It is the purpose of this article to focus attention on the covenant calling of Christian parents within the confines of family life. At the same time there necessarily will be Scriptural directives within the scope of this article for the covenant youth and children. Let us begin with the text that I would consider with you in this article; I refer to Eph. 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In particular; we will consider the last phrase of the text, ” but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The context in which we find our text is significant. The apostle Paul reminds us in verses ten and following that the child of God has a battle to fight in this life. He is mindful that this is the portion of every Christian. This has been true throughout the ages. It is the battle of faith, the struggle to walk in the midst of the world as a stranger and a pilgrim. God’s children are all called to seek God and His righteousness, and, conversely, to oppose all that opposes Him. The principle enemy is Satan, the wilely devil, according to Paul. This struggle is against a very real and significant force. The apostle points out that it is a battle against principalities, powers and dominions, with wickedness in high places. In fact the battle is so great that the child of God will be able to stand only by putting on the whole armor of God. This armor of God is essentially the Word of God which is given us through the preaching. Paul literally points this out to us when he says: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about in truth, — and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, — and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Standing upon the gospel of Christ, having on this armor of God, we shall maintain the walk of faith. We will be given the courage to battle the battle of faith, and we may be assured of victory.
It is in this context that we find our text. God admonishes us to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that they too, might put on the whole armor of God. An amazing calling our Lord gives to covenant parents. Let us consider it now in some detail. As we do so I would like to point out to our covenant youth, who ought to be reading this article, that the first remarks to be made concern your parents. However, it would be well that you read this first section carefully nevertheless. By doing so you will better understand the serious calling which God has given your parents when He gave you to them for a time. This should help you understand their care and concern for you. On the other hand, there will be specific remarks for you later in this article. Secondly, for our reading mothers I would like to remark that this text applies very directly to you, although the heading, is, “ye fathers.” Paul addresses the fathers because they are the head of the family and the full responsibility for the instruction of the covenant seed rests squarely upon them. However, much of the authority in the home, and much of the instruction is properly delegated to the mother. As you know, mothers, you often spend much more time with your children because father must provide the living. Remembering these comments let us directly consider the text. The instruction of the apostle is twofold. We are to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The idea of the two terms used in our text is to train the covenant seed by positive instruction, chastening, and admonition. Using the figure in the English term “nurture.” we begin to understand the magnitude of this calling. To nurture is to give constant care and attention to something, that it might grow healthy and strong. For example if we plant a sapling in our yard, we must work the soil well, water it almost daily, see that it has sufficient fertilizer, perhaps tie it to a post to protect it against the wind, and as it grows, carefully prune it. By giving it this constant care the sapling will grow to be a healthy, fruit-bearing tree. It is with this type of diligence that we are to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Constantly, daily, we are to instruct the covenant seed in the knowledge of Jehovah, lead them into the green pastures of His Word, teach them the fear of His Name, bring the Word of God to bear upon their lives when they walk in ways outside of the Lord, chasten and admonish them, all with a view to their spiritual growth in the Lord, unto the end that they may put on the armor of God, fight the battle of faith, seek God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength as pilgrims and strangers in the midst of the earth.
Beloved, this is an amazing calling! Is it an easy one? Your answer undoubtedly is absolutely not! And this is as it should be. When one contemplates its demand, he immediately faces the fact of his own sinfulness. It is a battle to stand as God’s children personally, and now God requires that we lead our children properly in that battle? Yet, that is certainly the requirement of our text. Our confession must be that only by grace is it possible. My readers, it is the power of the gospel that makes you aware of your own sinfulness and frailty in this matter. But it is also the same power of God’s Word that turns the covenant parent to His promise of grace to carry out this calling. Our children are His heritage, God’s children, and He will not give you care of His children without also providing that which you need to care for them. Thus, first of all, let us often go to God in prayer for strength to carry out this calling. Secondly, let us take our strength from His. Word to lead and guide the covenant seed. Finally, be assured God will indeed give you that of which you stand in need.
In the assurance of God’s grace, trusting in His Word let us now consider the means of carrying out this mandate. To do this I would like to call your attention to a passage of Scripture from the Old Testament. God had just given the law to Israel, and He instructed them with the words of Deut. 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” The covenant parents are to talk to their children in all these instances of God’s Word and Way! We are to be busy leading, guiding, instructing, encouraging, correcting our children and youth in all our family life. We are to talk to our children often!
Covenant seed, implied here is the calling also to you to talk to your parents. Do you? Do you take your problems to your parents? Do you go to them for advice concerning a certain course of action that you may take? Do you seek out answers as to whether this is right or wrong? Or do you sometimes refrain from approaching your parents because you know their answer or advice is going to be contrary to your desire? Let it be said here that you ought often to go to your parents to talk with them, to confide in them, to seek their advice and encouragement. You ought to do this because you have most wonderful parents. They are covenant parents with a wisdom that is true and great. You may wonder at this; you may be tempted to say, “What could my parents know about my problems? They are too old to know.” But your parents do know. They have faced basically the same decisions you must. They have passed the same trials and temptations. And God has given them grace to stand in faith. Further, they have lived a good deal longer under the gracious preaching of the Word, growing in wisdom. Finally they love you, not only because of the blood relationship, but in the Lord. They desire to lead you in the straight and narrow way to glory. Go often to them. And rejoice that God has given you God-fearing parents. Many children are not so blessed. They have ungodly parents that lead them to hell.
Covenant parents, after this interlude we cannot fail but to be impressed with the magnitude and seriousness of our calling. Do we, take time to sit in our homes and talk about the things of God’s kingdom? Are we ready to advise, to encourage, to lead and correct our covenant seed. We must! It is very necessary to take the time. Take every opportunity that arises. When your son or daughter asks: “Why does it rain?” explain it in terms of God’s Word. When your youths come with their problems, hear them out, and answer them with the wisdom, of the Word of God. Consciously make God’s Word central in all of your life in the home. Read it, speak about it, seek out its preaching, and in your prayers together seek grace to walk as a family united in the Lord as strangers and pilgrims. Actively walk together as a family in the Lord, and make sure that you do things as a family. The world would have the family broken up. Insist that the family be together and walk together. And remember, the text in Deut. 6:7 refers to our whole life. Everything we do as parents speaks to our children. Our life is a speech. May God give you grace to walk as strangers and pilgrims, that also your children may so learn to walk.