A few weeks ago, we (Shane McGrath and Marc Goodwin) had the privilege of attending a conference called “Connecting Church and Home.” Having never been, we didn’t know what to expect, but we were extremely encouraged by our time there. Encouraging reminders and fresh ideas made the trip well worth it!
One of the speakers, William Farley, the author of Gospel-Powered Parenting (which we carry in our bookstore and highly recommend), gave a lecture in which he unpacked the basic truths of the gospel and counseled parents on how those truths should shape our parenting. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of his insights here on our FLM blog, so you can profit from his teaching as well!
Farley started off with a bang–a topic that can be controversial at times, but need not be.
If you simply look at the basic truths or “events” of the gospel (the things that God has done to bring salvation to His people), election comes first.
In Ephesians 1:3-6, Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
So, well before Jesus ever became incarnate, lived a sinless life, died as a substitute, conquered death, or ascended into heaven, God chose those who would be His. Unlike many of us, Paul’s response to this doctrine was not one of anger or bitterness. He rejoiced! He was ecstatic about it, because it meant that some of us would be God’s children, even though none of us deserved or initially wanted to be. (See this entry for more explanation of this doctrine)
What God’s election teaches us as parents, Farley pointed out, is that our children’s salvation is outside of our control. God has either elected our children, or He has not. He will either save them, or He will not…Yet as we’ve often mentioned on here, this should never undercut our impetus to evangelize our children. Why? Because though God has elected individuals to salvation, He still uses means to bring about that salvation in real time. Paul himself, who taught a great deal about election, was one of the fiercest and most active evangelists you could imagine. Paul knew that God had elected some, but that He calls His people to share the gospel with all. The gospel is the “power” by which God bring about salvation (Rom. 1:16), and without hearing it, no one will be saved (Rom 10:13-14).
So as parents, we have a responsibility to continually share the gospel with our children, because the “means” that God uses to bring salvation to His elect is quite often gospel-centered parenting…And we should be committed to praying unceasingly for our children, asking that God would rescue them and acknowledging that our efforts are worthless unless He comes behind them with His saving power.
…Going back to Ephesians 1, notice also that Paul said God’s electing and adopting of His children was “to the praise of HIS glorious grace.” God’s actions are always about putting His greatness on display. With that in mind, Farley argued, “it’s essential that your parenting be God-ward, not child-ward…A child-centered family is an idolatrous family.”
We are easily tempted to place our children at the center of our families, viewing our parenting primarily about taking care of them, providing for them, making sure they are happy, giving them every possibile opportunity, etc. Subtly our lives start to revolve around them rather than God. In so doing, we are teaching our children (and fooling ourselves into believing) that life is about them….Instead, we ought to center our family around God, making worship and love for Him our highest priority.
This might mean making the tough decision to limit your children’s activities in sports, because it’s keeping them (and you) entirely too busy–and thus distracting you from God. It might mean starting to read and pray together in your home, even if your children don’t want to at first. It might mean changing your methods of discipline in order to use them as opportunities to point your children to Christ, rather than just trying to get them to behave better…
How does your family need to change to become more God-ward in your orientation?
There’s more to come soon!…Next up: the Incarnation of Jesus