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biblical teaching

Educating our children to know God

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Some of us have grown up in homes with both parents believers; some of us have grown up with only one parent being a believer; some of us have grown up with one or both parents only being religious or culturally “Christian”; some of us have grown up with parents who were not believers, but became believers later in your life; some have grown up with neither parent being believers. It may not seem fair in certain ways, but, praise God, He is not limited by our circumstances, but by His wisdom and is not partial in how He saves any of us by grace through faith, and brings glory to His holy Name!

You must be born-again from Above by the Holy Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God! So Yeshua/Jesus told Nicodemus, a good and righteous Jewish man who feared God and did righteousness. He was part of the chosen people, but, nonetheless, he needed to be born-again spiritually. Saul, the Apostle Paul, grew up strong in his Jewish religion, and says that he was blameless under the Law, but he needed to be born-again in order to know the truth and character of the God that he believed in and served. Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile who respected and blessed the Jewish people, needed to be born again in order to be saved and enter the Kingdom of God. (Jn 3:1-21)

What is the point here? We are all born in sin as human beings, as children of Adam and Eve. No one knows God personally when he or she is born, no matter who the father and mother may be. We may be brought up with the knowledge of YHVH God, the Creator of the Universe, within our families or cultures, but we can not know Him – the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit – until and unless we repent and believe the truth of the gospel for ourselves: We are sinners for whom Messiah Yeshua/Jesus suffered and died on the cross, was buried, and rose again from the dead. When we truly believe that, God justifies us, and dwells within that born-again person. We become a new creation, and are forgiven of all our sins. God becomes our Father, not only as a created person, but in a personal way through redemption and adoption into His family with others who are born-again believers. (Rom 8:12-17

The goal of every Christian/Messianic father and mother should be that each of our children would come as early as possible to a saving knowledge of the one true living God and Savior, and to love Him above all, and so inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God, according to YHVH God’s covenant promises. We can not guarantee that – they are born-again by the will of God (Jn 1:10-13) — but that must be our heart’s desire, and also our intent in how we teach them, discipline each of them, demonstrate to them that our own faith in Him is real and genuine. YHVH tells us that this is why He chose Abraham. (Gen 18:17-19Dt 6:4-7) If Yeshua/Jesus is our Life, then we will speak of Him and His teachings at all times of day and under every kind of circumstance, to help our children know that He is near, and is interested in every aspect of life, and of our own lives. As parents, we want to love our children and help them to grow and mature physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We want them to learn to think for themselves, and to be able to discern between what is good, and what is not. There is much grace, but it is much more effective when we do our part with faith. God is good, and He is love.

As parents we have the responsibility from God to train up our children in his way, believing that when they grow old, they will not depart from it. (Prov 22:615) This could be interpreted, according to the Hebrew, as positive or negative advice; positively, if we recognize that each child is a unique person, then we will relate to them, advise them, and discipline them accordingly in love, wanting each one to become a mature adult who walks in the way of the Lord. (Mt 11:28-30) Negatively, if we think that children do not need any parental guidance, but just let them each and all do whatever they want in his/her own way, then we are hating them, and they will most likely not become teachable, nor receive rebuke and correction as they grow up from others; and they will not know how to be a responsible citizen, or employee, or a brother or sister or friend, or father or mother if they have children. In other words, they will probably not become mature, or pleasant to be around, but always have an “attitude” problem. (2Tim 3:16-17) They learn from us, not only from our verbal instructions or Bible readings with them, but from our own conduct and behavior and attitude. 

Children, you also each have a responsibility, and are accountable to God for it. (2Tim 3:1-5Lev 20:9Prov 20:20) The first commandment with a promise is for every Jewish or Christian person (since we all began as a male or a female baby and child): Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you, in the land/Earth which YHVH God is giving you. (Ex 20:12Dt 5:16Eph 6:1-3) God’s promise is everlasting life in the new heavens and new Earth (there is no longer life than that!) if we honor Him as our Father, who has given us this commandment. You will learn to obey God by learning to obey your parents. When you are older, you do not need to “obey” them in everything, but you must still respect/honor them. It is important that you do learn to make your own choices and decisions as you mature…and to take responsibility for them; and as maturing believers and disciples, to make our decisions in a manner that would please and honor our Lord and our God, which includes honoring our father and mother. As parents, we also need to learn when and how to let our maturing children make their own choices and decisions, having given them good guidance and advice, and to trust the Lord to work all things together for good if we love Him and them.

Parents, God’s judgment begins in His own household – His chosen people Israel, and those who believe in Jesus. (2Cor 10:4-61Pt 4:17-18) This is an example for us: we must discipline our own children, if we love them (and also ourselves!) first before we judge and expect other families to get their own children in order, or for unbelievers to do so. Our Father in Heaven wisely instructs us to spank our children when necessary, but in a manner that is not abusive. The “world” today, even in Israel, says that it is a crime to spank your own children! Whose counsel and wisdom will we heed? (Prov 13:24Eph 6:4)  Speaking with them about their attitude or misbehavior may not always be enough, especially for particularly willful and stubborn children. Our motive should always be to instruct our children in the moral nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph 6:4) If we do not know how to rule our own house, how can we take care of the church of God? (1Tim 3:1-12Tit 1:5-6) When God chastens those whom He loves as His children, it is so that we may partake of His holiness. (Heb 12:5-11) It may not seem good at the moment, but for those who accept it, it produces good fruit of righteousness. If we refuse our parents’ chastisements, it is as if to say that we are not their children, and we do not honor them as our mother or father, not to mention what it means if we do not receive God’s disciplinary measures as a Father to His children. 

Like father or mother, like son or daughter. God our Father wants us to be like Him: Holy, in all that that means. Jesus the Son is exactly like God the Father — His Father: They are one. We, of course, know of godly parents whose children are not, or some of their children are and some not. We also know of parents who are not believers or otherwise good examples, but who have children who do become believers and are also wonderful people. This is why our hope and trust must be in God, but we have the responsibility to do our part, for God wants godly children. Jesus will judge each person according to our works. (Ezek 18:1-322Cor 5:9-11) The Word of God is true, and His ways are perfect. The Holy Spirit will help us as we pray and trust in the Lord.

Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.

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