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.
This is one of the many great series by T.M. Moore at The Fellowship of Ailbe. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the various newsletters that are offered from this Kingdom-minded ministry. Moore is a wise and godly man who walks closely with the Lord and has much to offer the church today.
This series, on how Christians ought to understand and engage culture, is a helpful tool for all who want to represent Christ well and reach the world for his sake. These studies work well as either your own personal devotional resource or as study material for your small group… or both.
1.) Repudiate (Engaging Culture, Part 1)
2.) Appropriate (Engaging Culture, Part 2)
3.) Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part3)
4.) Transform (Engaging Culture, Part 4)
5.) Innovate (Engaging the Culture, Part 5)
6.) Three “Legs” (Engaging the Culture, Part 6)
7.) Three “Braces” (Engaging the Culture, Part 7)
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
While I'm sharing excerpts from Packer, I thought I should also share this snippet from one of Packer's books that I have read a number of times, A Quest for Godliness. I've been listening to an audio course of Packer's lectures (from 1988) on the Puritans, and it inspired me to share this little list from Packer on why the church really does need to sit at the feet of the Puritans and learn from them. Here's a little from his list...
1.) There are lessons for us in the integration of their daily lives. As their Christianity was all-embracing, so their living was all of a piece. There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God.
2.) There are lessons for us in the quality of their spiritual experience. In the Puritans’ communion with God, as Jesus Christ was central, so Holy Scripture was supreme.
3.) There are lessons for us in their passion for effective action. They had no time for idleness of the lazy or passive person who leaves it to others to change the world.
4.) There are lessons for us in their program for family stability. It is hardly too much to say that the Puritans created the Christian family in the English-speaking world.
5.) There are lessons to be learned from their sense of human worth. Through believing in a great God, they gained a vivid awareness of the greatness of moral issues, of eternity, and of the human soul.
6.) There are lessons to be learned from the Puritans’ ideal of church renewal. The essence of this kind of renewal (what they called “reformation”) was enrichment of understanding of God’s truth, arousal of affections Godward, increase of ardour in one’s devotions, and more love, joy, and firmness of Christian purpose in one’s calling and personal life.
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,