The following is by Dr. Terry Coomer. God has given Brother Coomer some special wisdom about the building a godly Christian life and family. He is the Pastor of Elwood Bible Baptist Church and the Director of For the Love of the Family Ministries. He holds Family Conferences in local churches. He may be contacted at For Love of the Family Ministries.
This is one part of a multiple part message.
REARING SPIRITUAL CHILDREN
TRAINING UP IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO
By Terry Coomer
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26
The Bible has a lot to say about rearing children. This lesson or message undoubtedly will be different from the normal thinking or perhaps even what you have ever heard before. It is not my purpose to criticize anyone. God knows my heart. Just as the Bible gives principles for other areas of life, it gives principles in this area as well. I know there is a lot of confusion in this area. Parents are hurting. Children are hurting. We certainly are not seeing children grow up and serve the Lord today. Why?
I have children of my own. All I can tell you is what the Bible says. I know the Bible works. If it does not work, the problem is not with the Bible; the problem is with me.
I know that you sitting out there can say, "Well, I know a preacher's child that turned out not serving the Lord." I can tell you about them too, many of them who are not serving or living for God.
One of the biggest problems with children today is inconsistent pattern in parents. I remember when my son played little league baseball. The coach scheduled a practice on a Wednesday night. I didn’t hesitate for one second and he didn’t go to that practice and miss church. We don't need to start a pattern of unfaithfulness with our children, because they are watching to see if Dad and Mom are who they say they are.
Hebrews 10:25 -- "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
I'm not trying to put anyone on a guilt trip, but when you talk to people you get this response. "We did all we could do. We took them to church, had family devotions, etc." But if you really get to digging in their lives, you find real spiritual inconsistencies. It is that way every time. The Bible gives us commands. This is very important. God's commands are directed to our will. Whenever God gives us a command, He makes us responsible. God knows we can do that. God does not make us responsible for things we cannot do.
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 is a book about a father instructing his son. Much of the teaching of Proverbs is by contrast. If you really want to know about the subject of child rearing read the book of Proverbs.
Notice here in the first half of this verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go." This word “train” has to do with spiritual instruction. So many parents are concerned about the physical and social well being of their child that they are neglecting his spiritual well-being. Most parents have the idea if they bring their children to church, send them to a Christian school, and pray at meals, they will turn out okay.
Notice it says, "Train". This is like an athlete in training. Keep working at it all the time and do not let up. As parents, you need to set your mind to it. The first part of this verse deals with a command. Train up a child in the way he should go. Question? Who is the command addressed to? Parents? More specifically, fathers! Just for the sake of reinforcing this, look at Ephesians 6:4 -- “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” How does a father provoke his children to wrath? By not bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The word nurture means training with structure. In the home, God has given an order. The order for the home is Christ, husband, wife, and children. This order is given for that basis. When God's order is violated, you have a problem. In fact I see this as being one of the biggest spiritual problems we have today.
Notice that the first part of Proverbs 22:6 is a command. This is commanded; it makes us as parents responsible.
The second part of the verse is “and when he is old.” My understanding of the Hebrew meaning for this phrase is when the child leaves the house, not when he is seventy-five. It means, mom and dad, when the child leaves the home he will not depart from the training you have given him. Remember that the word training here is spiritual training. Remember this is a book of contrasts. Here is the principle. If he is trained right, he will not depart from it. The Bible says do it right, train him up right, and the promise of God is he will not depart from living for God.
My question: Is God a liar? No. Then what is the problem? I mean, why are we having an epidemic of children who grow up in Christian homes and do not serve God?
The question is can we rear spiritual children? Let me give you the classic answer that all preachers and I hear. "Well, Pastor, we did all we could do, but they still went the other way." If you start to believe that now, you're going to have some spiritual misfits and misery on your hands. Parents have had the mind-set of thinking, “Well, we'll do the best that we can,” but they don't really put effort into rearing their children.
Therefore, we have identified the source. The training is wrong. What is the correct training? I feel sorry for many parents. Many pastors do not know what it means to rear children for God. Consequently, it is like the blind leading the blind. Alternatively, maybe you were saved as an adult. The answers are found in the Bible.
I know someone is going to say, "I know where you are headed. You are going to tell us to attend services, read the Bible, pray, have family devotions, and so on. We have done all those things and look what we have." Well, all those things are important, but they can be done mechanically; in essence, not with the right heart, not with a real heart for God.
You cannot teach a child to have a spiritual relationship if you do not have a spiritual relationship yourself.
There is an interesting word in Proverbs 1:1-8. This word is repeated in verses 2, 3,7 and 8. The word is instruction. Notice in Proverbs 1:4 -- “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” This instruction deals with the training of Proverbs 22:6. What kind of training are we talking about? Spiritual training. Who is responsible? Dad. If the training is wrong, the child will depart.
Someone has said, "When a parent is involved in sin, it will always show up in the children." It always does. Some Bible examples are David, Solomon, and Eli. There are many others.
We have identified the problem, which is the training. Really, identifying the problem is easy. The difficult part is correction of the problem. The problem is the training and who does it. How many times is mom left with the spiritual training of the children? In most churches in our country, the mother is left with the spiritual training of the children. The question in the first message was where are the fathers? Do you know what the key verse is in this book? Listen carefully:
Proverbs 23:26 -- “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”
Dad, you have to get the child's heart! And let thine eyes observe my ways. Do you know what the real problem is spiritually? The children are observing the ways of their dads. We have dads all across this country that love their children, but they neglect their children's spiritual training. Your children look to you. When they see spiritual things are not important to you, it all falls in place. You cannot fool your own children. They know if you are real or not. They know what takes first place in your life. They know if you have a real heart for God. Unfortunately, the devil knows as well and the devil knows how to use it.
We have identified the problems:
The wrong kind of training and the way the training is done.
1. Who is doing the training?
2. The example in the training.
The remedy for wrong training is Dad having a real spiritual relationship with the Lord.
1. Dad has to commit himself to rearing spiritual children and has to get the child's heart. You must pray for this. Dad has to have a real spiritual relationship with the Lord.
2. Dad has to commit himself to rearing spiritual children and has to get the child's heart. You must pray for this.
This lesson is designed to identify, correct, and help parents to train their children to have a relationship with God and live for Him. Do not listen to excuses from those who have failed in the rearing of their children spiritually. The devil knows that misery loves company.
Can we rear spiritual children? Absolutely. Why can we rear spiritual children? Because God says so.
You must work at rearing a godly family. I don't have all the answers to raising children, but I know a man who does, and His name is Jesus the Son of God.
This article is by Dr. Terry Coomer. God has given Brother Coomer some special wisdom about the building a godly Christian life and family. He is the Pastor of Elwood Bible Baptist Church and the Director of For the Love of the Family Ministries. He holds Family Conferences in local churches. He may be contacted at For Love of the Family Ministries, 765-552-1973.
This is one part of a multiple part message. See Coomer’s web site for other parts --
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