En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

“Truffles from Heaven” Moms Conference!

Posted by Scott on February 14, 2010

 

If you live in the North Dallas area please pass the word on about this great conference for moms. You can register online at Mom2Mom Ministry of Stonebriar Community Church!

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What holds the substance of your kids heart? Part I

Posted by Scott on September 10, 2009

In keeping with my series on Training up the Children or “Which way did they go?” it is imperative that we as parents know who has the heart of our child.  This is an individual glimpse not corporate.  Each child will give their heart to someone, something, or a multitude of someone’s and/or things whatever that is, their heart does not remain dormant once alive on this planet.  Our job as caring parents is to know just who owns our child’s heart in order to help them grow into that fact or away from that fact.  Parents must use the Scriptures such as this in order to deal with the deepest core of the child.  Sinful prostitutes are positioning themselves to lure the heart of our children away.  These prositutes are not limited to just female or male, but the television, movies, cars, trucks, money, houses, vacations, video games, sports, clothes, the “in” crowd, the latest fads, and so on….these can all be prositutes to the heart of our children.

Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways.”

Wisdom is speaking in this instance.  Wisdom is another name for God or the Lord Jesus who is the incarnate wisdom.  Wisdom calls out, demands that we give Him our heart.  To train our children to be wise is a very important lesson.  As our kids get older all kinds of activities, events, people, and obsessions will make every attempt at luring them away from God. 

Why does God call us out and demand our heart?  As Spurgeon so eloquently put it “Only love will thus seek love.”  He is not calling for our heart in order to spoil our lives.  God knows that the heart of man is an evil destructive machine and without us giving Him our heart this destructive vessel will destroy not only our own lives, but the lives of others.  Wisdom is greatly increased by one giving their heart to God in totality.

The saying goes “He who has the heart has the man.”  Whatever object, person, or place that enjoys being the king or queen of our child’s heart will lead them down a destructive path.  As parents we need to be sure that we are training our sons and daughters to refuse by the power of God to allow their hearts to be given away or even taken away by anything that would pull us from the feet of Christ.

They must see in us a heart that belongs to Christ.  Our actions speak of what is in the heart…from our mouths gives a picture in words of the scene going on in our hearts.  We must be careful to exhibit from our actions and our speech a reflection of God living vibrantly in our lives.  Our children will know the owner of our hearts by who they hear and see us to be.  A quick study was done recently about this very thing.  The study was done on children to see if their parent’s actions spoke louder than their words or visa versa.  The results are astounding.  The test was done concerning charitable giving.  The parents that would say to their kids, “Don’t give too much, keep your money” yet would always end up giving much more themselves resulted in children that would give very much of their time and money.  However, the results from the parents who taught their children in word “Give much of your time and money to these great causes” yet they themselves never gave much money or time, those children became the worse givers of all. 

As parents our actions really do speak loudly.  If we are going to train our children it must be done from the position of action not just words.  Whenever we mess up, a training opportunity was created and they can learn from our mistakes as well.  We must let the kids know that our hearts belong to God and then be transparent on that.  Make sure our actions even in a mistake prove to our children that we belong to God.  God called David “A man after His own heart”.  We all know that David was not perfect and sinned violently…yet, when confronted about his sin, immediate repentance and crying out before God.  This is the transparency we want to pass to the kids.  This is the training that will build wise respectable young adults someday.

Hugh Stowell said this:

“For two reasons we should give God our heart:  1) unless the heart be given, nothing is given.  Read further in Hosea 7:14, Matthew 15:8-9 and 2) if the heart be given, all is given.  Read further in 2 Chronicles 30:13-20

So, in the daily event called “life” we are training our children in a direction to go.  An important part of this training is that they give their hearts over to God completely without holding back anything.  Many o the greatest missionaries of the past 200 years would tell you that without the giving of themselves over to God 100% their mission work would have been in vain.

 Spurgeon went even further to say “At once-give God your heart. Delay is wicked and injurious.”

 God desires not half a heart or trust nor does He want a divided loyalty or trust.  He commands total obedience which requires a complete heart.  Great training is done when they understand they should give their heart or trust to God.

 

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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A good name is more desirable than great riches!

Posted by Scott on September 9, 2009

In today’s society, our children hardly hear anything about keeping a good name.  I grew up understanding that the preservation of my name was important.  We are to correct the ills that have infected our names from the past if we can.  Our kids today may think, “What does having a good name have to do with anything?”  Well, I can tell you that God says is should be more desirable than silver or gold, more desirable than great riches.  A good name requires training, sacrifice, and daily discipline.

Four areas I will touch on that come to mind on keeping a good name:

1) Do not settle to do something illegal or unethical in order to gain great riches.

2) Strive to improve the family name and honor as we represent not only our family, but also the name of Jesus Christ.

3) Guard our testimonies with our good names.  Guard the reputation in all family affairs both in pleasure and in business.

4) Guard the gospel as a great treasure as Paul instructed Timothy (2 Tim 1:13-14) with a good name.  Do not allow our names to be tainted if possible, so that people will listen to us as we share the good news.

In light of these four points, it takes a lifetime sometimes to have a good name, but it only takes one mistake, one moment in lapse of judgement to destroy decades of work.  Many times we can never recover the name for many generations when this happens. 

Our children need to be trained that the choices they make in life have consequences that attach themselves to their name and can survive even death.  It is important that our children be taught this from a very young age not to compromise their integrity and honor not just for their preservation, the family name, but the honor and integrity of the Lord Jesus of whom we serve and claim as our Lord and Savior. 

Keeping a good name is important.  God has given us each a name and placed us in a particular family in order to serve Him to greater heights within that family.  Before the beginning of time our names were chosen and written in His book of life.  So, guard the name to which God has given you.  John 10:3 tells us:

“…He (Jesus) calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”

As a part of God’s elect or sheep as it states here, when Jesus comes calling for us to believe and place our trust in Him, He calls us by name.  How awesome is that?  The name given to us is very important to God and should be important to us.

Kids today are being drawn over to a very evil side of the world.  Constantly being encouraged to do activites that may not be illegal, but are very unethical.  Finding money or a valuable of someones and keeping it, because they can.  Petty theft is huge in our young peoples lives today, lying in order to stay out of trouble, cheating on test and homework, etc.  Great riches are exploited constantly on the television and radio.  Our professional athletes lead the way in showing what power great instant wealth can provide for a person, but also the destructive power that has as well.  Use these moments to train the kids that setting their eyes on being rich and famous is not God’s plan.  Money and fame are something God can give to them, but that is not the ultimate goal and most are not ready for it for decades to come.  Our ultimate goal as parents should be to train our kids to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, mind, and actions.  God will promote each of the kids as He has ordained, but the focus should be to serve the Lord at a greater capacity in order to keep themselves away from boredom of an idle hand and the lure of a harlot named “money”.  It is tough for parents today as the information highway means we have to be on our guard at every turn, no time for relaxation as long as our little ones are awake.

” A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.”  -Lord Jeffery

Train the children to build a good name and guard it from the enemies desire to destroy it.

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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Train the children to be virtuous citizens!

Posted by Scott on September 7, 2009

In reading from the 1599 Geneva Bible that I love to refer to, Proverbs 22:6 reads like this “Teach a child in the trade of his way and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Then I look to John Calvin’s commentary on that verse and he states “Bring him up virtuously and he shall so continue.” That is profound to this verse. Bringing up a child virtuously so he continues in the ways of his training is terrific.

What does virtuous training mean though. I looked deeper into this training to see what the possibilities are and this is what I found. Virtuous is to be morally excellent and righteous in the sense of this passage. It also relates to raising our children to be effectuous. Effectuous is to have the power produce a desired effect or remedies. I like this as well…we should be training our children to be effectual in their lives towards Christ. We want them to have great effect over others and situations to the point they desire to have a Believer around because of the great effect they have in their lives.

Then I dug deeper into this virtuous training of our kids and discovered they are to be trained to be potent which to have great authority or influence. How great is that? By training our children in a virtuous life in the ways they go we want them to have a godly influence over the people they encounter. Our children will be good honorable citizens by way of virtue in the ways of Christ. This is why God instructs us parents to train them while we have them under our roof.

However, another category under the virtuous topic stunned my thinking on training. It is a reference to training them to be chaste. This is an old word, but still applies today. Training our young men, especially, to be chaste is training them to be pure in thoughts and actions (modesty). Further commentary on this for them to be “innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse”. Now, that puts it pretty point blank to me. We are to be instructing our kids from very young to they leave the home in many righteous ways, but surfacing to the top would be training them in sexual purity both in mind and action. Now, training this way is not what stunned me, but what stunned me was that it so specifically surfaced as a very important training for our kids. When you look at our culture, even within some church circles, sex is taken so lightly that our kids do not take it seriously either. Yet, from the very research I have done, this specifically was pointed out in the training. We have much to train our kids, but along with biblical truths, we need to be specific to the kids on each virtue especially sexual morality. Kids can find this battle difficult as the internet has brought every sexual perversion ever thought of right into our homes many times undetected, but we as parents are to do battle with this if we are to give our kids the proper training. Warning: DO NOT expect your public school to give this kind of training to our kids…please, DO NOT think they are going to be trained to be pure in thought and action at school.

Parents’, training our kids is not easy, but it is an area we need to take serious. Food to ponder on isn’t it?

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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Who do you want in your army? (From the Train up our children series)

Posted by Scott on September 7, 2009

My studies and research into Training our children is an eye opening experience.  We as parents too often have regarded this training too lightly and without any personal sacrifice.  We have expected other institutions and someone else to do most of the scholastic training, the church to do much of the spiritual training, and that has left us parents with too little time to train our children properly in the way the Lord intends that we train them.

 

In Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV) To “Train…” could also be translated “Start a child in the way he should go…”  It is our job to start our kids from birth to the time they are out of the house in the way they go.  We are to point them in the right direction based on their inclinations, their bents, their personalities, their characteristics that God has planted in them from birth.  The instruction we give them in order to accomplish this endeavor for some 18 years or so cannot be done in one thirty minute interval each day throughout the week.  It requires that we spend time understanding how they are made and build this training around what God has wired them to do.

 

The daily 30 minutes (30 minutes may be too generous) each parent gets with a child to possibly inject something serious, something educational, something spiritual becomes impossible.  The first task a parent has to do each day is deprogram the humanistic worldliness that has been injected into them for 8 hours each day to start with.  Then deprogram the extra-curricular hours spent with others daily.  By the end of each day a parent may have 15 to 30 minutes to give the child something meaningful to remember.  My question is, can that short period of time overcome the barrage of hours they are being fed something contrary to what us parents should be teaching them?  The government run institutions by law cannot inject Christianity into our kid’s lives.  By virtue of the laws it has passed these institutions must teach secular humanism as the religion of the land which leads to socialistic attitude which will soon embrace socialism as the better way…all this will come from our kid’s public education.  While the church slept our country moved away from God into secular humanism decades ago.  Now, you are not allowed to pray in the schools without trouble.  You cannot bring a Bible to school without trouble.  You cannot inject any kind of bold Christian verbiage without possibly being disciplined, expelled, or fired from the school system.  You must teach evolution as proven fact while not even mentioning creationism as a possibility.  This is because the schools no longer hold to any kind of godliness at all even with Christian’s within its walls which is having no real measurable impact for the kingdom of God and will not as our time here draws to a close.

 

If we were to go into battle as families based on a holy war…in other words Christians vs. Secular Humanism or socialism, who would you want in your army?  Would you want someone on your team that has been trained 75% of their early life from say 6 yrs old to 18 yrs old in socialism, worldliness, humanism, and anti-Christianity?  In Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  This type of training is first and foremost in the ways of the Lord, not how to get a good college education, how to become a good little employee or how to be model prisoners (another subject in and of itself).  I will not get into the other trainings that are coming from government education, but most of all, we as parents must make every effort and time to inject as much biblical training as we can on a daily basis if our kids must remain in a public school.  This may mean that we men stop playing golf as much or at all, stop fishing or as much, stop hunting or as much, stop spending so much time at the bars with the buddies having a beer (another subject all by itself), etc.  It may require we make tremendous sacrifices during our children’s adolescent years and teen years in order to be sure we have exhausted every chance to inject the proper training in the ways of the Lord, even if the kids must remain in the public school system, which I pray that many will reconsider.

 

Going back to who would you bring to battle with you, I refer to this training that is cross referenced to Abram in Genesis 14:14 where a relative, Lot and his family, was captured and Abram (future Abraham) called out for the 318 trained men born in his household and pursued the enemy with them.  These 318 men had been born under his roof and trained by him, not someone else.  He entrusted a serious situation with those whom he could trust, those trained and born under his roof.  This was an important mission for Abram and he could not depend on just anyone, but relied on those he could depend on and that was those men trained by him.  It was a long and difficult journey that required men that Abram knew their character, their bents, their personalities, their inclinations, their trainings, and most importantly, Abram could depend on who their allegiance was too, the Sovereign God.  Abram knew these men would perform, he did not worry for a moment that something a government school had taught them could come back to compromise this mission…Abram took this mission serious and Abram had taken these 318 men’s training serious years before.  Abram had not sent them off for someone else to raise, to train, to inject ungodly thoughts into…Abram sacrificed his time to train them or someone within his household he trusted to train.  This is why it is even more important that we as parents do the training of our children now and take the majority of every available moment with them to train them in the ways of the Lord above anything else. 

 

The training referred to in Genesis 14:14 crosses over to Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”   The Word of God does not leave much for discussion when it comes to training and teaching the children.  We are commanded to train our children in the way should go.  Whatever direction we send them daily, whatever actions we take on a daily basis more so than what we say on a daily basis will influence the way they will go.  How important do we really see our children and the future of Christianity in the world?  Do we see our children as true blessing of God to be cherished, watched over, trained, and even guarded?  I am afraid the message most kids get from parents today is that they are burden, parents can’t wait until the kids go back to school to get out of their hair, the parent(s) are always travelling while someone else keeps the kids, time spent with them is secondary to the parents work, golf, hunting, fishing, workout at 24 hour fitness, ladies night out or men’s night out, etc.  I know this will smash some toes and I am not saying any of these activities are wrong in and of themselves, but the message sent by many that I have encountered over the years is not far off from what I am talking about…that “kids are a necessary evil God has put upon them as punishment for some sin in their past”.  I have heard this on more than one occasion or some variation of that.  I am sorry, but that is the message coming across.  The kids are reacting to the message from the actions of their parents far more than the message coming from their parent’s mouths.

 

We have an 88% failure rate in our future young people.  That is huge and if it is continued will result in catastrophic events in our country in the near future.  Parents will find themselves as the enemy of their own children when it comes to Christ vs. humanism or socialism.  It will put dads against their sons and mothers against their daughters.  Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  Jesus is the sword that will divide households, families, friendships, and even churches.  If we as parents do not take our job in the training of our children more serious, we are going to see more and more households divided by the very subject of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior vs. worldliness, secular humanism, socialism, entitlement, riches, self-glorification and gratification, etc.  Not all kids will turn out this way, but an alarming 88% of them have the potential and in my humble opinion it is because of the failure of us parents not training our children in the ways of the Lord while turning our heads away and allowing the world to have all the time it wanted in training them in the way it wanted them to go.  Satan’s world wants your children to love to be rich, to want more stuff, to more entitlements, to want more government security, to desire to be a pro athlete, super model, world scholar, to want to look good all the time, to be more educated socially, to be a social party person, to want to be healthy all the time, to want more and more of this world while pulling them seriously away from the ways taught in the Scriptures. 

 

While the world and its system train the kids to be good socialist, God’s Word has commanded a different training…training in the ways of God which are drastically different than the ways of the world.  Why are we considered as aliens in this world?  Does much of the church today look foreign to you?  Do we teach our children any differently than the world does?  It is hard to see much light in this world of darkness even in the church today.  As parents our job is far too important to leave to the world.  God is using us to train the kids away from the world…yes, we have to live in this world and He did not say that would be easy either, but while we are to obey the laws of the land, we also to obey God’s holy Word in training our kids.  Our kids are future missionaries no matter what they do for a living.  They need to be taught that their job first and foremost is serving God. For our young men, when they have a family their first mission field is their wife, then their children then they can minister to those outside their homes…not the reverse.  The same can be said for the young women.  Individually, their first goals should be in service to Christ…God will take care of their living if they will work honoring God in all they do and that requires they be a very good employee yet knowing making money is not their priority, but serving God is.

 

In conclusion,  does training those hours per day in the ways of the Lord guarantee our children will turn out godly, no!  Only God can guarantee anything.  However, this sacrificial training us as parents is commanded to do give the proper tools to work with.  It is this training that the Holy Spirit uses in order to take them deeper into a relationship with God, making it harder for Satan to take them away.  Chances are greater, even if they do move away for a short period of time from the ways of God, in returning to their faith someday to grow in godliness and serve their Lord from then on into eternity.  The old saying “you can pay me now or you can pay me later” can be translated in this situation “you can pay the price now in training your children or you will pay a hefty price later for not training your children”.  The challenge is this; will you consider a different way of educating your children by seeking the face of God on this matter?  Can we commit to giving up activities in our own lives that take time away from a deeper training of the children in the ways of the Lord?  Are we willing to admit that all the excuses we as parents use in order to not change anything we are doing in regards to the lack of training our children get is sin and needs to be repented of?  This challenge is strong I know, but the future results of us having a godless generation is at stake here.  True Christian parenting does not resemble the world, the public schools, the social institutes in our country or anything else…Christian parenting has specific instructions from Scripture and we will be all the better for being obedient to it.

 

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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Obama is telling our kids what?

Posted by Scott on September 4, 2009

Today, the water dam broke as parents all over the country realized President Obama is making a speech to their children from the White House. A tremendous tidal wave is moving swiftly across the land.

I want to share some positive thoughts concerning this along with some that are not so flattering. I am not an Obama fan at all and do not trust him and what he says for one second. However, his speech next Tuesday will not deliver anything profound or new. It is not the speech content itself that really has the people turned upside down.

 What disturbs the masses and myself is lack of trust we have for this man and his administration. Look back into history, the history that no one learns anything from, and many of us can see socialism quickly on the rise. From socialism stems the mistreatment of our elderly, doctor assisted suicides, mercy killings, massively high taxation, religious right dissolved, freedoms to worship and speak freely about our God gets less and less….we know of past countries that have been swayed by flattering speech and new directions that ended in disasters.

However, I can get past all that. Even if Obama came out next Tuesday and said lets stand and state a new pledge of allegiance to one nation under Obama it would not surprise me nor cause me to flinch. As a parent of kids from 2 yrs old to 18 yrs old I have a God given responsibility to protect my children from any potential danger in word or deed. It is my responsibility to make sure my younger children are trained in the way they should go not merely told.

I have heard for years the “missionary” factor as to why Christian kids need to be in the public schools, yet what most dont understand is that our kids are not missionaries yet. Most missionaries go through alot of training and understanding before embarking out into the jungle to minister to unchurched tribes. So, that excuse never holds up. Another good one I hear on a regular basis is the public schools are “burning hospitals and our kids are the doctors”. Sounds great in theory, but again it will not hold water biblically. Think about it for a moment, do we really think these little kids are ready to be doctors in a burning hospital? From K-6 they are no where ready for this type of mission work or doctoring using those analogies…God does not tell us to train our kids this way. Do we give a doctor a manual, stethoscope, and white rob and say now get in there and start doctoring those people? Do we send missionaries into the jungles where people speak an unknown language before first training them in the ways of these people and getting to know their language. We dont send them into these jungles to figure it out for themselves with a Bible and backpack. Some have had to pioneer the way, but they also have been thoroughly trained.

Proverbs 22:6 God tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This means so much to us as parents and yet most of us fail miserably at it, including me. However, I must keep striving to train my children on a daily basis. Sending the kids in the socialistically run government indoctrinated schools is not what God called us to do and call it training. Why do we think our youth are leaving their faith in such huge numbers…88% by the time they are in college all but denounce their Christian faith. Truth be known, mentally and spiritually they left the Christian faith well before they leave high school, they just do not have the freedom to say so.

Training a child in the godly way they should go requires countless hours and quality of time to make the impact that will last until these children are old. I am afraid the impact already made on many that have left the faith may not be reversible. However, we do not have to give up on them, but we certainly do not have to allow this same fate happen to our children if we will see the dangers that are ahead and many dangers are ahead for our children when they are teens and adults.

Going back to the topic at hand about Obama’s speech brings me to two simple yet profound verses that address a portion of how we are to train our children in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:3 (ESV) tells us “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Now, tell me, if we are to train our children, do we honestly think that setting them down and explaining the dismay we have for what Obama is doing will help when we pat them on the backside next Tuesday morning signalling that it is important, but not so important that we will not remove them from any danger. The training in this case is when we say “Obama is dangerous and you little ones need to realize he is dangerous, but it will be ok, go on to school and try not to listen to him much.” How ridiculous is that? Is that training our children? Training requires choices on our part as parents that go directly against most of our peers beliefs and decisions. Training our children requires that we live a most different life from the rest of the world especially our peers. Training matches the talk…training is not just talk.

Training is to dedicate ourselves to teaching our children…this will require sacrifices on our part most of the time. It may require less money, less “worldly” success, but it will result in children that will not depart from their training when they are older. God is looking for our kids to be devoted to Him and His cause, not this new worldly gospel of moral-ism, world hunger, and aids awareness. Those things will always be around us and we must address them in the love of Christ, but that is not to be our all consuming fire. The gospel is repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, God made a way for us to be forgiven for those sins, trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior saves us, and drastically change our lives to one of striving for holiness rather than grooviness.

One final thought to wrap it all up. Training our children is taking Proverbs 22:5 to heart “In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.” It is our job to help guard our little ones hearts and flee with them from these snares and thorns, not send our children off in their direction. This issue with Obama will come and go without much incident I am sure, however, it has proved to be a festering sore in the Christian camp that is set to burst its creamy off-white nastiness all over the world and when it does it will not be a pretty sight. But what is festering is many parents is guilt over how to deal with this issue by not dealing with it. “Send my child to school and look irresponsible before God for putting them in possible harms way” or ” if I don’t send little Oscar to school tomorrow my friends will laugh and call me too religious or a fear mung-er”. No matter what the excuses are the decision for each of our families rest with us parents. Send them off to school and pray is one way you can do it. Send them school after you have thoroughly told them how not to listen to the speech is another way. Both ways keep the parent from having to explain their decision. Another response is to keep their child home in protest and use that is an opportunity to teach those around you why little Oscar did not attend…it gives both the child and the parent the opportunity to present a godly way of life that is not compromising in any way from the Word of God. For the parent it even an opportunity to share the true gospel of Jesus Christ as most lost people will not understand what this is all about.

Understand, this is not all about politics, but as our first item of business we are to spare the children from the jaws of satan at every opportunity and respond to the challenges from God’s Word not against it. This is not over sheltering them, but taking God at His word and removing them from danger. Some of them need sheltering, but are exposed to every gross ungodliness imaginable and it is called freedom and faith.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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117 Scriptural Names for Christ!

Posted by Scott on December 30, 2008

1. Adam (the last Adam)

1 Cor. 15:45

2. Advocate

1 John 2:1

3. Almighty

Rev. 1:8

4. Alpha

Rev. 1:8; 21:6

5. Amen

Rev. 3:14

6. Angel of the Lord

Gen. 16:9-14; Judg. 6:11-14

7. Anointed

Ps. 2:2

8. Apostle

Heb. 3:1

9. Author

Heb. 12:2

10. Babe

Luke 2:16

11. Beginning of creation

Rev. 3:14

12. Begotten of the Father

John 1:14

13. Beloved

Eph. 1:6

14. Bishop

1 Pet. 2:25

15. Blessed

1 Tim. 6:15

16. Branch

Zech. 3:8

17. Brazen serpent

John 3:14

18. Bread of life

John 6:35

19. Bridegroom

Matt. 9:15

20. Bright morning star

Rev. 22:16

21. Captain

Josh. 5:4

22. Carpenter

Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3

23. Chief Shepherd

1 Pet. 5:4

24. Child

Isa. 9:6

25. Christ

Matt. 1:16; 2:4

26. Commander

Isa. 55:4

27. Consolation of Israel

Luke 2:25.

28. Cornerstone

Eph. 2:20

29. Dayspring from on high

Luke 1:78

30. Day star

2 Pet. 1:19

31. Deliverer

Rom. 11:26

32. Desire of nations

Hag. 2:7

33. Door

John 10:9

34. Door of the sheepfold

John 10:7

35. Emmanuel

Matt. 1:23

36. Everlasting Father

Isa. 9:6

37. Express image of God

Heb. 1:3

38. Faithful witness

Rev. 1:5; 3:14; 19:11

39. First fruits

1 Cor. 15:23

40. Forerunner

Heb. 6:20

41. Foundation

Isa. 28:16

42. Fountain

Zech. 13:1

43. Friend of sinners

Matt. 11:19

44. Gift of God

2 Cor. 9:15

45. Glory of God

Isa. 60:1

46. God

John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16

47. Good Samaritan

Luke 10:33

48. Good Shepherd

John 10:11, 14

49. Governor

Matt. 2:6

50. Great Shepherd

Heb. 13:20

51. Guide

Ps. 48:14

52. Head of the Church

Col. 1:18

53. Heir of all things

Heb. 1:2

54. High Priest

Heb. 3:1; 7:1

55. Holy child

Acts 4:30

56. Holy One of God

Mark 1:24

57. Holy One of Israel

Isa. 41:14

58. Horn of salvation

Ps. 18:2

59. Jehovah

Isa. 26:4; 40:3

60. Jesus

Matt. 1:21

61. Judge

Mic. 5:1; Acts 10:42

62. King of Israel

Matt. 27:42; John 1:49

63. Lamb of God

John 1:29, 36

64. Lawgiver

Isa. 33:22

65. Light of the world

John 9:5

66. Lion of the tribe of Judah

Rev. 5:5

67. Lord of lords

Rev. 19:16

68. Man

Acts 17:31; 1 Tim. 2:5

69. Master

Matt. 8:19

70. Mediator

1 Tim. 2:5

71. Messiah

Dan. 9:25; John 1:41

72. Mighty God

Isa. 9:6; 63:1

73. Minister

Heb. 8:2

74. Nazarene

Mark 1:24

75. Only begotten Son

John 1:18

76. Passover

1 Cor. 5:7

77. Physician

Matt. 9:12

78. Potentate

1 Tim. 6:15

79. Power of God

1 Cor. 1:24

80. Prince

Acts 3:15; 5:31

81. Prophet

Acts 3:22

82. Propitiation

1 John 2:2; 4:10

83. Purifier

Mal. 3:3

84. Priest

Heb. 4:14

85. Rabbi

John 3:2; 20:16

86. Ransom

1 Tim. 2:6

87. Reaper

Rev. 14:15

88. Redeemer

Isa. 59:20; 60:16

89. Refiner

Mal. 3:3

90. Refuge

Isa. 25:4

91. Resurrection

John 11:25

92. Righteousness

Jer. 23:6; 33:16

93. Rock

Deut. 32:15

94. Rod

Isa. 11:1

95. Root of David

Rev. 22:16

96. Rose of Sharon

Song of Sol. 2:1

97. Sacrifice

Eph. 5:2

98. Savior

Luke 1:47; 2:11

99. Second Adam

1 Cor. 15:47

100. Seed of Abraham

Gal. 3:16, 19

101. Seed of David

2 Tim. 2:8

102. Seed of the woman

Gen. 3:15

103. Servant

Isa. 42:1; 49:5-7

104. Shepherd

Ps. 23:1

105. Shiloh

Gen. 49:10

106. Son of David

Matt. 15:22; 20:30; 21:9

107. Son of God

Luke 1:35; Matt. 16:16

108. Son of Man (his favorite name for himself)

Matt. 18:11

109. Son of Mary

Mark 6:3

110. Son of the Most High

Luke 1:32

111. Stone

Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:32-33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-7

112. Sun of Righteousness

Mal. 4:2

113. Teacher (Master)

Matt. 26:18; John 3:2

114. True vine

John 15:1

115. Way

John 14:6

116. Wonderful

Isa. 9:6

117. Word

John 1:1; Rev. 19:13

Willmington, H.L.: Willmington’s Book of Bible Lists. Wheaton, IL : Tyndale, 1987, S. 160

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Is It Real? By John MacArthur

Posted by Scott on December 30, 2008

Is It Real?
11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

John MacArthur

Is it Real? In 1746, about six years after the Great Awakening, in which Jonathan Edwards was the primary instrument of God to preach the gospel and bring about the greatest revival in American history thus far, Edwards wrote A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections. He wrote it to deal with a problem not unlike one we face today: the matter of evidence for true conversion. Many people want the blessings of salvation, especially eternal security, but no more.

In the explosive drama of the Great Awakening, it seemed as though conversions were occurring in great numbers. However, it didn’t take long to realize that some people claimed conversions that were not real. While various excesses and heightened emotional experiences were common, scores of people didn’t demonstrate any evidence in their lives to verify their claim to know and love Jesus Christ, which led critics to attack the Great Awakening, contending it was nothing but a big emotional bath without any true conversions.

Thus, partly in defense of true conversion and partly to ex­pose false conversion, Jonathan Edwards took up his pen. He came to this simple conclusion. The supreme proof of a true conversion is what he called “holy affections,” which are a zeal for holy things and a longing after God and personal holiness. He made a careful distinction between saving versus common operations of the Holy Spirit. Saving operations obviously produce salvation. Common operations of the Holy Spirit, he said, “may sober, arrest and convict men, and may even bring them to what at first appears to be repentance and faith, yet these influences fall short of inward saving renewal” (lain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography [Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987], p. 255).

How can you tell whether the Holy Spirit has performed a saving operation? As the principle evidence of life is motion, Edwards wrote, so the principle evidence of saving grace is holy practice (pp. 262-63). He said true salvation always produces an abiding change of nature in a true convert. Therefore, whenever holiness of life does not accompany a confession of conversion, it must be understood that this individual is not a Christian.

In the very year Edwards’ treatise was published, popular teaching asserted that, to the contrary, the only real evidence of true salvation is a feeling based on an experience–usually the experience at the moment of the alleged conversion. That teaching introduces the prevalent but erroneous concept that a person’s true spiritual state is known by a past experience rather than a present pursuit of holiness. Edwards flatly contradicted that notion: “Assurance is never to be enjoyed on the basis of a past experience. There is need of the present and continuing work of the Holy Spirit … [in] giving assurance” (p. 265). This is no esoteric theological debate: the substance of your assurance is at stake.

A number of New Testament writers, of course, were very concerned about this matter of true salvation, as was our Lord Jesus Himself. The apostle John dedicated his first letter to the subject, stating his theme at the end: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.


Have You Enjoyed Fellowship with Christ and the Father?


This is an essential element in true salvation and the first test John presented. Look with me at chapter 1, which begins: “We [John and his fellow apostles] have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (vv. 2-3). Obviously he was going beyond just the earthly acquaintance he had with Jesus because he had no such earthly acquaintance with the Father. Rather, he was presently enjoying communion with the living God and the living Christ.

Now at first you might be tempted to think, Well, good for John, but his was not an isolated experience. In 1 John 5:1, he says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (emphasis added). It is characteristic of any believer to love God and Christ. It is a sign of the holy affections Jonathan Edwards spoke of. A relationship with God is basic to salvation. It is what we as believers were called to. “God is faithful,” Paul says, “through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).

Paul described what that fellowship meant to him personally: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). There’s something very experiential about that truth–it’s not just a cold fact that we as believers have divine life living in us; there’s an experience to be enjoyed in knowing God intimately.

Jesus implied as much when He said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10 ). If He had just said, “I came that you may have life,” we could conclude He was talking only about His gracious provision of eternal life. By adding that life could be abundant, Jesus was moving into the dimension of experience. The Christian life is a rich life. We’re meant to experience joy, peace, love, and purpose. When someone who’s about to be baptized testifies about coming to Christ, you won’t hear, “The fact is, folks, I’m saved, and I’m just here to announce that.” Invariably the person will describe to you the feeling–the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and purpose in his or her life.

Here’s a taste of the abundant life Scripture describes in terms of our fellowship with the Lord. The “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3); “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10); the God who supplies all [our] needs according to His riches in Christ (Phil. 4:19); the God who leads us to speak to one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to Him (Eph. 5:19); the God to whom we cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15 ) like little children to the daddy we adore; the God we draw near to in time of trouble (Heb. 4:16 )–He Himself so greatly enriches us. Our fellowship with Him is the abundant life we experience.

Have you experienced communion with God and Christ? Have you sensed Their presence? Do you have a love for Them that draws you to Their presence? Have you experienced the sweet communion of prayer–the exhilarating joy of talking to the living God? Have you experienced the refreshing, almost overwhelming sense of grace that comes upon you when you discover a new truth in His Word? If you have, then you have experienced the fellowship of salvation.


Are You Sensitive to Sin?


Let’s go back to chapter 1 of John’s first epistle, to this declaration in verse 5: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” John was saying that the message the Lord sent to us is about Himself, specifically that He is absolutely sinless. The Greek text literally says there’s not a single bit of darkness in Him. Therefore, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do notpractice the truth” (v. 6).

Light and darkness do not coexist. One drives the other away. John went on to develop that theme: “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (vv. 7-10).

Some people make some pretty amazing claims that hold no water. They claim to have fellowship with God–to be Christians (v. 6), to have no sin (v. 8), and even to have never sinned (v. 10). They think they are walking in the light when actually they are walking in darkness. It is characteristic of unbelievers to be oblivious to the sins in their lives. The individuals mentioned in verse 8 are not dealing with their sins because they think they’ve reached a state where they have no sin. But they are deceiving themselves. Those mentioned in verse 10 have never even confessed or acknowledged sin. With that attitude they are in fact denigrating God because God says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, emphasis added). Since unbelievers are so insensitive to the reality of their condition, human sinfulness is the right starting point in sharing the gospel.

Believers, on the other hand, “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light” (v. 7). We walk a virtuous walk, and what’s more, “we confess our sins” (v. 9). True believers have a right sense of sin. They know if they’re going to commune with God they have to be holy. When sin occurs in their lives, they know it must be confessed.

John takes this teaching a step further in the next chapter. “My little children,” he explained, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (v. 1). True believers realize they don’t have to sin. But when they do, they know whom to go to–Jesus Christ, the believer’s advocate. The intercessory work of Christ is one of the great trinitarian securers of our salvation. That’s an encouraging reality to hang onto when confronted with personal sin.

The person who is truly saved is sensitive to the sinful realities in his or her life. That’s the example Paul left us in speaking of his heightened awareness of sin’s work in his own life (Rom. 7:14-25). Consider how that applies to you. Are you very much aware of the spiritual battle raging within you? Do you realize that to have true communion with God, you have to live a holy life–that you can’t walk in darkness and claim to have fellowship with Him? Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life as you become aware of it? Do you realize you can choose not to sin–that you’re not fighting a battle you’re obliged to lose? But when you do fail, do you go to your divine advocate? Do you sometimes cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24 ) because you’re so weary of the burden of sin in your flesh? If so, you are obviously a Christian. And since salvation is secure, you might as well enjoy it and be fully assured.


Do You Obey God’s Word?


First John 2:3 couldn’t be clearer: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” If you want to know whether you’re a true Christian, ask yourself whether you obey the commandments of Scripture. That’s how Jesus described a true disciple when giving His Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:20). Obedience to the commands of God produces assurance–the confidence of knowing for sure “that we have come to know Him.” The Greek word translated “keep” in verse 3 speaks of watchful, careful, thoughtful obedience. It involves not only the act of obedience, but also the spirit of obedience–a willing, habitual safeguarding of the Word, not just in letter but in spirit. That’s supported by the word translated “commandments,” which refers specifically to the precepts of Christ rather than laws in general. Legal obedience demands perfection or penalty, whereas 1 John 2:3 is a call to gracious obedience because of the penalty Christ has already paid.

Verse 4 presents a logical contrast: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” That person is making a false claim. “But whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (v. 5). How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment but by obedience.

If you desire to obey the Word out of gratitude for all Christ has done for you, and if you see that desire producing an overall pattern of obedience, you have passed an important test indicating the presence of saving faith.


Do You Reject This Evil World?


We now come to John’s fourth test of what characterizes the true Christian: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 ). This love speaks of our deepest constraints, our most compelling emotions and goals. Christians won’t feel that way toward anything in this world because they know that until Christ returns, this world is dominated by God’s enemy. John said, “We know that we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 , niv). Satan, for now, is “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

The evil one has designed a system that the Bible simply calls “the world.” The Greek term (kosmos) speaks of a system encompassing false religion, errant philosophy, crime, immorality, materialism, and the like. When you become a Christian, such things repel you, not attract you. Sometimes you may be lured into worldly things, but it isn’t what you love; it’s what you hate. That’s the way Paul felt when he fell into sin (Rom. 7:15 ). As frustrating as it is to fall like that from time to time, we who are believers can be grateful that sin is something we hate and not love. That’s because our new life in Christ plants within us love for God and the things of God.

“All that is in the world,” John specified, “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16-17). The world and its fleshly preoccupations are but temporary realities. The true believer, in contrast, has eternal life and will abide forever.

Jesus said those who follow Him are not of the world just as He was not of the world. We still move about in it to do His will as long as we are alive, but we are not of it. That’s why Jesus prayed specifically for the Father to keep us from the evil one (John 17:14 -16). We’re vulnerable to being sucked into this evil world’s system now and then, but our love is toward God. That love is what will draw us out and redirect our focus toward heavenly priorities.

Do you reject the world? Do you reject its false religions, damning ideologies, godless living, and vain pursuits? Instead, do you love God, His truth, His kingdom, and all that He stands for? That doesn’t come naturally to any man or woman because the human tendency is to love darkness rather than light to mask evil deeds (John 3:19-20). Unbelievers are of their father the devil, and want to do the desires of their father (John 8:44). If you reject the world and its devilish desires, that is an indication of new life in Christ. And since that new life is forever,


Do You Eagerly Await Christ’s Return?


Further along in 1 John, we come across a fifth test of salvation: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And every one who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (3:2-3). If you’re a true Christian, you will have hope in your heart, and your hope will be focused on Christ’s return. That hope will purify your life.

Do you love Christ so much that you eagerly await to see Him face-to-face at His return and be made like Him? Scripture tells us that is the Christian’s blessed hope and supreme joy. Romans 8 declares that the whole creation groans in anticipation of the glorious manifestation of the children of God. First John 3 says that it involves three things: Christ appears, we see Him, and we’re instantly made like Him.

“Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul said, “from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). Are you waiting for that? Do you despise the sin in your fallen flesh and long to be like Christ? Can you feel the thrill of Paul’s saying, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly”? (1 Cor. 15:49)

Such a hope has ethical power, for John said it purifies the one possessing it. Paul implied as much to Titus: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:11-13). This is a sensible hope leading to sensible living. It is not an inordinate kind of anticipation in which you are irresponsible with your earthly responsibilities. Being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good is a contradiction in terms. The hope of Christlikeness will compel you to act more like Christ in reaching out to others and fulfilling all that God has set out for you to do.

If you find yourself longing for the return of Jesus Christ, that’s evidence of salvation. It’s an indication of a new nature within, which longs to be delivered from a body of sin while becoming like the perfect Christ. If you have such holy longings and affections, you’ve passed an important test indicating the reality of your eternal salvation.


Do You See a Decreasing Pattern of Sin in Your Life?


Another manifestation of holy affections is a decreasing pattern of sin. First John 3:4-10 spells out this sixth test:

Every one who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that [Christ] appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.

Unbroken patterns of sin are characteristic of the unregenerate. No matter what a person claims about being a Christian, if he or she continues in sin, it is only a claim and not a reality. When you became a Christian, the pattern of sin was broken and a new pattern came into existence. Holy affections took over. Does that mean there’s no sin in your life? No, because your unredeemed flesh is still there. But the more you pursue those religious affections, the less you will sin.

Sin as a life pattern is incompatible with salvation. That’s because to experience salvation is to be saved from something, and that something is sin. If a person could continue in sin after being saved from sin, that would mean salvation is ineffective. John therefore discussed the work of Christ to demonstrate just how effective it is.

He began by noting that there are people who practice sin and lawlessness (v. 4). Then Christ “appeared in order to take away sins” (v. 5). To say someone had the work of Christ applied to him or her, yet continues in the same pattern of sin is to deny the very purpose Christ came for, which was to take away sins. Continuing in sin is not consistent with Christ’s work on the cross. If a saved person could keep on sinning, that would mean Christ’s death–while having some efficacy in eternity–is in fact useless in time. Perish the thought! Christ’s death served the very useful purpose of taking away not only the penalty of sin, but also the pattern of sin in the believer’s life.

John went on to talk about Christ’s work through the believer’s union with Him: “No one who abides in Him sins” (v. 6). That cannot mean true Christians never sin because John just said, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8). Rather, the next two verses in chapter 3 explain, “The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil” (vv. 7-8). John’s first epistle is consistent in warning against a pattern of sin.

Now let me clarify something here. I frequently receive letters from anguished Christians who doubt their salvation because they can’t seem to break a sinful or unwise habit. They most often write about smoking, overeating, and masturbation. They fear their struggle with such things means they are locked into a pattern of sin. But John is not saying that the frequent occurrence of one particular sin in a person’s life means that person is lost. Rather, he clarifies his meaning in saying that a true believer cannot practice lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The Greek term used there (anomia) literally means living as if there were no law. A person who rejects God’s authority doesn’t care what God thinks about his habits, and is obviously not a Christian.

A Christian, however, has a drastically different way of relating to God. He or she is no longer a slave to sin, but has offered himself or herself as a servant to the Lord (Rom. 6:14, 17-18). A true Christian can still sin, and may even do so frequently, but sinning frequently is not the same as practicing sin. In 1 John we see that a true believer can do the first, but not the second.

Why is that the case? Because the true believer “abides in Him” (1 John 3:6). Not only does Christ’s death take away our sin, but also His ongoing life in us breaks the sin pattern. No longer are we perpetual sinners in thought, word, and deed–as we were before we were saved. We now have the option to do good. If we find ourselves sinning, contrary to the good we desire to do inside, we are much like the apostle Paul in Romans 7–and he’s a great person to be associated with! Yet because of the abiding presence of Christ, our struggle will decrease as time goes on. We will always be acutely sensitive to sin, for as we have seen, that’s one of John’s tests of saving faith, but sin will be less of a pattern in our lives. Christ lives in union with us to provide a new pattern–a pattern of righteousness.

A pattern of sin, however, signals a union with the devil: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (v. 8). The devil is a sinner and nothing but. Everyone who is associated with the devil is a sinner and nothing but. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil by rescuing people who are in bondage to sin. That means those who’ve really been rescued will not continue in the state they’ve been rescued from. A habitual pattern of sin indicates that a rescue has never taken place. To claim otherwise is to denigrate Christ by implying His death didn’t accomplish what He set out to do–destroy the works of the devil by rescuing people from sin.

In addition, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: any one who does not practice righteousness is not of God” (vv. 9-10). The believer has been born anew by the Holy Spirit. The seed He plants is a new nature, a new life principle, a new disposition. just as a seed planted in the ground produces a distinct kind of life, God’s seed produces a righteous life in us that breaks the pattern of sin. And don’t worry: that seed cannot die, for the Word of God tells us it’s imperishable (1 Peter 1:23). Born of the Spirit of God, the believer cannot continually sin.

John just provided us with four viewpoints in analyzing the sin in our life: the work Christ accomplished in His death, His ongoing life in the believer, His destruction of the devil’s works, and the regenerating work of the Spirit. Every way you look at it, the pattern of habitual sin is broken. What does that mean to you personally? If you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life, that’s evidence of holy affections. The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil is, as John said, “obvious” (v. 10). If you practice righteousness, you’re of God. If you don’t, you’re not. Plain and simple. If you see victory over sin in your life, if you see righteous motives, righteous desires, righteous words, righteous deeds, and if you’re not all you ought to be but certainly not what you used to be, then you have eternal life, so enjoy it.


Do You Love Other Christians?


In 1 John 3:10, John mentions two obvious facts. One, as we just saw, is that “anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.” The other is that neither is anyone “who does not love his brother.” To amplify that point, let’s go back to a key section we missed in our progressive study of John’s letter: “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (2:9-11).

To say you’re in the light–or you’ve seen the light–is to claim to be a Christian. If so, your life would certainly show some of the life patterns of Christ. Loving fellow Christians is one very basic pattern. To be in fellowship with Christ is to experience and express love. If you claim to be a Christian but do not even like Christians, your claim is a sham. You are in fact walking in darkness, not in the light.

Loving fellow Christians comes naturally to the believer. As Paul said to the Thessalonian church, “[Regarding] the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). Nevertheless, he went on to encourage them to “excel still more” in their love for one another (v. 10). As believers, we haven’t loved as fully as we ought to love, but we have loved. And we don’t need to be taught to love because it’s instinctive, implicit, and inherent within our new nature. As we learned in Romans 5:5, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts.”

Jesus went so far as to say, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). It is basic to our Christian life that we have the capacity to “fervently love one another from the heart,” as Peter expressed it (1 Peter 1:22). And it’s a love that goes beyond mere feeling to encompass dutiful responsibility, sacrificial service, and sensitive concern.

So here comes the test: Do you characteristically love other believers? If you claim to be a Christian but have no love in your heart for those in the church or any track record of meeting their needs, then the apostle John says this to you: You’re in the dark in spite of your claim to be in the light. Love is a test of divine life. It signifies you have crossed over from darkness to light. This is how 1 John 3:14-15 putsit: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Do you honestly care about other believers or are you cold, uncaring, and indifferent? Do you have a desire to reach out and meet their needs? Those who don’t care are spiritually dead, characterized by an ongoing hatred. In our sophisticated age, that is manifested not so much in vitriolic hostility as in an utterly self-centered approach to life. People who continually focus on themselves and couldn’t care less what happens to anyone else are of their father the devil, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). As believers, however, “we know love by this, that [Christ] laid down His life for us” quite the opposite of the devil’s murderous character. Therefore, “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

John defined love as making sacrifices for others, perhaps even to the point of martyrdom. How do you respond to the opportunities you typically have to sacrifice your time, treasures, and talents? Are you happy when you come across a person or ministry in need, and you’re able to provide money, time, prayer, a commodity, a skill, or a sympathetic ear?

What about enjoying the privilege of fellowship in general? Do you look forward to being with fellow Christians and talking with them, sharing with them, discussing the things of God with them, studying the Word with them, and praying with them? Do you have a desire to take the resources God has given you and apply them to someone else in the family of God? That’s evidence of love, as John went on to explain: “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 17-18).

Note the result of such a practical approach to love: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (vv. 19-21). The assurance that you are a Christian–that your faith is the real thing–will come by your love. The Greek word translated “assure” (peitho) means to pacify, tranquilize, soothe, or persuade. You can soothe yourself as you stand before God that you’re a true Christian if you see love in your life.

Now your love won’t be perfect, but it will be there. Let that bolster your assurance, for John warned that your heart or conscience may try to incriminate you and make you doubt. The fallen flesh has the capability to play games with your mind. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, may seek to exploit that tendency. In whatever your heart condemns you, you can be assured if you see love in your life. You may doubt your salvation, but God never does because He is greater than your heart and knows all things.

Perhaps you’re going through doubt and struggling with your assurance. Do as John said and go back to the love of your life: Examine whether you love other Christians as evidenced by deeds of kindness and sacrifice. If that’s characteristic of your life, be soothed, be pacified–for no matter what your heart may do to condemn you, you can be sure of your salvation. A condemning conscience can rob you of your assurance because it looks only at failure. But God is greater than your conscience; He looks at your faith in Christ.

The apostle Peter, after denying Christ three times, had a worse time than any of us can imagine with a condemning heart. Jesus came personally to assure him. Three times in a row He inquired gently about Peter’s devotion. In desperation, Peter replied, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17). We too can appeal to the love God sees in our hearts. It’s not perfect but, again, it’s there. And it will express itself through deeds of kindness and sacrifice to others. Jesus told Peter to reveal his love by taking care of the church. It’s natural for the Christian to “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). Your love for fellow Christians is a benchmark of the Christian faith, and solid grounds for assurance. Refuse to let your heart condemn what God does not.


Do You Experience Answered Prayer?


Another source of confidence and assurance is this: Whatever we ask of God “we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). You can know you’re a believer if God answers your prayers. The only way that can happen is if you keep His commandments, and the only way you can do that is if you belong to Him. As John says in verse 24, “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him.”

In a similar passage John said, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (5:13-15). God always answers prayers that are according to His will. Obedient believers know His will as stated in His Word, and tailor their prayers accordingly. The answers that result bring about confidence and assurance.

God is more eager to answer the prayers of His children than they are to ask. I suspect there’s a certain disappointment in God’s heart because He would do so much more than we ever ask Him to do. Think of the blessings and assurance we miss out on!

Now there are many people who pray to God, but don’t even know the God they’re praying to or what His will is. God is under no obligation to answer such prayers. We learn from the Psalms that He doesn’t even hear them (cf. Ps. 66:18). But those of us who see answers to our prayers can know we have eternal life. One of the many good reasons to pray fervently and faithfully is to enjoy the assurance that answered prayer brings.

Some believers struggle with being assured of their salvation because they have scant experience concerning answered prayers. That comes from a skimpy prayer life. What a tragedy! If you’re in that situation, reverse it immediately. I don’t want you to miss out on the blessing and comfort that answered prayer brings. Looking back on my life, one of my greatest sources of assurance is seeing that God has answered many of my prayers through the years. That He answered is evidence that He hears me, which is evi­dence that I abide in Him and He in me.

Have you had your prayers answered? Is that a pattern of life for you? If so, you have eternal life. Have you prayed for an unbeliever and seen that person come to Christ? Have you prayed for someone in great distress and seen God turn the situation around into blessing and joy? Have you sought God about a void in your life and seen Him fill it? Have you prayed for forgiveness in a clear conscience and received it? Have you asked God to enable you to present His truth to an individual or group and experienced His grace to do so with great clarity? Have you sought power in proclaiming the gospel and experienced it? Have you asked that God would help you lead someone to the Savior, and He did? Have you sought contentment amidst trying circumstances and experienced God’s peace as a result? Have you asked the Lord to help you know Him better and experienced greater intimacy with Him after going through some hard lessons? Those are all indications that you belong to Him and He to you.


Do You Experience the Ministry of the Holy Spirit?


First John 4:13 develops that theme of belonging to God: “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” The first thing the Spirit did was “testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (v. 14). If you confess that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and have committed your life to Him, that was the Spirit’s doing. Apart from the Holy Spirit, you wouldn’t know who Christ is and you certainly wouldn’t confess Him as Savior and Lord. Have you experienced that ministry of the Holy Spirit? If so, that’s evidence of being a true child of God.

Another vital work of the Spirit is His illuminating your understanding of Scripture. John, speaking of the Spirit, said, “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and … teaches you about all things” (2:27). Paul explained that “the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God … that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:10, 12). When you read the Word of God, is its meaning illuminated to you? Do you understand what it says? In fact, do you sometimes understand it so well you wish you didn’t understand quite that well because of the obvious implications? Is it relatively clear overall? Now I’m not talking about obscure passages that we all struggle with, but consider the effect that reading the Word has on you. Ask yourself, Does it convict me when I’m sinful? Does it make me rejoice when I’m worshiping God and seeking to advance His kingdom? Those are signs of the Spirit’s illuminating work in your life.

Let’s look at other ministries of the Spirit. What about fellowship with God? It is the Spirit who leads you to cry out “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6) as a sign of your intimacy and communion with God. What about praise? Who is it that lifts your heart to praise and adore God? Who is it that compels you to sing with meaning and devotion? In Ephesians 5:19, Paul explains that the filling of the Spirit leads to “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” What about the fruit of the Spirit, which Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control”? (Gal. 5:22-23) Those attitudes are spiritual graces. Have they graced your life as a whole?

Have you ever ministered in a spiritual way through helping someone, giving to someone, or speaking to someone about Christ? Those are evidences of the Spirit of God. Do you actually experience His ministry in your life? In Romans 8:16, Paul explains that “the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Now don’t expect Him to whisper into your ear, “You’re a Christian, you’re a Christian, believe Me you’re a Christian!” There’s no audible voice, nothing esoteric or mystical, but something very concrete. He bears witness by providing you with evidence of His presence in your life–by illuminating Scripture to you, drawing you into fellowship with God through prayer and praise, producing spiritual fruit to grace your life, and enabling you to minister effectively to others.

If the Spirit is in your life, that’s evidence that you abide in God and He in you (1 John 4:13). So be assured. Don’t let your heart condemn you, damn you, tell you you’re not a believer. Recognize the Spirit’s work in you. There’s no reason to doubt and be unstable.


Can You Discern between Spiritual Truth and Error?


So far we’ve taken nine tests for determining the presence of saving faith. In the tenth is the one time John actually used the word test: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:1-3).

Every false religious system in the world violates that test. Adherents of such systems consistently attempt to undermine the biblical truth about who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished–that He is Savior and Lord, who came in human flesh to be “delivered over because of our transgressions, and … raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Can you tell when someone is presenting false teaching about the person and work of Christ? That is the watershed issue of the Christian faith.

False teachers “are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:5-6). John was saying a true believer will listen to the truth and not deviate into error about Christ’s glorious person and work. Suppose someone says, “I used to believe in Jesus Christ, but now I’ve seen the light: Christ really was an angelic being–or an emanation from God, a divine spirit without the human element, or just a man and not divine.” Any such heresies reflect an unregenerate heart.

From the moment of your salvation, there’s one thing you’re clear about and that’s who Christ is and what He did, or you wouldn’t be saved. It’s the Holy Spirit who made that clear to you. This test is not moral or experiential but doctrinal. True believers know truth from error because the Spirit of Truth indwells them. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ,” John says, “is born of God” (1 John 5:1). That’s the same doctrinal test again. When you believe the right thing about Christ, you’re born of God.

It’s good to be a believer, but it’s also good to be skeptical. As John says, “Do not believe every spirit” (4:1, emphasis added). For the sake of your spiritual life and health, don’t believe everything you hear, see, and read. Instead, “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” That requires the ability to think biblically. The Greek text implies conducting a rigorous, ongoing examination of whatever and whomever you expose yourself to. Why go to all that trouble? “Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

The conquering of the city of Troy is one of the most famous stories of antiquity. Greek soldiers had laid siege to the city for over ten years, but were unable to conquer it. In exasperation Ulysses, a brilliant strategist, decided to have a large wooden horse built and left outside the city walls as a supposed gift to the unconquerable Trojans. The Greeks then sailed away in apparent defeat. The curious and proud Trojans brought the wooden horse inside their fortified walls. That night Greek soldiers hidden inside the horse crept out and opened the city gates to let their fellow soldiers into the city. The soldiers massacred the inhabitants, looted the city, and burned it to the ground. Ever since, the Trojan horse has been a symbol of infiltration and deception. Throughout its history, the church has embraced many Trojan horses filled with false prophets.

Satan has effectively used enemies disguised as gifts to lure people away from the truth of God and into destructive error. Today’s church is in a particularly severe state of confusion because of its weak doctrine, relativistic thinking, worldly methodology, inaccurate interpretation of Scripture, lax internal discipline, and spiritual immaturity. What is sorely needed is spiritual discernment–the skill of separating divine truth from error (1 Thess. 5:21).

Perhaps you are discerning in the everyday affairs of life. You read nutritional labels because you want to be healthy. You read the fine print of the stock market report before making financial investments. If you need surgery, you carefully select the right doctor. Maybe you’re highly analytical about politics and can accurately assess a plethora of domestic and foreign issues. Or maybe you’re an armchair quarterback who evaluates offensive and defensive strategies. All that is fine, but can you discern between divine truth and error?

To do that, John said to test for two things: confession of the divine Lord (1 John 4:2-3) and commitment to the divine Word (vv. 4-6). If you study the cults, you’ll detect a pattern. Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and the like attack the person of Christ and then postulate a substitute or addition to the Bible, such as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, The Book of Mormon, or The Pearl of Great Price. True believers won’t believe such lies. They have a resident truth teacher in the person of the Holy Spirit (I John 2:27).

I listened to a radio program recently where a man was propagating a religion I never heard of before. It didn’t take me long to discover he was not representing the truth. I was immediately put on guard by the way he skewed one brief biblical statement at the beginning of his message. I continued to listen rather intently until he was finished, whereupon he declared the existence of a great prophet who is the instrument of God to bring great truth to humanity. What he said did not square with Scripture. I knew it was error because the Spirit of God has convinced me about salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and the veracity of Scripture. I knew I didn’t need some prophet of modem times to give me the truth.

You don’t have to be a seminary graduate or an expert on cults and world religions to distinguish truth from error. If you aren’t swayed from the basic truths of Christ’s divine person, work, and Word, that’s evidence of genuine saving faith.


Have You Suffered Rejection Because of Your Faith?


This eleventh and last test is painful: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Cain hated Abel and murdered him. Why did Cain do that? “Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (v. 12). Have you experienced animosity, hostility, rejection, bitterness, alienation, ostracism, prejudice, or outright persecution from representing and advocating what is right? If so, that’s a sign that you belong to One who suffered the same way for the same reason.

The fact is, to the worldly, you as a Christian “have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” (1 Cor. 4:13). You’re a threat to their belief that this world is all that’s worth living for.“They are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4). However, Scripture says, “[Be] in no way alarmed by your opponents–which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you” (Phil. 1:28). When suffering on account of your faith, don’t say, “Can I really be a Christian? Things are going so badly–I wonder if God cares.” Rather, if the world is persecuting you, say, “Isn’t this truly wonderful! It’s pretty clear who I am.”

I’ll never forget one night many years ago when I was called to the church office to deal with an emergency. I arrived to find one of our elders struggling with a girl who was obviously demon possessed. She was evidencing supernatural strength. She flipped a heavy steel desk over onto its top and the two of us together were unable to restrain her physically. Voices that were not her own were speaking out of her. The first thing they said when I arrived was, “Not him! Get him out! Get him out! We don’t want him here.” It encouraged me to know that the demons knew I was not on their side.

That was a very confirming night for me. When the world and the spirit of Satan behind it come after you, you too have the right to be confirmed if you’re hated because of righteousness. Now, if you’re hated because you’re obnoxious, there’s no virtue in that! “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:20). Part of that favor is being assured of your salvation.

The apostle John gave all the tests that he did to give the true believer a biblical basis for confidence. Let’s review his spiritual inventory: Do you enjoy fellowship with God and Christ? Are you sensitive to sin in your life? Do you obey the Scriptures? Do you reject this evil world? Do you love Christ and eagerly await His return? Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Do you love other Christians? Do you receive answers to your prayers? Do you experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Can you discern between spiritual truth and error? Have you suffered on account of your faith in Christ?

If you pass those tests, you can have confidence before God. After all, John wrote what he did so “you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). There’s no reason for you to go through your spiritual experience in the dumps, yet thousands of Christians do. Please don’t be one of them.


Copyright 2004 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Adapted from Saved Without a Doubt, by John MacArthur (Victor Books, 1992).

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39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 “Don’ts” for Parenting by the Schmuckers

Posted by Scott on December 13, 2008

39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 “Don’ts” For Parenting


By Matt & Elizabeth Schmucker


39 LESSONS WE’VE LEARNED

Lessons About Ourselves

  1. To be a faithful steward of your children you must abide in Christ (John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”).
  2. “Trickle down theory” – Mom’s daily devotion naturally trickles down to encouragement and instruction in the Lord for the children.
  3. Not listening to your children causes you to misjudge them (James 1:19-20: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”).
  4. Our task list is not as important as our children’s thought life.
  5. Preach the gospel of grace, not self-discipline.
  6. Being parented is defining; Parenting is refining.
  7. You will parent the way you were parented unless you think things through.
  8. Parents should become “smaller” as their children become bigger. In other words, a parent should become more transparent in confessing one’s sin and in sharing past struggles as children mature. Your children should hear more about your fight for faith as they grow older. Don’t be a plastic Christian!
  9. Ordinary times make for extraordinary memories.
  10. To have children is to need margin in your life.
  11. A disreputable life will undermine the gospel. An exemplary life will commend it.

Lessons About Children

  1. Little kids need the strength of your youth; older kids need your wisdom (i.e. have children while you’re young!).
  2. Pack in truth while your children are little and trust the Lord to unpack it in his time.
  3. Study your children. Know their “love language.”
  4. Consistent, loving, faithful discipline brings peace to the home. Inconsistency brings chaos.
  5. Do not let your child see their value in light of the world’s standards. The world rewards the 3 R’s. God delights in the heart that is tuned toward his (Deuteronomy 30:8-10: “You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul“).
  6. God hands out “talents” to our children. The child with two talents who exercises both may in fact be more pleasing in the eyes of God than the one with five talents who exercises three (Matt. 25). Faithful stewardship is the goal!
  7. On some days, it’s just fine to accomplish nothing more than keeping your kids fed and safe.
  8. Older children need to learn how to care for the weaker among them; doing so smells like Jesus. Matthew 18 reads, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” By contrast, Psalm 10:2 reads, “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.”
  9. Do not presume you will be able to speak into the lives of your older children if you do not live in their world when they are younger. Play with your children. There is a reap/sow principle at work here (2 Cor. 9:6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”).
  10. There’s nothing wrong with boredom for your children. It causes them to be creative.
  11. Send your kids to bed well (and school!) (Eph. 4:26: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”).
  12. Make sure your kids keep short accounts with each other. Create a culture of care and forgiveness in your home (1 Cor. 13:5: “Love…keeps no record of wrongs”).
  13. Teach your kids to be shock absorbers, not wave makers (Matt. 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God”).
  14. Kids can memorize scripture very quickly.
  15. Teach your children to notice needs. Teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” (Phil. 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves”).
  16. Teach your children to look adults in the eyes. It shows respect and recognizes authority.
  17. Fight materialism by teaching your children to have a thankful heart (1 Thes. 5:18: “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”).
  18. Teach your children to receive reproof, correction, and instruction (Prov. 12:15 “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice”).
  19. Let kids be kids. Let them dabble in various areas of extra-curricular activities (sports, art, drama, etc) rather than build a resume.

Lessons About Satan

  1. It seems Satan comes into our homes on Sunday mornings in order to make the Lord’s Day one of struggle.
  2. Do not feel outside pressure to baptize your children. Look for and test for a credible profession of faith in your child (Prov 22:15 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…”).
  3. Satan is a divider and always attacks authority: husband/wife and parent/child. In your home fight for unity around the gospel.
  4. For mothers, the “I-can-do-it-all-superwoman” mindset is at best a myth and at worst a lie from hell (Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”; Luke 10:40 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made; verse 41: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”).
  5. Beware of sports…on Sundays! Decide while your children are young that you will not allow the growing all-weekend sports phenomenon to usurp your worship (Ex. 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God”).
  6. Arm your children for the world, not (necessarily) shield them from it. Consider getting your high-school-aged children out of the Christian bubble.

Lessons About God

  1. Prayer is a mighty weapon to use in the life of your children:
    1. It changes the parent’s approach to the child
    2. It softens the hard-hearted child
  2. God uses children as a mirror to your own heart to expose your sin and hypocrisy.
  3. God elects. God saves. Parents cannot do this heart-changing work. At best we can pray and point to the One who can cause our children to be born again.

20 MORE TIPS FOR RAISING GOD-HONORING CHILDREN

  1. The saying goes, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” We believe daddy is actually the problem. From a complementarian’s viewpoint one needs to conclude the above saying with, “And if daddy ain’t happy in the Lord, ain’t nobody happy.”
  2. In a stay-at-home-mom scenario, dad tends to back away from discipline when mom has been with the children all day. In one sense this is wise as he has not observed the rhythm and rhyme of the day. However, dad needs to catch up and jump in.
  3. Talk to both good and not-so-good parents; you’ll learn lessons from both.
  4. Talking to really old parents may not prove to be fruitful as their memories fade and they’ll remember raising kids as either a nightmare or a glorious experience. Talking to parents 5-10 years ahead of where you are seems most fruitful (Prov. 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”).
  5. Though you may think this premature, have a vision for being involved spiritually with your grandchildren. This will shape even your parenting.
    • Positive example: Paul writing to Timothy said, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in your also” (2 Tim. 1:5).
    • Negative example: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judg. 2:10).
  6. Let your children see you practicing hospitality and let them participate. This breaks down the selfish tendencies all kids have (Rom. 12:13: “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality”).
  7. Unbelievers set up their home for the benefit of themselves. Christians should set up and use their homes for the benefit of their family, the church community, and outsiders (notice the order of this list).

    Supporting verses:

    • “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).
    • “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).
  8. If we could do it again, we would not have a television in our home. The television competes with more important things going on in the home. It competes for right thinking in the mind of the child. If you have a television, then watch it with your children (when you can) and play “catch the lies.”
  9. Our generation of parents encourages children to express themselves and vent all that’s on their minds. My parents’ generation grew up under the instruction that “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Both appear to be out of balance. Proverbs 10:8 says, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” Ephesians 4:29 suggests that the purpose of speech is to the benefit of the listener.
  10. You cannot expect younger children to obey if their older siblings do not. Proverbs 10:17 says, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”
  11. One’s conscience is not the same as the Law of the Lord. If conscience is defined as “That inner-voice that acts as a guide as to the rightness or wrongness of a behavior,” then your conscience is only as good as your knowledge of God’s Word. An informed conscience can be a trustworthy thing if it is drawing from God’s Word, God’s Law. An uninformed conscience is incredibly dangerous. Inform your child’s conscience by pouring in God’s Word. 
  12. We often speak of a home with the aroma of Christ (peace, hope, forgiveness and love—all for God’s glory). Alternatives are homes with the aroma of
    • a bus station—people just passing through
    • a war zone—people fighting all the time

    What does your home smell like?

  13. “Moral children” does not equal “Christian children.”
  14. Do a “sermon review” with your children sometime on Sunday. Have each child recap what he or she learned in Sunday School or “big church” and then help them apply it to their own hearts and trials. Then spend time praying for each other’s coming week.
  15. Martin Luther said he had the responsibility to be the worship leading pastor in his own home. His home was to be both a school and a church. Fathers, do you have this mindset?
  16. The unstated implication of Luther’s charge (above) is that fathers need to be present to lead in worship. Being in the house with a Blackberry in hands doesn’t count!
  17. Don Whitney encourages “brevity, regularity and flexibility” in family worship.
  18. Build in your children a global vision of God’s work in the world and thereby build a Great commission Mindset. We have found that having a map near to where we eat most of our meals is helpful. Reading from Operation World can inform the entire family of God’s work in the world.
  19. When children ask for permission to do something, their request can fall into one of several categories:

    Not Wise / Permissible
    E.g. out with friends on Sat night

    Not Wise / Not Permissible
    E.g. underage drinking and driving

    Wise / Permissible
    E.g. excused from family chores to prepare for next day’s test

    Wise / Not Permissible
    This problem rarely presents itself. Wants to save money for college but is not working age.

    The Not Wise / Permissible category is the hardest to deal with. Try to break down the request and sort out in your own mind why you think the request is unwise. Is it your own preference or is it truly unwise? Then encourage them to think through the wisdom of the matter, so that, even if you permit them to do it, they will remember the lesson when things go poorly.

  20. Build Godward children.

TOP 10 WAYS TO (WRONGLY) PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN

  • Colossians 3:21: “Fathers [and mothers], do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
  • Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers [and mothers], do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
  1. Make it a habit to discipline your child while angry.
  2. Make it a point to scold your child – especially in public. Mockery and ridicule work well.
  3. Deliberately embarrass your child in front of his/her friends. Name calling really gets their attention.
  4. Create double standards so that the child never knows who or what to follow.
  5. Preach and hold the child to a gospel of self-discipline instead of a gospel of grace. (Note: the Bible presents Pharisees as very unhappy people.)
  6. Never admit you’re wrong and never ask your children for forgiveness.
  7. Inspect your child until you find something wrong. Holding them to an unreachable standard makes this task easier.
  8. Judge a fight between your children before you’ve listened to them.
  9. Compare your child to others.
  10. Promise your children things early in the day and then don’t fulfill the promise.

Parents should provoke their children…in good ways: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on [provoke!] toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

Matt & Elizabeth Schmucker are the parents of five children who presently range in ages from 3 to 19. Matt is the executive director of 9Marks and an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

© 9Marks

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Great Reading List for Layman, Teacher, and Preachers!

Posted by Scott on June 19, 2008

APOLOGETICS

Stanley Jaki, The Savior of Science (Scottish Academic Press)

Philip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (IVP)

Philip Johnson, Objections Sustained (IVP)

Philip Johnson, Reason in the Balance (IVP)

Francis Schaeffer, Escape from Reason (IVP)

Michael J Wilkins and J.P. Moreland, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Zondervan)

 

Biography

Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore: The Life of

Adoniram Judson (Zondervan)

Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Abingdon)

Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 2 vols. (Banner of Truth)

Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth)

C.H. Spurgeon, Autobiography (Banner of Truth)

 

CATECHISMS

Tom Nettles, Teaching Truth, Training Hearts (Calvary)

John Piper, ed., A Baptist Catechism (Desiring God Ministries)

 

THE CHURCH

Jay Adams, Handbook on Church Discipline (Zondervan)

John Armstrong, ed., The Compromised Church (Crossway)

J.L. Dagg, Manual of Church Order

Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (booklet; Center for Church Reform)

Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (book; Crossway)

Mark Dever, ed., Polity: Biblical Arguments on How to Conduct Church Life (CCR)

Mark Dever, A Display of God’s Glory: Deacons, Elders, Membership, and Congregationalism (CCR)

John Piper, Elders (Desiring God Ministries)

Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines within the Church (Moody)

 

CHURCH HISTORY

Mark Dever, Richard Sibbes (Mercer)

Tom Dowley, ed., Handbook to Church History (Fortress)

Greg Wills, Democratic Religion (Oxford)

 

DATING

Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah)

Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl (Multnomah)

 

Devotional

Augustine, Confessions (Henry Chadwick translation, Oxford World Classics)

Horatius Bonar, Longing for Heaven (Christian Focus)

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding (Anchor)

John Bunyan, Holy War (Christian Focus)

John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress (Penguin)

D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, 2 vols. (Crossway)

Jonathan Edwards, Charity and its Fruits (Banner of Truth)

Carolyn Mahaney, Feminine Appeal (Crossway)

Jerry Marcellino, Rediscovering the Lost Jewel of Family Worship (Audobon Press)

J.I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP)

Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenwards (Calvary)

J.C. Ryle, Holiness (Baker)

C.H. Spurgeon, Faith’s Checkbook (Whitaker)

C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (thin ones; Christian Focus)

Donald S. Whitney, How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian? (Navpress)

Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Navpress)

 

DISCIPLESHIP

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (Harper & Row)

Elyse Fitzpatrick & Carol Cornish, Women Helping Women (Harvest House)

John Stott, Basic Christianity (Eerdmans)

 

EVANGELISM

Joseph Bayly, The Gospel Blimp (Lifejourney Books)

D.A. Carson, ed., Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns (Zondervan)

Jonathan Edwards, Works on Revival (including Distinguishing Marks) (Banner of Truth)

Val Grieve, Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb (Paternoster)

Patrick Johnstone, Operation World (Zondervan)

Will Metzger, Tell the Truth (IVP)

Iain Murray, The Invitation System (Banner of Truth)

Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism (Banner of Truth)

J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP)

Mack Stiles, Speaking of Jesus (IVP)

Christianity Explained (Narrowgate Press, UK)

 

MARRIAGE & DIVORCE

John Murray, Divorce (Presbyterian & Reformed)

 

PARENTING

Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Shepherd Press)

 

Prayer

Arthur Bennett, ed., Valley of Vision (Banner of Truth)

D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Baker)

Samuel Prime, The Power of Prayer (Banner of Truth)

 

STUDY TOOLS

Handbook to the Bible (Zondervan)

New Bible Commentary (IVP)

New Bible Dictionary (IVP)

Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, Bold Love (Navpress)

Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, Bold Purpose (Navpress)

D.A. Carson, Doug Moo, Leon Morris, Introduction to the New Testament (Zondervan)

Raymond Dillard and Tremper Longman, Introduction to the Old Testament (Zondervan)

Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth (Zondervan)

 

Suffering

D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? (Baker)

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Banner of Truth)

 

Theology

Louis Berkhoff, Systematic Theology (Banner of Truth)

F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Eerdmans)

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster/John Knox)

D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway)

D.A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Crossway)

D.A. Carson, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (Wipf and Stock)

J.L. Dagg, Manual of Theology (Gano/Sprinkle)

John Flavel, They Mystery of Providence (Banner of Truth)

Timothy George, The Theology of the Reformers (Broadman)

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom (Paternoster)

Wayne Grudem and John Piper, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway)

Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Fortress)

Carl F.H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief (Crossway)

Robert Letham, The Works of Christ

Fred Malone, A String of Pearls Unstrung (Founders)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression (Eerdmans)

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Westminster/John Knox, or SCM

Leon Morris, The Atonement (IVP)

John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Banner of Truth)

Tom Nettles, By His Grace and For His Glory (Founders)

J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Crossway)

J.I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God (Eerdmans)

J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible (Baker)

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Baker)

John Piper, Future Grace (Multnomah)

John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory (Crossway)

John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker)

John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Multnomah)

John Piper, TULIP: What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism (Desiring God Ministries)

Ernest Reisinger, What Should We Think of the Carnal Christian? (Banner of Truth)

Thomas Scott, The Articles of the Synod of Dort (Sprinkle)

B.B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Simpson)

David Wells, The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church (Banner of Truth)

David Wells, God in the Wasteland (Eerdmans)

David Wells, Losing our Virtue (Eerdmans)

David Wells, No Place for Truth (Eerdmans)

John Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Baker)

George Whitefield, Selected Sermons (Banner of Truth)

 

WORSHIP

Most Hymnals

Horton Davies, Worship of the American Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria)

Michael Horton, In the Face of God (Word)

Leonard Payton, Reforming Our Worship Music (Crossway)

David Petersen, Engaging with God (Eerdmans)

 

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