August 18, 2017

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 3 (Final)

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 3 (Final)

Posted in The Faith of Us Fathers

“You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” — Leviticus 20:26

As we established at first, our children belong to God and not to us. They are a stewardship, a huge responsibility, laid upon us by God Almighty to be trained up for His purposes. And He will call us to account for the way in which we have trained them up. God claims them from the beginning, for after all, He caused them to be born into a Christian family. We do not follow the child-centred philosophies of the world and treat our children’s wants, desires and wills as sacrosanct, as off-limits to interference by us, as taboo. And we recognise both our accountability and responsibility toward the rest of the Body of Christ, the saints with whom we regularly worship and fellowship.

We as parents often struggle with the issue of our children’s conversion, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, re-birth as Christians. Many of us who became Christians in later life can pinpoint the day and the hour of our conversion experience. But surely, the ability to identify the moment of conversion should be the exception rather than the rule within Christian families. I used to scoff at people who would say to me something like, “I’ve always been a Christian.” Well, I don’t scoff anymore, for my own teenaged children have said such things, and as much as is humanly possible, I am totally convinced of their regeneration. Such children have “always” been in a Christian environment. My wife and I, along with many Christian home educating parents, both wish that we had had such a consistent Christian upbringing ourselves….it would have surely kept us from some of the damaging sinful excesses we experienced as unbelievers, things we wish we could erase from our memories as they negatively influence our present Christian lives. Some Christians say to me that they wish they had not had such a protected upbringing as they had in their Christian home, for if they had experienced the vileness of gross sins, perhaps they would be more urgent in their quest for Christlikeness, in their evangelistic efforts, than they are now. I cannot disagree more with such a sentiment. Brothers and sisters: take it from me: you do not want the physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual scars that sinful actions cause. You do not know what you are saying. The Lord has called us to move in the opposite direction.

All the more true of our children, who belong, remember, to God. Do they need to steal another’s property to appreciate how wrong it is? Do they need to actually become drunk or ruin themselves by immorality in order to appreciate the ugliness of sin? NO!! Take them to visit some prison inmates, take them to a pub or an A & E ward on a Saturday night to observe. Get a Christian doctor or counsellor to share with you some descriptions of the human wrecks he or she has had to deal with. Sign up as a foster family for a few months: becoming involved with a few of the many desperate “families” which exist out there will convince you of the blessedness and privilege of a Christian home. Life itself provides plenty of yucky illustrations of sin. The Scriptures warn about it over and over. But sin dwells within our own and our children’s hearts, regenerated or not, and your own family life (yes, even within the most godly of Christian homes), will provide you with plenty of opportunities to point out the ugliness and deceitfulness of sin. Hate it. Run from it. That’s what families are for: to deal with the lying, thieving, immoral tendencies in our children before they go public.

We do not wait for our children to affirm that they want to be Christians before we train them in all areas of Christian life, thought and doctrine. No. God has already claimed them. Whether you are a Presbyterian who sprinkles a newborn or a Brethren who has a dedication ceremony for a newborn, you already acknowledge that God should have an “unfair advantage” in shaping the child’s life. Self-conscious atheists have described to me how they let their children determine all their own life decisions by remaining hands-off from birth. I point out that this is still imposing their “hands-off” philosophy upon their children without asking them (I guess it is hard to ask a newborn) whether that is the way they’d like to be raised! As Christians we have this politically incorrect advantage that we know for certain what is right and what is wrong. So we don’t quibble about it or apologise for it: we simply inculcate our convictions into our children from day one. Memorise Proverbs 1:7-8 for it clearly states who we and our children are to obey: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge ; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and reject not your mother’s teaching.” God first, then Dad and Mum.

We do not live in a vacuum, nor are we ever truly independent or self-sufficient. We need the guidance, counsel, admonition, encouragement and example of our Christian brothers and sisters. The Scriptures specifically say the older women should be teaching the younger women (are you ready for this!) “to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4). Can you think of a more unwelcomed and downright nosey activity in our secularised cultures of today? Just shows how far we’ve moved away from the Biblical standard. We should welcome such input from others within the Church. And we should be prepared to lovingly and gently give such input ourselves. In I Timothy 4:12 Paul admonishes the young man Timothy to set the believers an example. It is obvious that we are to do this for our children, but it is also our duty toward all other believers. In fact, we parents can have, by God’s grace and the respect we will have with other Christian parents, quite an opportunity continually to influence other children. Likewise we should consciously select other godly parents and encourage them, give them permission if need be, to speak to our children, to chastise and correct them as the situation demands, or reward them, without the need to first fetch us to the scene.

The Christian man can have no greater opportunity to leave his stamp upon the history of God’s earth than to leave his stamp upon his sons and daughters. Our labours here, more than in any other sphere, have everlasting consequences which will follow us into heaven. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58). Hallelujah!

From Keystone Magazine
January 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 1
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

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