Saturday, October 01, 2005

Children.......Teaching them to defend the faith (pt. 1)

I must confess that before I even begin to write down some of my thoughts about the topic, that I am by no means an expert in the area of parenting. God knows my many faults, failures and inconsistencies. However, that does not mean that I am all wrong in my beliefs or approach. I long for those who are older and have proven the Scriptures to be true in their lives as fathers and mothers to help shape my thinking and practice in order that I might better honor the Lord. Yet, what is so frightening about so many parents within the visible church is their lack of being diligent to obey the command of the Lord to teach the things of God diligently to their children (Deut. 6:7-13). It is one thing to continue to press on in teaching those things to children, even when one is inconsistent or falls along the way. It is quite another thing to completely disobey this command.

My previous experience in the church I attended simply proves this out. I taught high school Sunday school for about 7 years there. During that time, there was nothing more disturbing to me than during a teaching in which we were going through the book of Ephesians, we came across the entire class who did not even know who Jacob and Esau were. I was simply amazed to say the least. Many of these young people had grown up in the church and made professions of faith many years ago, yet had no clue as to who Jacob and Esau were, what the Abrahamic covenant was or how they were tied to it. Now granted, these young adults should have taken the initiative to learn on their own, but the real problem lies with those parents to whom God gave these children.

Sadly, when confronted regarding this issue, parents did not seem the least bothered by the fact that their children didn't even know some of the basic stories, let alone concepts of the Old Testament. As New Testament believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are exhorted to learn from those of Israel (1 Cor. 10:1-14). We can learn vital things about God and His ways when we see the actions of Israel. We mainly learn from them "what not to do". I am convinced that this would be unbabalanced if left to itself, for the Scriptures also command us "to do". I am not so much interested in a one time decision for Christ, as I am my children seeking to make every decision for Christ. Granted, their father is imperfect in this area, but I have a desire, by God's grace, that my decisions would be God honoring.

Therefore, my philosophy of teaching children to defend the faith must be two-fold. First, the simple understanding of Scripture. They must be familiar with the Scriptures. This means that Dad and Mom must read the Scriptures to them often. They must converse about them. Disciplining children must point them back to the reasons for discipline and exhortation from the Scriptures as to righteous behavior. Hearts must be addressed as to their roles in sinful attitudes and behavior, and yes, it must be done over and over and........over and, well you get the idea. Children are no different than adults: they become forgetful, if it is not constantly put before them. They must understand these teachings in light of what the Bible says about themselves. They are simply incapable of doing all to the glory of God apart from His granting them grace through Jesus Christ. Both premises must be established.

Second, and this is really intimately tied to the first, is obedience to the Word. They can know all the Scriptures there are in the world, but if they are not obedient to it, then they cannot rightly defend it. Instead, they become hypocrites. Our desire is not hypocrites, but godly children. There must be understanding and faith and that must produce action. How does this defend the faith you may ask? Quite simply Peter has a few words for us in this matter. First he tells us,
"1Pe 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."
What exactly is he talking about? The context is,
"11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do "

Peter's words are clear, he wants his people to live what they proclaim. The strongest argument is best made when the life reflects belief. I remind my children that many people may be able to out argue them. However, their life and conduct give weight to the faith they proclaim. Peter later will say, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (3:15)." Now here is the sticky point with many of the "cold evangelism" that I see going on today. Many of the proponents claim that we should be knocking on doors and just walk in a share the gospel and not necessarily develop relationships. However, notice that Peter says that we are to be ready to give a reason for the hope with us with meekness and fear to those who ask.

I once had a friend ask me, "Well, you can't do that because, after all, how many people actually ask you that?" Well, though this is man is a dear brother, my reply to him was I have the question asked quite often. People ask why I do things all the time. In those cases, I respond with the Scriptures and the Scriptures' God. What many don't understand is that when you reference these things you will inevitably proclaim the gospel. For the entirety of the Scriptures speak of the gospel, pointing men towards Christ. This is far different from moralism. We are not attempting to be good. The reality is that we are bad. However, the point is that after regeneration takes place, then that person is to no longer live for themselves, but for God. In doing so, his life will change because he will repent, thereby bringing a different mindset and a different lifestyle. I cannot tell you how many opportunities for proclaiming the gospel have been afforded to me through doing my work diligently, a big family, homeschooling, and the way I speak of my wife. These are not particularly "churchy" topics, but are very real and practical aspects of life. I want a life that is "practically Christian", not a religion that is "statically Christian".

Since this is a first part, I thought I put up these pics. First, I am thankful and humbled to be the father of these children. God has indeed been gracious to bless us with them. Second, though we are using "carnal weapons" (yes lightsabers, LOTR plastic swords and in my case simple plastic bats are carnal). They are not spiritual. The idea is to communicate what indeed is taking place. There is a real battle. It is against real wickedness, but that wickedness is spiritual and its is also philosophical. We must be sharp and able to combat the enemies that exalt and rail against God and His ways. However, we use the physical picture of swords, lightsabers, and yes bats, to demonstrates ways and plans of attack. Shields are useful too. Especially when you're being attacked by such worthy opponents:)

1 comment:

DOGpreacher said...

Wow!...great piece, Tim!

I noticed on the phone w/you the other day, we are a lot alike in at least one area. We both love to talk about God, and His word.

My wife said as I hung up the phone (at this point I was backing out the car to head to church), "I don't think I've ever seen you do less talking than the person on the other end of the line"! I said,"He has a lot to say that is good to hear"!

This is Biblical, good, needed, and timely. Keep writing, Brother.

graced in east TX.,