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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

God's Plan for Parenting - Part 1

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #48 - What is required in the third commandment?

Answer - The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Ps. 29:2), titles, attributes (Rev. 15:3-4), ordinances (Eccl. 5:1), Word (Ps. 138:2), and works (Job 36:24; Deut. 28:58-59).

Devotional Thoughts
To review, we have in this series of devotionals asked the question "Why were we created?" The answer provided was that God created us for fellowship, stewardship, and worship. In looking then at an even more specific follow up we are now examining the question, "Why were we created male and female?" We began by showing first that God created us male and female for Lifetime Partnership.

The second part of our answer, started yesterday, is that God created us in His image as male and female so that we might have a Lineage through Parenting. This involves understanding 1) God's Purpose for Children, 2) God's Plan for Parenting, and 3) God's Providential Exception: The Barren Womb. Psalm 127 revealed to us God's Purpose for Children. He builds our families in order to establish a generational influence as the gospel spreads throughout our families.

What then is God's Plan for Parenting? With all the books written on the topic and with all the self-proclaimed experts telling us how to raise our children successfully where is it that we can turn to learn the truth about parenting? We turn, of course, to the Word of God. It is this Word, His handbook for us, that tells us specifically and practically how to fulfill our role as parents faithfully and effectively.

Is it simple? No. It is not. But it is plain! God's Word does not make a mystery out of it. And as we work through a few verses today and tomorrow we will see that God has given us a positive plan for parenting that can be followed despite all the things the world has to say about the topic. The Bible tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." As we study to understand how it is that we train a child, we must start with a question specific to child rearing. As we think about training up a child in the way he should go we must ask, "Why does a child need to be trained?"

Foolishness

Proverbs 22:15 tells us, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." “Ah ha!’” you say, “There it is - immediately when talking about parenting the first thing you bring up is spanking.” Yep, you just knew it didn't you....being all fundamental and believing the Bible you knew I would start with the rod! You knew it was coming. But slow down just a minute. Let us look at this verse. Before we discuss discipline we need to see the truth that is often missed. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." This is true. Without learning and without wisdom and without the experience of age we know that the hearts of our children are full of foolishness.

What is foolishness? The Bible defines a fool as one says in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). Foolishness then is the idea that there is no accountability. In other words, the fool is his own god. He does as he wishes with no thought of his responsibility to God. Is this not true of all of us? We are born sinners. David tells us that we are even conceived in sin, that is, we are sinners by nature from conception because of the imputed sin of Adam (Psalm 51:5; Rom 5:12). And we arrive believing the world revolves around us!

Children then need to be trained so that they might learn that they are not the center of the universe. How many teaching and training techniques reinforce the idea and appeal to a child's self esteem to the point that they are nothing but spoiled self-centered brats? Here we see that the Bible teaches us that training for children, and even discipline is necessary in order to free them from the foolishness that is bound up in each of our hearts. So training a child has as its goal not just conforming outward behavior, but indeed, it is pointed at bringing our children to Christ, where they will be forever and finally freed from the bondage of sin and self.

Depravity

We also see that training is necessary because if we are left on our own we will bring only shame. Proverbs 29:15 tells us, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." If a child is not trained or disciplined then that child will bring shame to his mother, to his parents, to his family, and to all who know him. There is nothing more harmful to a child than to leave him to his own devices. This is true because we are, as was already stated, born sinners by nature. Another way to say it is that we are depraved.

We are born lost, separated from God by sin and in need of salvation. Here are a few verses that reiterate this truth - we are depraved and we need saving. We need God to save us!

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Cor 2:14

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.- Rom 8:7-8

As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Rom 3:10-18, 23

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. - John 6:44-45

The Way He Should Go

We see then that it is necessary to train up a child because we all, as children, started this earthly life as sinners, estranged from God, and in need of a Savior. Sin leads to more sin, and as sinners we find that we are not only dead in sin, but bound in sin and unable on our own to escape. Training, as we will learn, involves teaching our children about God and about Christ. It is the parent’s first duty, their most important duty to teach their children about the gospel. How else will our children be effective as arrows pulled from the quiver and fired at the enemy in order that the Kingdom of God might advance?

Before we look at the specifics for how to train a child I want to finish today by taking a look at the fact that we are told to train up a child "in the way he should go." This has been taught often that the phrase means that we are to train up a child in the way he wants to go. Some have taught that the phrase here refers to a child's natural "bent" and that we as parents must learn his talents and gifts and so encourage him and help him reach his potential in the areas for which he shows proficiency.

The truth is though that this verse is telling us that as parents we are responsible for training a child in the way he should go - not the way he wants to go, and not necessarily even the way he is inclined and gifted to go. No, this is very clear - because we all, like sheep, have gone astray (Rom 3:23) and have fallen short of the glory of God, we from birth do not know where to go or how to get there! Our natural "bent" is away from God and away from righteousness. Left on our own we will walk further and further into sin and shame.

To train up a child in the way he should go is to do just that - train up our children so that they know which way to go! It is teaching right and wrong, based upon Biblical truth. So much that the Bible says we find modern psychology and modern parenting gurus teaching us to ignore. Truth is denied as an absolute. The only thing many today think is absolute is that nothing is absolute. We need to teach our children the difference between right and wrong. We need to train them to refute the rationalism of the day so that they might stand for truth and be firm in their convictions.

We train up a child in the way he should go by being sensitive and discerning, recognizing God’s call, gifts, and talents in the life of our children. We will pick up here tomorrow then as we examine a few specific steps for training our children in the way they should go. Until then, remember, we all need to be trained! We all need to be taught. And we all need to know the difference between right and wrong. This absolute truth brings us to our need for a Savior, because without Him we cannot do what is right and will only do what is wrong, bringing shame upon our family and our lives.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Ramifications of the Fall by AW Pink
Little Innocents? by Sinclair Ferguson

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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