Far and away one of the best books I’ve ever read on child-rearing is Standing on the Promises, by Doug Wilson. If you were to ask to borrow my copy, I’m not sure it would do you any good because you probably wouldn’t be able to read the words from all my notes and markings.
However, if you are looking for a “how to” book to help you raise your children, this is not the book for you. While the book is not without practical application, Wilson is far less concerned with giving you twelve easy steps to parenting godly kids as he is with giving you a firm foundation upon which to do so. But, I hasten to add, the book is anything but abstract and impractical. It is encouraging, instructive, and even inspiring. I heartily recommend it to any and all parents who are seeking to raise godly children in this ungodly age.
Here are a few choice quotes from the first chapter that I think are worth passing on…
The Fountainhead of Culture
The biblical family is an instituted government, established by God at the very beginning of human history. The constitution for this government was written by him, and revealed to us in his Word.
Parents bring up their children to be colonists at the proper time, planting families of their own.
Consequently, each family is designed to be a culture – with a language, customs, traditions, and countless unspoken assumptions. God has made the world in such a way that children who grow up in the culture of the family are to be shaped and molded by it. The duty of the husband and father is to ensure that the shaping is done according tot he standards of the Word of God.
[A common problem among modern Christians] is that of forgetting the family is a culture at all, and allowing, by default, outside cultural influences to take primacy in how the children are shaped. When the biblical cultural mandate for the home is abandoned in the home, the vacuum will not be there for long.
By nature, children are malleable. They will either be shaped lawfully, by those commanded by God to perform the task, or they will be shaped unlawfully, by outsiders. But as children, they will be shaped.
Several years ago I taught through the Book of Revelation in a couple of my Bible studies. It was when we arrived at chapters 11 & 12, we finally started hearing about beasts, dragons, etc.
This, quite naturally and appropriately brought up a discussion about Satan. Therefore, to help the conversation along, I shared the following “facts” on Satan that I gleaned from Wayne Grudem. I thought I might pass it along here as well.
Some Facts About Satan
1.) Satan was the originator of sin (Gen. 3:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:3; John 8:44; 1 Jn. 3:8)
2.) Demons oppose and try to destroy every work of God (Gen. 3:1-6; Matt. 4:1-11; John 8:44; Rev. 12:9; Ps. 106:37; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 4:8)
3.) Yet, demons are limited by God’s control and have limited power (Job 1:12, 2:6; Jude 6; James 4:7). Wayne Grudem writes, “We should not think that demons can know the future or that they can read our minds or know our thoughts.” (Isa. 46:9-10; Mark 13:32)
With respect to knowing our thoughts, the Bible tells us that Jesus knew people’s thoughts (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:8; Luke 6:8; 11:17) and that God knows people’s thoughts (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 139:2, 4, 23; Isa. 66:18), but there is no indication that angels or demons can know our thoughts.
4.) There have been differing stages of demonic activity in the history of redemption…
5.) Are demons active in the world today? According to Grudem, “If Scripture gives us a true account of the world today as it really is, then we must take seriously its portrayal of intense demonic involvement in human society.”
6.) Not all evil and sin is from Satan and demons, but some is.
7.) Can a Christian be demon possessed?
It depends on what the person means by “possessed.” The New Testament doesn’t use this term in the original Greek. If by “demon possessed” someone means “that a person’s will is completely dominated by a demon, so that a person has no power left to choose to do right and obey, then the answer is “no,” for Scripture guarantees that sin shall have no dominion over us since we have been raised with Christ (Rom. 6:14, see also verses 4 & 11).
However, most Christians would agree that there can be differing degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers (see Luke 4:2; 2 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 6:12; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8).
8.) Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave (Luke 9:1; 10:17, 19; Acts 8:7; 16:18; 2 Cor. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:10-18; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8)
9.) We should expect the gospel to come in power to triumph over the works of the devil.
Taken from Wayne Grudem’s book, Systematic Theology
1 Corinthians 2:14, 16b
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. …But we have the mind of Christ.
The mannishness of man. That was a phrase that Francis Schaeffer used to describe man in his fallen state. I like to use the word, “worldling” to describe the same idea. Paul uses the phrase “natural man” or “the man without the Spirit.” All of these describe a basic antithesis between those who have eyes to see and those who don’t – those who love the foolishness of God and know that it’s actually unparalleled wisdom and those who see God’s foolishness and believe that it really is folly – an utter waste of time. Like the wicked described in Job 21, they say to God…‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ (vv. 14-15)
God’s wisdom is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.
Paul writes that natural man…
doesn’t accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (v. 14).
It’s not simply that he chooses not to know God’s ways and prefers not to understand them. He cannot. He is unable. Such things are spiritually discerned and he does not have the Spirit. His heart is unregenerate. He is blind. It is impossible for him…for him.
But nothing is impossible for God. Those of us who are now in Christ were once as blind as the worldlings that surround us today. There was a time when we did not understand the deep truths of God. But God is in the business of waking the dead, giving them (us) hearts that beat according to his Word, and providing eyes that see that which is invisible and eternal. This was not of ourselves, lest we should boast. It wasn’t because we were so smart, righteous, or born into the right family. It was the free and undeserved favor of a gracious God.
We now have the mind of Christ. We are able to discern the things of God. Flesh and blood do not reveal such things to us, but our heavenly Father does as he discloses himself – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. We receive it as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds through his Word.
So it is with humility that we plead with people who do not know Christ and who are under the influence of the spirit of the age. For where they are, we once were. We know they are in darkness, that they hurt, that they are broken, that they are looking for meaning and purpose, that they are confused, that they don’t know the Way, that they are on the road to the City of Destruction. We were once like them. It took the sovereign touch from the Lord of hosts to deliver us from our plight. And so we beg those without the Spirit to run to the narrow Gate. We intercede on their behalf and ask our Father to give them eyes to see, that they might enter in and walk the Way that leads to Life.
In the previous post, I mentioned a book by George Grant that radically changed how I think, minister, etc. It’s called The Micah Mandate. Once again, I highly recommend it! I would now like to share how God used an audio-taped message (also by George Grant) about an obscure man from the pages of history whom most folks have never heard of, to bless my life and ministry in ways I could not even have imagined as I put the tape into the tape-player of my car. Here’s what I wrote over a decade ago…
Earlier this year God poured his grace upon me as he placed in my hands an audiotaped lecture entitled, “Gerard Groote and the Brethren of the Common Life.” Providentially, this also was by George Grant. I can’t express how moved I was by what I heard in this message. In this lecture Grant basically revealed what a biblical worldview should look like in the “everydayness” of a Christian’s life and ministry. He accomplished this by sharing God’s work and power in and through the life of a man named Gerard Groote. Groote lived in the 14th century, and, as Grant says at the beginning of his address,
“It would be difficult to find a single page of modern history written about him. But it would be even more difficult to find a single page of modern history not affected by him.”
Below are the notes I took from Grant’s message on Groote. I’m sure much won’t translate to this format. But I believe the ideas taught and lived out by Groote and expounded by Grant are more than worth passing on and meditating upon.
Notes on Gerard Groote: Brethren of the Common Life
Based on a lecture by George Grant
1.) The Devotio Moderna , first of all, emphasized holiness for every Christian – not just for a few. Groote wanted common piety for common folk – this was the heart of his message.
Together, these distinctives: Holiness, Humility, Covenantal Community, Antithesis, and Catechizing – comprised what Groote called “Classical Christianity” or what we might call, “Biblical Orthodoxy.”
“Lay foundations that will endure in the hearts of your children. For there are only two things that are eternal in all of the created order: the children under your care, and the Word of God.”
Grant’s Prayer at the end of the message…
O Father; Almighty Father, I confess to you that I am often diverted by pleasant alternatives. I am often tantalized by that which will bring success, effectiveness, suasion in the here and now. I pray that you would give me eyes to look beyond the horizon of just this moment. Enable me to invest for all eternity. Enable us to have a distinctive vision of discipleship – like that of Gerard Groote before us. Enable us to quest for holiness, humility, covenantal community, antithesis, catechizing – classical Christianity – in the hearts of our children – first and foremost.
Lord God, I pray that we will produce not just successful businessmen, or men and women effective in their vocations. We yearn for REFORMATION. Change the world, O God! And use us in the process.
We pray this in Jesus name. Amen and amen.
Here’s a short little introduction I just found on Groote that’s worth reading.
The United Methodist Church, via our denominational standard, addresses the issue of the sufficiency of Scripture. Our 2008 Book of Discipline reminds us that Scripture is “necessary for salvation” and is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.”
I’m assuming that the "practice" referenced is the practice of our faith (the practice of living in this world and preparing for the next… as Christians)… which we believe should be in accordance with Scripture’s direction, rules, laws, commands, examples, teachings, principles, etc. That covers a great deal of ground.
United Methodists believe that what John Wesley called scriptural holiness relates to both our inward walk with Christ but also our outward relationships, life, and witness in this world. Our Doctrinal statements, General Rules and Social Principles cover a lot of ground... an enormous variety of topics such as economics, environment, bioethics, justice, marriage, parenting, politics, poverty… and yes, our precious Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes through him. In all these spheres and more, Scripture is our “true rule and guide for faith and practice.”
Our 2008 Disciplines says this about scriptural holiness…
We insist that personal salvation always involves Christian mission and service to the world. By joining heart and hand, we assert that personal religion, evangelical witness, and Christian social action are reciprocal and mutually reinforcing.
Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.
This is what I mean by the sufficiency of Scripture for every sphere of life. This is what I take our Discipline to mean when it reminds us that Scripture is “necessary for salvation” and is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice.”
So, while the Bible doesn’t, for example, teach me how to change the oil in my car, it still directs and guides me to do even something as mundane (and as important) as that to God’s glory. It teaches me to be a good steward of what God has provided.
The Apostle Paul teaches us…
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
That’s profitable for a bunch of stuff. Am I only using a rhetorical device to suggest that Paul might be referring to Scripture’s sufficiency for every sphere of life? Bishop Mack Stokes addressed this by writing…
Immediately following the “General Rules,” Wesley wrote, ‘These are the General Rules of our society; all which are taught of God to observe, even in his written Word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule, both of our faith and practice.’ (The Bible in the Wesleyan Heritage, p. 21)
That’s all I mean by Scripture being sufficient for every sphere of life.
My understanding of Scripture’s sufficiency is not the same as saying that the Bible is a science textbook, a political constitution, or a manual for how to change my car’s oil. But it does have something (and something important) to say about those areas and far more.
Wayne Grudem, (who is not United Methodist) shares this definition for the sufficiency of Scripture which I believe is helpful. He writes,
The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly. (Systematic Theology, p. 127)
We want to submit to our Lord in every sphere of life and are guided in that pursuit in and through God’s Word. It is sufficient for such a pursuit.
Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what I meant in my two posts on Scripture’s authority.
Grace and Truth,
Who was Jesus Christ? Was he just a good moral teacher? Was he merely a failed political revolutionary? Perhaps he was a lunatic who just didn’t know what he was doing. Or maybe, he was a con-artist looking to trick people into believing he was more than just a human being. Christians proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ was fully human and fully God. Furthermore, Christians claim that Jesus Christ was the Lord and Savior of the entire universe. What someone believes about the person and work of Jesus Christ, orthodox Christians believe, sets the pace for how one will live in this world and directly impacts issues related to eternity. Even pluralists such as John Hick feel the weight of the question about Jesus Christ’s identity. Hick says:
“There is a direct line of logical entailment from the premise that Jesus Christ was God, in the sense that he was God the Son, the Second Person of the divine Trinity, living in a human life, to the conclusion that Christianity, and Christianity alone, was founded by God in person; and from this to the further conclusion that God must want all his human children to be related to him through his religion which he has himself founded for us.”
Indeed, this is precisely what Christians have believed for 2,000 years. Norman Geisler reiterates this point. He says, “Orthodox Christianity claims that Jesus of Nazareth was God in human flesh. This doctrine is absolutely essential to true Christianity. If it is true, then Christianity is unique and authoritative. If not, then Christianity does not differ in kind from other religions.” Though a thorough investigation of this point is outside the scope of this post, Geisler provides a good outline for what the Christian apologetic is on this point. He writes:
“The basic logic of this apologetic for Christianity is: (1) The New Testament is a historically reliable record of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ… (2) Jesus taught that he was God Incarnate… (3) Jesus proved to be God Incarnate by fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, by a miraculous life, and by rising from the grave… Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth is Deity.”
Therefore, what one believes about who Jesus Christ was and what he accomplished through his life, death and resurrection has profound implications for one’s worldview. One may believe Jesus was not God Incarnate, not the Savior of the world, did not rise from the dead on the third day, and not Lord of all. However, in believing that, one holds contradictory beliefs from what orthodox Christians embrace. Both beliefs may be false, but only one can be true.
Some Concluding Thoughts…
It has been the goal of this series of posts to show the necessary relationship between truth and the Christian worldview. Because Christianity claims to be a revealed religion, it is actually a sign of humility and obedience for believers to embrace, proclaim, and defend their Christian faith. To avoid or reject this responsibility is the real sign of arrogance because it reveals that one presumes to know better than God. John Hick properly understood the implications of confessing that Christianity alone was and is the fullest disclosure of God's self-revelation. What other response could possibly be more appropriate than to confess with one’s mouth and believe in one’s heart that Christianity is true, and not merely preferable? Christians believe that if Christianity is not true, then it is merely one religious preference among many. However, Christians have historically proclaimed, from the beginning, that they are the humble stewards of the one, true, and living God’s self-disclosure.
Soli Deo Gloria,
In the last post we took an introductory look at the worldview elements of theology, metaphysics, and epistemology. This time we’ll learn a little about ethics and anthropology and why they are essential aspects of one’s total world and life view.
Christians readily confess that they do not have a monopoly on ethical living. Everyday there are believers and unbelievers living moral lives. However, Ron Nash shows that in relationship to worldview thinking, the question of how one justifies his or her ethical beliefs and conduct is quite another question. He says:
“ethics as a worldview factor is more concerned with the question of why that action is wrong. Are there moral laws that govern human conduct? What are they? Are these moral laws the same for all human beings? Is morality totally subjective…, or is there an objective dimension to moral laws that means their truth is independent of our preferences and desires?”
The Christian worldview claims that why one “ought” to behave in a certain way and what conduct is permissible or impermissible is grounded in the character of God. Christians claim that it is God’s good, righteous and holy character upon which the Christian ethic is grounded. Furthermore, Christians assert that God has revealed laws, rules and principles by which Christians are to live. There is no dispute, therefore, that unbelievers live ethical lives. The Christian responds, however, that only belief in the Christian God can truly justify ethical behavior. The unbeliever either borrows from the Christian worldview or lives by personal preference. Christians further maintain that because of God’s general revelation to all humanity, there is no reason to believe that the ethical systems of other religions should be totally different from Christianity’s. Arthur Holmes has said that “all truth is God’s truth wherever it be found.” However, Holmes does carefully follow up that statement by reminding his reader that, “We do not affirm that everything men take to be true is God’s truth.” This statement is important to understand. Though all truth is God’s truth, not every credal statement or worldview ethic is a representation of that truth. Christianity claims to properly have the fullest revelation of God’s self-disclosure.
The second area we want to look at is anthropology. Nash suggests that every worldview should include a “number of important beliefs about human beings. Examples include the following: Are human beings free… Are human beings only bodies or material beings? …what is the human soul or mind, and how is it related to the body? Does physical death end the existence of the human person?” Quoting William J. Abraham, Nash considers what the Christian worldview believes about human beings. Abraham states:
“Human beings are made in the image of God, and their fate depends on their relationship with God. They are free to respond to or reject God and they will be judged in accordance with how they respond to him. This judgment begins now but finally takes place beyond death in a life to come. Christians furthermore offer a diagnoses of what is wrong with the world. Fundamentally, they say our problems are spiritual: we need to be made anew by God. Human beings have misused their freedom; they are in a state of rebellion against God; they are sinners. These conclusions lead to a set of solutions to this ill. As one might expect, the fundamental solution is again spiritual… [I]n Jesus of Nazareth God has intervened to save and remake mankind. Each individual needs to respond to this and to become part of Christ’s body, the church, where they are to grow in grace and become more like Christ. This in turn generates a certain vision of the future. In the coming of Jesus, God has inaugurated his kingdom, but it will be consummated at some unspecified time in the future when Christ returns.”
Christianity purports to know where human beings came from, why human beings are here, and what will happen to human beings after death. The questions of origin, purpose and destiny are answered by Christians by pointing once again to the God who has revealed himself. For a worldview to even be taken seriously, it must deal adequately with the human condition. Christianity claims to offer the most realistic analysis of the fallenness of the human condition, and only Christianity knows how this fallen condition has been solved.
Next time we’ll take a look at the person and work of Jesus Christ and conclude this series.