In the introduction to this series, I indicated that our focus would be upon four principles which relate in one way or another back to God as our heavenly Father and our supreme example for parenting. In the last two posts, I have discussed the first principle and the second principle. In this post I want to consider the third principle.
Principle #3: Our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of raising our children to know His Word.
This is one of the most important principles of parenting that God revealed through the Prophet Moses to the people of Israel. He commanded them to be diligent in teaching His Word to their children, even to make it a part of every aspect of their daily lives, as we see in Deuteronomy:
NKJ Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Notice that the our heavenly Father desires first of all that we as parents have His Word in our hearts, for it is only when we love Him above all else and hold fast to his Word in our own hearts that it will become such a part of our daily lives that we naturally share it with our children in all that we say and do. As a matter of fact, this issue is so important to our heavenly Father that He made sure to repeat it again later in Deuteronomy:
NKJ Deuteronomy 11:18-19 Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
It is also worth noting that the same Greek terminology used in the LXX translation of the various proverbs concerning the discipline of children, terminology which is taken up by the author of Hebrews in his discussion of our heavenly Father's discipline of His children (12:1-11, as we saw in Part Two) and is used by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:4, is also taken up by Paul when he describes the sufficiency and authority of God's Word:
NKJ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof [ἐλεγμός, elegmós, noun related to the verb ἐλέγχω, elégchō, used in Heb. 12:5], for correction, for instruction [παιδεία, paideía, same word used in Eph. 6:4 and Heb. 12:5, 7, 8, and 11] in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This should not surprise us, for if we are to bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord, of course we must look to His Word, which has been given to us as the absolutely authoritative and all-sufficient source for this training and admonition. It is His Word that will make us thoroughly equipped for the good work of parenting, and it is His Word that we must teach our children if we are to have any hope that they will come to faith in Christ and embrace our heavenly Father as their own.
Here we would do well to heed another bit of advice from J.C. Ryle concerning the role of the Word of God in the lives of our children:
You cannot make your children love the Bible, I allow. None but the Holy Spirit can give us a heart to delight in the Word. But you can make your children acquainted with the Bible; and be sure they cannot be acquainted with that blessed book too soon, or too well.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the foundation of all clear views of religion. He that is well-grounded in it will not generally be found a waverer, and carried about by every wind of new doctrine. Any system of training which does not make a knowledge of Scripture the first thing is unsafe and unsound.
You have need to be careful on this point just now, for the devil is abroad, and error abounds. Some are to be found among us who give the Church the honor due to Jesus Christ. Some are to be found who make the sacraments saviors and passports to eternal life. And some are to be found in like manner who honor a catechism more than the Bible, or fill the minds of their children with miserable little story-books, instead of the Scripture of truth. But if you love your children, let the simple Bible be everything in the training of their souls; and let all other books go down and take the second place. (The Duties of Parents)
In my view, parents who send their children to public schools – or even to many private Christian schools – will have a much more difficult time instructing their children in the Word of God, for they will have to combat the constant undermining influence of the worldly thinking their children are encountering in a much deeper way. This does not mean, of course, that it is necessarily wrong for parents to send their children to such schools, but it does mean that they should do so only if they are fully aware of the increased spiritual warfare and temptation to which they are submitting them, and only if they are able to combat such things and are committed to doing so. At any rate, we must never forget the supreme importance of the Scriptures in raising our children for the glory of God.
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, in which I shall discuss Principle #4.