PRAY LIKE YOU CAN’T SAVE YOUR KIDS AND PARENT LIKE YOU CAN
I saw that my blog address was posted in the Lincoln Christian School Newsletter and realized that I have not posted anything in months. I guess I better get back in my saddle and hopefully encourage parents and students who take the time to check out what God puts on my heart. I will plan on a least one posting per week and comments are always welcome. Here is a great article by Pastor Erik Raymond of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha which I believe every parent can identify with. Hope it encourages you. He writes:
My kids are growing up. This is filled with all sorts of emotions. Life presents new challenges and circumstances. This is true for any parent. But things are a little different for Christian parents. We actually believe that our kids are not Christians just because we are. Heaven is not an unalienable right like voting at 18. Our children have to actually come to terms with the God of the gospel themselves.
This presents an interesting set of circumstances for parents. We have a responsibility, a mandate even, to raise our kids in the ‘discipline and instruction of the Lord.’ (Eph. 6.4) We understand that in this same book the same Apostle says that prior to conversion we all are dead in sin, and apart from a supernatural work of God’s grace and mercy we would not follow Christ (Eph. 2.1-8).
So what do you do?
The Dangerous Trap
I think there is potentially a trap to step into here if we are not careful and thinking. If you believe that your children cannot be converted apart from God’s sovereign work of grace in their lives, youmay become complacent in praying for them and actively ‘gospelizing’ them. We may begin to think that since they are unbelievers then what you do with the Scriptures and what you do on your knees is not helpful. This type of thinking is as dangerous as it is unbiblical.
The command to train your children is not contingent upon their receptivity. Parents (specifically Dads) do not have to ask to be the leader, they already are. And so therefore they are accountable.
“But wait…,” some might say, “how is God going to hold me accountable for something that I have no ability to accomplish myself?”
This is important to think through.
The Motivating Truth
You are right, you cannot save your children. But, God never called you to save them, he has called you to care for them. You are to shepherd their hearts with the word of God (Eph. 6.4; cf also Deut. 4.9;6.7; 11.19). And you are to carry your cares of their salvation to the throne of grace for mercy and help (Heb. 4.16; 1 Pet. 5.7). It is this that you will be accountable for.
Please think through the horrible logic of being lazy in light of your children being unconverted and disinterested in biblical things. Your excuse then is that you are lazy because God is sovereign and they are sinners? The first thing I would ask any of my Reformed leaning friends is, “What are you doing about it Dad?”
So what do you do about it?
I can sum it up in a sentence: Pray like you can’t save your children and parent like you can.
Be relentless on your knees for your children. Carry them to the throne of grace daily as you petition the sovereign and good God of the gospel for mercy. And also, be faithful to bring the Scriptures to bear in regular study, instruction and application in their lives. Have regular times of family devotions. But also, be sure to integrate the glory of God in all manner of life and thinking. Bring the matchless beauty of Christ to bear on everything that you can.
This is hard work. It is however, the work of faith, the work of dependence and the work of love. It is gospel work. It is Christian parenting. You are believing that God is merciful, that his word is powerful, and that he is infinitely valuable. We cannot afford to cling to lame and ill-conceived excuses when we are talking about such weighty things as the glory of God, our accountability before him, and the souls of our children.
So get to work, in the prayer closet and at the kitchen table; plead Christ to them and them to Christ!