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The Christian Family (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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August 18, 2022 4:00 am

The Christian Family (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 18, 2022 4:00 am

You may have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child—but that doesn’t mean that parents can relinquish their responsibility! Find out why parental authority affects more than just the household. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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You may have heard the expression that it takes a whole village to raise a child, but that doesn't mean that as parents we can relinquish our responsibility. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg looks at God's design for the family, and we'll find out why parental authority affects more than just the immediate household.

In fact, parental authority is essential for a stable society. Exodus 20 and verse 1. And God spoke all these words, saying, I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work—you or your son or your daughter, your male servant or your female servant or your livestock or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.

Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house.

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that is your neighbor's. Now, when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountains smoking, the people were afraid and trembled. And they stood far off and said to Moses, You speak to us, and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Moses said to the people, Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you that you may not sin.

The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Well, we thank God for his Word, and we may get the basis of our study. And I invite you to turn now to Colossians, and to chapter 3. And we come now to our fourth study in the Christian family.

And once again, our text is brief, and it's clear. Verse 20, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the LORD. Now we pray. Our gracious God, we ask now that you will summon us by the truth of your Word, that you will teach us by the power of your Spirit, that you will bring us to faith and trust in your Son, that we might be enabled to live in obedience to your truth. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

All right, there we have it. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. We really have reversed into this little series and have, I think, fastened on something that emerged from our first Sunday, and it is simply this, that we are recognizing that in a very realistic sense, it takes the church family to make it possible for each of us to be enabled to raise a Christian family.

The challenges are immense, the privileges are terrific, the responsibilities are vast, and the help that exists amongst others around us who've tried it before, who've done it before, who are living it now, and so on, is a massive resource. And so we're trying to help us to recognize the fact that it is not that our physical family life exists, as it were, as a citadel. And if there's other things that we want to add into it, then, including church life, all well and good. But no, in actual fact, in Christ, the real family is the church family.

And the question is not how do we fold church life into our physical family life, but how do we fold our physical family life into all that God has for us in the church? And the Bible is really clear—not just in the epistles here, in the New Testament, but throughout the Bible—that parental authority is absolutely vital. It is actually indispensable for a stable society. And that is why, when we read the Bible, we discover that from the very beginning, God established mankind within the structure of family life—a structure in which the roles between husbands and wives were delineated, and a structure in which children were to submit to the authority of their parents. And this is, if you like, a natural law. It is in the instinctive dimensions of human existence, and it is also part of the law of God, as we read in the Decalogue earlier. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the well-being of a person or of a nation begins, then, in the home. And whenever a culture turns its back on God, whenever a culture turns its back on the moral framework that God has established for the well-being of society, when the destruction and disintegration of family life begins to take place, then it is clear that God's design has simply been set aside. And it's not that God's design is hard to understand.

In fact, it is because it is so clear that it is rejected so forcibly. One man and one woman in a monogamous, heterosexual, lifelong commitment that provides the opportunity to fulfill the privileges of parenthood. And it is surely noteworthy that on two occasions, when Paul, in writing to various places—actually, writing to the church in Rome and writing to Timothy and to Titus—when he addresses a collapsing culture and he describes the constituent elements that would be represented when the culture begins to fall in upon itself, included in both of the two key lists that we have is one simple phrase, disobedient to parents. Disobedient to parents. In the midst of all the various things that are described —the horrendous things and the moral collapse and so on—there you find it, disobedient to parents. Now, what this then means is a number of things.

First of all, it provides the Christian church, and Christian parents in particular, with an opportunity for the gospel—a chance to adorn the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, as Titus puts it—a chance for the Christian family to become a living testimonial to the truth of the Bible, to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. And I've labored in these brief studies to set this in this context every time, and I want to do so again this morning. It's relatively easy to simply say, Now, here's what wives are supposed to do, here's what husbands are supposed to do, here's what children are supposed to do. We're familiar with all of that. Our problem is not that we are untaught in relationship to these things. Our problem is a far deeper problem. Our problem is a gospel problem. Our problem is a biblical problem.

Our problem is an obedience problem. And it starts with an understanding of who Jesus is. So, our first point will be to consider the identity of Jesus. Secondly, to consider the responsibility of parents.

And thirdly and only then, to consider the duty of children. Well, you say, Well, why would you begin with the identity of Jesus? Well, simply because that is how it is handled here by Paul. Paul was aware—and we've become aware of the fact through our study—that there were all kinds of ethical codes that were present in Judaism and in the Greek and Roman world. Those people realized by way of natural law that for society to function, there had to be order, there had to be structure, and it had to be there in the family life. So, what was it then that Paul was introducing, or what, if you like, does the Bible introduce, that takes it forward from there?

Well, specifically, the fact of who Jesus is—the fact of the lordship of Jesus Christ. And so what he's saying is, the specific responsibilities within the Christian home for the various roles assigned have to do with Jesus as Lord. And that's why here in verses 18 through to the end of the chapter, you find the phraseology recurring. In verse 18, the wives are submitting to their husbands in the Lord. In verse 20, children are to do this because it is pleasing to the Lord. In 22, we obey our earthly masters, fearing the Lord. And in verse 24, and in part A, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward, you are serving the Lord Christ. So the summary of the responsibilities of various family members is actually the application of their theology. So, in other words, we have to understand the Bible, we have to understand who Jesus is, we have to both believe it, and we have to live in the light of it if we're going to actually make any sense of practical instructions such as this.

And that is why, for example, in chapter 2—and in the middle of chapter 2, verse 6 there of chapter 2—he says to them, Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord… This is the distinguishing feature of these people. You have received Jesus as Lord. He is your King. He is the sovereign one. He's in charge of your finance. He's in charge of your future. He's in charge of your family. He's in charge. You received him. He's the Lord. Now, he says, in light of that, the imperative is that you now must walk in him. Indicative? You received him. Imperative?

Walk in him. You see how the indicative always precedes the imperative. So, you see, if somebody listens to me talk this morning and thinks that what I'm simply doing is seeking to reinforce a Christianized version of an ethical code, then I've done a dreadful job. That's why I'm laboring to make the point at the beginning that what is being entrusted to these believers in Colossae is being entrusted to believers. They have understood God's grace in all its truth. They realize that they could not earn God's salvation. They realize that Jesus is the Savior that they require. They have received him as Lord. Now, that is indicative of what is true of them. Now, he says, it is the imperative that continues from there.

I want you then, he says, to live your lives in this way. And I won't continue to read it, but you can read it on there in chapter 2. And what the point is is straightforward. Because you see in verse 9 of chapter 2, in Jesus, the wholefulness of deity dwells bodily. In him, the wholefulness of deity dwells bodily. In other words, he is God. He is God. He is the one, then, who establishes our values. He is the one who guides our thinking. He is the one who directs our conduct.

And in a very realistic way, poor parenting can be traced, actually, not to an absence of information but a failure in application—a failure, first of all, to believe what the Bible says and then to behave in light of who and what Jesus is. Now, Paul is concerned in writing to the Colossians here that they will not be swept away by the thinking of the surrounding culture. And actually, he says—and we're still in chapter 2, actually, and in verse 4—he says, I'm saying these things to you.

I'm saying these things to you in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. Down in verse 8, he says, See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and by empty deceit that concerns human traditions, that works according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Now, Paul has in mind there specific challenges as it relates to the identity, the person of Jesus. False teachers were pressing upon the church, they were teaching doctrine, and they were demanding practices of people that did not depend on Christ. And all I am saying in referencing these two exhortations is that while that was an express issue, a peculiar issue, that was there in the Colossae Valley and commentators' debate, the nature of the issue and so on, but the principle remains. It is for the Christian person living under the lordship of Christ to see to it that we are not deluded, to see to it that we do not succumb to specious arguments and to philosophies which have no basis at all in reality.

And goodness gracious, if there's not an area in which that is a challenge other than family life at the moment, I don't know what is. Because, he said earlier, in Jesus, all these things hold together. Now, all of that's said to reinforce this foundational premise—that obedience of children is the only proper response to the instruction of parents who acknowledge Christ as their Lord. Obedience of children is the only proper response to the instruction of parents who submit to Jesus as Lord. Well, then, let's say a word or two about the responsibility of the parents. You say, well, it's supposed to be about children. Yes, it is about children, but the children don't live in a bedroom by themselves.

They live in a house all being well with parents. Parents are to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But how can children be expected to know their boundaries if their parents are clueless? How can they be expected to know what they're supposed to do or what they're not supposed to do if their parents are neglectful of their responsibilities, clear responsibilities, as delineated in the Bible? And whatever decision Christian parents make about the ongoing education of their children—and there are many within our congregation that adopt all kinds of approaches, and we understand and recognize that—but whatever that decision is, one thing is true of every mom and dad in the congregation, and that is that they are responsible for the instruction of their children in the Word of God. It is their responsibility. The task is to be exercised by the parents in the face of all of the challenges of a world that doesn't agree—the insinuations of the evil one that come to us and say, You know, you shouldn't listen to all this stuff. It's old-fashioned.

If somebody had written the Bible at this point, they would never have included this. That's the kind of thing you hear. Or they'll say, But you need to be a pragmatic person. You just need to be as realistic as you can.

And frankly, this doesn't work. Or you have them saying, You know, what you really need is self-help in this. You don't need Bible help. You don't need the Spirit's help. Psychology will be of far more help to you than theology. And at the heart of all of those kind of insinuations, which come, ultimately, from the evil one, at the heart of it all is the undermining of the Word of God.

The design of the evil one is to get God's people to live their lives paying scant attention to the truth of the Bible. Being prepared to affirm its authority, as we said at the end last time, being prepared to say, We believe it entirely, and then to do absolutely nothing with it when it comes to the issues that we're dealing with now. Instruction begins at home, whether it's formal or informal.

It has to do with creating a climate in which our children recognize that we are depending on the Bible and depending on the help of the Holy Spirit to try and do our level best to raise them according to the structures and definitions of the Bible, that we are, on our best days, sinful as well. And we do so in the awareness of the fact that, for example, let's take the demythologization of evolutionary theory, and your children come home from school. And I remember, as we gathered around the table, one of the children said, You know, I learned something funny at school today. Oh, I said, Well, what was that? He said, The teacher told me that I came from an ape. He said, How funny do you think that is?

I said, I think it's really funny too. And then we had a talk about whether you came from an ape or not, and whether God's Word is true, whether what it says actually describes what happened, or whether we're living with a mythology, whether we're involved in the greatest religious contract that the world has ever seen, or whether we're dealing in the realm of reality. I guarantee you that the child nurtured by a biblical view of the origin of life will enjoy in life a security that can never be experienced by the youngster schooled, for example, in evolutionary theory. How happy the son who can say, When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, Lay hold of my words with all your heart, keep my commands, and you will live.

Hmm. Effective parenting begins with believing the Bible and behaving in light of who Jesus is and what he's done. We're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. We are finding out just how important it is for us to understand God's Word so that our words and our actions reflect his truth to our children and to a watching world. Here at Truth for Life, teaching the Bible is our passion. We pray always that God will work through Alistair's daily teaching to bring unbelievers to saving faith, to fortify believers as they strive to stay faithful in an increasingly challenging world and to strengthen local churches. This is the reason why we offer so many free or at cost resources on our website at

People all around the world can freely access thousands of Alistair's messages and they do every day. So the question is, how are we able to provide this biblical teaching for free? And the answer is through the generosity of truth partners. Truth partners are listeners like you who consistently pray for Truth for Life and who commit to giving monthly.

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I'm Bob Lapine. Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of today's message. We'll find out why biblical discipline is a product of love, not abuse. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 09:58:42 / 2023-03-08 10:06:58 / 8

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