Being a father is a tremendous blessing, but it also carries with it an incredible responsibility Today on Truth for Life Weekend, Alistair Begg encourages fathers to invest themselves fully in raising their children. We're in Colossians chapter 3 verse 20, but we begin today in the book of Proverbs. The Old Testament, in Proverbs, gives to us this great and perplexing verse, 22.6, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. The positive side of the equation is there in Ephesians chapter 6. Don't exasperate them, because that will only crush their spirits.
Instead, bring them up in the training instruction of the Lord. That's both the good news and the bad news. The bad news is it's a long-term project. The good news is it's a long-term project. This is long-term investment.
This involves both negative and positive. You see that in the phraseology. It involves lip, and it involves life. You need to train them. The word there is for examination and intervention, and you need to instruct them. In other words, you daren't let them grow up without care, and you daren't let them grow up without control. This involves instruction, discipline, encouragement, admonishment—and again, all within the framework of a loving home and a father's loving heart. Now, I have tried to keep before me a number of s's, which I'll share with you for your edification, I hope. And there are these.
If we're going to get serious about this, we have to remember that our children are all of this and more. They're sensitive, special, silly, selfish, sinful. And they have souls that will inhabit eternity.
Just all those s's. Let me just hit them with you, and very, very quickly. Our children are sinners. They're born with a bias towards evil.
From the womb, they are wayward, and they speak lies. Our children are silly. That's part of being children. If you're a child here tonight, don't take this in an unkind way. You're supposed to be kind of silly. You're a kid. You're silly. And you're silly as well when it comes to the way you ought to go.
Because you don't know what's good for you, and you're tempted to enjoy what's bad for you. Thirdly, a child is selfish. Each of us is turned to his own way.
My way, sung in adulthood, is simply the expression of a child in the very earliest days. But it is equally true that each child is special. I needn't go back over this again, but Psalm 139 reminds us of the intricate nature of God, the establishing of DNA and personality and gifts and so on. And the same special child that is silly and selfish and sinful is also sensitive, and we've covered that. And each of these children has a soul that will last forever.
Now we're at the real nub of things. The raising of children, the responsibility of fatherhood, the arrival of a child, confronts a mom and dad with an existence that has commenced for eternity. That when that child is delivered into the arms of the mother, and you as a father are there along with the mom, and you look at this little girl, this little boy, you have been entrusted not only with a journey through life, but you have been entrusted with a life that has a soul that will inhabit eternity, and will either inhabit eternity in the presence of Jesus in heaven, or will inhabit eternity absent Jesus in hell. And God has given that child to you and to me, and the instruction of his Word is not difficult to understand, although it is hard to apply and may only be discovered by grace and his power and goodness, but nevertheless it is there for us to deal with.
And how difficult it is when you know this, and the only way we can know it is from the Bible. But think of all of the people in Greater Cleveland tonight that don't know this. And if they were to hear it, would say, utter nonsense! Think about the fact that our society, our culture tonight, is growing up to a far lesser extent constrained by and influenced by Judeo-Christian values, which were pervasive fifty years ago in a way that isn't true today. The church is marginalized, as I said this morning.
We're known for protests, we're known for political punditry, we're known for all kinds of things. But within the individual home do we see the difference. In that case, the child becomes the product of parental ignorance. And when parental ignorance reigns—and confusion is abroad, as I humbly suggest to you that it is—then parental authority quickly loses out to the power of a rebellious heart. I'll just say that to you one more time, and it will come back to your mind very quickly. Tomorrow you will be in a grocery store somewhere, and you will remember this phrase.
Parental authority quickly loses out to the power of a rebellious heart. Now, I was gonna show a bit of a movie tonight, but I thought of fifty movies, and then I thought, no, it's just a big distraction, and forget it. And I can never remember the name of this movie, and I didn't go to check in any case, but I always quote it, and you're fed up hearing with it, but I'll do it one more time.
Because I have the scene so vividly in my mind. Cher is the mother, there's a teenage daughter, they're having an outrageous argument in the house. And eventually, through her tears and agony, Cher as the mother shouts, "'What am I supposed to do?' she shouts at this girl. "'You didn't come with instructions, you know.'"
And that's the word on the street. There she sits, there she lies. I hear the sound coming from her bedroom, but she didn't come with instructions. I don't know what to do with her.
I can't get a handle on this thing at all. You see the tremendous power and impact of Christian family life, transformed by the power of the Spirit and lived out in obedience to God's Word? Maybe we should go out and talk a little more about this.
Not in a boastful way. A word to parents of wee ones, tiny ones. Those of you who were in at the beginning here, this is a stock tip. You can get in on the front end on this one.
This is Google at fifteen bucks a share, not four hundred and eighty, okay? Tiny children's minds receive impressions the way moist clay receives impressions. Moist clay will take your hand very easily. You can fashion it right in.
You cannot fashion your hand into granite. But into moist clay, you can make an impression. Those tiny children that you have being looked after tonight or at home with their mom, they believe what you tell them. They trust your Word. They believe that you want the very best for them.
They believe all that. You can never start too soon in forming an impression on the moist clay of their lives. Or to change the picture, you can redirect an apple tree when it is early planted and very narrow in its radius.
But once it gets girth and root structure and strength, it's no longer possible to move it around without significant cost. Now, when you think of that and you say, Well, give me a couple of pointers to go home with," here they are. It is absolutely vital that we keep in mind that our children are prone to sin. In being a dad, you have to remember that your child wants to sin.
You can probably be too cautious, but most of the time it would be better to be a wee bit more cautious. When people who don't really know what they're talking about tell you that your children are fantastic, that your daughters are exemplary, that they're good, they're wonderful, they're mature, they're kind, and they're well-mannered, remember this. Their hearts can be set on fire by sin in an instant.
That very lovely daughter you have may very quickly lose all of the benefits of her female innocence, because her heart is prone to sin. And it is a naive father who operates in a cavalier fashion, and it is a peculiar skill to learn how to deal with them to learn how to deal with them on that journey. Secondly, don't cherish the notion that it's possible to complete this task without correcting our children.
I'm not going to belabor this at all. But we can't allow our children to do wrong without punishment. And the reason we can't is because God says we can't. It is so politically incorrect to talk now about any form of punishment, spare the rod and spoil the child and so on. The foolish son, the rod will drive it from him.
Brings up all these huge pictures of European courts and horrible, dreadful things that have been happening in recent days. That dreadful misappropriation of this procedure does not give the lie to the benefit of what God describes. And to fail to do this will be to know the misery of Eli. Remember, it says of Eli that his sons, who were they, Hopni and Phinehas, they made a complete hash of things, and the judgment of God fell on Eli.
Why? Because, it says, he failed to restrain them. That was the one thing he could have done, and he didn't do it. Thirdly, remember how God treats his children? He chastens us, he withholds things from us, he leads us, we do the same. Fourthly, train them in the Bible. You can't make them love the Bible, but you can make them learn the Bible. You can make them at least acquainted with the Bible. But of course, that demands that dads know the Bible. That demands dads reading the Bible.
That demands that dads will take them where the dads have gone. Lead them to God in your prayers. Pray with them, pray for them. Long before they can read, they can still kneel down beside you at their bed or wherever you like to kneel. And don't assume that your teenagers are so disinterested that they want to at least be prepared to allow you to lie on their bed, or at least on the bottom of the bed, and say, I don't know if you want to pray, I don't know if you want to close your eyes, I don't know what you want to do, but I want to pray with you before I leave your room tonight, because I love you.
And because, frankly, I don't know what to do with you. And then pour your heart out to God in the hearing of your teenager. Don't lecture them.
Just tell God, Oh God, you know I love this girl so much. God, you know this boy is the apple of my eye. God, you know I'd give my kidneys, both of them, for this kid.
I long after them. I want the best for them. See, when you can't talk to your children about God, you can always talk to God about your children. And sometimes you can talk to God about your children while your children are there. And I know you're gonna say, Oh, this is vested interest on my part.
But no, it's not, and I will stop now. What I wrote in my notes here—I hope you won't misunderstand me—show them that church matters. Show them that church matters. You say, Well, this is nothing you would expect from a pastor, you know.
You've got to get people out of the services so you can throw this in every available opportunity. Well, if I wasn't planning on being a pastor, I know I am one. But you have to tell them that in the gathering of God's people, Jesus is there. You have to tell them that in the preaching of God's Word, he convicts of sin and he converts people and he sanctifies them.
And my advice to you is this—that as long as your children are in your home until they leave for college or university, that you make it part and parcel of your lives together as a family, that your children come to church with you, that you do not allow them to grow up with a habit of making excuses, that you do not accept the homework cop-out, and the reason that you don't is because you can't get it out of your mind that their eternity is the focus of your concern. Who cares if they are the best in the swim team? Ultimately. Who cares if they become such a financial success?
Ultimately. Wasn't it somebody who said, What will it profit a man if he gained the whole world and lost his own soul? Do you expect your children to care for their souls? If you don't, they won't. Says Murray McShane in another era, Set it before them as a high and holy and solemn duty to attend church. And believe me, the day will come very likely when they will bless you for the deed.
I bless God for my parents in this respect. I was not, in my teenage years, getting up going, Oh, I can't wait to go to church. Oh, church, more church. Give me a church. Give me a Bible. Love church. Let's go to church. No, no, no, no, no. It's like, Alistair, where are you? Not telling you, Where are you? You know where we're going.
Let's go. And I bless God for the memory of my father's hand holding the Bible, even when I didn't want to look at it. Didn't stop him. Still turned it up.
Still held it. Because he believed that although he couldn't make me like it, he could help me become acquainted with it. And he had a sneaking suspicion that in the exercise of the simple duty of it, it would have a restraining influence on my teenage sinful mind.
And he was right, because the entry of God's Word brings light. And how will a young man keep his way pure but by paying heed according to your Word? Murray McShane has a big screet where he says, And I don't like the young people's corner.
And I don't like the young people sitting by themselves, because they might be fiddling around and writing notes to one another and checking out the girls and everything else. I understand that, Murray, but you know what? I'll take him even on that basis, just to have them within the sound of the gospel. And you know what, dads? This is the most provocative thing I'm going to say all night. My advice to you is that you make Sunday worship among the people of God an absolute fixed point.
And here's the most provocative statement I'm going to make. If you don't do that, it's either because you don't believe it or you're chicken. You don't have the guts to lead your kids. Your kids now lead you. Do you want them to lead you when you're old? Do you want them to pray for you as you approach eternity? Do you want them to open the Bible and speak to you of the assurance of God's love and truth when your mind has begun to go, when your faculties are no longer functioning?
How will that ever happen? You see, not only is the thinking of their souls first and often a very necessary thing for them, but it affects not only them, but it also affects our comfort and our peace. Because if you're honest, if you're a Christian mom or a Christian dad, our happiness in large part is dependent on whether our children walk with Christ or not. Children, says one of the Puritans, have caused the saddest tears that man ever had to shed.
But finally, when you take all of this and you lay it out—and believe me, it's given me a sore head and a sore heart and a much, much personal thought. Ultimately, we cast ourselves on a covenant-keeping God. Ultimately, we go back to Proverbs 22.6. Yes, we know it is a preferable statement. We know that it is not a categorical promise to an individual. But we know, too, that it is what it is. Train up a child in the way that he will go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
It doesn't say how old. I give the last word to Murray McShane. This is a great thing. I wrote this out, and I'm going to put it in my little black book. It says, McShane, Many children, I doubt not, Shall rise up in the day of judgment And bless their parents for good training, Children who never gave any sign of having profited by it during their parents' lives. The posthumous joys of heaven. We depend on our Heavenly Father so that we can fulfill our responsibilities as earthly fathers. You are listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life Weekend. Alistair will close today's program with prayer in just a minute, so please keep listening.
But first, I want to remind you about our book recommendation this month. It's a book titled, The Whole Armor of God, How Christ's Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare. The Bible makes it clear that Satan is a very real enemy.
He is out to destroy our jobs, our marriages, even our families. We need a battle strategy, and this book teaches us how to be prepared for spiritual battle, how to take the necessary precautions. The book, The Whole Armor of God, focuses on one element of our protection at a time. Each chapter describes a different piece of God's armor, from the belt of truth to the sword of the spirit. We learn what each piece of armor represents, and how we can put it on for spiritual protection. There are questions at the end of each chapter that will help us better understand how to put on each piece of armor, and the final chapter focuses on prayer. It talks about why it's so important for us to be praying continuously. Find out more about the book, The Whole Armor of God, when you go to our website, truthforlife.org.
Today, we also want to make you aware of a special offer. It's a Puritan classic on the topic of spiritual warfare, a series of books called The Christian Incomplete Armor. This is a highly regarded three-book set that can help you be prepared to face the powerful attacks from the enemy. These books have been read for generations. You can purchase the collection from Truth for Life today.
Look for The Christian Incomplete Armor online at truthforlife.org slash store. Now let's join Alistair with a closing prayer. Father, I pray that out of all of these words you will help us, especially as dads, as fathers, to come before you and acknowledge how deep your love is for us, how vast.
It's beyond measure. You don't love us conditionally, but you love us unconditionally in Jesus. We are far more sinful than we are ever prepared to acknowledge, and yet in Jesus we're far more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope, as C. S. Lewis pointed out. And yet so often in dealing with our children, because we love them so much and because we want to ensure that certain things happen, we think not only to dig the furrows for them, but we want to put the curbs up and just drive them all the way home to heaven.
And yet we can do it. We can't make them love Jesus, we can't make them love the Bible, but we can introduce them to the Bible, and we can endeavor to introduce them to Jesus. And so I pray that you will pick up the chins of men who feel disheartened. They might go forward in faith, believing that those of us who have been naïve and silly may be reined in and encouraged to take seriously the principles of your Word. And that if it please you, Lord, that you will, in this time and in this generation, use the blessings and benefits of Christian family living in streets and in communities as a pointer to the love and grace of the Fatherhood of God. We think of all the children that are around us on a weekly basis, all their little lives, all their tender excitements and hopes and dreams, all of the things that make them who they are, and how we love to see them, and how we long after them that they may be in Christ and that they may be in heaven. Help us then to do all that we can and all that we should, by your grace, to this end. For Jesus' sake, we ask it. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.
Hope you can join us again next weekend. We begin a new series in 1 Corinthians titled Firm Foundation. We discover why God gives His children spiritual gifts. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-26 17:03:56 / 2023-09-26 17:12:37 / 9