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Christian Families

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2008-06-15am Ephesians 6:1-4 Christian Families

          Consider these Old Testament passages:

Exodus 20:12 (NIV) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 21:15 “Anyone who attacks (or kills) his father or his mother must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:9 “ ‘If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Proverbs 1:8  Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 6:20  My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 30:17  “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.

Malachi 1:6  “A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

Matthew 15:4 “For God said, ‘Honour your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’”

Matthew 19:19 “honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’”

Mark 7:10 “For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’

Mark 10:19 “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.’”

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

          Did you realise that the scriptures spoke so much about the relationship between parents and children?

          And in our passage this morning, we’re commanded to obey our parents in the Lord, for this is right.

          God lays it out so simply.  Obedience and honour are built into the parent-child relationship.  This is the way that God ordained it.  God expects children to be obedient and honouring.  For, just as the relationship between husbands and wives, God is telling us that when we obey our parents and honour them, we’re obeying and honouring God.

          Jesus Christ modeled perfect obedience for us.  Jesus said, several times, I have come to do my Father’s will.  I and the Father are one.  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  I speak what my Father has told me to speak. 

          Are we Christ-like children?  Are we obeying and honouring our parents? 

          Do you desire to live for God?  Do you desire to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?  How faithful are you on the little things?  How obedient to your parents are you?  How well are you following their instruction, provided their instruction was godly and Biblical in the first place?

          We live in an individualistic society.  Everyone is focused on themselves.  Even in the church, so much emphasis is placed on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  What about a family’s relationship with Christ?  What about the church’s relationship with Christ?  He is our head, we, the church are the body, not me as an individual is the body of Christ.

          For the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the interconnectedness that we share as married people.  But that interconnectedness that interdependence is first learned in the parent-child relationship.

          Do you honour your parents?

          Parents are worthy of honour because, they produced us.  We’re dependent upon them.  God, through our parents, gave life to us.  That is an amazing gift. 

          Second, God entrusted us to their care.  God gave them the means the tools, the knowledge of Him to pass onto us.  They invested themselves into us.  We’re more than just a combination of genes; we’re products of and receivers of their love.

          Third, God takes honour very seriously.  Because God gave life to our parents, all the way back through the ages through Adam and Eve, we are fully dependent on God.  And so, we ought to respect our parents, and honour them with our lives.  We are not autonomous, we are a reflection, not just physically, but also behaviourally, of our parents.  How we live our lives will either bring honour to them or dishonour to them.

          Fourth, and most importantly, how we behave as children, reflects our attitude, our honouring of our God and Father, who through Christ, has given us new life.  How we behave as children reflects upon God.  Does God receive glory and honour from us in how we relate to our parents, how we relate to our children?

          That’s what our passage tells us, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  Honour comes through, is displayed in obedience.  And, obedience is what the Lord requires.  The Lord says, for this is right.  He made us to be obedient.  If we are disobedient, we not only have to answer to our parents, we have to answer to God.

          God created us to live in obedience to our parents.  They have more life experience.  They’ve learned from God’s Word for a lot longer.  They have more wisdom.  We would do well to obey them.

          Children who disobey bring destruction upon their parents, upon their town, upon their country.  God ordained obedience, respect.

          But God knows that our natural, sinful inclination is to hate God and our neighbour, to be disobedient to God and disobedient to our parents.

          So he reminds us of his requirements, of the relationship that he created.  Parents are subject to God, children are subject to their parents.

          Children have the responsibility to be obedient to their parents in the Lord. 

          But specifically, how are children obedient?  They maintain their parent’s faith.  They are obedient to God’s Word.  They are obedient to God.  They are obedient to the Godly teaching they received in the home, and in the church.

          But this admonition to obedience is directly tied to the comand God gives Fathers in verse 4.  Fathers, do not lead your children into hating God, but rather, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  As Fathers, how’re we doing?  Are we imparting the faith, the knowledge of God to our children?

          Not so long ago, The Banner the denominational monthly magazine had an article about young people and their relationship to the church.  The article, if I read it correctly, lamented that so many youth are leaving the denomination, some of them are leaving the faith altogether.  Why?

          Is it the church’s fault?  Is it the child’s fault?  Is the parent’s fault?  Is it part and parcel of our North American society?

          At the beginning of the year, the White Horse Inn, a Christian Talk Radio Station broadcasting out of California, began a series which looked at Christianity in North America.  One broadcast, called Shallow Waters specifically looked at the lack of depth in Christian teaching and understanding.

          Christianity, over the last few years, but really for the last century or more, has shifted away from a knowledge based faith to an experiential faith.  Emphasis is on experience, having encounters with God, meaningful worship, interacting with God on an emotional as well as intellectual level.

          Certainly, all of that is an aspect of Christian living.  But what some people, including the broadcasters of the White Horse Inn, are concerned about is that the pursuit of the experience has come at the expense of, instead of the pursuit of knowledge.

          Which, if you were asked to give an evaluation, is most important?  Knowledge of God or experience of God?

          Well, let’s take the experience of God first.  How do you know an experience is from God?  You can check with scripture and see if similar experiences are recorded there, but then again, that is no guarantee, as the false prophets were able to do and experience all kinds of things that were not actually from God at all.

          Then, we have to ask ourselves, what happens when an experience is over?  Well, the memory of it fades.  Doubts about the experience come in, and it begins to lose its concreteness.  Eventually, you begin to search for the next spiritual experience.  You go to church hoping it will give you the same experience; you hope that you won’t be sitting next to that rare person who can’t hold a tune in a bucket.  And if the experience doesn’t meet your expectations, you depart feeling as though something is lacking. 

          Did you also notice who gets the emphasis in an experience driven Christianity?  The self.  I need to feel this, I need to have this experience, I didn’t get fed.  I wasn’t lifted up. 

          Now, let’s contrast the experience emphasis with a knowledge emphasis.   Knowledge, like experiences can be verified.  You can search the scriptures and find out if what you believe about God is in concert with what is written there.  You can have confidence in your knowledge.  Even after a few days, months even years, your knowledge remains.  You can share that knowledge with others, you can pass it down.  You can’t share experiences with others.  You can’t pass them down.

          Do you know that our society has completely embraced this mentality?  We live in an experience economy.  One Christian speaker says that this experience economy will result in people eventually paying to do certain types of work, for the experience of it.  A lawyer, for example, might pay to stay in a luxurious location, but included in that would be the experience of working on an assembly line, or working on a farm. 

          But the Biblical emphasis, not only in our passage, but elsewhere also encourages us to remain knowledge focussed.  Peter tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).  Peter instructs us to pass on the knowledge we have, not the experiences we have.

          Fathers, instruct and train your children in the Lord.  Teach them the truth about Christ and salvation.

          Teach them this: “There is a God, contrary to what the atheists say.  You’re disobedience is worse than you think, but it is also not as bad as you think.  Your disobedience to me is nothing compared to the righteousness that God requires of you.  God demands perfection.  And any sin, any wrongdoing shows that we are less than perfect.  Sin brings death, eternal death.  But there is a way to life, eternal life.  Believe that Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, who really became human, lived on earth, who is perfect, suffered and died on a cross and in so doing, took upon himself all of God’s wrath.  In faith, accept Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf.  In faith, through faith, receive Christ’s righteousness.  Then, at the end of the age, when Christ returns, and all people face judgement, we’ll stand not on our own righteousness, which is like filthy rags, but rather on Christ’s righteousness. 

          Children, is that what you’ve received from your parents?  Is that the knowledge you have of God?  Do you know that your eternal destination depends upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

          That’s the instruction of the Lord, which our parents and the church are supposed to give you.

          Parents, how are you doing?  Are you teaching your children to know Jesus?  Have you taught them the truth about sin, death, hell, heaven, everlasting life?  Are you passing on the knowledge of God?  Are you encouraging your children to read the scriptures?  Do they know Jesus Christ?  Do they know the consequences of sin?  Do they know that forgiveness comes from God?  Do they know that by believing in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, His propitiation, his sacrifice brought pardon for the sinner, that by believing, they might have everlasting life?

          How are you providing for them?  Fathers are specifically addressed here.  Instruction comes from both parents, obviously, but, Paul singles the fathers out, because they are the head of the house.  Fathers have the ultimate responsibility to raise their children, to love, cherish and nurture them in faith in God.  And to that, Fathers and mothers, have to honour their Christian fathers and mothers, by being faithful to God.

          But in all of this the key thing is teaching children the truth about God.  God calls parents, particularly fathers, to shepherd their children’s hearts.  Parents are to lead them into a right relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, or on account of Jesus Christ.

          The most important thing we can do, as parents, is to model and teach a right relationship with God.  And praise be to God, not only has he made us right with him, but He’s also given us His Holy Spirit, to lead us and guide us into being faithful children, but also faithful parents.  Amen. 

         

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