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April 24, 2011
Keeping Dennis From Becoming A Menace – Part 2
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Proverbs 22:6

Purchase the CD of this sermon.


The series That Makes Good Sense teaches from the book of Proverbs on the essential nature of godly wisdom to live life well. The series reminds believers that wisdom is about choosing to live rightly, righteously, and timely so that God is honored in all areas of life.

More From This Series


I’d invite you to take your Bibles and turn to Proverbs 22:6. We’re looking at the whole issue of disciplining and developing our children from a biblical perspective, and it seems to be nothing could be more critical than that. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. The rod of correction will drive it from him.”
It seems to me, that the greatest assignment and the greatest achievement in life is to pass the faith on to the next generation, to train up our children in the way that they should go, so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. We want to leave a legacy of faith and faithfulness to those who are coming behind us, because there is no success without succession. Is that not true?
Daniel Webster, the great statesman once said, “If we work on marble, it will perish. If we work on brass, time will efface it, if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust, but if we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, with just fear of God and love of our fellow man, we engrave on these tablets something that will brighten eternity.” Solomon had worked on marble and metal and temples, but Solomon would agree with Daniel Webster that his greatest work was not pouring the foundation of that great edifice we knew as Solomon’s temple, it was pouring a foundation of moral instruction in the Book of Proverbs for a generation behind him to build their lives upon. That was his greatest assignment, maybe his greatest achievement.
I want to, with you, come back this morning to Luke at the subject of developing and disciplining our children. The word of God in both testaments encourages us to that end. We have read Proverbs 22:6, and in Ephesians 6:4, we’re told that parents need to tree up their children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. This is our assignment and it will give us our greatest joy to fulfill it. In another sense, but with an application, the Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth.”
That’s come to a message that is not for the faint-hearted but is absolutely necessary. Well, we’re going to continue to look at a number of principles. We’re going to take a third message in this, but let’s see where we get in this second attempt to cover the material of Proverbs, on raising our children for God’s glory.
Now, we started to look at the issue of discipline under a number of headings. First of all, the basis of discipline. We’re going to come back and look at that right now and then before we’re done, we’re going to look at secondly the beginning of discipline and we’ll leave the rest of the message for another day. But we started to look at the basis of discipline. The Book of Proverbs in a number of occasions encourages both parents to exercise their God-given responsibility to get involved in the correcting and the directing of their children.
We saw from our last study that this was an authority and then an assignment that God endowed to parents. It is not something the state gives to us or the state can take from us. God established the home before there was a government, even before there was a church. The home is critical to the wellbeing of society and the health of the church, and God has said to each and every parent in each and every home, “I’m giving you these children on loan. Here’s the assignment. Train them up in the way they should go.”
It’s a wonderful assignment, it’s a scary assignment, but we should give ourselves to the hard and happy work of raising our children. There is a basis to discipline in our children, is a God-given responsibility clearly declared in the Word of God, and that’s why by the way, as a footnote, we need to see any attack upon spanking or smacking by the secular society as a thinly disguised attack upon parental authority. Parents have every reason to be alarmed, because anti-spanking advocates are mobilizing in greater numbers in our country and across the world, and they are bent, and I mean bent, and committed to removing corporal punishment from society. I’ve visited some of their websites just this past week. Do you know that smacking is already banned in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Cypress, Croatia and Latvia? Nations considering a ban include Canada. It was recently defeated in their Supreme court, but it’ll come back up and it’ll get to our supreme court I’m sure. Canada is considering a ban, England, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland.
I put you on a warning that this lobby is going to strip you of your parental God-given authority, is coming to a place near you soon. They’ll show up at the parents meetings at your local junior and high schools. You’ll hear them speak at council meetings. Have your antenna up, because the basis of discipline, biblically speaking is being eroded and undermined. God has given us a role and a responsibility to train our children, and part of the training may include physical punishment, corporal punishment.
Now, we started to look at that from two perspectives. Why should we discipline our children? Why should we carry out this biblical mandate, this God-given role? Number one, because of the pravity on the child’s part. That’s as far as we got last week. I won’t rehearse too much of this, but there is another application to make. We did see from our study last week, that our children are born with con-cleaved hearts. They’re born with hearts that are turned in on themselves. They’re born separated from God, because of the imputed nature of Adam and they are born by nature, children of wrath and beneath that disarming smile lies a monster, a moral Frankenstein, a potential juvenile delinquent.
Proverbs 22:15, very clear, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” and we define foolishness as moral disobedience. The rod has been given to drive it from him. We saw in Proverbs 29:15, that a child left to himself will not make right choices, because they have a broken compass we call a heart. They will not make rice’s choices nor a child to himself, uncorrected, undisciplined will bring shame to his mother. So we must discipline our children. They don’t have a free will other than they are free to carry out the dictates of a heart on a will that’s bound to sin. Men are free in the sense they are free to sin and that is all. Their heart is bound up in foolishness. They do not seek after God. They will not naturally find him nor seek him. Left to govern themselves, they will wreak havoc and harm.
We started to apply that. One application was that reminds us then of the goal of discipline. The goal of discipline is to confront our children’s natural tendency to believe and behave independent of God. Smacking and spanking is more than a behavioral modification technique. It is the confronting of a child’s autonomy. It is bringing that child under God’s authority through the parent’s authority.
It is reminding that child through pain, that there is a cause and a fact relationship between disobedience and punishment. It is awakened the child’s conscience to the consequences of disobedience. Al Mohler, in an excellent article on spanking says this… He’s the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. We sat under his ministry at the pastor’s conference just a week ago. It was a joy and a treat. He says this, “Modern advocates of time-outs and similar forms of discipline miss the essential point that God intends spanking to underline. The cause-and-effect relationship of disobedience and punishment.” Spanking is judicial in the sense that it is not the result of a parental loss of temper nor appearance whim but of moral necessity.
We must discipline our children, not out of anger, but under control, but we must discipline them out of moral necessity. They are morally delinquent and their autonomy and their independence from God must be challenged from the earliest days. But there was a second application we didn’t get to, as we thought about the pravity on the child’s part. Number two, not only the goal of discipline to confront the child’s autonomy, but the necessity of it. The necessity of it is finding the fact that the child is incapable of governing himself. This is a generation giving too much credit to children, far too much autonomy to children.
The Bible says in Proverbs 29:15, a child left to himself, a child given over to himself will bring shame to his mother. Proverbs tells us that a hands-off permissive approach to parenting is a recipe for disaster. Parents, sadly, even Christian parents are buying into this silly notion, this naive idea that it’s better not to force your children to go to church. It’s better not to press biblical teaching upon their conscience. It’s better to let them in their own time and in their own way find their way to God. But there’s a problem with that. In fact, there’s three problems with that.
Number one, it flies in the face of the clear mandates of the Bible. We have read them, “Do not withhold correction from your child, foolishness has bound up in your child’s heart. Use the rod to drive it from them. Don’t leave your child to themselves. You will be disgraced by the child and brought to a point of deep heartache.” It’s clear. It’s a clear violation of the Word of God.
Number two, this kind of thinking that you let the child do its own thing is an approach that is blind to what we’ve already talked about, the depravity and enslavement of the heart of the child. Our child is born a slave to sin. A child is born with a love of self, not of God and that must be confronted and corrected. The child is incapable morally of finding its own way to God. It must be directed, disciplined, tutored.
Thirdly, on a practical level, I think that approach this hands-off approach presupposes that our culture is neutral. Friend, I’m going to say something to you this morning you need to hear. If you’re not going to influence your child, do you believe that nobody else is going to influence your child? If that’s your view, you must have bumped your head very severely this week on some doorpost and you don’t realize you’re concussed and confused. This is not a world that is a moral vacuum. This is a world that lies in the lap of the wicked one. This is a world whose philosophy is anti God and opposes Jesus Christ.
He said to his own disciples, “They hated me. Don’t expect them to pin medals on you.” This is not a neutral context. This is a world at war. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. The book of Proverbs warns you as a parent, that you need to correct your child and direct your child to righteous ends, because there are those who want to cut across the path of your child’s development and entice them to sin.
Look at the beginning of this book. This book is written by Solomon and others, but Solomon primarily as a father to his children. He says in 8:1, “My son hear the instruction of your father and do not forsake the law of your mother, for they will be a graceful ornament on your head and chains about your neck. My son, listen up. Take heed to what we’re saying, because sinners are going to entice you.” That word there, entice, means to feed. It’s almost an angling term.
Christians aren’t the only fishers of man in this world. There are others who are fishing for souls and sinners are going to entice our children and we need to teach them not to consent. To think that if you don’t influence your child, nobody else will, is to have rocks in your head. You’d better influence your child. In fact, Paul Wahlberg, recently in one of his updated letters about his ministry carried the story of a recent TV broadcast in the United Kingdom, when one of the world’s leading spokesman on evolution by the name of Dr. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University made these statements on British television, “I’m very concerned about the religious indoctrination of children. I want to show how faith acts like a virus, that attacks the young and then affects generation after generation.
I wanted to show how the scriptural roots of the Judeo-Christian moral edifice are cruel and brutish. What in the 21st century are we doing venerating a book, the Bible, that contains such stuff? He’s concerned about the indoctrination of children, not that he wouldn’t indoctrinate them with naturalistic evolutionary theory. Yeah, put the kid in his class and he’ll not teach them anything. Just the brutish church of Jesus Christ as an agenda. What nonsense. That is a clear evidence of the war that’s going on. Cultural, spiritual, theological, the world of ideas.
If you think that men like Richard Dawkins doesn’t have an agenda for your child, you and I need to talk after the service for a very long time, because your child needs to be tutored and taught those things that do not come naturally to him. As you’re doing that, you’re praying all the time and working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, to bring to see how work of God brought about in the life of your child.
Listen, it is the Christian parents’ duty and delight to inoculate and indoctrinate, I’m not frightened of that word, to indoctrinate their children against the world and towards eternal things. Lewis and Eunice did it. Paul said of Timothy, that young preacher, “You have known the scriptures from you were a child,” he was indoctrinated. The Word of God was poured into his heart, with every spoon of food that Lewis and Eunice give to that child. It is the parent’s responsibility and role to give his children the right answers to the tough questions, even before the children begin to ask them.
Life will provide plenty of opportunities for those right answers to be tested. The tragedy comes when children are thrust out into this life with nothing more than questions, by parents who have no backbone to say, “You know what, here’s how the world works from a biblical God Word perspective. I lay the challenge before you, my son and my daughter put it to the test.”
Take it on a road test. Test these answers that your father and your mother are giving them and see if they’re not true. A man once argued with the English poet Samuel Coleridge about the place of religious instruction in parenting. He said this quite firmly, “I don’t think parents should indoctrinate their children with religion.” This has been the mantra across the ages. Instead, he said, “They should give their children the freedom to make their own choices.” Well, Coleridge did not say a word, but he invited his friend to come into his backyard to take a look at his garden. When they got there, the visitor exclaimed, “This is no garden, it’s a patch of overgrown weeds.” Coleridge replied, “Well, it used to be a garden, but I decided to give it the freedom to become whatever it chose to be. I didn’t want to interfere with my garden.”
You get the point? The garden has a natural tendency, because of the fall and the curse to go towards the wilderness and we need to pluck the weeds. I’ve been doing it for weeks. Got to be constantly working in the garden or it becomes a big patch of weeds. Same with our children’s hearts. You’ve got to plow the heart and resew it, because its natural seed is to wickedness, waywardness and so you need to discipline your child. There’s a basis for it, the depravity of the child’s heart.
Secondly, the devotion of the parent’s heart. According to the book of Proverbs, discipline is not an evil. It’s not even a necessary evil. It is a necessity in the light of evil and it is actually an act of love towards our children. We love them enough when we spank them, when we discipline them to a point of pain. We love them enough to stand in their way.
Last, through an accumulation of mistakes left unchecked by a permissive parent, they go on to make a more critical error that leads to the ruination of their life. Look at this verse, Proverbs 13:24, can’t be any clearer than this. It just sits on the surface of the text. “He who spares his rod hates his son.” Isn’t that interesting? He who spares the rod hates his son. Now, conventional wisdom today says, “Put the rod away. That’s archaic. It belonged to a brutish age. Man is evolving. We’re moving towards a gentler, kinder view of things. Our children are not evil. Our children are good and set in the right circumstances, they’ll do the right thing. So, put that rod away. If you love your child, put it away.” The Bible says, “No. Bring it out.” If you love your child, put it away, if you hit them. Wow, the Bible can get you into trouble. I hope you know that.
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Let’s go back to chapter three, just to reinforce this thought. Solomon is speaking to his own son again, giving him counsel. He says, “My son, do not despise the chastening,” there’s our word again. The discipline, talks about punitive punishment. “My son do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction for whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father, the son in whom he delights,” Solomon is saying, “Son, when I discipline you, I do it as a loving father. I’m actually mirroring and manifesting the very character of God, because God disciplines those whom He loves.”
God is not a permissive parent. God is not a pushover. We’ve got this kind of grandfatherly image of God. No, God stands in the way of his children. When you and I head down a path of disobedience, you and I need to know the Book of Proverbs says, “The way of the backslider is hard, because God will make it hard.” If you’re here this morning as a back-slider and you’ve been feeling the strokes of God, He did it for your good and you’re here this morning, because God wants you to come back to Him and reestablish your relationship with him. He loves you enough to pain you, because hell is a painful place. Better some temporary discipline, not eternal discipline.
Here we have this fact. You and I have a basis for disciplining our children. Number one, they are sinners and need to be corrected. Number two, we understand that and therefore we love them enough to stand in their way, because they have destructive tendencies bound up in their heart. Spanking or corporal punishment is a proof of a parent’s love, because the parent knows, because they’ve lived long enough to know it, there is a price to disobedience. There’s no bargain sins in God’s Universe and therefore they want to see if their children for perhaps some of the pain that they went through, because of their disobedience.
So, they love them enough to say, “You know what, I’m not going to let you do that. Some of them may out have experienced it, because I did that. Let me tell you what it cost and what I’m about to do to you is a small price to pay to save you from that kind of heartache.” A parent who doesn’t punish their children with a rod occasionally and when necessary, shows a shameful lack of concern. I’m sorry to say that if you disagree with me this morning, I have to say as far as the Bible is concerned, if you don’t use a rod on your child, you are showing a shameful lack of concern for your child and you’re putting your child in harm’s way.
You’ve bought into a worldly model, that you need to repent of. How can you love your child and not heed the sin that is in them and upon them and that needs to be confronted? How can you care for your child and let the weeds of sin overgrow their hearts, bringing a harvest of corruption?
By the way, as I reflected on this, I’m sure you as a parent to find it, isn’t it rather strange that when you find yourself at that point where you’re about to discipline your children, that that’s when they want to express their love for you. You ever find that? “Oh daddy. Oh daddy, have I told you lately that I love you. I love you, daddy.” “Well, that’s great and I love you too. So, bend over, because I love you enough to confront your sin. I need to sit on these destructive patterns of behavior that God needs to eradicate by a work of His spirit. I need to remind you, you’re not autonomous. That if you give free rein to this disobedient, wayward heart of yours, hell is your destiny. Heartache will be my experience and the life of sorrow yours. So, I love you too much to spare, because of your crime.”
We’ve lost it in some of the modern translations, but I think it’s Proverbs, I think 25:19, but the Bible says not to spare the rod, because of your child’s crime. I could be wrong in that reference, but we are not to hold back, because of our children’s tears, because in the long run we are receiving them from a lot more tears. You know what? There’ll come a day, it won’t happen when it’s happening, but there’ll come a day when your child will say, “You know what dad? I’m thankful for what you did.”
Hebrews 12 tells us that the pain and the displeasure we feel from our parents is not a very nice experience at the time, but in the long run it does produce a great harvest of righteousness. We’re moving on to a second thought and this is where we’ll just finish the rest of our time. We’ve got the basis that a pravity of the child, the devotion of the parent. Now, we’ve got the beginning. Go back to Proverbs 13:24. “He who spares his rod, hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him.” Look at the word promptly. You may have a version that reads it early and that would be a very justified translation. In fact, the margin of the New King James translation tells us that this word promptly can mean early. In fact, it is a Hebrew term that speaks at the dawn.
As the word evolved in terms of its usage, it came to mean going after something at an early age or pursuing something with a longing heart. This verse is encouraging us to discipline our children physically, early and earnestly. Spurgeon said, “Begin early to teach, for children begin early to sin.” Great little statement. Begin early to teach for children begin early to sin. You and I must begin to discipline our children, admonish our children at the earliest opportunity.
We’ll deal with this next time we look at this tax together in a couple of weeks, but I get asked a question, “Pastor, when should one start to spank?” My answer to that is as soon as the child is conscious of their disobedience and you’re conscious that they’re conscious of their disobedience, it’s time to spank. There’s no set age, but it’ll be early. A child quickly understands that it’s doing wrong and it needs to understand quickly that there’s punishment to be paid for that kind of wrong.
The Bible encourages us to begin the process as early as possible. Look at Proverbs 19:18 as another example of what we’re talking about here. Proverbs 19:18, “Chasten your son while there is hope and do not set your heart on his destruction.” That’s a proverb that seems to hint at the fact there is a window of opportunity. There is a season where you need to firmly and consistently discipline your child, because there’ll come a point, I believe it will be true to say as they get into those later teenage years where it would be inappropriate to spank.
You know what, we’ll touch in this next time again, if you do your work well early on, you’ll not need the spank as time goes by, just as much. It’ll become infrequent. You and I need to learn this, that we have a certain window of time, we have a limited opportunity. Children are like quick drying cement. We’ve only got them so long, we’ve only got so long to work with them, so get about the hard and happy business by God’s grace, through God’s strength of affecting change in them. Chasten your son while there is hope, when they’re a teenager and then you waken up to the fact that you need to confront them, it’s too late. I’m sorry. It’s too late. Except by a marvelous demonstration of God’s grace, you’ll learn that it’s too late.
Too many Christians begin to discipline their children 16 years and 200 pounds too late. The Bible says early, promptly, because if you postpone that discipline, your discipline later on will be ineffective. It’s too late to try to make a difference after thousands of choices have gone unchallenged, hundreds of hours of television have gone unchallenged and years of secular education have gone un-critiqued. It’s too late.
You need to start spanking and speaking as soon as the child can be taught the difference between right and wrong and becomes conscious of right and wrong. That statement right there would turn a secular psychologist, give them conniptions. But it’s a fact. Early, within those first couple of years, it’s right to start spanking. Susanna Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley is perhaps the classic illustration of what we’re talking about. She believed that the assertive self well of a child must be broken by the parent early on in life.
She understood that foolishness was bound up in the heart of a child, left to itself, shame would come to the Wesley home. One of her rules in her plan of education was quote, and I commend her to you women and mothers of the congregation onto the man, but especially to our dear women folk. She’s a great example. Her writings are very helpful in this area. Here’s what she said, “When turned a year old, a year old, they are taught to fear the rod and to cry softly, by which means they escaped abundance of correction, which they might otherwise have had. In order to firm form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer the will.”
The first time that child challenges you, the gauntlet’s done. You need to recognize that moment in the child, when the child becomes conscious of that and is conscious of what they’re doing. It’s time for the rod to do its work and the sooner it does its work, the less it’ll have to do later work. In the long run, you’re actually saving your child spanking and smacking, because if you do it early, it’ll have its greatest effect.
Solomon is not advising us here how to train a teenager or a young man, a child. You and I need to realize that children come with a stamp on them that says, “Yours for a limited time only.” Now, I just want to stop here for a few moments and apply this a little bit further. I reinforce to every mother and father gathered here with young children, now is the time to do the hard work. This is not the time to be absent from the home. This is not the time to be on long business trips. This is the time for mom and dad to give a lot of attention to the children.
I’m not sure that I believe in ADD in children, but I do believe it in parents. We have attention deficit disorders in parents. They pay little attention to their children and that’s why whatever medical term we want to give to it, these kids are out of control. It’s not a chemical imbalance, it’s a moral nature that’s never been confronted early enough, consistent enough. Begin early, save yourself a lord of heartache. The child will bless you for it.
The child’s developmental stage is a wonderful time for you to begin that smacking and speaking discipline, for a couple of reasons. Number one, what I call the compliance factor. The compliance factor. Now, I’m not going to take away in making this point anything from my previous thought concerning the reality of the depth and ingrained nature of our children’s sin nature. But I want to say this, and I think it’s a true statement, childhood as and age, is an age of relative innocence.
Our children are not innocent. The puritan’s called the children innocent vipers, they are not innocent. They have inherited Adam’s nature. They are born in sin. They are shapened in iniquity. But in those early years, there is a relative innocence. That’s why Ecclesiastes 12, which is another book in the wisdom genre of the Old Testament, Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the difficult days come and the years drawn near, when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.'” The best time to direct and correct your child is before sin barricades that child’s heart, through years and years of practice. There’s a relative innocence.

“Remember now,” says, Solomon, “Your creator.” This is an opportune moment in your life. Find faith before the world finds you, because when you’re in the world it’ll try and rob you of faith. Look, here’s the analogy I’d draw for you. You and I are not likely to go into a cage with a fully grown lion, even with a chair, a stool and a whip and a revolver. But I tell you what we might do, we might go into a cage with a cub who doesn’t yet know that it is a lion. I think there’s an analogy there. Morally speaking, our children are like lion cubs. The full knowledge and the full expression of their lion nature lies further down the road. This is a great opportunity to deal with them.
Stephen Alford said, “It stands to reason then, that childhood is the age in which to teach the mind that has not been poisoned to gain the ear that has not been deafened to win the heart that has not yet been taken captive by sin.” Children are deeply impressionable and first impressions are lasting impressions in the life of a child.
Remember that case in Matthew 18:3, where Jesus is teaching his disciples about humility and the need to be poor in spirit, so that they may inherit the kingdom of God? He sets a child in the midst and he says, “If you’re going to enter God’s kingdom, you need to become like a little child.” He’s pointing to the fact that children before adulthood are more naturally compliant and humble and submissive and teachable and that being the case, it’s a wonderful time for us to affect them for God and for good.
On a negative side, yet with a positive application, the Jesuits of Rome here are no friends of the gospel. In fact, the Jesuit order and the schools that were spawned from the Jesuit order were set in motion to counteract the spread of Protestantism in Europe. Blows my mind today, when I hear of Christian parents pitting their children in Jesuit schools. I think our fathers would, their heads would spin in trying to understand that. The Jesuits had a definite purpose and that was to protect the Catholic church against the inroads of evangelical Protestantism. They used to claim, “Give us a child until they are seven, we’ll do our work. Give us a child until they’re seven.” They knew this compliance factor. Give us a child in our schools and they’ll be Catholics for life. You and I need to be aware of the compliance factor.
Secondly, we need to be aware of the curiosity factor, the curiosity factor. It’s tied into the point I’ve just mirrored. Children are not only apt to listen, they’re hungry to learn. They’re not at that point yet called the teenage years, when they think they know everything. Their minds are like sponges. Their eyes and ears are like motion sensors, picking up everything around them. You and I were wise, sensitive parents led by God the Spirit in conjunction with an understanding of God’s word. We’re going to harness that natural curiosity and we’re going to seek to answer biblical questions and give them biblical answers to life’s questions.
I won’t turn to it, but you remember back in Exodus 12:26-27? They’re establishing the Passover, a memorial of God’s deliverance out of Egypt. The parents there said, “You know what? As you enact this and reenact this every year, the children are going to say to you, ‘Daddy, why are we doing this?’ We want you to tell them here’s why, because God delivered you out of Egypt.” Children love to ask questions. Turn those questions, take those questions and instruct your children in the things of God.
Never underestimate God’s ability to develop spiritual character and to teach spiritual truth, even at a very early age. Here’s the final thought and we’re done. The conversion factor. The conversion factor. Why should we begin early and promptly? Because our children are more compliant then, we can shape their lives more easily, before the difficult days come. They are curious naturally, so we can lasso that natural interest and reign it in for spiritual ends. The conversion factor, you won’t be surprised to know that childhood affords us the greatest opportunity to win our children to Christ. The longer you wait, the less time they will have to repent in. The longer you wait, the more sins they will have to repent of. The longer you wait, the harder heart they’ll have to repent with.
We must be careful not to press our children into a premature decision. Making the decision for them, badgering them unnecessarily. But we must endeavor to ensure that at the earliest age, they have a clear basic understanding of the basic tenets of sin and salvation through the substitution death and resurrection of Christ. There is legitimate child evangelism. In fact, research tells us, and you’ve heard it enough in testimonies here in this church, that the majority of Christians were saved at the age of 18 and under.
Remember the mothers brought the children to Jesus and the disciples tried to bar their way. Jesus says, “Guys, get out of the way. Do not forbid the little ones to come.” In a Matthew 19:14, he says, “Because the kingdom of God belongs to them. For such as the kingdom of God, it can be rendered for the kingdom of God belongs to them.”
Oh, parent this morning get about the hard yet happy work of disciplining your child, of training them up in the way that they should go, of praying to God that he might open their hearts to see the beauty of Jesus Christ. That they may come like Timothy at an early age to put their faith in Jesus Christ and be a witness for him and invest their lives for eternal good. A man came rushing up to a ferry. He was breathless after running at a terrific pace, but he got there just as the gate man shut the door in his face. The bystander remarked, “You didn’t run fast enough.” The disappointed man answered, “Oh, I ran fast enough. I just didn’t start early enough.”
I hope that’s not true of any parents here this morning. You might work hard at some stage, but if you didn’t begin early enough, it could be very difficult to impact your child. By way of implication, that means that some of the most strategic, some of the most important, some of the most vital ministry that’s going on in these sacred halls is happening in the children’s department. It’s happening in the AWANA program. It’s happening among the youth. We’ve got a window. I hope that you might serve in those areas.
I trust as a staff, we’ll always be alert to pouring resources into those areas, because we need to teach and we need to train our children early. They need to know the scriptures from their children, so that they might be made wise unto salvation. We will save ourselves a lot of heartache. We will save our government a lot of money and we will save our children’s future, if we’ll do the things that Proverbs encourages us to do.
Well, we’ll leave it there and we’ll pick it up the next time we’re together and we’ll finish out this important message. Maybe you’re here as a prodigal son of God and God’s been disciplining you. We’d encourage you to come, because according to Luke 15, the father stands waiting. The father stands watching with open arms, to receive his children back from their waywardness and their wickedness, back into the home, back into a pattern of obedience and joy in the presence and protection of the Father.