Monthly Archives: October 2012

RESCUE: The Goal of Giving our Children a Vibrant Faith

One of the beautiful things about the gospel is that it produces a living and vibrant faith. It is our daily protection in that through faith in the gospel I have salvation, justification, peace, and an understanding of the Word of God. Through it I am being transformed from glory to glory. I have all I ever need for life and godliness, freedom from the power of sin, and my Sabbath rest in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

I can go on and on but the point is that we should want our children to possess such a faith.  That their understanding of the Christian faith through the Word of God would be informed through the central meaning of it in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Next to the tragedy of a child who never grasps the gospel, is the child who may make some level of profession of faith and then walk away.

Tom Bisset in his book, ‘Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith,” lists 4 main reasons why some people leave the faith.

  1. They encounter troubling and unanswered questions about the faith. They see the tough issues of life and do not see a Christian answer. These can be theological questions or just questions of doubt. They may be told “you just need to believe” and so they will leave in the name of intellectual honesty. Some of the material that is available in the name of apologetics is intellectually weak and at times dishonest.
  2. Their faith just does not work for them. The Christian faith is presented as one where there should be peace, joy, and happiness as found in the promises of the Bible. They become disillusioned with the church, with other Christians in watching their lives and ultimately disillusioned with God.
  3. Other things in life become more important than their faith. The person becomes preoccupied by such things as seeking pleasures, ambitions, personal issues or just some of the hard realities of life. Pretty soon a secular view of life displaces a sacred view based upon the Scriptures. The person begins to drift just like a boat from its moorings and their faith is a beam on the horizon.
  4. They never personally owned their own faith. In other words, there was not authentic repentance and faith. They simply conformed to the spiritual expectations of their parents and others and did what was required to show belief such a saying a prayer and being baptized. Then when faced with the reality of life later their faith collapsed because it was thin on the outside and hollow on the inside.

This is why the Deuteronomy 6 paradigm and the preaching of the gospel to yourself and to your children every single day and into all aspects of life is imperative. If they do not see the centrality of the gospel in the affairs of mankind, it will become irrelevant to them.

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RESCUE: What is at stake: The Goal of Goals

There are many goals that we need to establish for our children, but there is one that needs to be foundational and weave through every other goal. That is our children, as far as what depends upon us, attain heaven. For if our children do not, they are eternally under the judgment and wrath of God and all the things of this life will be meaningless. My children are in their late 30s and though I am by blood their father, our eternal relationship, which is far more glorious, is my son and daughter are my brother and sister in Christ. They will stand with me before the throne of God one day and we will all cry out together “salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” The pathway to heaven is through the cross of Jesus Christ so once again, all things in the home and in the life of our children need to be informed by the gospel or else, though they may grow to be good kids and adults, they are damned to a Christless eternity.

J C Ryle wrote:

Train with this thought continually before your eyes—that the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered. Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part that will never die. The world with all its glory shall pass away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit that dwells in those little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all, and whether in happiness or misery (to speak as a man) will depend on you.”

 This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan and scheme and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, “How will this affect their souls?”

 Soul love is the soul of all love. To pet, pamper, and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to and this life the only season for happiness—to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth that has but one world to look to and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth that he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy—that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.

 A true Christian must be no slave to fashion if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short—the fashion of this world passeth away. He that has trained his children for heaven rather than for earth—for God, rather than for man—is the parent that will be called wise at last.

(J C Ryle, “Primary Obligations for Parents”)

RESCUE: THE CHRISTIAN AND GOSPEL-CENTERED HOME

I don’t want to just make this a general statement but it is possible to have a home where the parents are Christians but it lacks the central message of the Christian faith in the gospel. These parents may understand the gospel as a message for unbelievers and then teach their children that the Christian faith is about their behavior. They present God the Father in a manner that the basis of his joy in them is on how well they behave and being good is the end all of our faith.

Certainly we must provide for our children clear guidance, rules, and commands based upon the Scripture, but they lead us to understand God’s love for us is based upon the work of Jesus Christ. See some of the previous posts, “Parenting for Recovering Pharisees, Aug 31” and “Grabbing the Life-Buoy of the Gospel, Sep 5.”

On the post yesterday, a “gospel-centered home” is defined as one that every part of the home is informed by the gospel. Is this a new concept or is it a consistent theme of the Bible?  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)

How did you spend your time with your children this past week? In their activities and appointments of the week, what did you teach and talk to them? Did you inform their time at home and in their activities with such a message as is found in Deuteronomy 6? Did they ask you questions that are in accordance with Deuteronomy 6? How you spent your time with your kids does show what you really want.

Tomorrow will be on setting goals for the family.

RESCUE: THE GOSPEL-CENTERED HOME DEFINED

What defines your parenting? What are your goals with your children? You know what defines your parenting and your goals for your children by the way you parent and what motivates your joy in parenting. For example, are you more concerned with their behavior or their heart?

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15 that what is to be of first importance in our lives is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

This means that there is nothing of equal or greater value than the fact that God sent His Son to the cross to bear his wrath for sinners like you and your children. If so, is there anything in life we should be more passionate about than the gospel. We should be thinking on it, reflecting on it, rejoicing in it and allowing it to guide the way we look at our families and the way we parent.

So what does a gospel-centered home look like? It is one where all aspects of the family and parenting are informed by the gospel. Such a home knows such things as:

  1. Jesus has won the victory over sin, Satan and death. Our sin as parents or the sin of our children are parts of the battle but Christ has won the victory and a home that realizes the power of God in the gospel and Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24) sees the hope we have and are not defeated.
  2. Jesus is our redemption and has set us free from the slavery of sin. We may fall but we do not need to stay where we are. Christ has purchased the freedom to pursue righteousness.
  3. Jesus is our justification where our sin was taken upon him and his righteousness credited to us so that we could be seen as justified in God’s sight.
  4. Jesus has cleansed us from all sins that we have committed and sins committed against us. The burden of guilt has been lifted and the power to forgive purchased.
  5. Jesus is our ransom and paid the price for our sin. There is neither further cost nor interest penalty. We are completely forgiven and there are no charges against us.
  6. Jesus is our reconciliation where the obstacle of sin has been taken away and we have been brought to God in a new relationship.

The battle is to discipline and nurture your children guided by these truths and many other truths of the gospel. Tomorrow I will post the fundamental difference between a home that may be “Christian” but absent of the gospel.

RESCUE: THE FAMILY AND THE GOSPEL

I began class with the overview that was posted yesterday. Then it is important that vocabulary be clarified and two terms that must be understood are the terms “gospel” and “gospel-centered.” Today I will clarify the word gospel and tomorrow what a “gospel-centered family” means.

As far as the proclamation of the gospel, I would invite you to click the link at the top of the page here, “The Gospel” This is a clear presentation of the good news that addresses the bad news. In class I shared the gospel in terms of the biblical story of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. It is sharing the gospel as a unified, coherent narrative of God’s Word and his ongoing work within his kingdom. After God had created the world, and after human rebellion had marred it, God set out to restore what he had made: God did not turn his back on a world bent on destruction; he turned his face toward it in love. He set out on the long road of redemption to restore the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom. The Bible narrates the story of God’s journey on the road of redemption. It is a unified and progressively unfolding drama of God’s action in history and our salvation. The Bible is not a mere jumble of history, poetry, lessons in morality and theology, comforting promises, guiding principles and commands; it is fundamentally coherent. Every part of the Bible-each event, book, character, command, prophecy and poem-must be understood in the context of the one storyline.

For learning how the Bible impacts us as a family, we have to avoid reading the Bible as if it were merely a mosaic of little bits-theological bits, moral bits, historical-critical bits, sermon bits, and devotional bits. To read the Bible in such a fragmented way is to ignore its divine author’s intention to shape our lives through its story. If we allow the Bible to become fragmented, it is in danger of being absorbed into whatever other story is shaping our family, and will thus cease to shape our lives as it should. The dominant cultural story of the secular Western world has been twisted by idolatry. If as believers we allow this story (rather than the Bible) to become the foundation of our thought and action, then our lives will manifest not the truths of scripture, but the lies of an idolatrous culture. Thus the unity of Scripture is no minor matter: a fragmented Bible may produce theologically orthodox, morally upright, warmly pious idol worshippers!

(I must give credit to Craig Bartholomew and his book “The Drama of Scripture” for some of the description of the gospel storyline)

RESCUE: A LIFESAVING COURSE FOR THE FAMILY

Welcome to those who are attending or planning on attending the class I will be leading at Faith Bible Church on parenting. Also welcome to those who cannot but you are welcome to follow the class on this blog site. I have titled it “Rescue” because families these days need to be rescued from the overload of parenting information that is thrown at them. Over 75,000 books on parenting have been produced in the last decade and the church has for the most part, lost its bearings on what is truly a biblical course.

I am hoping to navigate a way through the maze and the ultimate rescue that God has provided in the gospel itself. Families are made of parents who are sinners and children who sin and God has provided through Jesus Christ the answer to sin.

The plan is to post throughout the week a review of the class along with some additional thoughts. Here is the schedule:

Week 1: Navigating a biblical course

Week 2: Rescuing a parent’s heart

Weeks 3 & 4: Rescuing a child’s heart

Week 5: Survival in the storms of the world

Week 6: The home as a Christ-centered sanctuary

The goals of the class are:

  1. To encourage parents where they are doing well and motivate changes where needed by moving forward with the gospel.
  2. Learn to be an authentic example of the gospel in their home and to their children.
  3. Learn to use the Word of God as the revelation of God and the means of exposing our sin and depravity and revealing our desperate need of a Savior.
  4. Help parents teach their children what it means for their children to obey them and to live well in God’s kingdom.