Note: This post is directed at active and future parents. It is not intended to be a rebuke to people with grown children that are not following the Lord; if that describes you, you may want to just skip this post. Be mindful that it is aimed at the future, not the past.
In consequence of man’s condemnation to mortality, the people of the world are constantly dying, only to be replaced by new babes being born. This means that what the world will look like in a few years, in terms of the people who inhabit it—their ideas, goals, beliefs—will be determined by the children born today, not the adults perishing tomorrow. Though this is obvious, we sometimes lose sight of the implications it has for those who are seeking to change the future: to change the future, we have to affect the next generation.
This is not to say that reaching those who are perishing is less important. We have been given a general mission by God to reach the entire world. But the souls of our children are those with which God has specifically entrusted us. And too often those who hope for revival and restoration of a nation neglect the importance of the little children.
Often we get sidetracked into seeing only the course that we want to set. To try and restore a nation, we focus on charting out the proper course, and setting our direction toward that goal. We forget, however, that in a very few years, we will no longer be at the helm. Just charting the first part of the journey in the right direction is not enough to get us there. We need to also ensure that the future pilots will want to continue to follow that proper course. Because if they don’t, the destination we are working toward will never be reached.
At an even deeper level, it is important for us to distinguish between following the map because you have a saving faith in the Mapmaker, and just coming along for the ride. Even if we chart a proper course, and future generations decide to follow it, is that really success if they are doing so only because that is the course that they were set on? What if they are just going with the flow, just following the crowd, and not really engaging with God from the heart?
In our study on Isaiah 29, we observed that God was not pleased just because people feared him. If that fear toward him was taught by men—if it was just inherited, and not heartfelt; if it didn’t stem from faith in him and belief of his word—then it was not sufficient to escape his wrath.
This is why it is important to raise our children up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. To cultivate the soil of their soul, and sow the word of God in their hearts. Only then will there be a true harvest. Only then will they be truly following the course that God sets from the heart, and not just walking in the “strait and narrow” that we laid out for them based on the circumstances that we left them.
When we look at the Old Testament we see that again and again God admonished Israel to teach the next generation the word of God (Ge 18:19; Ex 34:23; De 4:9-10, 6:6-7, 11:18-21, 29:29, 31:12-13, 32:46; etc.). He told them that this was the only way for their nation to continue as a free and independent people, and receive his blessing.
Sometimes we become so focused on securing freedom for the next generation that we forget how that is achieved: ultimately, it rests in us faithfully conveying God’s word to our children, so that they will trust in him and walk uprightly. This is the best thing that we can ever do to ensure the continuance of our nation as a free people.
And if we are loosing our freedom today, it is because prior generations have failed.
During our study of Psalm 12, where it talks about the perishing of the godly, we observed that God has used fidelity to the marriage covenant as a picture of godliness:
Malachi 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
In short, faithfulness to God’s covenant would produce a godly seed, just as faithfulness to the marriage covenant is necessary to produce legitimate children. If a man was unfaithful to God and his word, he would not be His true child—he would be a child of whoredom, produced through the daughter of a strange god. He would be a spiritual bastard (Hebrews 12:8).
Legitimate children must be produced through faithfulness to the marriage covenant, and in the same way raising godly children requires us to be faithful to the word of God—and to plant the good seed of his word in their hearts, so that they will be faithful to it as well.
Though raising faithful children can sometimes seem an overwhelming responsibility, we know that God would not ask us to do that which is impossible. And indeed, the Bible informs us that it is simply the natural course that a child brought up in the way he should go will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). But that does not mean that it does not require diligence. Too many parents throughout history have been complacent. Too often we do not cultivate our children’s hearts, and do not fill them with the good seed of the word. Too often we let others till their hearts and sow them with thorns instead. We forget how serious the implications can be. But the above quoted verse puts it into perspective: letting someone else win the heart of your child is like letting someone else win the heart of your spouse. Except that the potential results are far worse: the production of, not a biological, but a spiritual, bastard. This is what is at stake: not just our nation, but our children’s very souls.
To every parent, if you are wondering what you can do to preserve a free America for your children, this is the answer: train them up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. Raise them to be future leaders who will put all their faith and hope in God, and proclaim his words to their nation, and to the world. Instill a love of the pure words of the LORD in them, and tell them the stories of the men in scripture who overcame by faith in God’s word and his promise. You can raise the next Davids, Daniels, and Joshuas, who will say, “choose you this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” And you can do this by following scripture’s exhortation, and diligently teaching the stories of these men to your children.
In this manner we secure not only our children’s eternal future, but also give them the knowledge to transform the future of their world through the gospel. And, if God wills, we might even save our nation, in addition to our children’s souls.
Because to “save” the former, without the latter, would be a tragedy of eternal proportions.
We simply cannot afford to neglect the next generation.