December 1, 1996
How does one go about building a Christian family?
In the past few weeks we have attempted to answer that question from the Word of God. We saw, first of all, that a Christian family has to be built upon the proper foundation. That foundation can only be the Word of God. We saw, secondly, that a Christian family has to be erected with the proper materials. Those materials are principles drawn from the Word of God, principles held by faith and intelligently practiced in one's family life. And then we turned to the husband/wife relationship and saw that that relationship is the very center of a Christian family; that that relationship must be in God, and must involve a clear understanding, by the husband and the wife, of their particular duties and responsibilities as God sets those forth in His Word. That husband/wife relationship is sending forth a powerful influence in every direction in your home. Already in your husband/wife relationship you are teaching your children concerning authority, concerning their sexual nature, concerning the church. All of that is being extended as an influence in your home simply through the husband/wife relationship.
Now today we want to conclude our brief series on how to build a Christian family by considering the parent/child relationship.
We begin, then, with the question, What is the position of a parent in the home? Can you give an answer to that question?
This is what contributes so much to the mess and the anarchy and the horrible scars of many families. Many do not know what God made them when He made them a father and a mother.
What is a parent? Is a parent simply a glorified "horn of plenty," there to supply whatever the child wants or needs (clothes, food, college tuition)? Is that a parent? One who writes out the checks? No, not at all. The Word of God tells us that a parent is God's appointed mediator in the home. Let me explain that.
Mediator is, of course, a word that is applied to Jesus Christ in the Bible. I Timothy 2:5 tells us that there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. As a mediator, Jesus Christ is literally the go-between. He is the one through whom we come or go to the Father. Further, the Bible teaches that Jesus functions as the mediator, as the one who brings us to God, in a threefold capacity: as prophet, priest, and king. What I am saying is this: the parent is appointed of God to be the prophet, priest, and king in the family; and that, with reference to his children.
As a parent, you are appointed of God to be a prophet. That means you are responsible to declare the will of God, to teach your child the truth of God. Who is responsible to do that? Parents are responsible to do that. Isaiah 38:19, "The father to the children shall make known thy truth." In every aspect of their life, they are to be taught what God says about that aspect of life. They must grow up to be able to look at everything through the eyeglasses of the Scriptures. Now who is going to teach them that? Who is going to train them and give them that ability? Certainly not the TV, not the neighbors, not the public school, but you as the parent. God constituted you such. You are the prophet unto your child to teach him the way of God. You must not say, Well, I would like to be a prophet. You are a prophet. The question is: are you a faithful prophet or an unfaithful prophet?
I would like to interject here that this is also something that should be aimed at in Christian education. Christian education stands upon this principle: the teacher in the school then stands as the substitute or in the place of the parent and must reflect the parent, that is, share the same convictions as the parent in order to teach the child the convictions and the beliefs that the parent has found in the Word of God. So you are to be the prophet.
But you are also to be the priest. When I say "priest," I do not mean that a parent saves his child. Rather, the idea would be that you bear their weaknesses and bear them before God in prayer. For a full explanation of this, you should read such a chapter as Hebrews 5. There Jesus Christ is explained to us as our High Priest (also the last part of Hebrews 4). It says He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities and He has perfect compassion. As a priest, you must bear with the childhood weaknesses and imperfections of your child. Those imperfections and weaknesses must not bring out of you a yell and a fit of frustration. But you are their priest to bear with those weaknesses and patiently to mold and instruct them and to bring prayer to God in their behalf.
Finally, as a parent, you are a king. As a king, you rule over your household. Joshua expressed this parental and kingly aspect in Joshua 24:15 when he said, "But as for me and for my house, we will serve the LORD." You are there, as a parent, to admonish and to rule in the Word of God over your home. Parents must not be afraid to administer the rule of God in their home. They must not be afraid to administer order and discipline in their home. You must not jump every time your child balks. What would you think of a king who sat upon his throne and issued forth a directive for his kingdom, a directive that he had thought out carefully, which he thought would be for the welfare of his subjects. Then, the moment that directive goes forth, a citizen or two begins to complain and balk, and the king begins to jitter upon the throne and changes his directive. You would say that that king is not fit to rule. You are God's king in the home to bring the rule or order of God to your home.
Very often a child will come in and say to you, "But, Mom and Dad, why do you say we have to do that? The neighbors do this. And the boys and girls over there do this." Then you must say to them, "Oh, but we do not look outside of our home. We look inside of the Bible. We go to the Word of God to determine how we are going to live in this home. We go under the authority of God's Word. Sunday is the Sabbath. That will be the day that this household worships." And we could go on.
The parent is the mediator in the home, the one who is called of God to bring his children up onto God and to do so as a prophet, priest, and king. And you are to train your child. That is what we read in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he shall go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." The word to "train" means "narrow down," narrow down the child in the way he should go. Train this child in the way he is to go in every aspect of his life. We read a very interesting thing in Luke 2:51 about Jesus Christ. We read that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. He increased in wisdom; that is, He was trained in the mental aspect of His manhood. He increased in stature, that is, His physical life. He increased in favor to God; that was His spiritual life. And He increased in favor to man; that was His social life. Your child's mental, physical, spiritual, and social life - all of this you must train in the way that he is to go, that is, in the way marked out for him in the Word of God. Train him in such a way that when he leaves the home he will be able to take up his God-given role that he has learned from you: how to be a good father or mother, a good husband or wife, a good worker, a good member of the church of Jesus Christ.
For a child to go forth into life unprepared, for the home to fail and cause the child to limp through his life because these things have not been impressed in childhood - if that happens, nothing can take up the slack. That is the parental calling. And that is why you must not say, "Well, I'm just a carpenter; I'm just a farmer; I'm just old me; I'm just a housewife." Never, ever say that! You are the servant of God, to prepare that child and to teach him in the way that he should go. You are the instrument in the hand of God for the good of the child.
If you are going to do that, then you must, as a parent, watch over the atmosphere of your home, the things that are in your home - what you keep out and what you keep in. Especially you have to be concerned about the evil and subversive influence of the world which seeks to infiltrate a Christian family. One way that that is done is through the television. Are you, if you have a television, the master of the TV ... or are you the servant? What would you think of a person who knew that there was something corrosive in his house, so corrosive that it was eating out the pillars of his home, the pillars over which his little girl's bedroom had been built (or, that there was a bacteria or poisonous gas set loose in the living room of the home), and, knowing all this, nevertheless did nothing, but let his children continue to breathe it, or allowed his child to go to sleep in a room where the very foundation was threatening to fall down? What would think? You would say, "That's terrible!"
Well, TV has a greater influence to spread things in your home than does anything else. It has an influence over men which is perhaps greater than any other instrument known to mankind. The television is a most powerful conveyer of thoughts, of attitudes, of outlook on life. According to Psalm 1, as the people of God we are to be those who walk not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. Ninety-nine percent of television programming is controlled by non-Christians. It is simply saturated with all that God calls evil. Sex scenes, murder, blasphemy, cursing, anti-God. As we live in a TV-oriented society, and we are told that a child can spend as many as thirty-forty hours a week in front of a TV, do you control that television? Do you know what your child watches?
I have another question. What would you think of a father who takes his son to a tavern and says to his son concerning the men who are at the tavern (drunkards, perhaps wife-beaters), "I want you now to idolize these men, son, as your heroes." Or what would you think of a mother who brought her daughter to have fellowship with harlots, with unchaste women? Would you leave your child with a known child-abuser? Would you leave your child with rats and rabid dogs running through the house? And yet, the TV influence is so great that all of these things, these great sins and evils, can be brought right into your home, right before your child, and can leave such influence with a child that those influences can not be erased on this side of heaven.
The psalmist said, "Turn thou my eyes from beholding vanity." Proverbs said concerning adultery and concerning sexual sins, "Avoid it. Pass not by. Turn away." Do not plop your child down in front of the television, for the television could be the baby-sitter. Do not let your child watch anything which you are not thoroughly familiar with. And do not, for yourself, simply plop down for an hour just to watch the tube and to flip through the channels. How many entire evenings have been wasted in front of that television! Then, concerning some of those things that you yourselves will watch as a husband and a wife, ask yourself this question after you have watched them: "Can you go and pray? Do you feel like praying?" And after viewing some of the things, can you even look your wife in the eye without having shame?
You must place a filter around your house. You must keep out the evil influences of this world. But that is not enough. You must fill your home with that which God gives you to fill it. You must make it a happy and joyful home. You must spend time with your children. You must love them and show genuine interest in them and talk with them and develop communication with them when they are just little children. Bear with their weaknesses. Talk to them about every aspect of their life. And make family devotions an important part of your home. Each day you must bring the Word of God. Have a time when you read the Bible with your family. You do not need to be a minister to do that. Genuinely, from your heart, open your Bible. Perhaps do a little study yourself on the passage before you read it. And then read it. Occasionally stop and ask a question and discuss it with your wife and your children there. Have a set time of family worship, of prayer and Bible reading. And allow nothing to shove it outside of your home.
Today there is the temptation, with our busy schedules, never to find time to sit down together as a family. We are always out - as if we are teaching our children that the real life is outside of the home. You have to get out of the house to have a good time, because you cannot possibly have a good time at home. Especially if the TV is broken, right? No, wrong! Absolutely wrong! Your home ought to be a wonderful and joyful place, and not only in those formal times of devotion when you read and talk about the Bible with your children, but also the times when you are cultivating attitudes, and working hard as a parent for spiritual openness with your children, and just being with them.
It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of communication between the husband and wife. You talk these things over carefully with each other. You talk about each child, his weaknesses, his strengths. You try to figure out the best way of dealing with various situations and problems that come up in his life. Then you give of yourself, with an intelligent and loving direction, for the good of your home. This is important.
It takes a lot of work. It is whole lot easier to do other things. But this is vitally important. It is important for your child because the family is the place where his spiritual life is nurtured. God is pleased to use that family. He is pleased to give children to us and to give us a family, that that family might be the nursery for faith in Jesus Christ. That is the wonderful truth in the Bible of the covenant of God - that fathers to their children make known the truth of God. Or, as the apostle Paul says of Timothy in II Timothy 1:5, and again in II Timothy 3:15, that Timothy learned the faith and learned the holy Scriptures which made him wise to salvation, when he was a little child, from his mother and from his grandmother.
How do you come into the world? You do not come into the world, as a child, as the finished product, but you come moldable, under the influence of the home. The home is going to fix the influence and mold upon a child. The child is not born with the right attitudes or the right patterns of thought and right actions, contrary to all the teaching of evolution and all the philosophy of men. No, they have to come under the stamp of a Christian home where the molding is undeniable. That means that, as a parent, you do not wake up one day and say, "Well, I want to start molding my child and preparing my child. Perhaps I want to start teaching them about authority or sex education." Oh, no. You have been doing that already from day one. Your life before your children, your entire home, has been molding them from day one.
If you adopt the permissive philosophy that you must simply let the child go its own way and make its own choices, so that, when there is something the child does not like, you allow him to kick and scream and have a tantrum, you do not seek to curb that in the child, then I am going to tell you that that same pattern of behavior which showed itself in the child will later, when he is thirty, cause him to curse his wife when she does something he does not like, slam the door, and go find a divorce lawyer. Why is he going to do that? Because he has always had his own way and he never learned to face obstructions to his own will.
You are molding your child. The child is breathing in the atmosphere of the home, the atmosphere of the parents concerning work, the Sabbath, authority. You are teaching your child in all of these aspects, whether they are important or whether they are not important. How does a boy learn what the role of a wife is? He learns that from you, mother. And a daughter. What does she learn about a good husband? She learns that from you, Dad.
If your child sees you, father, being angry and evil to your wife and barking at her like a dog and never repenting from that sin, you are teaching that child, your son or your daughter. You are teaching him that the Word of God has no authority. That is what you are teaching.
You exert a powerful influence upon your children. This is so important. Be convinced of this. Be convicted of it. Then understand that as a parent you have no abilities of yourself. Of yourself you are only a sinner, and of yourself you can only pass on your sins to your children. You need the grace of God. You need the Word of God. You need daily to walk with God. That is a true parent.
A true parent is one like Enoch, who, in the midst of a busy family, walked with God, also in a world which was filled with evil and ridicule against everything of God. Enoch walked with God as a parent, in front of his wife and in front of his children.
Depend upon God. Even though you see all of your weaknesses and shortcomings and sins, hear His promise: I will be with you.
Let us pray.
Our Father, we pray that Thou wilt make us godly parents and that
Thou wilt build Christian homes. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
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