God blesses our covenant homes with sons and daughters. Particularly blessed are our homes when the Lord gives us some sons and some daughters. Contrary to past Asian tradition, which we learned during the early years of being a missionary in Singapore, sons are not a greater blessing than daughters. The prayer of the psalmist for the future well-being and blessing of the Israel of God in the world was: “That our sons be as plants grown up in their youth: and that our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Ps. 144:12). Psalter number 393 renders these words ofPsalm 144 with the interesting words of its first verse: “Oh happy land, whose sons in youth, in sturdy strength and noble truth, like plants in vigor spring; whose daughters fair, a queenly race, are like the cornerstones that grace the palace of a king.”
In many respects the sons and daughters of the covenant must be raised in the same way, in the fear and nurture and discipline of the Lord. There are also, however, important differences. We abhor the worldly philosophy of egalitarianism and the drive toward unisex. Our sons must be raised as noble sons and our daughters as beautiful daughters. God made each of them different by His creation ordinance. In harmony with that ordinance He gave each his or her particular role and calling. This is not a matter of changing culture or the prevailing philosophy of the times in which we are living. God has spoken. He has given us His unchanging Word. The foundational principles for a life of godliness for all time is clearly given in the Scriptures, as Paul also wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 3:16, 17.
There are also sins that are more particularly characteristic of one gender than they are of the other. These sins must be uprooted and driven far from the hearts and lives of our children already in the days of their youth. This must be done with strong urgent warning and faithful godly discipline in our covenant homes to prevent, by God’s grace, our sons from going astray in the future in a worldly life of disobedience and rebellion.
We must raise our sons and daughters with a view to the future place they will have in covenant homes and in the church of Jesus Christ. Our children are from birth, according to God’s gracious covenant purpose, included in His church and kingdom. The Lord is pleased to continue His covenant in the line of the generations. He raises up from our children members for His continuing church on earth. We must raise our children to be servants of King Jesus who are well prepared and mighty to promote the great causes of His kingdom in this world and live for His glory in the whole of their life.
Our children must be taught from childhood to love the church of Jesus Christ of which they by grace are members. They must be taught to be faithful, zealous, active members. The church needs elders and deacons and ministers, who most often come out of the bosom of our covenant families. The best and most gifted of our sons ought to be encouraged to consider the high calling of the ministry. They need to be taught that there is no higher calling. Even the highly honored and respected secular professions of this world with great promise of lucrative rewards are not to be compared to the calling of the gospel ministry. There always is an urgent need for ministers and missionaries, strong and orthodox, to preach the gospel and to fulfill the great commission that Christ gave to His church.
Our sons must be prepared to be strong and responsible covenant heads of families, well able to provide for and support their families, well equipped to guide and maintain and protect their covenant homes. How evident it sometimes is in the church that strong leaders in covenant homes produce strong families in succeeding generations. It is also true that weak covenant homes will grow weaker from generation to generation and soon be gone because of apostasy and being overcome and destroyed by worldliness. This is a fearful thing, of which God’s Word gives examples and warnings. See Psalm 78.
Whether or not our sons will be married, and whether or not they will be in a special office in the church, they must all be prepared to be knowledgeable, strong, and courageous leaders for the benefit of the future church. They must be equipped by their training in the covenant home for the great work of maintaining and advancing the causes of the kingdom of God in the world.
One of the greatest qualifications necessary for responsible leadership in the home and church is strength, spiritual strength. This strength will manifest itself in various ways. The church on earth is the church militant. She must stand against the onslaughts of the devil and the evil forces and powers of principalities and dominions inspired by the devil that seek to overthrow the church and destroy her out of the world. The church needs members that, even in the days of their youth, are able to endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ and courageous to stand for the truth over against the enemy and the increasing apostasy and ungodliness of our age.
Our sons must not be raised so they turn out to be effeminate. Our sons must not be raised to be soft and weak, lacking manly vigor, without principle and courage, driven only by emotion and interested in nothing more than a life of ease in the world. To be strong in the Lord, our covenant sons must be raised to be strong in the truth and in the fear of the name of the Lord. To be strong in the truth of God there must be a mature knowledge and understanding of the truth. There must be spiritual discretion, so that our sons are able to distinguish the truth from the lie. There must be strong commitment to the truth of God and great zeal to stand for this truth without wavering and without giving way to the many enemies of the truth in the world.
Our sons must receive doctrinal training in their covenant homes. This training will be enforced and developed through the ministry of the church, through hearing sound and strong preaching year after year in the church and through good solid catechism instruction, but there must be foundational training in theology and doctrine in our covenant homes. This does not mean that our covenant homes have to be mini-seminaries, but every son of the covenant must have some foundation in doctrine and theology. It is delightful to the pastor who teaches catechism over the years, as I by grace have, to be able to instruct young men in the catechism class that already have received a strong foundation in their covenant homes.
There should be theological discussion going on in our covenant homes. In a natural way such theological discussion will be going on among lovers of the truth when there is controversy in the church. Controversy is a grievous thing in the church. None of us wants to experience the grievous consequences and division of unholy strife in the church. Our modern age has no stomach for these things. But sometimes God’s people need to be stirred up by controversy in order to gain a deeper appreciation for the preciousness of the truth, and to be equipped with courage and strength to defend it for the glory of God at all cost, even risking their own lives.
Even when, thankfully, there is no controversy among the members of a given true church, there will always be controversy and apostasy in the church world at large. Courage and great strength are required to defend the truth, and few are equipped to do so. The last times in which we are living are days of dreadful apostasy, even as the Lord Himself prophesied. There are many deceivers that are gone out into the world. Many times they will enter the very church of God itself to destroy her from within and, if possible, to lead her members astray from the truth. The sons of the covenant must be prepared to be valiant soldiers of Christ.
Many young men are destroyed also because of the passions of sin in their own sinful natures and the temptations of worldliness. The most prevalent sin, and one that brings many sons, even sons of the covenant, to ruin is the grievous sin of immorality. The book of Proverbs, written especially for the sons of the covenant, warns repeatedly about the dangers and power of the strange adulterous woman of the world. She has great power to tempt and entice with the prospect of the excitement of the flesh. The world glories in the sexual prowess of its men. Many strong men fall to this temptation. The ways of the strange woman lead to destruction and hell. Even when covenant sons are not totally ruined by the power and temptation of this sin, they are often so devastated that it is very difficult and even almost impossible for them ever again to be strong covenant fathers and faithful husbands for the daughters of the covenant to marry. This is the cause of the cutting off of many generations of the covenant in the wrath of the Lord. In a future article I will continue with this subject.