Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why is consistent spiritual training of children by their parents so important ?

 On Sunday evening  ( 15/11/2009)  we had our Youth Awards evening at Eastside Baptist Church .  Our church seeks  to encourage  parents  not to neglect the  spiritual  training  of  their  children . The  church' desires  to help children to  learn and to absorb  the word of God , just as a body would absorb the nutrients  that  food provides. We remember that Jesus said  : " Man shall not  live by bread alone  , but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."  Children were greatly helped this year  to  memorize Scripture passages. Our prayer is that the  Word of God  stored in the hearts of these children , and brought to life by the Holy Spirit in due course  will make a real  difference  in Namibia . Namibia's children  will remain greatly neglected , and our country will continue to be morally and spiritually impoverished, if we continue  to withhold the training  in the Word of God from them.

Below follows  the address that Pastor Rieck gave to parents and children  after the awards :

" Train  a child  in the way he should go , and when he is old he will not turn from it." [Proverbs  22:6]

Train !  
 The Hebrew word  used here for ‘ to train[1] is apparently a rare one  in biblical  use . It can include  the idea of initiation or dedication  [2] and  of instruction [3].
Thus, if we combine the two aspects in which the word is used in the scriptures   , there  emerges a richer  flavour  to this word .  
The  child  training  process  begins with a conscientious  dedication of  the  child by the parents  to the Lord ,  when they dedicate  themselves as parents and their child  before the  assembly  of God’s people ,  who promise to help them in this sacred duty  . Successful  spiritual training  by parents  can only ever be done  in the strength  of the Lord  .
This  training  continues  throughout   the child’s life at home.

The training envisaged here  is    primarily that of ‘ spiritual training’ – the most  important  and foundational   part  of preparing a child for life !  Unfortunately many parents are only concerned about  getting  their children  trained  in academic  fields  and neglect to train their children in this foundational area .   In this regard Paul  reminds Timothy  that training in godliness is vastly superior  to  any other kind of training  . He says :   “ Train yourself to be godly . For physical training has some value, but godliness has value for all things , holding promise  for both  the present life and the life to come .”  (1Tim 4:7,8). 
Parents  and children , do  you  realize that  in training  children for godliness , we do not train them only for the here and now , but also for the hereafter !
So we see then that   a biblical view of training  must  have as its  primary goal to lead the  child  to Christ  the Saviour.  “Continually  make your child’s  soul a priority “  , says Bishop Ryle .  
Furthermore , the goal  of training is to prepare  the child  to love and obey   God and His Word  for life !
Now, children will not  love God naturally .  They are after all also constituted sinners  . They must be born again- like every one  .  But fortunately in God’s providence  children  are soft clay  in the hands of the Potter . They are humble and willing to listen , although this stage passes very quickly!
But, take courage! Once they are born again , the parental training will   come to full fruition . Whatever you have taught your child  before their conversion is not wasted  . It is stored up for future use!  From the moment they are born again, they can  really live to the glory of God , living on all the spiritual stores that you  have  invested  into them  .
So , please note  that  while you as a parent cannot  save your child  , you  are certainly  called to   prepare them  for that time – and you  may do so in the certain hope that this will happen  ! God loves to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him (Lk 11:13)
This  implies a consistency  in  spiritual training , which the godly  Bishop Ryle describes in his excellent  booklet “ The duty of parents “ in  17 points  ![4]   His 4th point is  this:  “Train your children  with  an abiding persuasion  on your mind that much depends on you” .  For this task you are given 18  or so years  by God !
 2. Parents – you  must train your children !

We have already made this point , but it may be useful  to emphasize this point again .  The Bible envisages  that  the  substantial  , foundational  training  of a child is to be done by parents.  From a biblical perspective  it is the parent’s primary responsibility to train their children ,  and not the government  , not the school  ,  and not the church .  [In fact , the government  has no biblical authority /mandate at all from God to  regulate the training of children!]  . These institutions  may be helpful  to the process of education  and training , but they are secondary  to the training that the child receives  from its parents .
Does this mean  that the parent must  do all the  training  ?  No !  But it does mean that all the training must come back to the parent  . If for instance your child  hears in his  biology class  that  our  human race  has evolved  from  green slime  to monkeys to  human  beings (i.e. from the goo – to the zoo – to you!) , then  as  a Christian parent it is your duty to  correct  that teaching  by showing  your children that mankind is fearfully and wonderfully  and purposefully made by God  (Genesis 1; 2  ; Psalm 139) . Your children  , whether in a home school environment  or  in a  school environment  will continually be bombarded  with  such issues . Life  after all is lived in a sinful, imperfect  world .  You cannot keep  your children  from these things ,  but you can help them to see through these things  , as Bishop Ryle says  ( #2)  “ with all tenderness , affection and patience” .  Parents , help  your children  to  reason from the Scriptures . That  pre- supposes of  course that you must know the Scriptures .

3. The way he should go versus  the way he would go

Always remember  that  children  are born with a decided bias towards evil , and therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong . Children left to themselves  do not become better children . (see  the  example of the street children of our city)
Parents you must take charge of your  children- do not give them up to their own  wayward tastes and inclinations . They do not yet know what is good for their  mind and body and soul .

4. A   great promise : A child well trained  will not depart  from the Lord .

Parents, you have  a great promise on your side ! And children will be  best equipped for life by such parents  who care for them . A child well trained  in the way which we have described  will not depart from the Lord ! 
Many children  shall rise up in the day of Judgement  , and bless God for their parents for the good training they have received , even if the parents had seen but little fruit  and evidences of these things in their own lives .
Go forward then in faith  , and be sure that your labour shall not be in vain.
JC Ryle says  : Three times  did Elijah stretch himself  upon the  widows dead child  , before it revived. ( 1 Kings 17:21) .Take example from  him  and  persevere!

[1]  German  : “gewoehne deinen Knaben... “ ; Afrikaans  :  “Oefen die seun…”
[2] E.g.  the word is used  in this sense in  Deut 20:5;  1 Ki 8:63 ; 2 Chron 7:5 ; Title to Psalm 30
[3] E.g.  Gen 14:14; 18:19
[4] J.C. Ryle’s 17 points :
 a. Train them in the way  they should go  , and not in the way that they would go !
b.  Train up your child  with all tenderness , affection and patience .
c. Train your children  with  an abiding persuasion  on your mind that much depends on you.
d. Train with this thought continually before you – that the soul of your child is  the first thing to be considered.
e. Train your child to a knowledge of the Bible
f. Train them in the habit of prayer
g. Train them to habits of diligence , and regularity about public means of grace
h.  Train them to a habit  of faith
i. Train them to a habit of obedience
j. Train them to a habit of always speaking the truth
k. Train them to a habit of always redeeming the time
l. Train them with a constant  fear of overindulgence
m. Train them remembering continually how God trains His children.
n.  Train them remembering  continually the influence of your own example
o. Train them remembering continually the power of sin
p. Train them remembering  continually the promises of Scripture
q. Train them with continual prayer for a blessing on all you do .

1 comment:

Karsten Ernst said...

Hallo Joachim,

In interessiert Dich ein Artikel aus dem Jahre 1874: "Die Mission im Ovamboland".

Ich habe nach unseren Gesprächen in Sedrun kurz in meiner Bibiothek mal ein paar Bücher gewältzt.

Schick mir doch Deine E-Mail, dann kann ich Dir den Artikel einscannen und zuschicken.



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