Back to 2022 Church Weekly List

Vol. XIX No. 45
7 August 2022

BRINGING UP OUR CHILDREN WITH GOD

“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Ps 127:3)

We cannot do without the Lord’s grace if we are to build our homes and rear our children successfully. Our children do not come by chance or accident but by the providential hand and plan of God. Psalm 127:3 tells us that our children are a “heritage” and a “reward” from God. God graciously gave them to us for our benefit and advantage (Ps 127:4–5).

Children should be a blessing to their parents and not a curse. However, this is not always the case. There are children who do not bring joy but sorrow to their parents. It goes without saying that if we want our children to be a blessing and a source of joy to us and not a source of pain, we must make sure they are brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps 127:1a).

When and where precisely do we start to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Starts in the Womb

It starts in the womb. Human life begins at conception. The baby in the womb from day one is a human being, a moral creature (cf Ps 51:5). The recent overturn of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court is premised upon this fundamental principle that human life begins at conception. As such, abortion is murder. Know that the baby, as a human and moral being, can hear and learn even in the womb. Research has shown that babies can hear sounds and voices at 27–29 weeks of pregnancy (6–7 months). It is no wonder that John the baptiser, still in his mother’s womb, leaped with excitement when he heard the salutation of the Virgin Mary who was pregnant with Jesus when she came a visiting. Note that Elisabeth was already pregnant with John six months earlier (Luke 1:36); “and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:41–44). Adam Clarke commented, “The mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the child in her womb becomes sensible of the Divine influence.”

Expectant mothers, know that your child may still be in your womb, but when you read the Scriptures aloud, sing the hymns, hear the sermons at home or in church, do not think that you alone are being ministered to; God can work in the mind and heart of covenant children when they are still in the womb. This is God’s special providence in the lives of His people. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Ps 8:2). Do not doubt the extraordinary work of God in the lives of our children no matter how small or young they may be.

Continues at Home

The teaching or training of our children continues when they are born and as they grow up. It is vital that our children be fed not only with mother’s milk but also with God’s milk, ie God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2). Feeding our children with God’s Word is a full-time job, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deut 6:6–9). Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Fathers are to be spiritual leaders of the household, and mothers are to be “keepers at home” (Tit 2:5), to “guide the house” (1 Tim 5:14) and “love their children” (Tit 2:4).Fathers have a duty to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Mothers too are to mind their children and teach them God’s Word. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were good and godly examples (2 Tim 1:5) so that Paul could say this of Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15).

And in Church

The church as a covenant community has a role to play as well in the spiritual discipleship of our children. One of the principles of covenant theology concerns the solidarity between believing parents and their children in the church visible. Children, not just adults, are considered members of the visible church (1 Cor 7:14, WCF 25:2, WLC 165). Children born into Christian homes become members of the visible church through baptism just like children born to Jewish parents become citizens of Israel through circumcision (Gen 17:7, 14, Col 2:11). As members and citizens of the covenant community, the children partake of the means of grace found in the visible church for their own spiritual good (Deut 29:10–12, Josh 8:35).

The Word of God is the primary means by which God uses to sanctify not only adults but also children (John 17:17, Luke 18:16). Richard Bacon rightly said, “God repeatedly reminds His people to instruct their children in His law by reminding them of His covenant. One of the ways in which we remind our children of God’s covenant is by helping them to ‘improve’ their baptism, as the Westminster Larger Catechism states it [Q167]. When our infant children are baptized they are solemnly admitted into the visible church.... [and] as church members they have a right to all the outward privileges of the church…. He has a right to be instructed in the Word of God. He has a right to be led into faith in the Saviour. He has a right to the obedience of his parents to their covenant obligations. He has a right to the faithful ministry of the church. We cannot infringe upon these rights without offending God Himself, for these are rights granted by Him.”

On the Lord’s Day

As a church, we want to provide for our children all the means of grace, by which they can find salvation and grow in their faith, especially on the Lord’s Day. That is why we have our Sunday School which starts at nine in the morning before the worship service. Parents would do well to bring their children to Sunday School and at the same time study God’s Word themselves in the adults’ class. Then there is the worship service where God’s Word is read, sung and preached. Children should not miss out on all the means of grace found in the worship service including the pulpit ministry.

This was the practice in the Old Testament when God commanded the Israelites to “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God” (Deut 31:12–13). This was practised by Joshua, “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.” (Josh 8:35). The prophet Joel commanded the Israelites, “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts (Joel 2:16). Note that “their children”, and “the little ones”, and “those that suck the breasts” were all called to the assembly to hear the reading and teaching of God’s Word. God does not despise the children “which have not known any thing”. On the contrary, He pays special attention to them to work in their minds and hearts spiritually so that they “may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God”.

“The historic position of the Reformed churches has been that families should worship together.”

Matthew Henry in his commentary enjoined, “Note, Masters of families should bring their wives and children with them to the solemn assemblies for religious worship.” Richard Bacon was right to observe, “The prima facie evidence from Scripture and Confession is that our covenant children are members of the visible church and therefore should be present with their parents in the worship services of the church…. We must be very careful not to offend (i.e. cause to stumble) covenant children…. The historic position of the Reformed churches has been that families should worship together.

May we as parents and as a church not neglect our covenant duty to our children, to bring them up in the fulness of worship and instruction that is found in the Lord’s Day services, and to disciple them in the sacred and spiritual disciplines of singing the hymns, the Doxology and the Gloria Patri, the rendering of prayers even the Lord’s Prayer, and of praise and thanksgiving, the giving of tithes and offerings unto God, the public reading of the Holy Scriptures, the hearing of the authoritative preaching of God’s Word from the pulpit, the observance of the holy sacraments, and the faithful reception of the benediction at the end.

Do you hear? “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 11:15). JK

Adults Sunday School on Gospel of Matthew by Pr Samuel Joseph

1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899)
admin@truelifebpc.org.sg
6254 1287

© 2022 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church