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Teach Your Children Well (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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May 30, 2024 4:00 am

Teach Your Children Well (Part 2 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 30, 2024 4:00 am

What’s the best parenting approach? How do parents find the right balance between too much discipline or none at all? Learn how to lovingly discipline children without breaking their spirits. That’s the focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

As moms and dads, what's the best approach to assure parenting success?

How do we find the right balance between too much discipline and no discipline at all? Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn how we can lovingly discipline children without breaking their spirits. And the only way that we can love them wisely is by a right understanding of what we've been given here in this child. The verse, which is before us as a sort of launching pad for our study, is train a child in the way he should go or the way she should go. So, in raising our children, it is important that when we ask the question, What do we have here?

What are we dealing with? that we answer that question on the basis of a faithful consideration of that with which we're presented. We are given a child. What is a child? Well, a child is not the product of time plus matter plus chance. But a child is the product of the faithful work of a Creator God who intricately wrought them together in their mother's womb, establishing their DNA, the unique factors of personality, their traits and their abilities, their colorings and their codes, all put there by the express purpose of a loving God. And this loving God who has stamped this child in his image also recognizes that this child's image of God is marred by the imprint of sin.

I've been spending a lot of time in the catechism, the shorter catechism. And in going through this, I've recognized again just how crucial it is for us as parents to be instilling in our children—either in an obvious way or in an oblique way—but instilling in our children the basic essential truths concerning who they are in order that they might understand their identity. Because a worldview that can't answer for our children who they are and where they came from is an insufficient worldview. And our friends and neighbors do not have answers to the question, Who am I? Where did I come from?

Where am I going? And does it matter? And a Christian parent's responsibility is so to instruct their children that they'll be able to answer those four questions. They'll be able to give the answers to them before they fully appreciate the significance of the answers, but it is important that we give them the answers. So, for example, in the catechism, it goes along like this. And you can teach this to your children.

I wish I'd had this little book. Question 24. Who was the first man God made? Adam. What did God make Adam from?

The dust of the ground. Who was the first woman God made? Eve. What did God make Eve from? One of Adam's ribs. What did God give to Adam and Eve as well as bodies? He gave them souls that would never die. Do you have a soul as well as a body? Yes, I have a soul that will never die.

How do you know that you have a soul? Because God tells me so in the Bible. Were Adam and Eve good when God made them?

Yes, very good. All that God made was good. What is sin? Sin is disobeyed or not keeping God's law. What is not keeping God's law? It is not being or doing what God requires. Did Adam and Eve continue to be good?

No. They sinned by disobeying God. How did Adam and Eve sin? By eating fruit that God had said not to eat. What happened to Adam and Eve when they sinned? They were separated from God.

Now listen. Does Adam's sin affect us? Yes. We are all Adam's children. He acted for us all, and as a result, we are all born in a sinful condition.

Question 39. What name do you give to this sinful condition? Answer, original sin. What other sin are we guilty of as well as original sin? Answer, actual sin, in what we do, say, and think. What does every sin deserve? God's anger and punishment. Can anyone go to heaven with the sinful condition?

No. Our hearts must be changed before we can be fit for heaven. Now, the reason that many of us as parents are not giving this to our kids is because we don't understand it ourselves. And when we think in terms of children, our minds are flavored by a lot of sentimental nonsense that flushes through the literature and airwaves of our time. And our minds are influenced also by an emotional instinct which obviously clearly wants to believe the best about our children.

But what the Bible actually says when we take this bundle in our hands and ask the question, What do I have here? A child. And what is a child? The Bible says that the intentions of the heart of a man are evil from their youth, from their inception. Genesis 8 21. From the first dawn of choice, our children, who are by nature on the road to destruction, choose the road of destruction. The evil one begins to tackle the issue when we still have our infants in our arms. In Psalm 58, you have this amazing statement, which I'll quote to you—I don't want to tire you with cross-references—but Psalm 58, Even from birth the wicked go astray, from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be. So you see why it is? That the mums are in the grocery store singing songs and offering gifts. Come on now, come on now. Here, let me get you one of these. No, did you want one of those? Oh, I'll get you a big book.

You want a big book? Oh, please, leave my purse alone. Don't throw the—oh, you threw the credit cards on the ground.

What am I going to do? Bring the enchanter. Send in the clowns. Nothing works. Why? Because of what you have.

They're wicked. Your precious little bundle is a potential juvenile delinquent. No matter how cute she looks in her pink, no matter how wonderful he looks in his blue, no matter how angelic his eyes, and if you as his mom and dad don't understand that, you will exercise a training program that is flawed from its very inception. Do you see, the real key to raising children is theology.

It's not a book about child-raising. It's the Bible, so that we might have a doctrine of man. And our doctrine of man, then, determines how we deal with man. And the Bible says that man is born in sin and he's shapen in iniquity. Therefore, he is like in a bowl, in crown bowling on an English green, which it is impossible for him to roll straight. He is put together in such a way that he deviates either to one side or to the other.

And any attempt to say that this is going straight is a perversion. And in Isaiah 48 8, you have the same principle. You have neither heard me nor understood. From of old your ear has not been opened. Well do I know how treacherous you are.

You were called a rebel from birth. And the world says, I never heard such nonsense in all of my life. I understand.

Let me tell you something. The longer we go into the twenty-first century, the more clear it is going to become in these fair shores, that a commitment to Christian truth in the matters of the most essential elements of our existence—man, woman, heterosexual marriage, the raising of children, the establishing of guidelines—in these most essential elements, it is going to get clearer and clearer and clearer, the separation between light and darkness, folly and wisdom. And this is going to be no journey for the fearful.

This is going to be no trip for the faint in heart. This is going to take everything by God's enabling in us to stand up and say, Yes, I actually believe that I have today taken home from the hospital a rebel. A lovely little girl. But she's a rebel. And unless the grace of God reaches in and cuts the umbilical cord of her rebellious heart, then all that is endemic in her will come to fruition in later life. And the same grace which grants to us the wisdom to exercise parenting responsibilities provides for us the principles of parenting so that God, in his grace, gives to us this training and instruction in order that we might be able to take these wayward children, who naturally choose where they would go, and we tell them where they should go.

You notice how clear it is? Train a child in the way he should go. Not in the way he would go.

In the way she would go. Now, don't tell me where I should go. Don't tell me who I should spend time with. Don't tell me what I should do with my own body. I want to do what I want to do. Now, listen, my dear friends, it is imperative if we're to have any hope whatsoever that we establish authority in the dawn of life, that we seek to bend the tender twig before the branch is four feet wide. That's a trunk.

The earlier the training, the easier the work, the more encouraging the results. And you better do it sooner than later. You know that with potty training, don't you? I mean, it's embarrassing going on a plane with a five-year-old who's got a huge, great thing hanging out the back of his trousers.

I mean, that's ridiculous. That's got nothing to do with a boy. That's got everything to do with a mother. You get at it as quickly as you can. Why? Because it's crucial.

The same is true. To leave children without principles is not to make them free, but it is to render them helpless. I remember years ago now traveling on a train in England, and as I was making my journey south, I was sitting by myself in a four-seat area with a table in front of it, and across from me, a young mother and two daughters. And in the course of a journey which was long, we began to talk, I to the mother and then to the girls, and the girls were drawing.

And one of them came over, and we started to draw together, and she draw and I draw, and we pass it back and forth. And in the course of conversation, I said to the little girl, I said, whatever her name was, Sarah, I'll call her. And, Sarah, do you go to Sunday school? At that, her mother said, Sarah, come back here.

Just like that. She grabbed her, she pulled her back over to the other side of the compartment, and she didn't say to me, but she said to Sarah, she said, Sarah, I think we're just going to wait until you're a big girl, and you can choose for yourself whether you want to go to Sunday school or not. All sounded so high-minded and smart, except that the biggest deprivation of freedom we grant to our children is the freedom to make a choice. And they cannot make a choice without information. And if this lady thought that her daughter was about to choose the path of righteousness and life once she got to the age of ten or eleven, it wasn't going to happen. Parents that lack biblical principles are ignorant of their children's moral and spiritual state. They're clueless as to their propensity towards doing wrong. They are therefore ineffective in applying discipline. And to reject biblical principles for child-reading is ruinous.

Look at verse 15 of 22. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child. Children are rational creatures. Therefore, they need instruction, not blind submission. Children are individuals, and each has their own individual traits and temperament that give them their identity.

And part of the skill in parenting is in distinguishing between our children. Is this girl, is this fellow timid or confident? Is she withdrawn or gregarious? Is she fearful or carefree? Is she suspicious or trusting? Is she by nature aggressive or considerate?

Is she amiable or is she argumentative? And you take all of that information as a parent, and then you filter the training and instruction of the Bible in relationship to them so that you may redefine their will without breaking their spirit, so that you learn to distinguish between childhood irresponsibility and willful defiance. And in the process of that, says the Bible, words are not enough. Treating each child according to their own distinct identity, to their own peculiar nature, to their own stage in life, we are to discipline them. Nobody in their right mind, nobody who understands the Bible or the love of the Lord Jesus or of God has any interest in abusing and hurting and harming children. But the Bible says that all need the rod, and some need it more than others. And that that is exercise, says God, from a heart of compassion. Because the rod that is exercised without affection is a revolting tyranny. Discipline your children while they're young enough to learn.

If you don't, you're helping them to destroy themselves. That's the Living Bible, 1918. If you don't punish your son, you don't love him.

If you love him, you will correct him. Now, my friends, there's probably no area in which the wisdom of God stands in more forceful contrast to the views of man than in this area. So let me just draw this to a close. I just went on the internet and punched up the European Commission on Spanking and Discipline. It is staggering to read this information. It covers my own Scotland. It covers the nations of Western Europe.

It goes into Africa. Let me just give you a flavor of what contemporary culture has to say concerning this. This was the Supreme Court of Italy, the Cassation in Rome. The judgment states that the very expression, quotes, correction of children, close quotes, which expresses a view of child-rearing that is both culturally anachronistic and historically outdated, should, in fact, be redefined, abolishing any connotation of hierarchy or authoritarianism and introducing the ideas of social and responsible commitment which should characterize the position of the educator—in this case, namely, the parent. So now I have no jurisdiction over my son as his father. He has equal rights to everything that I have. I must treat him, according to the European Commission, in a way that acknowledges that he has as much right to his opinion as I do as his father. Israel, the nation to whom God gave the Shema, written right into their laws.

Israel, from Jerusalem, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, describe corporal punishment of children as entirely impermissible and, quotes, a remnant of a societal educational outlook that has lost its validity. One of the students asked me the other day, he said, you know, do you think it's possible that we would ever be persecuted in the United States? The answer is yes.

And perhaps a lot quicker than we realize. So what are we to do? Well, people say, well, we spare the rod because we love the children. You say, well, listen, God doesn't spare the rod, and he loves us. Do you love your kids more than God loves us?

In fact, God argues in Hebrews 12, from the correction of a father with his children to the correction of God the father with his children, and he says, the reason I do this for you is because I love you. And the undisciplined child is actually an illegitimate child. Therefore, as young people, and as young parents particularly, I want to urge you to take this seriously. I want to urge you to stand against the tides of contemporary culture. I know that educational theory says you don't learn things off by heart anymore. That's not the way you learn. You don't learn to spell that way. You don't go, C-A-T, cat, C-A-T, cat, D-O-G, dog, D-O-G, dog.

You just go ribbity-dibbity-doody-doo, and it fires up on the wall, and suddenly you know it. Teach your children well. Who said that? Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Their parents' hell will slowly go by and feed them on your dreams. The one they pick is the one they go by. See why it's important that Christians listen to the culture rather than singing half-baked Christian songs all the time? B. B. Warfield, and with this I finish. Warfield, the great theologian at Princeton, in an article defending the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter Scottish Catechism, tells a wonderful story.

And I read it, and I'm done. We have, he says, the following bit of experience from a general officer of the United States Army. He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting.

The streets were overrun daily by a dangerous crowd. One day, he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of bearing, whose very demeanor inspired confidence. So impressed was the man with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed, he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same. On observing his turning, the stranger at once came back to him and, touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface, What is the chief end of man? On receiving the countersign, Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Ah, said he, I knew you were a shorter catechism boy by your looks. Why, that is just what I was thinking of you, came the man's reply.

I'm gonna tell you something. When you meet a kid now that can look you in the eye and talk to you, a boy who can shake your hand and you don't feel like you got a hold of a pound and a half of a wet cod, somebody who stands up in a room when a woman enters, who moves in order to have a lady sit on the seat, who knows that a greeting is to be met with a greeting, you're starting to look at somebody who may just be a shorter catechism boy. Do you think our culture needs them?

Do you think a new generation demands them? If you're the parents, get at it. If you're the grandparents, step up. And if we're en route, plan accordingly. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg reminding us of the necessity of biblical discipline and the love that must be behind it. Alistair, we'll be back in just a minute to close today's program. If you enjoy learning from the Bible by listening to Alistair each day, we have an exciting opportunity coming up in September for you.

You can study along with Alistair. He'll be live and in person teaching aboard a Holland America cruise ship sailing along the coastlines of New England and Canada. The cruise departs out of Boston in late September.

We'll visit ports in Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and more. To find out more or book your cabin, go to By the way, tomorrow is the last day we're offering a book called Parenting Essentials as a gift with your donation. So be sure to request your copy by giving a gift today.

Go to slash donate, or use the Truth for Life mobile app. Let me mention that this is a book you may want to pass along to a young couple preparing to be parents. You've already raised your family. If you have adult children who are expecting, this is a great book you can give to them as a gift.

So if you'd like to purchase extra copies, they're available in our store at slash store. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, thank you that the Bible is such a wise book, touches every area of our lives. Help us with our kids, we pray, and with our grandchildren, too, that we don't make a hash of it. And where we have been neglecting to order the direction of the twig, give us courage, grant us grace. Help us not to be hard-handed, heavy-handed.

Help us to recognize the interest and nature and traits and temperament of our individual children. God, grant us wisdom, we pray. And raise up for us, we pray, in this generation, a whole army of young people who are not driven by an external code but are motivated by an internal principle that love for Christ issues in a life of respectful duty to his law.

Not that they're accepted by it, but that their lives are framed by it. Help us, O God, we pray, as a church and as individual families. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each of us now and forevermore. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. We're glad you've joined us today, as we are finding out parenting is not for the faint of heart. Along with the joys, it can be challenging, exhausting, sometimes overwhelming. Tomorrow, we'll learn how to avoid some of the common stumbling blocks and pitfalls of parenting. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-30 05:06:40 / 2024-05-30 05:15:33 / 9

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