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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

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

God's Plan for Parenting - Part 4

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 - 1 Samuel 15

Puritan Catechism
Question #49 - Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer - The fourth commandment is, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Ex 20:8-11).

Devotional Thoughts
Before moving on in this study we need to go back to Proverbs 22:6. While we have touched on the ways and means of training up a child in the way he should go, and while we have even defined what "in the way he should go" means, we have not looked at the last part of the verse. The verse tells us "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

To TRAIN is to Teach (disciple) our children through Restraint, Admonition, Instruction, and Nuturing. To train him in the "way he should go" is to be sensitive and discerning, recognizing God’s call, gifts, and talents in the life of our child so that we might work along side God as His steward over our children, preparing them to be effective ambassadors for Christ and helping to spread the Word and Kingdom of God throughout the world. This is no small task. It is also a task specifically commanded for the parent to fulfill. Parents are God's tools for training their children and parents will give an account to God for what their children are taught.

But what does it mean then to say "and when he is old he will not depart from it"? This verse has been used to say so many things that it does not say that it really boggles the mind to see how easy it is to twist Scripture. Many who misunderstand this verse use an application and explanation that if parents take their kids to church, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, church camp, and read to them Bible stories before they say their prayers and go to bed each night, then their children will be safe. Safe from what? Well, as the verse is usually and erroneously taught, it is said that this verse makes a promise and that promise is that since all teenagers rebel against their parents and against authority then if they have been exposed to Bible stories and faithfully taken to church as youngsters then they will eventually outgrow their rebellion and come back to God and their family and church.

Have you heard this? It sounds good. It is noble to hope in God for the rescue of backslidden children. And the truth is that far too many young people in the church go off to college and in the face of the false religion of secular humanism and the doctrines of Darwin they "lose" their faith. What hope can a Christian parent have then? Well the hope given in that if they did their part in training up their children in the way they should have gone then when they are old they will come back to it.

But let us look closely at this verse and see what it says and does not say:

Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.

First there is the responsibility of parents to train their children. And this is so much more than taking them to church and reading them Bible stories. It is, as we have explained, discipling our children in the faith. Have we discipled our children? Really? Or have we relied on Sunday school teachers and others to do what God called us to do?

Second, the child must be trained in the way he should go. Not in the way he wants to go. Not in the way you want him to go. But in the way he should go, that is in the way of holiness before God and love for Him and His Word above all else.

Third, it says that when he is old he will not depart from this way in which he has been trained. Notice, it does not say he will depart and then come back! It says he will not depart from it. When rightly trained, a submissive, humble heart does not rebel. You see, we have fallen for a lie, even promoted by Christian authors and ministers - this false idea that teenagers will indeed rebel.

The Biblical evidence and the testimony of many parents can be offered to show that while rebellion is a serious sin it is not a forgone conclusion for teenagers. If I had the time I could offer argument after argument from the Scripture and testimony after testimony from parents and children to prove that rebellion is not a guarantee!! In fact, this verse we are looking at today is the place to start. If we have trained our children properly they will NOT depart, they will NOT rebel, they will NOT stray or lose their faith when tried and tempted.

Fourth, notice that it says when he is old he will not depart from it. Unfortunately we hear the term and think elderly, senior citizens with gray hair, blue hair, or no hair. We think that when he is old though he has strayed from God all his life he may yet come back. Now, it is true that God may call him back at any point in time. But the key to understanding this verse is found in this word "old." What does it mean?

It is best understood to say that when the child is "old" it is that time at which he has grown up or become mature. At times the word is used to denote the age at which a young man begins to grow whiskers on his chin - he needs to start shaving! So this does not mean old age, but denotes maturity. This is when a child is growing up to be a man. When a child grows up and is mature, if he has been trained faithfully in the ways of God then he has a sure footing and is able to stand fast.

The best way then to understand this verse is to see that parents are responsible to train up their children in the ways and Word of God so that as they mature they have a solid doctrinal and practical foundation upon which to stand. How serious a task is it then to see that God calls and equips parents to be preparing their children to succeed in the Christian life? Do we even think about parenting in those kinds of terms? Sadly parenting has as its goal most often simply the conforming of our children's outward behavior to fit cultural norms when in reality our children have been given to us as blessings from God and as weapons, arrows to be used to defend the truth and spread the gospel of Christ around the world, starting right in our own homes.

If we want to know how to think about the task of parenting we must start with the understanding that we are responsible before God to make disciples of our children! We do this by training them so that as they mature they will walk in the way that has been set before them all their life.

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

Directives for Avoiding Dissention in the Home by Richard Baxter
A Word to Parents by AW Pink

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Anonymous A servant in Honduras said...

Pastor Way, all I can say is,"AMEN!" I am an educator here in Honduras where I serve as a principal at a Christian, bilingual school. I have been at several gatherings of the youth at my local church, and have been appalled at the way that the parents allow their children to treat them. The youth will tell their parents to go away and leave them alone in mixed company. I, on the other hand, put myself into the midst of them. Needless to say, it causes great discomfort to the youth. My daughters know exactly why I do so. It seems that most parents fall all over themselves trying to be their children's "friend." As you have taught, that is NOT our responsiblity. We do need to train up our children, for they are not to depart at all. Blessings upon you as you continue to be one who "correctly handles the word of truth."

9:00 PM  

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