Grace to Fulfill Our Parental Calling #2

  • Parents worthy of honor are energized for their task by the power of the Holy Spirit and the gospel of grace.  Thus, they daily preach the gospel to themselves and are diligent to shepherd their children in the same manner.

The Swiss Cheese Effect of the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:7-8 spells out the process of how this Swiss cheese effect takes place.  “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.”

Once we see the gravity and hopelessness of our sin, the second purpose of the law comes to the forefront.  Galatians 3:24 states that:  “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”

Larger Catechism Question 129: What is Required of Parents Toward Their Children? Answer:  It is required of parents, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their children; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

Before you can begin to appreciate and delight in the mercy and grace of Christ, you must come to see how desperate your situation is and how deceitful your own heart is.  Jeremiah claims under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that: “The heart is more deceitful than all else.  And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (17:9)

This is not a more important exercise for a parent that this: That we would be people who glory in the cross because we are profoundly aware of our own sinfulness while remaining “strong in the continued, fresh discovery of the pardoning grace of God revealed in the cross” (Jack Miller, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, p.117).  {Consult 2 Corinthians 2:17-3:6 }

  • Parents worthy of honor love their children.

What love is?  Love is not an emotional feeling, but a commitment of the will to serve the interests of Jesus Christ in the life of another (Philippians 2:3-4, 21).

What are some of the ways that we actively seek to love our children?

Learn Your Child’s Love Language…What communicates love to your child?  Several of the concepts I mention below come from the helpful book, The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman.

The following are five different ways that people communicate and express love. Encouraging words, Acts of Service (doing things on a “to do” list, serving others), Gift Giving (thoughtful gifts, a pack of gum from the store, a souvenir from a trip…something that says “I thought of you today.”), Quality Time (sitting to talk, a picnic, dinner out, just being together, praying together), or Physical Touch and Closeness (hugs, pat on the back, kiss).

Pray for you and your children to experience and know the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18-20).

Ask the Lord to search your heart regarding how well you are doing at communicating love to your children.  The following are cheap substitutes for real agape love: Trinket love says that I can’t be there, but I’ll buy you something. Performance love puts people on the performance treadmill.  ‘Do well and I will love you.’  Love must be earned. Triangular love happens when mom and dad do not love each other so they direct all their love triangularly toward their children.

Do your children know that you love them?  Ask the Lord to help you really know how to love your child(ren).

Ask the Lord to help you lead your children to daily experience the gospel of grace that sets them free from the power of sin.

  • Parents worthy of honor apply all the means of grace to instruct and stimulate spiritual growth and godly habits in their children’s lives.  

What are the means of grace?  The means of grace are those resources instituted by God whereby He strengthens, enlivens, and transforms us by His power and grace.

The Word —  Parents worthy of honor train their children in the knowledge of the Scriptures.  “Any system of training which does not make a knowledge of Scripture the first thing is unsafe and unsound” (J.C. Ryle, p.291).

2 Timothy 3:15-17 highlights the importance of the Word. “…From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The Word of God leads us to Christ for salvation, then it equips us to serve Christ.  Do you read it regularly with your children?  Do you and your children regard it as your daily “soul food?”

Thomas Watson declares that “The more your children fear God, the more they will honor you” (Watson, The Ten Commandments, p.135).  The primary method for instilling in our children this reverence for God is by “teaching the truth (of God’s Word), making it exciting, exhibiting it in our lives, (and) showing forth its reality day by day” (Edith Schaeffer, The Ten Things Parents Must Teach Their Children, p.116).

Ask the Lord to give you and your children a hunger to know Him through His Word.  May the experience of Jeremiah’s be your family’s. “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).

Prayer —  the chief means of grace…Parents worthy of honor train their children in the habit of prayer.  

James 4:2 states it very succinctly: “You do not have because you do not ask.” Why pray? 

Prayer is our superior weapon we have to conquer temptation, and to encourage us to endure in time of trial. It also is the key that unlocks the very promises of God in His Word.  J.C. Ryle believes that prayer is so crucial that it is the chief means of grace.  “If you love your children, I charge you, do not let the seed-time of a prayerful habit pass away unimproved.  If you train your children to anything, train them, at least, to a habit of prayer” (p.293).

Public means of grace —  Parents worthy of honor train themselves and their children to be diligent and regular in availing themselves of the public means of grace:  Corporate worship, the preaching of the Word, the sacraments, observing the Lord’s Day, and fellowship with God’s people.

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