Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A message to Christian parents

I cannot overstress the importance of parents knowing Scripture, knowing doctrine, knowing the gospel and communicating that knowledge to their children. My wife, Catherine, and I have two sons, ages 13 and 10. Just the other day Evan, my oldest, heard someone say that "God doesn't want anyone to go to hell; people choose to go to hell." Thank God, Evan recognized there was something wrong with that statement. He came to me later to ask about it. I pointed him to Jesus' words in Luke 12:
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell" (Luke 12:4-5 ESV).
Clearly, God the Father does send people to hell. He has the authority to do so. I explained to Evan that man doesn't have to "choose" to go to hell; he's already on his way! I explained that not only does man not "choose" to go to hell (as if there were another alternative), but man is powerless to choose God. I then paraphrased that text from Romans 3:
"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God" (Romans 3:10-11 ESV).
A week or so before that conversation, I was talking to Evan about the gospel, trying to clear up some fuzzy thinking in his 13-year-old head about why Christ died. I was trying to make clear to him that Jesus didn't simply die on the cross because we had sinned, but He died as our substitute--took our sins upon Himself, bearing our penalty. I tried to explain how Jesus' dying would mean nothing to us if it wasn't a substitutionary death. I trust he understood.
The reason I bring this up is because, sadly, these truths are not being taught clearly in all churches, not even "Bible-believing", evangelical churches. That statement my son heard about man "choosing" to go to hell--he heard that in church.
Parents, learn God's word, learn doctrine, learn what the gospel is (and what it ain't!). And then, teach your children. Fathers, you take the lead. You be your children's "Bible answer man".
I grew up in a traditional, mainline Black church. Although I have many fond memories of people and events in church, I didn't hear the gospel at church. Thank God for two old ladies, who never went to high school, basically self-taught in the Word: my great-grandmother and her widowed younger sister, who lived next door to us. They read and studied their Bibles, and taught me the best they knew how. God, in His providence, used them to get the gospel to me and, by His grace, I believed and was saved. In my case, if it had been left up to the church, I'd still be lost.
That's why I can't stress enough: Parents, know God's word and teach your children.


ajcarter said...

Amen! Amen! Amen! Wyeth, with your permission I am going to incorporate some of this in my sermon this coming Sunday. This is a great challenge that we all need to take up. There is too much at stake. Thanks for your words of challenge.

Anonymous said...

How joyful it is to read of your family, and the generations of it you have learned from, their Faith, their Strength, their Love. I am pleased you have a way to tell us of this learning, and pleased we can feel a part of it in a small way.
Keep it up Wyeth.