FAMILY DRIVEN FAITH PART ONE
The family is a wonderful and precious gift to us, from God! The family is a place where we can find comfort, protection, wisdom and love and the occasional argument and disagreement. But dad is always right though! The family is a place where you build memories and traditions that will carry with them as they have their own family traditions. [e.g. family vacations or those special traditions you do as a family at Christmas time. Nothing is better than a strong family life as you grow together, preparing the next generation and the next and so on. John Bunyan said “If you want to be a godly head of a family, you must ensure that there is Christian harmony among those under you, appropriate for a house where the leader fears God.”
But! Something is happening to the family! The family is drastically changing more and more by the influence of today’s postmodern world. With its “Self-centeredness”, “Freedom of Expression” or “Why would anyone want to have a family? The cost factor and surely there isn’t enough room or air on the planet earth.” The family has become a name of “disdain” or “irresponsibility” by the culture and millennials. There seems to be a growing pattern of dysfunction when it comes to the roles of the parents and the children of the home. The family has become a place of individual doing what they want to do. The family is falling apart in today’s society, not just in the lost but also in the Christian home!
“When the archaeologists were digging in the ruins of Nineveh they came upon a library of plaques containing the laws of the realm. One of the laws read in effect that anyone guilty of neglect would be held responsible for the result of his neglect....if you fail to teach him to respect the property rights of others; you and not he are responsible for the result of your neglect!” Why would I share that? A hundred years later after the great revival took place there...Nineveh became a nation of rubble. Nahum 3:7 “It shall come to pass that all who look upon you Will flee from you, and say, 'Nineveh is laid waste!......” Nineveh is laid waste; utterly destroyed; its walls broke down, its houses demolished, its substance plundered, and its inhabitants killed. Destroyed by God, revealed in the book of Nahum
What was the cause? Parents, who obviously didn’t see the need or the importance to teach their children about God who showed great mercy to a nation of rebellious sinners before them. Think about it! What was the underlining problem Israel had before they went into captivity? The answer to that question can be found in the last paragraph of Judges..... “So the children of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family; they went out from there, every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:24-25. The nation of Israel still hasn’t recovered as a nation, since that day! Sadly, neither has a great majority of families in North America and around the globe. I can shamefully say “There is one thing that was never taught in my home as a child growing up, and that was the love of God for sinners and His precious word for the family. We were taught morals and external things but never anything concerning our eternal state with a holy God. Our morality and our righteous deeds will never get us into His glory. The bible says He see our righteousness as “Filthy rages” Isaiah 64:6
This is something that we’re seeing more and more…even in so-called Christian homes! There is one thing that I’m so thankful for.....and that is the privileged to share the truth of God’s word to my children. Not because I’m a pastor but because I’m a Christian. God has given me the greatest mission field and that is my family. And this is something that we should never take for granted. How do we protect or prepare our children from the evil that lurks outside our homes, our churches, our schools? It begins in the home when they’re like my Rebekah’s age! Moms and dads, it’s our responsibility to teach our children. Moms and dads we are not to pass the torch to someone else when it comes to their eternal soul. They are too precious to hand over to someone else.
The responsibility falls on us! We to be teaching our children about:
Hell for the rebellious and unrepentant sinners.
God’s Judgements for all who deny the Son of God.
His mercy for all the lost and broken, rebellious sinners.
His love for sinners who have gone astray.
His grace for a fallen mankind demonstrated in the gospel.
His Son! Jesus Christ
We are responsible to teach our children that the Lord must always come first:
In our daily devotion.
In how we chose our friends and future spouses.
In how we chose the appropriate clothing to wear that reflects the glory of God, and not the glory of self.
In how to make right choices in our day to day lives at home, at school and in private.
In how to choose the right kind of music, television, and movies to watch.
In how to choose the career or ministry that He has gifted you with.
In how to pass these same truths done to their children and so on.
Remember the Proverb “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6. God commanded, God gave us the mandate, the order to teach His children about the Him and His glory. In Deut 6:4-12 we read this command from God "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. ……..(v12) then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. God is echoing the same biblical truth to us as today! Why? Moral and spiritual standards have gradually eroded until countless families have been literally destroyed. It’s like the experiment where the frog is sitting in warm water and as the pot gets hotter the frog doesn’t realize the danger.
The text before us today sums up the responsibility for the family! Thousands of books have been written on the subject. Thousands of T.V programs have had speakers on their show to talk about this subject. Look what the Paul wrote in Eph 6:1-4 we see God’s foundation and a God honoring instruction for the family! John MacArthur said this about the importance of a biblical foundation for the family. “The only right way is God’s way. Early training secures lifelong habits, so parents must teach God’s word and consistently enforce it with love discipline during the child’s upbringing.”
We see two commands by God to the whole family! This passage is more than “be a better parent and a better child”. What Paul is doing here is bringing the beauty of the gospel instruction from Heaven into the family. This instruction is to everyone! Single, married, with kids, or without kids, move out kids, kids in our church, your kids and those of you who are not yet parents. The church is a family and we have a responsibility towards each other and the children of this church family. 1 Tim 5:1-2 we read “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” We as brother and sisters have an obligation towards one another to pray for them, teach them and to love them with the gospel whether they are your children or not. The whole body of Christ helps train children….that’s what makes it a family. And you! Young, pre-teen, teens, collage and career age, you should receive this love with joy, thankfulness and love towards those who love you.
I say all this…. because God saw the importance of children to church, just as much as He addresses everyone else. This would have been strange for the time! One theologian wrote about how children were looked upon at the time “Such values were countercultural. Many in the Greco-Roman world would put kids on the trash heap for people to pick up and often turn into gladiators, slaves, or prostitutes.” What did God have to say about this? Psalm127:3-4 says “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.” Jesus said “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matt 19:13-14. Despite how tragic the Greco-Roman world saw children, we see here in this test that Paul welcomes the children and addresses the whole family.
FIRST COMMAND IS ADDRESSED TO THE CHILDREN (V1-V3)
“Children obey your parents” which is where you need to start in order to train a child.....the need to obey the fifth commandment that God gave to His people.
“Obey” literally means “to hear under” that is, to listen with attentiveness and to respond with positively to what is heard.
Children are to put themselves under the words and authority of their parents. Children are to obey for the simplest of reasons: “this is right.” God has created human beings in such a way that his law is written on our hearts. Children are also to obey because it is a particular requirement of God’s law, the Ten Commandments. Children were made by God to glorify God. This is exemplified when its lived out by honouring and obeying your parents in the Lord. This means: You are to submit under the authority of your parents...because they are who God has placed over you [those who are still under their parents roof, not ones that have left the home through marriage or adult age]. So to the children of our church family! Obey your parents for they’re the watchers of your souls. The respect that children are to give to their parents is essential for a well ordered society. If you chose to disobey your parents.....what you’re doing is sinning against the fifth commandment found in the bible. God’s perfect order for the family. Understand that your obedience or lack thereof to your parents, is a reflection of your obedience to God.
So how do I fulfill my mandate to the family?
By showing them “honor” as your parents.....for this is the right way! To hold them in the highest and possible respect. Understand the right attitude behind the right act of obedience is showing honor to your parents. Your parents are not perfect and they will sin against you, but your parents stand in the gap and they are God’s stewards to guide and direct your paths to full maturity. They are here to help you understand and to train you in the instruction of God’s word, pointing you into His heavenly arms of the gospel. You are their rescue mission, not trophies to boast about their athletic ability or academic accomplishments.
Prov 1:8-9 says “Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” See! To the Israelite’s mind no signs or badges of joy or glory were higher in worth than the garland around the head, the gold chain around the neck, worn by kings and the favorites of kings. To King Solomon a man who had it all said nothing in this world compares to the loving instructions of your parents. The pure biblical instruction of your parents is more lovely and amiable than any beautiful ornament whatever that can be put on your head or around your neck. Prov 3:1-2 says “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Prov 4:1-4 we read “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father's son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.”
How should I obey and honor my parents?
Children honor through a proper attitude of the heart.
You’re not obeying or honouring your parents when you are huffing and puffing like you’re trying to blow a house down or talking back to them. It’s a heart attitude because your love your parents and desire to obey and honor them and ultimately, because God is rich and merciful to you as sinner. When God instructed and introduced the law, the first horizontal law was in relationships within the family. “Honor your father and mother” this command is seen five other places in the New Testament. Matt 15:4; Matt 19:19; Mark 7:10; Mark 10:19 and Luke 18:20. Understand! A child that doesn’t have a right heart attitude towards his or her parents will likely not honor and respect others in general.
Children obey by hearing and doing what their parents say.
Why is this important? The Apostle Paul said “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Col 3:20. Obeying your parents is one way you can show your obedience to the Lord. Is this going to be easy and will you fail at times? Absolutely you will! but this are teaching moments to remind all of us about the grace of the gospel when we make a mess of things. Every one of us never needed to be taught how to disobey, but every one of us needed to be taught obedience. Is this hard? Yes, it requires discipline, patience and grace. Reminding ourselves and them that it’s the Spirit who enables us to obey (Eph 5:18). This is God’s biblical mandate for your life! The first commandment with promise. (v2) The original promise was to the nation of Israel where they received tangible, physical, earthy blessings. Paul says this extends to the church though these blessings may not always be tangible. The point is this! A family where children and parents live in mutual love and submission will have a rich, God-given harmony and satisfaction that other families can never know. When we honor our parents in this way we see something that many in this life scratch their heads and say “I wish I had those kids or family.”
Children need to obey their parents because the gospel demands it.
Children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.”The gospel motivates us to love and respect others especially towards those in the body of Christ. Tim Challies wrote “The gospel assures our children they can joyfully obey their parents and the gospel gives them the motivation to actually do so. This is why one of the very first evidences of a child’s conversion is obedience to mom and dad.” As Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Eze 36:26 says “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Your gospel confession will be demonstrated by how you live inside God’s parameters for the family and the role you play in it. And the way you live your life towards your parents, will reveal the true heart of what you worship. As John Stott said, “Christian children learn to obey with gladness, ‘for this pleases the Lord’. They remember the loving submission which Jesus himself gave as a boy to his parents. Now this same Jesus is their Lord and Saviour, and the creator of the new order, so they are anxious to do what pleases him.”