- 2016Apr 29
This past weekend, I had the joy of teaching a parenting seminar at our church entitled Engaging the Hearts of Our Kids. One of the resources that I recommended to those in attendance is Everyday Talk by John Younts. There are many strengths to this book, which is subtitled "Talking Freely and Naturally about God with your Children," but one in particular is the way the author reminds us that, as parents, we must speak in such a way that expects obedience.
One helpful illustration he provides is of a mother asking her son, Joshua, to take out the garbage. Younts correctly reminds us that when we give instructions to our children, God expects them to obey. This makes their obedience, or lack of it, of spiritual significance. It also means that parents must speak in the form of directives, not suggestions. Younts writes:
“Your ultimate goal is not to get the garbage out of the house for your own convenience. Your goal is to have your child know God and happily serve Him. This is why bargaining, cajoling, pleading and similar ploys are so damaging Remember, the basic issue in obedience is willing submission. Unwilling, grudging compliance is not godly obedience. Cooperation based on negotiation and mutual advantage is also not obedience. Biblical obedience is willing submission to authority.”
Consider the following inadequate instructions, and the reason they fall short of biblical communication.
- “Joshua, if you want to be helpful, you could take out the garbage sometime when you have some free time.” While this request may sound pleasant and considerate, it contains some serious problems. Children need to be instructed (see Proverbs 1:8-9; Eph.6:1-3). Asking Joshua if he wants to be helpful removes this request from the realm of instruction. What he wants is not the issue.
- “Josh, take out the garbage right now!!” A sharp command will stir up anger and not promote understanding or obedience, just a grudging compliance.
- “Joshua, I asked you yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Would you please find time to take out the garbage!” This request begs the question of who is responsible. The parent is the one to blame here because she has not seen to it that that she was obeyed the first time. Note again that the parent, not Joshua, is the one who should decide Joshua’s time priorities.
- “Joshua, please think of things to do to help out, like maybe take out the garbage. Okay?” This is a formula for producing a whining spirit in your children. This parent is whining to her child. Joshua will likely follow the example and whine himself. This non-directive request allows the child to ignore the garbage without technically disobeying. Giving Joshua clear, precise instructions is the best way to help him think of things to do to help.
- “Mommy is sooo tired of taking out the garbage all the time. Josh, wouldn’t you like to help me?” Again, this is Mommy’s problem. This form of manipulation is trying to get Joshua to have sympathy for Mom and take out the garbage for her so she won’t be tired. When Joshua doesn’t take out the garbage, three bad things happen. The garbage piles up. Joshua ignores Mom without consequences. Joshua’s mother feels hurt because she thinks Joshua doesn’t care that she is tired.
- “Joshua, take out the garbage right now, or I will take away your TV privileges for three days!” This really amounts to a manipulative threat. Joshua is pretty sure that he won’t lose TV for three hours, let alone three days. This command also illustrates that the parent does not expect her command to be obeyed. If obedience were expected, then “Take out the garbage now,” would be sufficient.
- “When I was your age, I always had to take out the garbage, whether I wanted to or not. Now take out the garbage.” Adding extra issues from your childhood will not motivate your child to obey more quickly. This is another example of a parent who is frustrated with a lack of quick, consistent, pleasant obedience from her child.
- “Joshua, I am not going to ask you again. Take out the garbage!” Both the parent and Joshua know that she will ask again.
- “Joshua, if you do not take out the garbage this instant, you are going to get the biggest spanking of your life—when your father gets home.” This is yet another example of a frustrated mom who knows that her child is not obeying. The extra threat doesn’t really address the main issue of a child who obeys only when he really has to and certainly not at the first request. Joshua knows he probably won’t get the spanking.
None of these directives to Joshua fit the biblical concept of obedience. Yes, some of the instructions were direct, but many were not. Each reflects a parent who does not really expect to be obeyed. All of these attempts at securing obedience from Joshua fall into the category of manipulation and bargaining. You want the garbage taken out. Joshua does not want to take it out. You cajole, order, plead, bargain, in short, do anything you can to get Joshua to take the garbage out. After a while you may even give up and take the garbage out yourself, just to end the unpleasantness and frustration. God does not want your children to obey you simply because you are bigger than they are and can physically control them. Obedience is more than giving in to coaxing or threats. God wants your children to obey you because it pleases Him and blesses them. How can you tell the difference? Here is the request from a parent who expects Joshua to take out the garbage. 'Joshua, take the garbage out now, please.' 'Sure, Mom, no problem.'
Here, Joshua’s mom expects to be obeyed. She doesn’t ask Joshua a question, she gives him clear, pleasant direction. She doesn’t whine or plead or bargain or threaten. She speaks directly but pleasantly. Joshua knows exactly what she wants him to do and when. Joshua has been trained to understand that obeying Mom is doing exactly what he is told, right away, with a good attitude. Joshua’s response is not one that came naturally to him. He is not just a “good kid.” He had to be taught. His parents trained him to respond this way. When he was younger, Josh’s parents taught him that he must obey his parents because the Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). They taught him that obeying his parents was obeying God. Joshua was taught that when he is given a command by his parents, the response that pleases God is a pleasant affirmative."
There are so many good books on parenting available today, but Everyday Talk is one of the best. I highly recommend it.
Scripture to reflect upon: Proverbs 16:20-24
Listen to "Engaging the Hearts of Our Kids" (Part 1 and 2) here.
- 2016Apr 28
First Peter 2:24 says of Jesus, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” This is one of at least five references or allusions the apostle makes in verses 2:22-25 to Isaiah 53, the classic Old Testament chapter predicting the suffering of the Savior. In that chapter, the emphasis of God’s prophet is on the substitutionary atonement of the coming Messiah for sin. Likewise, Peter’s use of Isaiah’s phrase “by whose stripes you were healed” is consistent. The context surrounding 1 Peter 2:24 is the healing for sin that is provided for by the work of the Sin-bearing Savior.
However, some mistakenly interpret this to refer to a promise for physical healing. Concerning the erroneous teaching that the blood of Christ guarantees the healing of illness, Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest writes the following in his Word Studies:
The Greek word translated “stripes” refers to a bloody wale trickling with blood that arises under a blow. The word is singular, not plural. Peter remembered the body of our Lord after the scourging, the flesh so dreadfully mangled that the disfigured form appeared in his eyes as one single bruise.
Thus we have the portrait of the suffering Servant of Jehovah, His blessed face so pummeled by the hard fists of the mob that it did not look like a human face anymore, His back lacerated by the Roman scourge so that it was one mass of open, raw, quivering flesh trickling with blood, His heart torn with anguish because of the bitter, caustic, malevolent words hurled at Him. On that bleeding, lacerated back was laid the Cross. Unsaved reader, this was all for you, just as if you were the only lost person in the universe. The Lord Jesus died for you, in your stead, took your place on the Cross, paid your penalty, so that God could offer a salvation from sin based upon a justice satisfied. Will you not right now appropriate the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, trust Him to save you? And saint, does not all this make you love the Lord Jesus more, soften and make more tender your heart? Does not all this make you say, “I can see the blood drops, red ‘neath His thorny crown, from the cruel nail wounds, now they are falling down; Lord, when I would wander from thy love away, let me see those blood drops shed for me that day?” the blood of Christ heals our sin in that He by one offering put away sin forever. There is no room here for the healing of illness through the blood of Jesus. The Cross was a purely judicial matter. One goes to a hospital when one is ill, and to a law court to take care of legal matters. In the great law court of the universe, the Judge offers mercy on the basis of justice satisfied at the Cross. The matter of bodily illness is not mentioned in the context. Furthermore, the Greek word used here is not confined in its meaning to physical healing. In Luke 4:18 it refers to the alleviation of heartaches, and in Hebrews 12:13, to the rectifying of one’s conduct. In Matthew 13:15, it means, “to bring about (one’s) salvation.” This passage cannot therefore be made to teach the erroneous doctrine that healing of the body is to be found in the atonement as salvation from sin is found at the Cross. The context in which the word is found clearly decides the meaning of the word here, not that of the healing of the body, but that of the salvation of the soul.
Does God heal our physical diseases? Yes, when He chooses to do so, and sometimes miraculously. Other times; however, He employs illness for greater purposes (E.g. Paul's thorn in the flesh). But is physical healing guaranteed by Christ’s atonement? No, that is never taught in the Scriptures. Instead, what is taught is that the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross was sufficient payment for our sins---spiritual healing which meets a need that is far more serious than relief from physical illness. Our Great Savior endured the wrath of God against sin in His body on the cross. Our hope for complete physical healing is not found in the Cross, but in the future bodily resurrection that awaits those who believe the gospel.
- 2016Apr 27
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the well from which the fountain of new life springs. Those who are united to Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection possess this new living water in their innermost being (Jn 7:38). This is the reason believers have an internal longing, a craving, a powerful, and unquenchable desire to know God and pursue God.
If, however, you are not united to Christ in His resurrection then you do not possess this supernatural life within, but instead yours is a powerless substitute, a counterfeit “life,” which is really just glorified death. This is the reason you do not possess an internal drive for God, but must instead be nudged, dragged, or constantly motivated by others who want you to be follow Christ more than you want Him for yourself.
Such is the frustrated life of the man, or woman, who is trying so hard to live like a Christian without being a Christian. Such is the powerlessness of the one who is trying to live for Christ without possessing new life in Christ, who is “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim 3:5).
According to a report published in 2009, 77% of Americans believe Jesus rose from the dead. And yet the moral state of our nation and the church fails to coincide with this so-called belief. Instead, this survey result illustrates a frightening reality. People may believe the historical facts of the gospel without being saved by the gospel. A person may make a profession of faith in Christ, but in reality not possess Christ. A person may be "spiritual" without being spiritually alive.
Therefore, we need to think about what it really means to be saved—to be alive in Christ—which is a fruit of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In order to do so, let's think about four implications of the resurrection.
- New life is only found in Jesus Christ. Like the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well (Jn 4), we must each individually meet Jesus there—at the well of living water—at the fountain of spiritual life. In short, we must be born again, which is only possible through the resurrection of Christ. Study 1 Peter 1:3-5.
- This new life is birthed by the Holy Spirit through the gospel. Just as no person conceives himself, or herself, so he or she must be born from above—by God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit through the instrument of gospel preaching (Rom 10:17; James 1:18). But how does the Holy Spirit do this supernatural work within a person? Study John 3:1-21.
- Those who are born again are supernaturally empowered within to live in newness of life. The result of the Holy Spirit causing a sinner to be born again includes the implantation of Himself as the power for living the Christian life. This is not a power imposed from outside, but a never-ending supply of living water within the heart and soul. This internal power replaces the sinner’s outward pressures to conform to others and need to be motivated by others ultimately. Study Ephesians 2:8-10; 4:20-24. Can you say with the apostle, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20)?
- The final consummation of this newness of life is eternal life. Eternal life in Jesus Christ is not merely the gift that God grants to sinners after a lifetime of trying their hardest to please Him but falling short. It is the natural outcome of the sanctifying power of the new life planted within at the moment of true conversion. Study Romans 6:20-23.
Jesus Christ is risen! Are you risen? I do not ask if you have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because a profession of faith is not the most critical issue. But I will ask this: Do you possess Jesus Christ? And does He possess you? Is your version of “the Christian life” empowered from within, supernaturally? Or is your spirituality motivated externally by the rigorous disciplines of religion? Are you merely driven by personal performance, or pressure from others? Do you possess new life? Is there an unquenchable desire within you—separate from anyone else—to know God, to love God, to pursue God? Have you experienced a new beginning, a new birth, the inner transformation that supernaturally changes your “I wants” and your “I wills”?
Jesus Christ rose from the grave to give you new life. Do you possess this new life? If so, are you walking in it? If not, trust Him today. He will make all things new.
[Originally published at Counseling One Another.]