The last few weeks, we have been moving through the “events” of the gospel to see their implications for parenting: Election. Incarnation. Christ’s perfect obedience. Christ’s substitutionary atonement.
This week, we look at the resurrection of Christ. And once again, we learn from William Farley’s wisdom in applying the gospel to parenting.
The resurrection of Jesus has accomplished a variety of things. It brought about our justification (Romans 4:25). It began the new creation and showed that we will be raised to eternal life someday as well (1 Cor. 15:20-24). And it produced new birth (a.k.a. regeneration) in all those who would be united to Him (1 Peter 1:3). The resurrection is not just a “tack-on” message to the work of the cross. It is absolutely essential to the gospel. Without it, we are hopeless and are still “dead in our sins” (Eph. 2:1-2, 1 Cor. 15). We needed someone to conquer death in our place–someone whose victory and life we could share. That is precisely what Jesus accomplished on our behalf in His resurrection.
And as miraculous as it was for his physical body–cold and dead in the tomb outside Jersualem–to be raised back to life, each of our children need to experience that same kind of miracle in their souls. Just as God breathed life into the lungs of Jesus’ dead body and made His heart start pumping again, our children need God to breath life into their souls and to soften their hardened hearts. We must never forget the radical nature of the change that must take place. Jesus Himself said that we all must be “born again” (John 3:1-8).
Our children need new birth. Our hope for our children is not in teaching them to be moral. It’s not in convincing them to come to church or to stay awake through a sermon. It’s not even in getting them to read the Bible or to pray more often. Those might be good things to hope for, but they’re not ultimate. They don’t do a thing about our children’s spiritual deadness.
As Farley often points out, morality in our children can be deceptive. In and of itself, their moral behavior is no indication of new birth…Because “moral” behavior can be driven by all sorts of motives other than love for Christ: desire to impress parents, desire to impress peers, desire to impress God, etc.
And that is often what takes place. Kids who grow up in church can act like chameleons behaviorally and fit in with the moral expectations prescribed by their church and their family. They might even make a “profession of faith” or get baptized, while internally they have experienced no real work of the Spirit and have no real love for God. What a dangerous place that could be if we start to assume our children are born again and then just stop “evangelizing” them and sharing the gospel with them!
Never assume your children are regenerate just because of statements they’ve made or behaviors of theirs that seem “moral.” Wait until you see true, heart-level, deep change.
What are signs to look for in a child who is truly born again? Farley suggests,” The first sign is growing hunger for God. Other signs are hunger for holiness, growing obedience to parents, and desire for secret prayer and Bible reading.”
NEXT UP: the ascension of Jesus