The Christian Family — Part Four

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God created men and women to flourish within the family structure. As those who are in Christ, we are called to live in a way that is pleasing to Him—and part of God’s design for family life, explains Alistair Begg, is parents’ responsibility to instruct their children in the Word of God and to accompany this teaching with discipline motivated by love. When children respond in obedience, the Christian family adorns the Gospel before a watching world.




The following message by Alistair begg is made available by Truth for life. For more information, visit us online. At truth For life dot org Exodus 20 and Verse one. And God spoke all these words saying, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I the Lord, your God am a jealous God, Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the Children to the 3rd and 4th generation of those who hate me. But showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord. Your God in vain. For the Lord will not hold him guiltless. Who takes his name in vain? Remember the Sabbath day. To keep it holy! six days. You shall labor and do all your work. But the 7th day is a sabbath to the Lord, your God on it you shall not do any work. You or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them And rested on the 7th day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy honor your father and your mother. That your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that is your neighbor’s. Now, when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, that people were afraid and trembled and they stood far off and said to moses. You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak to us lest we die moses said to the people. Do not fear, for God has come to test you that the fear of him, maybe before you, that you may not sin. The people stood far off while moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Well, we thank God for his word. And we make it the basis of our study. And I invite you to turn now to Colossians and two, Chapter 3 We come now to our 4th study in the christian family. And once again our text is brief and it’s clear verse 20 Children obey your parents and everything for this pleases the Lord Are we praying gracious God? We ask now that you will summon us by the truth of your word, That you will teach us by the power of your spirit. That you will bring us to faith and trust in your son that we might be unable to live in obedience to your truth. For jesus sake. Amen. Alright there we have that Children obey your parents and everything for this pleases the Lord. We really have reversed into this little series and have I think fastened on something that emerged from our first sunday. And it is simply this that we are recognizing that in a very realistic sense it takes the church family to make it possible for each of us to be enabled to raise a christian family. The challenges are immense. The privileges are terrific. The responsibilities are vast and the help that exists amongst others around us who have tried it before, who have done it before, who are living it now and so on is a massive resource. And so we’re trying to understand and It fits very much without church 101 amongst our teenagers trying to help us to recognize the fact that it is not that our physical family life exists as it were, as a citadel. And if there’s other things that we want to add into it, then including church life all well and good. But no, in actual fact in christ the real family is the church family. And the question is not, how do we fold church life into our physical family life, but how do we fold our physical family life into all that God has for us in the church. Now, it is in light of that that we’ve looked first of all at wives and then at husbands and now we come to Children and the bible is really clear, not just in the epistles here, in the new testament, but throughout the bible that parental authority is absolutely vital. It is actually indispensable for a stable society. And that is why when we read the bible, we discover that from the very beginning, God established mankind within the structure of family life, a structure in which the roles between husbands and wives were delineated and a structure in which Children were to submit to the authority of their parents. And this is if you’re like a natural law, it is in the instinctive dimensions of human existence and it is also part of the law of God. As we read in the decalogue earlier, it is therefore no exaggeration to say, as I now do that, the well being of a person or of a nation begins then in the home. And whenever a culture turns its back on God, Whenever a culture turns its back on the moral framework that God has established for the well being of society. When the destruction and disintegration of family life begins to take place, then it is clear that God’s design has simply been set aside. And it’s not that God’s design is hard to understand and find it is because it is so clear that it is rejected so forcibly one man and one woman in a monogamous, heterosexual lifelong commitment that provides the opportunity to fulfill the privileges of parenthood. And it is surely noteworthy that on two occasions when paul in writing to various places, actually writing to the church in Rome and writing to timothy and to titus when he addresses a collapsing culture and he describes the constituent elements that we were represented when the culture begins to fall in upon itself, included in both of the two key lists that we have is one simple phrase disobedient to parents, disobedient to parents. In the midst of all the various things that are described horrendous things and the moral collapse and so on there. You find it disobedient to parents. Now, what this then means is a number of things. First of all, it provides the christian church and christian parents in particular with an opportunity for the gospel. A chance to adorn the gospel of the Lord jesus christ as titus puts it a chance for the christian family to become a living testimonial to the truth of the bible to the teachings of the Lord jesus christ himself and I have labored in these brief studies to set this in this context every time and I want to do so again this morning, it’s relatively easy to simply say now, here’s what wives are supposed to do. Here’s what husbands are supposed to do. Here’s what Children are supposed to do. We were familiar with all of that. Our problem is not that we are untie ought in relationship to these things. Our problem is a far deeper problem. Our problem is a gospel problem. Our problem is a biblical problem. Our problem is an obedience problem and it starts with an understanding of who jesus is. So our first point will be to consider the identity of jesus secondly to consider the responsibility of parents. And thirdly, and only then to consider the duty of Children or you say, well, why would you begin with the identity of jesus? Well, simply because that is how it is handled here by paul, Paul was aware and we’ve become aware of the fact through our study that there were all kinds of ethical codes that were present in Judaism and in the greek and roman world. Those people realized by way of natural law that for society to function, there had to be order. There had to be structure and it had to be there in the family life. So what was it then that paul was introducing or what if you like, does the bible introduced that takes it forward from there, we’ll specifically the fact of who jesus is the fact of the lordship of jesus christ. And so what he’s saying is that the specific responsibilities within the christian home for the various roles assigned have to do with jesus as Lord. And that’s why here in verses 18 through to the end of the chapter are you find the phraseology recurring in verse 18, the wives are submitting to their husbands in the Lord. In verse 20 Children are to do this because it is pleasing to the Lord In 22, we obey our earthly masters fearing the Lord And in verse 24 and in part a knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance is your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. So the summary of the responsibilities of various family members is actually the application of their theology. So in other words we have to understand the bible, we have to understand who jesus is. We have to both believe it and we have to live in the light of it. If we’re going to actually make any sense of practical instructions such as this and that is why for example, in chapter two and in the middle of chapter two, verse six there of chapter two, he says to them. Therefore, as you have received christ, jesus, the Lord. This is the, this is the distinguishing feature of these people. You have received jesus as Lord, He is your king, he is the sovereign one. He’s in charge of your finance, he’s in charge of your future. He’s in charge of your family. He’s in charge. You received him, He is the Lord. Now, he says, in light of that, in light of that, the imperative is that you now must walk in him, indicative, you received him imperative. Walk in him. You see how the indicative always precedes the imperative. So you see if somebody listens to me, talk this morning and thinks that what I’m simply doing is seeking to reinforce a christianized version of an ethical code. Then I’ve done a dreadful job. That’s why I’m laboring to make the point at the beginning that what is being entrusted to these believers in colossi is being entrusted to believers. They have understood God’s grace in all its truth, they realized that they could not earn God’s salvation. They realized that Jesus is the savior that they require. They have received him as Lord. Now, that is indicative of what is true of them now, he says, it is the imperative that continues from there. I want you then he says, to live your lives in this way and I won’t continue to read it. But you can read it on there in chapter two and what the point is is straightforward because you see in verse nine of chapter two, in jesus, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily in him. The whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. In other words, he is God. He is God. He is God. He is the one then who establishes our values. He is the one who guides our thinking. He is the one who directs our conduct. And in a very realistic way, poor parenting can be traced actually, not to an absence of information, but a failure in application. A failure first of all to believe what the bible says and then to behave in light of who would want, Jesus is Now, paul is concerned in writing to the colossians here that they will not be swept away by the thinking of the surrounding culture. And actually, he says, and we’re still in chapter two actually, and in verse four, he says, I’m saying these things to you, I’m saying these things to you in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments Down in Verse eight, he says, see to it, that no one takes you captive by philosophy and by empty deceit that concerns human traditions, that works according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ. Now, paul has in mind their specific challenges as it relates to the identity of the person of jesus, false teachers were pressing upon the church, they were teaching doctrine and they were demanding practices of people that did not depend on christ. And all I am saying in referencing these two exhortations is that while that was an express issue, a peculiar issue that was there in the colosseum Valley commentators debate the nature of the issue and so on. But the principle remains, it is for the christian person living under the lordship of christ to see to it that we are not deluded to see to it, that we do not succumb to specious arguments and two philosophies which have no basis at all in reality and goodness gracious if there is not an area in which that is a challenge other than family life at the moment. I don’t know what is because he said earlier in jesus, all these things hold together Now all of that said to reinforce this foundational premise that obedience to Children, the obedience of Children, excuse me. Obedience of Children is the only proper response to the instruction of parents who acknowledge christ as their Lord. Obedience of Children is the only proper response to the instruction of parents who submit to jesus asked Lord, well let’s not say a word or two about the responsibility of the parents he said, Well it’s supposed to be about Children. Yes, it is about Children but the Children don’t live in a bedroom by themselves. They live in a house. All being well with parents. Parents are to bring their Children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but how can Children be expected to know their boundaries if their parents are clueless, How can they be expected to know what they’re supposed to do or what they’re not supposed to do if their parents are neglectful of their responsibilities. Clear responsibilities as delineated in the bible and whatever decision christian parents make about the ongoing education of their Children. And there are many within our congregation that adopt all kinds of approaches and we understand and recognize that. But whatever that decision is, one thing is true of every mom and dad in the congregation and that is that they are responsible for the restrict for the instruction of their Children in the word of God, it is their responsibility, it is not church one oh one’s responsibility is not that nurseries responsibility, all of that may be supplemental, but none of that will be able to take the place of what happens in the routine, sitting down, standing up riding in the car and so on. The task is to be exercised by the parents in the face of all of the challenges of a world that doesn’t agree the insinuations of the evil one that come to us and say, you know, you shouldn’t listen to all this stuff, it’s old fashioned, it’s, it’s the bible. If somebody had written the bible at this point, they would never have included this, that’s the kind of thing you hear or they’ll say, but you need to be a pragmatic person. Now you just need to be as as realistic as you can and frankly this doesn’t work or you have them saying, you know what you really need is health help in this. You don’t need bible help. You don’t need the spirits help, psychology will be a far more help to you than theology. And at the heart of all of those kinds of insinuations which come ultimately from the Evil one. At the heart of it all is the undermining of the word of God. Undermining of the Word of God. The design of the evil one is to get God’s people to live their lives, paying scant attention to the truth of the bible, Being prepared to affirm its authority as we said at the end, last time, being prepared to say, we believe it entirely and then to do absolutely nothing with it. When it comes to the issues that we’re dealing with. Now, instruction begins at home, whether it’s formal or informal, it has to do with the bedtime questions. It has to do with the travel discussions. It has to do with creating a climate in which our Children recognize that we are depending on the bible and depending on the help of the Holy Spirit to try and do our level best to raise them according to the structures and definitions of the bible that we are on our best days are sinful as well. And we do so in the awareness of the fight that for example, let’s take the demythologize ization of evolutionary theory and your Children come home from school and I have a vivid recollection, we were living in tanglewood at the time. And I remember as we just gathered around the table, one of the Children said, you know, I learned something funny at school today. Oh, I said, well, what was that? He said. The teacher told me that I came from an ape. He said. He said, how funny do you think that is? I said, I think it’s really funny too. And then we had to talk about whether you came from an ape or not. The weather God’s word is true. Whether what it says actually describes what happened or whether we’re living with the mythology, whether we were involved in the greatest religious contract that the world has ever seen or whether we’re dealing in the realm of reality. I guarantee you that the child nurtured by a biblical view of the origin of life will enjoy in life, a security that can never be experienced by the youngsters schooled. For example, in evolutionary theory. How happy the son who can say when I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender and an only child of my mother. He taught me and said, lay hold of my words with all your heart, keep my commands and you will live mm hmm. So the responsibility of the parents is essentially two fold. It is first of all that the instruction of their Children and then the disciplining of their Children. Here’s where it gets challenging. Isn’t it, disciplining our Children according to the bible is not an option and doing it and doing it in the way that God says is absolutely essential. The social and political climate is one in which the rights of the child have been set out in such a way as to severely limit the potential of parental jurisdiction. The exercise of discipline old files from my drawer, Um go away back actually, 1996, the Supreme Court of Italy declares all punishment by parents of Children as unlawful. The judgment states that the very expression correction of Children expresses a view of child rearing, that is both culturally anachronistic, historically outdated and should in fact be redefined. Now, what’s happening here, you see is the question is, does the creator of the universe know what he’s talking about when he says this is how it works, or does he not? But as soon as you’ve removed the creator, then you have no one to whom you you have to differ. You know, if God is dead, as dostoyevsky said, if God is dead, then all things are permissible. You know, all the bets are off. So this is not just a sort of cultural challenge to a small group of people who have got a weird perspective on the raising of Children. This is actually a challenge to God almighty, and you can go through the whole thing, Supreme Court of Israel declares an unlawful 2000 South african Constitutional court, christian schools challenges christian schools are told, you know, go home and and don’t come back. Well, here’s the challenge. What are we going to do? Because if upholding and applying biblical guidelines, it takes place. Then we face the challenge. Don’t way of being hateful or abusive towards our Children. That’s what they say. The reason you couldn’t do this is because it is inevitably hateful. It is abusive, but actually nothing could be further from the truth. Surely there is a way to be abusive and hateful towards our Children in any kind of structure, not least of all within the framework of a biblical biblical parameters. And we see evidence of that. We read it every so often in the press where people are just completely off the rocker and they’ve taken these things to extremes that are malevolent and bad and worthy of punishment. Absolutely, no question about that. You can’t throw the entire thing out on the basis of the fact that people made a complete mess of the guidelines. No, because the exercise of discipline is motivated by love is motivated by love. It’s a love that seeks to prevent our Children from reaching the end of their lives in a sorry state. And finding that the reason they end up in that story state is because they hated discipline. The spurned correction. They paid no attention to their parents. And of course the bible is very clear. Solomon is very clear. He who spares the Rod hates his son, but he who loves him, is careful to discipline him. It is only irresponsible parenting that leaves Children to fend for themselves. When paul are when the writer of Hebrews picks the principle of disciplining of Children up, he applies it to the nature of the work of God within our lives. He says, if you had the earthly parents, you know, you were disciplined by them for your good this and he’d do this because this is how God treats you. He disciplines you for your good. All discipline in the moment is painful. But later on it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. But if what you want is peace at any cost now, you can’t expect the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Then the first comes the pain and then comes the pleasure. So the challenge is huge. I I I must say, you know now as a grandfather, you you live this thing at least twice. You live with your own mistakes and disappointments and chaos. And then you watch as your Children try their journey and you have to stand back and go bite your tongue, bite your tongue, said no, that’s not good. So it’s yeah, it’s true. It’s it’s a it’s a tough one. But listen, listen, when parents do not establish this framework out of the gate, the challenge becomes greater with every birthday, I guarantee you they are not all of a sudden going to roll over in their bed and go, you know what Yeah, I love you and I’ll do everything you say now the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child which expresses itself in rebellion will take more than words to dislodge. How do I know that? Because the bible says that so taking the responsibility seriously is tied to the lordship of christ and therefore it falls to the Children to also take this seriously, let’s say a word or two under this third heading proverbs again, listen to your father who gave you life and do not despise your mother when she is old. I take it actually that paul assumes that Children were present when this letter was read. Certainly when the letter would have been referenced in the context of house gatherings and so on. It’s worth noting in passing that age based age based education within the framework of the church is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s not a bad idea, but it is a different idea. And when you read in the old testament, you find that families were together under the instruction of God’s word for example, in chronicles where Jihad Ciel has the responsibility of delivering the Lord the word it says all Judah stood before the Lord, their little ones, their wives, their Children. And classically when Ezra is invited to bring out the book and speak from it, he brought the law before the assembly, Both men and women and all who could understand now this is of great importance because our Children are sensible. They’re they’re bright. They are capable of understanding and they are capable of understanding the clear instructions of the bible and whether we as parents are actually embracing them, engaging with them and being prepared to do what it says. And the instruction along these lines for Children is not in the small print. It’s not as if it’s a way at the end of something hidden away. For example, when moses is addressing the people in leviticus 19 it says and the Lord spoke to moses saying, speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, you shall be holy for the Lord your God. For I the Lord your God am holy full stop. Next sentence, every one of you shall revere his mother and his father. That’s the first thing. Say to Israel, you are to be a different kind of people in the world. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father. No, it’s not an absence of clarity. I say to you again, it is the duty of Children or as you say, the duty. It is the duty of Children to honor, respect and obey their parents, to submit to their correction, To accept their instructions. My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways. I there’s the rub for some of us for their eyes observe our ways and our ways are cross purposes to the instructor. I wonder if you ever had one of your kids say to you, I don’t think you love me. And then they said to you because you’ve never disciplined me. That’s why I know you don’t love me. They don’t say I because you didn’t give me things. Mhm. Now we must draw this to a close and we need to say a couple of things importantly. First of all, we recognize that parents are not infallible. Parents are not infallible, but the word of God is infallible. So we are simply standing in between God himself and our Children in the way that I am standing in between God himself and you as this congregation. For I will give an answer to God for all the words that I have spoken to you formally and informally. That’s what the bible says, Step up if you’d like this challenge. But it falls to you as a dad. It falls to you as a mom and it falls to you as a boy or a girl. The bible is really clear when we get letters and we get hundreds of letters from prisoners. It is a traceable fact that many of them when they tell us their story say that they find themselves incarcerated. Now as a result of decisions that they made along the journey of their lives which began with contempt of parental authority and discipline. Children obey your parents in everything. Everything does that mean if they tell you to go steal things from target, you’re supposed to clearly not. Obedience is only in such things that concur with the law of God who is sufficient for these things. I I my my heart goes out to our young families that it does. Those of us who have been around a little while understand this. I mean, this is this is Friday August the 13th from Scotland. The latest piece from the Scottish government. Children as young as four will be allowed to change their name and gender at school without their parents consent Under new guidelines issued by the Scottish government. So you can send your Children into an alien environment and they can do whatever they jolly well, please there. And you don’t have to be can you don’t have to be contacted about it. They will come home and tell you and their teachers will reinforce it for you. Can it possibly be Children what a gift. And they are a gift. Let’s remind ourselves of that. Let’s remind ourselves that our Children are only loaned to us for a little while. They say, well, I can tell you’re getting old now you call it a little a little while Because 0- five seems like eternity. Yeah, But 5- 18. There’s a moment in time. Let’s remind ourselves that they are cute, but they are also corrupt that they’re lovely, but that they are lost. They’re estranged from the womb, they go a strange, they go straight from birth speaking lies, which is of course a problem, isn’t it? Unless of course, You’re reading this Sunday review on January V. 2018. Is your child lying to you? That’s good. Why do some Children start lying at an earlier age than others? What separates them from their more honest peers? The short answer is they’re smarter. Mhm. It comes down to the bible again, doesn’t it? The bible says this is a problem. Some crazy psychologist says this is actually the answer. So they need God’s law to show them where they’re wrong, to show them that they can’t climb up a ladder to God’s acceptance, to show them that they are in need of God’s grace to help them understand that when they make a hash of it, when they stumble and fall on their face, there’s more grace in jesus than there is sin in their little hearts. And we finish this up acknowledging that we live in a culture that is increasingly corrupt. We live in an environment, big church that is in many ways in danger of becoming entirely compromised in these things. And that is why our Children are confused for confused. They are and that’s why I say to you, if the parents don’t get it, if the parents are clueless, you’re gonna live with confused Children. There’s no possibility of it being otherwise. And that’s why we need the clarity of the bible last week in the people that I met at the end of the service. It was a fellow from California, Big Storm and a basketball coach apparently, and his 12 year old son. So I said to him, I said, Hey, I said, I used to be 12. He looked at me like really? I said, yeah, it was 50, years ago. And the father said, is there something that you would say to him As a 12 year old boy? So because I had just been preaching along these lines here, I said to him, I said, yeah, keep your story simple. Keep your story. Simple look entirely to jesus. The guy says that it I said that’s it, it’s fascinating, isn’t it? That from the birth narratives, you’ve got this long period of silence and then Jesus reappears at the age of 12, he’s in the temple, he’s in discussion with the people, he’s really missing from his family. Retinue they searched for him, they find him, you remember that encounter is described for us there. And it says then that here he went down with mary and joseph and was submissive to them. And he increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with man. Um the lady who wrote once in Royal David’s City Captured something of this when in above verse three of that. Having introduced us to jesus and his birth, she writes for he is our childhood pattern day by day like us. He grew he was little week and helpless tears and smiles like our senior and he filets for our sadness and he shares in our gladness in short order young people, jesus who is for you as you trust in him, the author and finisher of your faith. He understands better than you can ever know what it is to be an obedient son. Just a moment of silence, her father steer us away from any thoughts of moralism, pulling up our socks. We all know we need to do better, but we all know that all day, every day we are entirely dependent on the work of your spirit, forgive us for our failures, forgive us Lord for listening to the chatter of the surrounding culture rather than listening to the voice of you who created the Children. Help us as boys and girls who are present under the sound of my voice right now to realize what an adventure it is To live in the light of God’s word, to trust in jesus as savior to submit and live for him and in so doing to obey our mothers and fathers thank you Lord jesus christ for your example of humility and servant hood and in your name we pray amen. This message was brought to you from truth for life where the learning is for living, learn more about truth for life with Alistair begg visit us online at Truth for Life dot org.”}],”

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Alistair Begg is the Senior Pastor of Cleveland's Parkside Church (located in Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio), a position he has had since 1983. He is the...

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