A Sermon Transcript:
As we have already established, the Family Matters to God because God created the family. We opened this series by asking the question, “Why does the family matter?”
We essentially answered this question in three parts.
1. The family matters to God because He created it.
2. The family matters to God because He defined it.
3. The family matters to God because He purposed it.
Family Matters to God because He created it.
The family matters because to God because of its divine origin. In the opening chapters of Genesis, God created Adam and created a helper for him after seeing it was not good for him to be alone. God crafted Eve from the side of Adam so that she would be by his side always. After her creation, a rather peculiar verse says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Not only did God create the first family in Genesis, but also described the transition of the first family into multiple families. Moses describes a man leaving his parents to marry his wife, and become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). This transition is a God-ordained and blessed process. Two individuals leave their respective families to become a new family united in “one flesh” though marriage. This is exactly the way God created the family, and it matters to him.
Family also matters to God because He defined it.
The family matters because of its divine definition. In other words, God identified and labeled the ingredients that make up a family as one man, and one woman. The ingredients list includes only one male and one female, and any deviation from that list is to contradict the cookbook, chef, and creator of the family. Scripture clarifies the gender of the family to include one male and one female. Any other combination is contrary to the manufacturer and producer of the family’s recipe, God.
Family matters to God because He purposed it.
Lastly, we discovered that family matters to God because He gave the family purpose. You could define the word purpose as the cause of existence.
Genesis 1:27-28 states the purpose of the family, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
So the purpose, or cause of existence for the family, is to first bear the image of God, to represent the King and Creator of the universe. In addition, responsibility is entrusted to the King’s image-bearers to have children and make additional families. Furthermore, subduing and having dominion over the earth concludes the purpose of the family. In other words, God creates the family to cultivate the earth by ruling, protecting, and caring for it.
We sit here as the direct descendants of men and women who have fulfilled God’s purpose for their lives. We sit here tonight as families who bear the image of God, and are called to be fruitful and multiply while subduing the earth and having dominion over it.
Now, we turn our attention to the parent’s role in the family. First and foremost, a family should constitute a loving, sacrificial, and Christ-centered marriage between a man and a woman. In addition, a family includes godly parents modeling a loving, sacrificial, and Christ-centered marriage to their children.
If you are a parent, may I lovingly remind you that your children are gifts from God. Children are blessings from the Lord and not burdens. When Eve gave birth to her first son she said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man” (Genesis 4:1-2). After Cain killed Abel, Eve became pregnant with Seth and said, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him” (Genesis 4:25). Eve recognized and viewed his children as divine blessings given from heaven. Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
Sin, however, in has the ability of tainting our view of children as a blessing, and reframing them as a battle.
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, issued these immortal words in one of his most famous speeches in 1940, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” These famous words propelled comedic writer Robert Orben to exlclaim, “It sounds exactly like our family vacation.”
Would you describe your home address as the battlefield boulevard or the boulevard of blessing?
May I lovingly remind you parents, that your children are not your enemy for they are gifts from God.
Children are gifts from God and should be trained up in the way that God desires them to go. When children are not trained up in the way they should go, the home quickly turns from a boulevard of blessing to a battlefield.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Training is not only needed for your children but required. When children enter into the world, they are untrained and undeveloped. They are gifts from God, blessings from the Lord, that need development and they look to their parents who are gifted, called, and required by God to train them up in the way they should go.
Scripture teaches that children develop in four areas. Luke 2:52 describes these four areas saying, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” First, Jesus grew in wisdom (seeing the world the way God sees it, and living in light of that truth). Next, Jesus grew in stature (the human body goes through physical and emotional changes requiring provision for its needs). Then, Jesus grew in favor with God (his relationship with God), and finally in favor with man (his relationship with mankind).
The life of Jesus modeled in Luke 2:52 highlights the four areas that parents are called to develop and train their children in. Parents are called to train their children in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with mankind.
Parents are called to train their children in wisdom.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).
In Proverbs 1, King Solomon illustrates the parent’s role in training their children in wisdom. The wisest man to walk the earth commands his children to listen to his instruction and to their mother’s teaching. He says the words that I teach you, the instruction your mother and I give you are like a beautiful crown of wisdom about your head. They are like a beautiful pendant adorning you neck.
When a son finds himself in the grips of peer pressure, asked to partake in a night of illegal activity, his father’s teaching or lack thereof is imprinted in his head (like a crown). The question is, has his father prepared him for the inevitable temptation? When a daughter finds herself in the midst of romantic advances by a young man, she remembers her mother’s teaching or lack thereof adorning her neck like a pendant. The question is, has her mother spoken to her regarding the purity she is called to?
Parents pass on wisdom to their children. However, where do parents receive wisdom they should pass on to their children? King Solomon illuminates the answer to our question in Proverbs 9:10, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”.
So what is wisdom?
Wisdom is the receiving of knowledge concerning the Lord and His will and the subsequent obedience to those commands. In other words, wisdom is understanding life and living it as God intended us to. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament affirm this understanding of wisdom.
Moses said, “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).
So Moses says wisdom is knowing the laws of God with the purpose being “that you should do them” (Deuteronomy 4:5). By knowing and subsquently doing what God commands, Moses says “that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people” (Deuteronomy 4:6). According to Moses, wisdom is knowing what God says and doing what He tells us to do. The Old Testament affirms wisdom is understanding life and living it as God intended us.
The New Testament also affirms this definition of wisdom. Jesus said the same thing about wisdom in his own words, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24).” Jesus defines wisdom as knowing and doing his words. In other words, Jesus says wisdom is understanding life and living it as Jesus intends us to. Jesus equates his definition of wisdom with Deuteronomy 4.
Parents are called to teach their children to know the Lord, and obey Him. It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the obedience to the Lord that is the completion of wisdom. The beginning of wisdom for your children is teaching them the right way to view the world from the perspective of their creator God. The completion of wisdom is teaching your children to obey their creator God in all aspects of life. This wisdom also includes teaching your children to obey Jesus in all aspects of life. Parents are called to train their children in wisdom, just as Jesus grew in wisdom. This is the first area of development for a child.
Parents are called to train their children in stature.
Parents are called to grow their children in stature, providing for both their physical and emotional needs. At the time of birth, infants are unable to feed, clean, clothe and shelter themselves. Providing for your family includes earning income to feed, clean, clothe, and shelter your children. In addition, parents are to meet their children’s emotional needs at age-appropriate levels. Unconditional love and respect should flow through parents to their children, not excluding discipline.
There is profound unity between our earthly parents and our heavenly father. God provided food for Adam and Eve, and then clothing to help cover their sin after they disobeyed. God also clothes the grass of the field and feeds the birds of the sky. How much more, Jesus says, will he not take care of you? How much more should parents learn from their heavenly father and take care of their children? As your children mature, a godly parent will also train their child in the proper ways to provide for one’s self.
One of the qualifications for an elder or pastor in 1 Timothy 3:4 is managing one’s household. The correlation for this responsibility is if one cannot manage his own household well, how can he care for God’s church? God cares that our homes are managed well, and not managing our homes well is disobedience in the eyes of God. In fact, a pastor or elder is disqualified from shepherding the church if his own home is in disarray. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Parents are called to provide for their families or they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.
It is also important to remember that Jesus encouraged his disciples to reject anxiety regarding our physical needs. There is a dual responsibility in Scripture for parents to provide for their children and to trust in God’s provision. Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Parents are called to provide for their children’s physical needs, but trusting God to ultimately provide for their needs where they may fall short. Parents are called to manage their households well, showing themselves approved in the eyes of God. This is how parents train their children in stature, by providing for their needs together with God’s promises and their faithful work.
The third area of development for children that parents are called to train their children in is their favor with God.
The third area of development that parents are called to train their children in is favor with God.
How does one gain favor with God?
First, one can only gain favor with God through salvation.
Salvation is needed by all because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is any action, attitude, or nature contrary to God’s character. In other words, sin is everything we naturally are. By nature, our actions and attitudes do not conform to God’s moral law.
Ephesians 2 tells us we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We have all failed to conform to his God’s moral law and because of this we are spiritually dead in our sins. We are by nature sons of disobedience, living in the passions of our flesh, carrying out whatever impulses our body and mind propel us to follow. Ephesians 2:3 establishes that by nature, like the rest of mankind we are children of wrath opposed to our heavenly Father. So how can sinners gain the favor of God? How can parents gain the favor of God? How can children gain the favor of God?
Ephesians 2:4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved, and raised up with him and seated us with hm in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
How does one gain favor with God?
One looks to God with all honesty and sincerity and says, “I am a sinner.” Naturally, my family tree carries sin with it all the way back to Adam and Eve. Naturally, my impulses, my mind, and my body are so contorted and warped with sin that I need a savior! And God, being rich in mercy, showing his love towards us makes us alive with Him in Christ Jesus our savior. He looks at us, children of wrath and sons of disobedience, and changes our nature so that we now become children of God. The gospel of John tells us that to all who did receive Jesus, and believed in his name, he gives us the right to become children of God. God saves us because He loves us and sent Jesus to die for us. The only way to gain favor with God is through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
As parents, we must first embrace, believe, and accept that gracious truth in our own lives to achieve favor with God. We must gain favor with God before we can ever begin to teach our own children how to find favor with God. Favor with God comes only through salvation in Jesus Christ through faith.
The second way to gain favor with God is through obedience.
Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” After you have been saved, now you begin to live the Christian life in relationship to Jesus, who is not only your savior, but also your Lord (your ruler). Confession in Christ as Lord of your life is crucial because words are only as good as the actions that follow behind them. This is why Jesus would turn to his disciples and say making disciples includes “Teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28). Servants obey the commands of their master, because obedience in works is paramount to our confessing Jesus as Lord. Peter T. Forsythe said, “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.”
Scripture is the divine gift given to mankind in order to gain favor with God through our salvation and our obedience. Scripture is the training manual and instruction book to ensure our salvation and obedience are correct and pleasing to God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
As Paul says, all of Scripture is from God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. God desires us to conform to his righteous character and Scripture is the means to train us and our children to do this. The purpose of this character transformation is for the complete equipping of our children and ourselves to do the work of God.
It is the sacred writings that Timothy was acquainted with from childhood that make our children “wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). It is the special revelation of God in written word that prepares our children to give an answer to everyone who asks them the reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15). It is the psalms that say the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths, including our children (Psalm 119:105). It is the words of proverbs that tell us not to lean not on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge God and He will make our paths straight.
We are commanded by God himself to teach the Scripture to our children diligently in Deuteronomy. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (6:4-9). :
A man was discussing the fragility of many marriages with his girlfriend and posed the following question, “What if you wake up one morning and don’t love me anymore?” She immediately responded, “There’s always obedience.”
Obedience to the word of God in all things rises not from our intense devotion to serve God. Instead, our desire for obedience rises from his intense devotion to us when we were still disobedient, a devotion that led to the death of Christ.
We gain the favor of God when his commands are obeyed, regardless of our emotional state in the obedience. Our obedience to God, and the obedience that parents teach their children, will bring glory and honor to both earthly parents and our heavenly father. Proverbs 29:15 says, an undisciplined child brings shame to his parents (Proverbs 29:15). Likewise, undisciplined Christian parents and children will ultimately bring shame to God if the Scriptures do not hold primacy in the home.
Parents are called to train their children in favor with God through salvation in Christ and obedience to Jesus as Lord through their knowledge and obedience to the Word of God.
The fourth and final area of development for children is the fourth and final calling for parents to train their children in favor with mankind.
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2). Children are to learn from their parents that submission to government and obedience to human authority is mandated by God. Believers are not exempt from civil laws unless such orders contradict the Word and will of God.
In addition, parents are to teach their children to “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). A readiness for good works is required of parents to train their children.
Parents are also called to grow their children into men and women who malign no one, or speak evil of them. Public figures, celebrities, and politicians should not receive evil speech from the lips of believers, including our children. Paul urges us to pray for everyone’s salvation, even those who occupy official positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The apostle Paul also encourages parents alike to train their children as men and women who avoid verbal and physical disputes, and are gentle or reasonable in nature. Living in a world filled with unbelieving sinners, Christian parents must teach their children to behave in a manner unlike a lost world, and to gain favor with mankind.
In light of these four development areas, I want you to hear the words of Pastor and Author Chuck Swindoll who wrote a humorous 12 point list entitled, “How to Train Your Child to be a Delinguent”
How to Train Your Child to be a Delinquent
1. When your kid is still an infant, give him everything he wants. This way he’ll think the world owes him a living when he grows up.
2. When he picks up swearing and off-color jokes, laugh at him, encourage him. As he grows up, he will pick up “cuter” phrases that will floor you.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and let him decide for himself.
4. Avoid using the word “wrong.” It will give your child a guilt complex. You can condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up after him–his books, shoes, and clothes. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.
6. Let him read all printed matter he can get his hands on…[never think of monitoring his TV programs]. Sterilize the silverware, but let him feast his mind on garbage.
7. Quarrel frequently in his presence. Then he won’t be too surprised when his home is broken up later.
8. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. Every sensual desire must be gratified; denial may lead to harmful frustrations.
9. Give your child all the spending money he wants. Don’t make him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you did?
10. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They’re all against him.
11. When he gets into real trouble, make up excuses for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him; he’s just a bad seed.”
12. Prepare for a life of grief.
Charles Swindoll, The Quest For Character (Multnomah: p. 105-6).
If you desire your home to reside on battlefield boulevard, train your children to be a delinquent. However, if you desire your family to reside on the boulevard of blessing, train them up in the way that they should go. Train your children to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man. God gave us an instruction manual and informed us that family matters. God is concerned for the family because He created it, defined it, and purposed it. In addition, God is concerned for parent’s to fulfill the role they are called to. Only when we seek to obey God in all manners according to His Word, including in our families, will we truly see the blessing of God on our own families.