Part of raising our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” means proactively equipping them with skills they’ll need to grow as disciples of Jesus.
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina that aims to equip you and your family to be on mission with God, to the end of the street and the ends of the earth.
Welcome back to another episode of “Gospel Shaped Home.” I’m Andy Owens, pastor of family discipleship, and I’m thankful that you have tuned in for this episode. This is actually the last episode in a little segment where I’m walking through the family discipleship pathway. Right? We, for the previous five episodes, have been talking about one shared goal. That’s disciples who make disciples. Two key tools, example and instruction. Right? We model discipleship, and we teach God’s truth. Three areas of transformation: head, heart, hands. Right? We want to instruct our children’s minds. We want to inspire their hearts. We want to influence their will. Four seasons of opportunity. We do this over time, and we take advantage of time, and when our kids are young, and when they’re getting older, and it looks different. We plan accordingly all through those seasons. We’re focusing on five key skills. We want our children to be Bible-saturated, praying, singing, serving, sharing disciples of the Lord Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And finally, six big truths, right?
The way we really accomplish all of the things that we’ve been discussing in these episodes in the family discipleship pathway is by teaching our children the truth of God and relying on His spirit to empower them to respond rightly. Right? When I say six big truths, it’s really more like categories of truth, or I regularly use the illustration of buckets. These are six big buckets that you can put a lot of biblical truth into, but they each come with a response, how we want our children to feel and to respond when they hear these things.
Now, before we dive in, I will also say, this is really where the family discipleship pathway began, or at least it was the first thing to come into focus in my own heart and mind, as I was praying and thinking, how can we as a church equip parents at Providence to be disciple-makers in the home? How can we help our families live on mission with God? When I begin, praying about how can we, as a church family, equip parents to be disciple-makers in the home? How can we help families in our church live on mission with God? These truths were really the first thing to come into focus, that this is kind of where this whole pathway originated was with these main lines of truth.
I was thinking about Paul’s words in Acts, chapter 20. He says to the elders of the Ephesian church, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” And I kept asking myself and asking the Lord the question, how can we help our parents to teach and train their kids, their students, in such a way that they can say that when they send them out into the world? “I did not shrink back from declaring to you anything that was profitable, the whole counsel of God.”
Really that led me to the next question, what are the main truths that we should focus on when we’re training our children? How do we keep the main things the main things? And I regularly say the first emphasis has to be keep reading the Bible. We won’t be able to answer every question. That’s okay. But just keep going in God’s word. But this list of big truths and responses is an attempt to help us think about the main things and to put lots and lots of truth into these big categories. And it’s also a way to hopefully build a shared vocabulary between the church and the home as we partner in this great task of discipling the next generation.
The six truths are, six big truths, rejoice in God’s greatness, trust God’s son, listen to God’s word, walk in God’s ways, love God’s people, and pursue God’s mission. Let’s take them one by one.
Rejoice in God’s greatness. Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” There’s no escaping the reality that God is at the center of the universe. Everything revolves around Him. All things exist to display His worth and His glory, and that includes you and your children. God is radically committed to the display of His own glory, but that is good, good news for us because God created us to be happy in Him, to be satisfied in Him. And even when we rebelled against Him, He rescues us in a way that magnifies the glory of His grace. And so over and over and over, the Bible calls us to rejoice in God, to delight ourselves in Him, to serve Him with gladness. And this is one of the first notes we want to sing over and over and over with our kids is that our God, His mercy and His majesty, His holiness and His love, His power and His wisdom is great, and we should be glad in Him.
And so when we read, God is creator, God is savior, God is omnipotent, God is omnipresent, God is omniscient, God is just and holy, God is compassionate and patient and tenderhearted, all of these things should lead us to rejoice in Him and to help our kids learn to rejoice in Him. So rejoice in God’s greatness.
Second, trust God’s son. Paul says in First Timothy, chapter one, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It’s a trustworthy statement, deserving of full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Now, the gospel is like a multifaceted diamond that we can turn and look at different angles, look at it from different directions, and see how light hits it in different ways. There’s no end to the glory of the triune God displayed in the gospel. We will be able to delight in Him forever and ever and ever. But gospel truths about redemption should always be at the center, right?
Jesus is the son of God. He came from heaven because He is the eternal son. He came to seek and to save the lost. That means we are the lost, right? And if we want the truth of the cross to make sense to our children, we have to tell them the truth about their sin, right? We have to help them see themselves, look into their own hearts, and recognize what’s there. Help them sit under the Bible’s teaching and learn from the scriptures who they really are and how much they really need God’s rescuing grace in Jesus. Right?
We have to tell them not to trust themselves. That’s not a popular message in the world, right? Believe in yourself. You can do anything. Right? We have to actually tell our kids, no, you can’t do anything apart from Christ, but trust Him because He can reconcile you to God. He can bear fruit in your life. Over and over, our kids need us to point them to Jesus, to His cross, to His resurrection, to His unfailing love and faithfulness. They need to hear us say Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the good shepherd. Jesus is the true vine. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. And He’s calling you to rest in Him by faith.
Third, we need to train our children to listen to God’s word, to listen to God’s word. In Second Timothy, Paul says, “From childhood, you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” I was struck sometime in, maybe a year ago, a little over a year ago, I was at a conference, and a speaker was teaching from Proverbs, and he said something like this. But I was struck with the thought that there is no way that any parent can ever tell his or her children everything they will ever need to know for life. There’s no way that any of us can ever prepare our children for every challenge, every difficulty, every problem they will ever face in specific detail. Right?
But we can train them to esteem the scriptures as a fountain of wisdom. Right? We can urge them to stock their hearts and minds with the living and abiding word of God that will be a lamp for their feet and a light to their path. So we’ve got to tell our kids over and over and over God’s promises are to be trusted, his commands are to be obeyed. His word is life-giving and light-scattering. We want to train them to listen to God’s word. We want to see God develop in them the ear of a disciple, that He might sustain them with a word. That’s from Isaiah, chapter 50 or maybe 52. I can’t remember.
Okay, we want next to train our children to walk in God’s ways, so rejoice in God’s greatness, trust God’s son, listen to God’s word, and then walk in God’s ways. Colossians 2, Paul says, “As you receive Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him.” The gospel is not something that we can receive and then leave in the periphery of our lives. Jesus won’t have dominion, lordship over a small section of our life. He won’t be relegated to a department, a religion compartment. Over and over and over, the scriptures exhort those who belong to Christ, who walk with Him, to walk in a new and transformed way, living all of life under His authority. And so we read things like walk by the spirit, walk in love, walk as children of light, walk in a manner worthy of our calling, walk in wisdom, walk in good works. Jesus will not share our allegiance. He will have our whole lives, and as parents, we need to help our kids see that being a disciple of Jesus means all of life shaped by his grace and his authority.
And then next, love God’s people. We have to help them see that they can’t do any of these things in isolation. They can’t do it alone. Paul says in First Corinthians 12, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individually, members of it.” We are all members of the one body. We are living stones in this new spiritual temple, this dwelling of God. First Peter 2, right? We are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. We are God’s peculiar people for His own possession. The reality is that neither we nor our children can be the growing, flourishing believers God wants us to be apart from the body of Christ. Local churches are God’s means of getting the gospel to the ends of the earth, but they’re also God’s means of building up his people to maturity in Christ.
So your kids need you to help them see the significance of being meaningfully connected to other believers. Right? They need to see the importance of corporate worship, being fed the word of God by pastors who love and shepherd them, who know them and care for them. They need to see the importance of accountability and encouragement and serving together with other believers, using our resources together to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. Ultimately, our kids need to be led to love the people that make up their local church.
And finally pursue God’s mission. Matthew 28:19. “Go, therefore. Make disciples of all nations,” Jesus says after his resurrection. Parenting is not just about our kids coming to faith in Jesus. It’s about God’s praise in all the earth. That’s really where we began with one shared goal. If we unwittingly communicate to our kids that God’s mission terminates on them, that that’s the end goal is them coming to faith in Christ, then we’re actually going to rob them of much joy. Instead, we want to lead our kids to align their lives with the global purposes of God. We want them, our kids, to see lost people around them and be moved with compassion. We want them to open their mouths and to invite others to follow Jesus and the power of God’s spirit. We want them to grow up and one day become parents who are themselves zealous to pass on the gospel to a generation that right now isn’t even born. We want to lead our kids to be on mission with God, to the end of the street, to the ends of the earth.
Six big truths. Right? Hearing and responding rightly to God’s truth is the way we grow as disciples, and so we want to train our kids to rejoice in God’s greatness, to trust God’s son, to listen to God’s word, to walk in God’s ways, to love God’s people, and to pursue God’s mission. May God help us to do that. May He use our efforts to magnify His worth, the beauty, the mercy of Christ, in the lives of our kids and students, and may He give them joy unending in His son.
Thank you so much for joining both this episode and these past six walking through this family discipleship pathway. Hope that it’s a helpful resource for you as you think about the opportunity and the responsibility that God has given you as a parent when it comes to bringing up your children in discipline and instruction of the Lord. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Bye-bye.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast, produced by Providence Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information and resources from Providence, visit us online at pray.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.