Last weekend I preached the forth sermon in a six sermon series entitled Faith and Family at Romford Evan. The big idea of the sermon, based primarily on Deuteronomy 6:4-9,20-25 was that God gives parents a simple but far-reaching calling: to listen to God’s Word, believe and accept it, and pass it on to their children (and their children, etc).
In the sermon I shared some observations from Deuteronomy 6, 2 Timothy 3 and the subject of God’s Word in our families generally. For those who need the reminder, here they are…
9 observations about God’s Word and our families
#1 The scope of ‘God’s Word’ refers to more than just the Bible.
By God’s Word, we mean three things: the actual words of the Bible, the overall message of Jesus, and Jesus himself who is the Word.
#2 To be a good parent you need to be a Christian.
Jesus is the Word of God, and so to parent according to God’s good design you need to hear of Jesus, believe in him and accept him. Only then can you fulfil your calling and pass on the message of salvation rightly.
#3 To be a good parent you need to know what God’s Word says.
How can you pass on what you do not know? So…
#4 To be a good parent you need to focus on your own relationship with Jesus more than your children’s.
This takes time and effort. For some, might involve ‘catch up’ because you have not had the model and example of having Christian parents yourself. That’s okay, as long as you are seeking to catch up.
#5 Deut 6:7-9 is not a literal command but an exhortation to allow God’s Word to permeate and resonate through every aspect of your family life.
You don’t have to have Bible verse posters all over your house. You do need to let God’s Word drive, impact and speak to/through your household and it’s rhythms, patterns, activities, principles, priorities, and so on.
#6 You can only pass on God’s word to your children. You cannot make them believe… that’s between them and God.
That said, you can hold on to promises such as Proverbs 22:6, but this will often lead to repentance on your part (as you realise how far short your efforts to train them have been) and so faith in grace (as you trust that God saves people by his grace not by their merit).
#7 There is no point where the calling on parents no longer applies.
Take a look at Deut 6:20. Does the son in this verse sound like a 5 year old?! While we do see children take on responsibilities of their own as they reach adulthood in the Bible, we do not see parents giving up or handing over responsibility. A thirty year old son still needs the training and instruction of his sixty year old father, albeit in a different way than when he was a young boy.
#8 This calling applies just as much to grandparents too.
This flows on from the previous point. Just as the calling on parents does not stop when children reach adulthood, so the calling on parents is not limit to the first generation of children. Deut 6:2 includes the people’s children’s children. Similarly, Psalm 78:1-8 speaks of parents passing on God’s Word to at least two subsequent generations.
#9 Fulfilling this calling means we can enjoy life as God intends it.
As Creator, God knows and has revealed to us how life works best. By passing on God’s Word to our children we will not only by building our own family life on the sure foundation of God’s Word, but also equipping our children to do the same. The blessings of honouring God’s calling on us are such that we can enjoy now in part (because sin is still present in the world) but ultimately eternally in the New Creation.
Characteristics of God’s Word to stir us up to hear it
In addition to these observations, I gave some characteristics of God’s Word with the aim of stiring up our affections towards it/him. These were gleaned by spending a few minutes simply looking through the Bible to see what it says about God’s Word and how that might motivate us to engage with it. It is not an exhuastive list but it does give you an insight into how amazing God’s Word is, and therefore why we should overcome our often sinful reluctance to engage with it.
On Sunday, I only had time to share three of them, but I originally came up with 10 characteristics… and that was only 5 minutes worth! Here they are (in no particular order)…
- It can give us understanding on current events.
Dan 9:2, Rev 1:18-19.
- It provides a frame of reference for all human history.
The micro and macro narratives of creation, fall, redemption, completion that runs throughout the Bible.
- It keeps us from error.
- It makes us wise for salvation.
2 Tim 3:15.
- It gives us encouragements that lead to an eternal hope.
- It shows us God’s predetermined plan for salvation.
1 Cor 15:3-4.
- It anchors who we are and what we do in God not us.
1 Pet 1:15-16.
- It is the only piece of Spiritual combat gear that we can use for offence as well as defence.
- It can bring life where there is death.
Ezek 37, John 11.
- By it we can resist Satan.