The gospel-centered home starts with a model – you! 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 15 states, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:5 tells us that Timothy learned it from his grandmother Lois and his mother, Eunice.
You as a parent have an undeniable influence and effect upon your children by the example you set. In the teaching of children, they always learn far more by starting with a visual example before you begin instructing. You should be explaining things to your children after they have observed the example.
John Piper wrote, “It is impossible not to teach children about God, because not to teach them is to teach them plenty. It teaches them that Jesus does not matter much, that mom and dad don’t consider him nearly as important or exciting as new furniture, or weekends at the lake, or dad’s job or all the other things that fill their conversation. Silence about Christ is dogma. Not to teach the infinite value of Christ is to teach that He is negligible.” (Will the Next Generation Know by John Piper, July 25, 1982, DesiringGod.org)
How do you begin to model the gospel? It starts with recognizing what the power of God can do in the life of a family. It can transform the family. Romans 8 teaches us that society, creation and we will be transformed one day. Everything will. Does your family life show that this is a reality? Do you show a love for Christ? Does the Word of God matter in your home? Are you as a parent growing in character? Do you demonstrate to your children a conviction over your own sin? Do you confess your sin publically so your children know? Are you cultivating godliness in your character? Are the evidences of the fruit of the Spirit in your life shown with consistency?
Can you say to your child or teen that you want them to continue in the things they are learning and becoming convinced of in the home? If not, begin now and make sure they will soon.
Here is a critical question Christian parents need to answer. Am I qualifying my child just for earth or am I qualifying them for heaven?
A home may be of Christian parents, but it does not mean it is a gospel-centered home. When we are governing our homes by parenting with behavior modification techniques and throwing in Scripture, we can produce “perfect” children who may end up breaking our hearts. Consider the rich young ruler of Matthew 19: 16-20. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
Wow! Who would not want that resume’ for their teenager? He even asked a very spiritual question! However, the narrative does not end there. In verses 21 and 22 we read, Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. The perfect teen breaks your heart. A young man so close, yet so far away!
John Angell James, a British Pastor in the early 1800s wrote in his book, The Christian Father’s Present to His Children, “But how it would embitter our last moments, and plant our dying pillow with thorns, to leave you on earth in an unconverted state; following us to the grave, but not to heaven. Or should you be called to die before us, how could we sustain the dreadful thought…that the very next moment after you had passed beyond our kind attentions, you would be received to the torments which know neither end nor mitigation? And when you had departed under such circumstances, what could heal our wounds or dry our tears…O! no: they may qualify for earth but not qualify for heaven.”
Charles Spurgeon once wrote this about his mother:
“I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scriptures for us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading: there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat around the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord.
Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is gray. I remember on one occasion, her praying thus, “Now Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” That thought of a mother’s bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience, and stirred my heart.”
…..Spurgeon, Autobiography, The Early Years, Banner of Truth Trust
“My mother said to me once, after she had long prayed for me and had come to the conviction that I was hopeless. “Ah” said she, “My son, if at the last great day you are condemned, remember your mother will say ‘Amen’ to your condemnation.” That stung me to the quick. Must the mother that brought me forth and that loved me say ‘Amen’ to my being condemned at last?’ ……..Spurgeon, “The Chaff Driven Away.” Sermon October 23, 1859
How are your family devotions going? Is the gospel being proclaimed? Are you assuming too much of your child’s soul. In posts to come I will address the why and how of the principle that we should preach the gospel often to our children and how they will give you ample opportunity to do this.