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.
This week, I would like to address the importance of doctrine with respect to parents. If we are going to sufficiently and effectively address the lack of doctrine in our churches, we have to start with children. Parents are to be concerned about leaving a spiritual legacy to their children for the continuation and expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ that is biblically faithful. Christian parents must embrace their God-given responsibility to raise their children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). God expects Christian parents to be their children’s primary (main) teachers in all things especially when it comes to the things of God. Sadly, many parents in the church today have abrogated this divinely-sanctioned responsibility. They have handed their children over to Sunday school teachers at church or worse still, to their school teachers. This is not God’s way of raising children.
When you study the history of the Jews, you will notice that the LORD God gave them very clear and strict commands regarding the ways in which they were to raise their children. Every Jewish parent knew that his/her greatest responsibility before God with respect to the raising of his/her children was to teach them about the LORD. In Deuteronomy 6:4, we find the Jewish creedal statement (statement or declaration of faith), “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One.” Every Jewish child was supposed to learn this among other things. But this was probably one of the first things they learned about God. Besides learning that LORD (YHWY) is the God of Israel, they also learned that there is no other God but YHWY (“…the LORD is One”). Thus children in every Jewish family would be taught this very basic and yet very profound truth. While the children where young, they learned to love, fear and worship God alone and they knew Him to be a personal God (their God and the God of Israel).
God expects nothing less of Christian parents today especially with the coming of Christ. In fact, Christian parents should be even more diligent in teaching their children about the wonderful news of Christ’s salvation for sinners through His Cross. Christ came into this world in order that He might bring all of His people (Jews and Gentiles) to the Father (YHWH). He is the LORD our God. He is our Savior and He expects Christian parents to communicate the wonderful truths of the gospel to their children and declare to them and with them, “Jesus is LORD.” According to Romans 10:9-13, this is the basic statement of faith for Christians everywhere. The LORD God spoken of in Deuteronomy 6:4, has come to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the LORD Whom we worship.
God commanded the Jews to keep their religion both in the heart as well as in their households. They were to love God with all their heart, soul, and might. Their love was to be sincere coming from the heart and manifested in action. They were to love YHWH above all creatures. They were to exercise their minds in this love by learning the deep things of God and teaching their children the same. In Deuteronomy 6, YHWH gave them very specific ways of doing this. Firstly, they were to meditate on these things constantly. In other words, they were to hide God’s Word in their hearts (Psalm 119:9, 11). Secondly, they were to carefully and accurately teach their children these things. Thirdly, they were to talk about these things all the time amongst themselves in their families. They would spend time in serious discussion of the truths of God’s laws as revealed to them in the Scriptures. Fourthly, they were to read the Word of God constantly together. The walls of their houses would be painted with verses from the Word of God. They would wear it upon their wrists and that without shame because they knew that this was God’s way of guarding them and their children from sin and to direct and remind them in the ways of His truth and righteousness.
I want to encourage you Christian parents to begin taking seriously the responsibility of raising the children whom God has entrusted to you. If you are one of those parents who have abandoned this responsibility and handed it over to the Sunday school teachers at your church or to the teachers at your children’s school, you need to repent. Ask the Lord God to forgive you and give you the grace to reclaim the responsibility to raise the children that He has given you in His ways.
More specifically, I would like to talk to the fathers out there. God expects you men (not your wives) to be the spiritual leaders in your families. However, it is sad to note that in many families, the men have abandoned this God-given role. Instead, the women are struggling to raise the children on their own without the personal involvement of their husbands. Men, remember, your wives need you and so do your children. You are to set the standard/example of godliness in your homes. Not only are you required to pray for your family (wife and children) but you are to pray with them, read the Word of God to them and teach them the deep things of God, the wonderful riches that are found in Christ, our Lord. I therefore would like to challenge all of you men reading this article, to begin today if you haven’t been doing this already. It may be hard at the beginning, but ask the Lord to help you and you will see what a blessing this will be for you and your entire family. Here are some suggestions for how you can start:
In the mornings:
1. When you get up in the morning, gather your children together (I suggest soon after breakfast), before you dash off to work or they to school, etc.
2. Offer a brief prayer and read a brief portion of Scripture (I recommend the Gospels if you are just starting)
3. Take a minute or two to comment on the passage you read
4. Close in prayer asking the Lord to establish His Word in your hearts
In the evenings:
1. Gather your family together (I suggest soon after supper), or just before you all go off to bed
2. Sing some spiritual songs with your children (Psalms, Hymns or Praise Choruses)
3. Pray the Lord’s Prayer with your family – all of you together
4. Read a portion of God’s Word (I recommend from the Gospels if you are just starting)
5. Sing another song or two
6. Close in prayer – praying for the entire family with their specific individual (spiritual and physical) needs – committing each one of your family members to the Lord
7. Then you can all go to bed peacefully
As a husband and now a father, I take this responsibility very seriously. It is no longer a duty but it has, over time, become a great delight. I thank the Lord for my own father and mother who modeled this for me and my siblings. I am now seeking with God’s help to do the same for my wife and daughter. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!