Mrs. Meyer is a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Familiar words we know so well. But what a blessing it is when we ponder the depths of those words! What a comfort for the child of God to know that his heavenly Father is the Creator of all things. To know that time began in His hands, and time will end in His hands. Yea, to know His grasp is on eternity itself!
Every word, every jot, and every tittle is important in Scripture. The words quoted above are beautiful as they are pondered together as a verse. But let us see what gem we might find if we will consider only the first word of this verse — in. Let us ponder this word as it has Christ as its supreme and ultimate object. And let us see what the implications of this are for our families and homes. For there is beauty here for our enjoyment and edification.
In is a word that cannot be understood without its object. It is a mere preposition. And a small preposition at that. Just a jot. Just a tittle of a word. Yet it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one jot or tittle of the law! (Luke 16:17). So it is with this word in. Although we find this word countless times throughout Scripture, just as we find “to,” “and,” and “the,” there are instances when its object and context give it significance. It is my opinion that in, as it holds the position of the very first word in Holy Writ, occupies just such a place of special distinction. Surely Scripture would not open haphazardly. God could have phrased these opening words differently and attained the same basic meaning. But it wouldn’t be the same — not in every facet of every nuance. It is in the beginning that God created. We learn more about the beginning in John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” What a beautiful parallel to Genesis 1:1! “In the beginning” has everything to do with our Lord Jesus Christ! In fact, He is the beginning: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13). The opening words of Scripture portend truths that stand from beginning to end, to all eternity.
But let us back up once more and consider what exactly it is to be in. The state of being in — what is that? In describes a relationship. If you are in one thing, then you are out of another thing. Particularly the opposite thing. And what is it that immediately comes to mind that we most want to be in? What is the most important relationship there is? It is the covenant! What else is there to be in, but in fellowship with God? No other in matters. To be anywhere else is to be out, and in a sense, that is no existence at all. Without this in there is no life. Without this in there is no beginning. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6b). “In him was life” (John 1:4a). And inJohn 5:26 we read, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Only in the covenant, in the fellowship of God, is there life!
Scripture shows us more of these things in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians: “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Col. 1:17-19). In Him! The ultimate meaning of the word in has everything to do with Jesus Christ! And because it has everything to do with Him, it also has to do with the triune God: “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:28). Here is the end of the matter. That God may be all in all.
In. It’s in the beginning. It’s in the end. Do you begin to sense the depths of this word? Do you begin to see the poetry of it all? Volumes are buried in this little jot! Volumes that incorporate the truth of the covenant as it spans all of Scripture. The triune God — Three in One. As the Athanasian Creed puts it so beautifully, “… the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity….” What is that covenant activity within God? It is being in, with all that that entails and implies. And this triune God is revealed to us, how? In Christ. The most important question is, “Who?” Who is our Redeemer? Who is our Creator? But then we must also ask, “How?” How do we know Him? How are we connected to Him? The answer is our tittle. We know Him and His love because He has put us in Christ and Christ in us (Eph. 3:17-19). We know Him because He has brought us into His own covenant life! “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:20). Our only comfort is knowing that we belong to our Savior, that we are in His possession, and that He dwells in us. With the end goal of it all being that God is all in all. Profound and amazing gem, this in, when we begin to see the many facets it includes!
For us, this state of being in has spiritual as well as physical implications. As cited above in Colossians, we are in the body of Christ, the church. And in that body, we are part of and one with the elect of God. This, of course, refers to the church as she is realized on the earth right now, and also to the church of all ages. But she is also that body with whom we gather Sunday after Sunday to hear the words of our Head. She is the grieving, the sick, and the aged, whom we visit and help and comfort. She is that group of believers with whom we diligently study and discuss the words of our Lord as they are contained in all of Scripture.
But there is more. She is also that body with whom God has placed us on a daily basis in our homes. She is the husband, the wife, the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, and the children whom God has been pleased to grant us. In fact, if we were to ask ourselves where or what we are physically in the most, we would have to answer — in our homes. God has made our homes an important place to be! He established the covenant bond of the home already when He brought Eve to Adam. And God has accordingly given much instruction about the different relationships that exist in the home.
So now let us consider one of these relationships. Let us consider how our children are in our homes. When we bring our children to the baptismal font, as we ourselves were brought, we bring them knowing and trusting that we as a body are baptized into the fellowship of the triune God. We are washed in the blood of Christ. We see the water and we know we are washed. A sign and a seal — that’s baptism. But if we are indeed in something, that also means we are out of something else. Being in the blood of Christ, in the fellowship of the triune God, also means we are out of the bonds of Satan, and out of the fellowship of the world. We are indeed a separate people. This, then, is how God puts our children in our homes: in Christ. Our children, as well as we ourselves, are washed, separate, holy people.
Now the question is — how do we live this out? How do we live in Christ in our homes? If baptism has set us apart, then this separation will indeed be evident. In the first place, being in the home will separate us. God has ordained and established this all important place, and that is where you will find us. Mom is there. Dad is there. Children are there. We are not gone away in constant pursuit of money, pleasure, and career. We are home because we must follow the injunction of Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, which commandment requires being in the home together. Teach the words of God to your children diligently, the text says: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Diligence takes time. True, parents for a time may entrust this diligent instruction to Christian school teachers, yet parents are responsible for that instruction. And that instruction doesn’t quit when the children walk through the door after school. Whether we’re sitting, walking, resting, or rising up — it never quits. The text is clear. God doesn’t even give time off for sleeping — we’re on call 24 hours a day! Teaching the words of God to our children is to be a constant activity.
How are we able to do this? How is it possible? There’s only one way we can constantly be talking of these things to our children, and this text makes that plain as well. Where are the words of God found, first of all, before they can be taught? Verse 6: “… in thine heart.” And there’s that tittle again, that beautiful little tittle. The words of God must be so in our thoughts, minds, and hearts, so in us, that our mouths bubble forth with those godly thoughts to our children. Just like a fountain. Just like a prophet. Talking. Ever talking. Showing and explaining. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34b). There’s no other way.
It takes delving into the depths of the truths of Scripture. It takes sincere and diligent study into the truths expressed in doctrine and the creeds. It takes hearing the Word and understanding it. It takes hard work. Very hard work. It takes knowing the well of Scripture to such an extent that we are able to draw up buckets of spiritual thirst-quenching water for us and for our children. And we must be constantly drawing up that bucket!
Again, how is this possible? Is this not beyond our human capability? Yes, it is humanly impossible. But even as Christ gave water to the Samaritan woman at the well, so too He gives it to us, and it “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). This is the text in Deuteronomy as well — “these words … shall be in thine heart.” They “shall be in thine heart” because He puts them there! “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16b). It is the Spirit. It is the Spirit that we need for life. It is the Spirit that we need for living. It is the Spirit who will give us the words to teach our children.
We are but dry bones. There is no life in us. No water. To live like this, teaching our children as we ought, is indeed impossible of ourselves. But also note this — Scripture commands it. And not just this command, but all of the law is humanly impossible! This command is no more attainable than any other command. We are driven where we must also go, even as with all of the law — to Christ (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 44, Q/A 115). And in Christ not only can we do it, we will! It’s Christ’s work! How can that be? Here’s the tittle again: because we are in Him. Washed in His blood and sanctified in His Spirit. In Him we have the life. In Him we have the water. We have it because He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Not just our children are separated out of the world to be a holy people in Christ, but we as parents are separated out of the world to be a holy people in Christ. Washed and living. Because we are in.
“Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20b-22). Jesus is the Builder, not we. It is in Christ that our children have been given to us. It is in Christ that He has made us parents to those children. And because this is all in Christ, it is all the work of the Spirit.
Herein shines a glorious facet of that little tittle in, a facet that is part of the whole gem from which the radiant truth that God is all in all shines to all eternity. Next time, the Lord willing, we will look at some small, actual, specific rays that have emanated from this precious little facet, this tittle of a word, in.