it. He didn't want to cast out the bondwoman and her son. –You- don't want to do it, either. –You- don't want to take a stand against your father or mother or brother or sister or whoever it is. –You- don't want to have variance in your household. –You- don't want to have a sword in your household. The thing is -very grievous- in your eyes, as it was in Abraham's. But God says, “Abraham, let it not be grievous in your eyes—just do it.”
Now, we'll go back to the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis. We see this same sword in the household from the very beginning of the creation. From the very first two children that were ever born on earth, there was a sword in the household. And so the Lord says in effect, “Don't think that I came to send peace on earth. Don't get any such idea in your minds as that I came to send peace on earth. If I was going to send peace on earth, I would have to overthrow the whole revelation of the Bible from the very first chapter, the very beginning of the creation, the first two children ever born, the first household that ever existed—-there was a sword in it. Don't think I'm going to send peace on earth—I can't do it. The sword in the household has been here ever since there has been a household on earth.” Now, in the fourth chapter of Genesis, we see the first instance. “Adam knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground and offered an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and unto his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain [verse 8] talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”
Why did Cain slay his brother? Turn over to the book of First John, chapter 3, verse 12. I'll read from verse 11: “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Now, it's a very simple proposition: You cannot mix a child of God with a child of the devil. You cannot mix a righteous man and a wicked man. And if you've got a righteous man and a wicked man—if you've got a man who is of God and a man who is of that wicked one, in the same household—there's going to be a sword. Unless maybe that righteous man –compromises-, and I'm afraid that's what usually happens. But it ought not to happen. There is a sword. It's been there ever since there was a household on earth, in which there was a godly man and an ungodly man. Why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Now, when your works are righteous and your brother's works are evil, your very –presence- will condemn him. Your very presence will be a constant goad to his conscience. That is, if you are really righteous. If you are really standing where you ought to stand, and for what you ought to stand for, and against what you ought to stand against, your righteous life will be a constant source of irritation to him, and he will hate you—simply because your works are righteous, and his are wicked. You can't mix a child of God with a child of the devil—and how some of these folks marry ungodly people and live their whole lives with them—I don't know. I really don't understand it. It happens quite often, and I have known numerous cases where those apparently—or supposedly—godly women have prayed and labored their -whole life- for the salvation of their husband, and their husbands have died unsaved. How is this? Well, I can tell you another thing: I haven't known many of those supposedly Christian women who have been subjected to any persecution from those ungodly husbands, or who have really had any kind of a sword in their household. It's very likely because they just live their whole life in a state of lukewarmness and compromise, as they compromised to marry the ungodly man in the first place.
Now, I can give you an example on the other side. I know of a case which I read of in history, where a godly woman—she became godly after she was married—she got converted, and joined the Methodists. Now the Methodists in those days were full of zeal and power and love and holiness, and they were persecuted. They were hated by the world. They were the sect everywhere spoken against. Well, this woman became a source of constant irritation to her husband, and he forbid her to go to any more Methodist meetings. He said, “The next time you go to a Methodist meeting, I'm going to heat the oven red hot (he was a baker), and the moment you walk through that door, I'm going to throw you in it.” You see, she had a sword in her household, and the reason she had a sword in her household is because she was faithful to God. Well, she went to the meeting anyway. John Fletcher was preaching. It was at his church in Madeley. John Fletcher got up with a sermon all ready to preach, in his mind and heart, but when he stood up to speak, his mind went completely blank, and he couldn't think of what his message was supposed to be—totally forgot it. And he began to say to the congregation, “My mind has gone completely blank. I can't remember what I was going to preach, and I will just have to sit down, and not preach.” And as he began to say this, suddenly by the Spirit of God there was borne into his mind—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He preached on it with great power, and the woman sat there feeling as though every word was just for her. (And, by the way, it was. God no doubt gave that sermon to Fletcher at that moment for that woman.) And she walked out of that building full of exultant, victorious faith, singing on the way home, “If I had a thousand lives, I'd give them all for Christ.” She walked up to the house, and saw the smoke pouring out of the chimney from the oven. She boldly opened the door and walked in, and there was her husband on his knees crying to God for mercy.
Her way was effectual to the conversion of her ungodly husband. The way –not- to convert your ungodly families is to live in peace with them, without any sword in your household, and compromise your whole life long, and don't take a stand for anything, and don't make any waves, and don't rock the boat, and don't become a source of irritation to them. Just compromise, and come down to their level when you're with them, and live as though you're one of them, and like them, and you'll never make any impression on them, and they'll die and go to hell. If you want to save them, get a –sword- in your house, like that Methodist woman did. She made short work of saving her husband. You don't think it will work that way, but you know Christ says, “I would you were hot or cold: because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth.” There's a much better chance for a persecutor to get saved than there is for somebody that is peacefully coexisting with a child of God—and no enmity, and no sword, and no variance, and no division between them.
The Lord Jesus Christ had variance in –his- household when he sojourned among men. His brethren did not believe on him. I mentioned before that he said to his brothers, “The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are wicked.” Christ, of course, is our pattern, our example. We all know that. Christ is our example, but do we follow him? He didn't go out and “share the gospel.” He went out and testified to the world that its works were wicked. And he was hated for it. And, as he said to his ungodly, unbelieving brethren, “The world cannot hate you,” I suspect that he would have to say to his lukewarm, unfaithful church today: “The world cannot hate you; you don't bear witness to the world that its works are wicked. There's no sword between you and the ungodly. No sword in your household, no enemies in your household, no foes, no variance, no division—just peaceful coexistence between the children of God and the children of the devil.” How can they coexist? There's only one way: it's when the children of God come down to the level of the children of the devil.
Turn over to the fifteenth chapter of the book of John. He says in verse 18, “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Now, this brings the thing down even to a lower level. This is not even a matter of testifying against the works of the world. Here we are told we will be hated just because we are not part of the world—just for -living the kind of life- which says, “I am different. I don't engage in the activities that you folks engage in. I don't live the same kind of life that you do. I don't –belong- to the sphere that you folks belong to.”
Now, you may turn back to the book of Matthew, and we'll close. Back to the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew again. In the twenty-first verse he says: “The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Now this looks like a literal sword, and it's in the household. And I emphasize it one more time, every time Christ speaks in these three passages that we have read—wherever he mentions this sword, he always puts it in the household. Then down to verse 34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”
But you don't want your foes to be those of your own household. You labor to prevent such a thing. Very well, if you don't compromise in the process. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18). That is, of course, “if it be possible” -without compromise-—“if it be possible” without becoming worldly and lukewarm yourself. It is no more right to seek reproach and persecution by flaunting your righteousness, than it is to avoid it by compromise. “-As much as lies in us-,” we ought to live at peace with all men. But if you compromise and lower your flag in order to keep peace in your household, the Lord has another word for you: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it.” He that clings to all of those earthly and fleshly ties, and all of those things that make up his life, shall lose it: “but he that loseth his life”—-renounces it, gives it up for Christ's sake—he “shall find it.” And he may well save his ungodly family at the same time. But if he can't save them by faithfulness, it's folly enough to expect to save them by unfaithfulness.
Let's pray: God, thank you for the faithful witness of this holy, faithful book, and oh, God, may we have faithful hearts. God, I pray that you might raise up once again a church, a movement, that actually enters into the spirit of this holy book and of this holy religion which you have revealed to us. Oh, God, may we be that people. Send forth your Spirit upon us, we pray, and give us willing hearts to deny ourselves down here, in order that we may reign with an eternal weight of glory upon us for ever and ever up there. Amen.
A Sermon Preached on June 22, 1988, Recorded, Transcribed, & Revised.