Greet God’s people in the name of God.
Grace, peace, and mercy to you Beloved in the name above every other name, the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:9-11) He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (I Tim.6:15, Rev.17:14, 19:16) What a blessing to know Him and to be known by Him. (Jn.17:1-3) Can we ever plumb the depths of His goodness? (Eph.3:16-19) God has created Man to worship Him. Man fell into sin. We made ourselves incapable of coming near to a perfectly holy God. God’s eyes are too pure to look upon sin with favor. (Hab.1:13) But God is so loving and so powerful in His love that He rescued a people in Christ so that once again we could be holy, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb, now fit to worship God again. (Rev.1:5, Ps.86:9, 2 Cor.7:1, I Pt.1:15-16, Rom.12:1, Lev.20:26)
Glory to God in the highest. (Lk.2:14)
Well, worship is for the purpose of glorifying or honoring God. And that is what we desire to do as we drawn near to Him as He speaks to us in His word this morning. Just as an aside Beloved, as Reformed Presbyterians, we believe a doctrine called the “dialogical principle of worship”, that means worship is a real dialogue. God speaks to us through His word. And we speak back to God in our agreement with His word, with our prayers and with our praises – by faith. Oh Beloved, Christ is here walking among the lampstands of Covenant Church. What amazing grace. (Rev.2:1, 1:10-11) What holy ground. (Exod.3:5, Josh.5:15)
Read God’s word to the people of God.
Please take your Bible out and read along with me. Our first Bible reading will be a brief one. 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Hear the holy word of God. Read.
Timothy 3:14. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Lead God’s people in prayer to God.
Beloved, let’s ask God to bless our time this morning.
I have summarized the divine truth that I want us to consider this morning in our sermon title “The Use of the Family in the Advance of the Gospel”.
This is what we see with pastor Timothy. We are told at the opening of this epistle, 2 Timothy 1:1-9, that his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice believed in Christ themselves, they had saving faith and so they taught him the holy Scriptures from his childhood. They showed him Savior Christ in the OT Scriptures, they taught him the gospel of Christ’s blood from the word of God that gives him the knowledge of Christ to believe in Him to be saved. And through their witness of Christ he came to believe in Christ. Beloved, God uses believing grandparents and parents to give the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of the Cross, to our grandchildren and children that faith would come by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom.10:1-17)
Of course, the family is not the only gospelers. God uses many different heralds to proclaim the good news. But I will say, the believing family is the first gospeler to their children. Well this is what we will look at.
So, this sermon will be a bit of a break from my ordinary method of preaching through books in expository series. This sermon is a topical sermon. I chose to do this in conjunction with the baptism we administered this morning of the infant son of believing parents. My sermon will not be a defense of infant baptism, my bulletin insert will give you our Biblical understanding on the matter. My purpose is to give a Scriptural overview of how God uses the family to produce the next generation of those that love and serve and worship Jesus Christ in Spirit and in Truth.
This is the same for the believing Baptist parent and the believing Presbyterian parent. It has nothing to do with water. It has everything to do with Blood, with knowing Christ Crucified.
Given my purpose this morning my method will also be a bit different. I am going to use various Bible passages to support that truths that are connected with the divine will of God that the father and the mother who love Jesus Christ will present Christ to their beloved children, children that God has given them to raise up in the fear and admonition and love of the Lord. (Eph.6:1-4)
The first thing we will need to do is to look at the family before the Fall of Adam. Obviously it is the fall of Adam that necessitates the gospel of Christ. (Gen.3:1-15) Then we will see the use of the family now in this present evil age, an age that needs the gospel desperately.
God made man a religious creature.
At the risk of sounding silly we will start with the creature that God calls to sow His gospel seed, that is to say man. God uses one human being giving the gospel of Jesus Christ to another human being that we would be saved of our sins and saved to love God. (Mt.28:18-20, Mk.16:15, Gal.1:1-4, 2 Cor.5:13-21)
God only calls humans to preach Christ. Natural revelation does not preach Christ. (WCF 1.1) Angels do not preach Christ. They marvel at the gospel, they themselves long to look into the mysteries of It. (I Pt.1:12) Only men are saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so only men are fit heralds of it. And by men I mean human beings, men and women.
In Genesis chapter one God created all things out of nothing, by the word of His power, and in the space of six days and all things were good and very good. (Gen.1:1-31, WCF 4.1)
God created Man on the sixth day, the final day of creation. (Gen.1:26-29) Man was the crowning achievement of His creation. This is because Man is utterly unique. God made Man in the image of God. That means that God made man a religious creature, a spiritual creature, a moral creature. God made Man with true knowledge of God, true righteousness, and holiness before God, perfect and without sin, and with dominion over the rest of creation – for God, as God’s under-stewards. (WCF 4.2)
God made Man in living union with God. Man was created spiritually united to God. God made man to enjoy loving friendship with God. God walked with Man in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden. God gave this inexplicable benefit and blessing to Man only. No other creature that was created had such a relationship with God. Not even the holy angels have this union and communion with God. We can say angels are servants of God. (Heb.1:14) But Adam is a son of God. (Lk.3:38) God made Man to be His loving adoring worshiping children.
Beloved, Man is not an animal. We are creatures. But we are radically unlike the lower creatures. We are religious creatures, created by God and for God.
Let me make this personal. You were created to know and to love and to worship God.
And God created Man to obey God. All would be well between God and Man if Man would give to God His perfect due which is to say perfect obedience. God told Man…
Genesis 2:15. Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
God made marriage a religious relationship.
And after these words God said this…
Genesis 2:18. Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
The suitable helper that God made for Man, this image bearer of God, was a woman, his wife, another image bearer of God. (Gen.1:26-27)
God made Eve out Adam’s rib. He said of her, she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. And the two shall become one flesh. Christ in Matthew 19 quotes Genesis 2:24.
Matthew 19:4. And He (Jesus) answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, V.5. and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH ‘? V.6. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
My purpose is not a sermon on marriage. For that I would direct you to my blog post on the nature and the goodness of marriage. Essentially marriage is a spiritual union of a man and a woman, in a love relationship that finds its highest expression in reflecting the love relationship between Christ and His church. (Eph.5:22-33, Ezek.16:1-14, Mt.9:15, Jn.3:29, Rev.19:7, 21:1-3)
For our purposes today, God made man a religious creature and God brought two religious creatures, a man and a woman, into a religious relationship. God created marriage as a religious relationship. A relationship to mirror His love for His people. A relationship of a husband and wife that love and serve and worship God together.
Think of this Beloved, God made man needing the complement of another. A man’s wife is that complement, she makes him whole as it were. She is his closest friend all the world. The husband loving God. The wife loving God. The husband and the wife loving each other. The husband and the wife helping each other love and serve God together. This is the first family, by God’s design. Their chief aim for their family is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever – together, as they pilgrimage here below.
God ordained marriage to be a means of producing the next generation of worshipers.
And now let us look at the fruits of this religious relationship, that is to say, the divine gift of children.
And God has made Man male and female and He united them in marriage and gave them this mandate…
Genesis 1:28. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
You see Beloved, God made human beings a race, a religious creature that can procreate other religious creatures. Angels are not a race. They do not marry. They cannot procreate. They were all made individually by the finger of God. But God has so designed human beings, His image bearers, so that a husband and a wife can bear children.
Remember we are still before the Fall. So, God has made Man a religious creature. He has place Man, male and female into a religious relationship. And now God has purposed that this holy relationship of love should produce children, little image bearers, little human beings also called to know and to love and to worship God. Oh Beloved, how glorious.
God promises Savior Christ to the first family.
Now we know Beloved that this glorious holy perfect love relationship between the first husband and the first wife and God did not remain perfect before they produced children. No something very very sad happened. Sin happened.
The woman Eve was deceived by the devil into sinning against God. (Gen.3:13, I Tim.2:14) She gave the forbidden fruit to her husband, and he listened to the voice of his wife against the voice of his God, and he too sinned against God. Then God cursed the serpent, the woman, and the man, and all things for the sin of Adam. (Gen.3:1-24) Sin entered the world through Adam our first federal head as Paul tells us in the book of Romans chapter five. (Rom. 5:12-21)
But I want us to see something which is significant for our sermon subject of God using families to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God Himself proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, victory over Satan to Satan and before the very first family.
Genesis 3:14. The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
This is what theologians refer to as the proto-euangelion, the first proclamation of the Good News.
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 16:20 that the God of Peace in the Prince of Peace will soon crush the head of the serpent for us.
Christ will set His people free from sin and Satan and the wages of sin which is eternal death. Christ has come to destroy the works of the devil. Christ has come to plunder the kingdom of the devil and to set the captives free. (I Jn.3:1-8) Christ has come to seek and to save sinners.
Christ has come to restore us back to God. To once again be holy in Christ by His blood. (Rev.1:5, Jn.3:16)
This is the content of the Gospel in Seed form. Notice the Good News is words. Words spoken. Words written. Words about the person and the work of Jesus. These words can be known, understood, and believed upon. By believing we are brought into a saving relationship with the Living Word Jesus Christ. By faith are you saved. (Eph.2:8-9)
Well, in summary that is God’s method of salvation from sin and for a life of holiness and happiness restored to God. Believe in Christ and be saved. (WCF 20.1)
Now I want you to notice what human beings God proclaims this glorious gospel to. Our first family. Oh beloved, it was a family that received the gospel of Christ first, a husband and a wife. They are called to believe in this coming Seed-Savior to save them from their sins.
And they will be responsible to give this gospel to their children and their children’s children and beyond that they might be saved in this same Christ.
And I want you to think of something. Adam receives the gospel of Savior Christ. He lives for 930 years as we are told in Genesis chapter five. Because people lived so long before the Flood, there were ten generations from Adam to Noah. Noah was born 123 years after Adam died. So, Adam could directly testify of Christ for nine generations. Usually for us it is two generations, children and grandchildren. We see this with Timothy.
Now I said that God gave the gospel to a family first. Remember that there were no other people before Adam and Eve. The family is the first divinely created society of people. The family is the seed bed for the larger societies of church and state – for the people that came from Adam and Eve. For Adam and Eve, the first family they were also the first church, the first society of believers in the Lord.
Beloved, I want you to think of this.
The family is responsible to teach Christ to their children.
The primary responsibility to teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible rests with the family.
Adam and Eve could not say, oh well the church will teach my children the gospel. They were the first church. And even with the subsequent establishment of the ceremonial law that depicted Christ with the priests and the sacrifices, still the primary responsibility to tell our children that we are fallen sinners and Christ alone is our only hope in life in death lies with the father and the mother. Hear the word of God on this.
Exodus 12:25. When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'” And the people bowed low and worshiped. (Dt.4:9)
Beloved, the true Passover sacrifice is Jesus Christ. Parents are divinely responsible to teach this to our children; the Bible says so.
Listen to what God’s word says to parents on the religious instruction of our children.
Proverbs 1:8. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; 9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck.
Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Psalm 78:3. Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4 We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God
Ephesians 6:4. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Col.3:20)
The family is responsible to sit under the sound preaching of Christ.
When I say all of this, of course I am not denying the place of the larger church and the recognized ministry of the word. I am after all preaching this message to you. 😊 Christ has given to His church pastors and teachers for building up the saints. (Eph.4:11) Those men particularly called and gifted by Christ to preach Christ.
But even in this, parents have a primary responsibility to their children to put their children under the sound ministry of the word. One of the consequences of the Protestant Reformation is now there are churches of every stripe on every street corner in every town. Parents are required to be good Bereans and search the Scriptures to make sure sound doctrine is being taught. (Acts 17:11) And then to go there and have their children learn sound Bible truth. Let the parents lead the children in this. Rather than the children leading the parents. (Isa.3:12)
Beloved, let me encourage you in this. Let’s return to Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice teaching the gospel of Christ to their grandson and son.
Parents share a Christ they know.
First, they had saving faith in Christ. They were sinners. And then they were saved in Jesus. Saved sinners are able to teach others about Christ. In fact, only people that know that they have sinned, and that Christ alone washes them clean can teach their children that.
Believing parents in Christ not only are divinely responsible to teach your children about Christ, you are divinely equipped to teach them about Christ. As a Believer in Jesus you are able to tell your children about Jesus. You have Christ. You know Christ. You know the gospel.
Now someone may say, which parent has the primary responsibility of training the children to love Jesus? Yes, the Bible does say the husband is the head of the wife and the father is the head of the family. So certainly, the dad should be the leader in teaching the Bible to the family, to teach the children about Jesus. And for that matter the husband should be leading his wife in the Bible. That is another sermon. 😊
But I want to say this. For me, the question is somewhat a wrong one. I say that because I want to say, well the real answer is the “believing” parent is the one responsible. If they are both believing, then they both are responsible.
In the case of Timothy his mother was a Jew and she married a Gentile.
Acts 16:1. Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
This was a sinful marriage on her part. The Bible forbids Jews to marry Gentiles. The Bible requires that Believers marry only in the Lord. (I Cor.7:39)
But do you see something Beloved? The believing partner though having sinned, look at what happened for her. She is saved in Christ. Forgiven in Christ. Restored in Christ. Loved in Christ. And now for her little son. The same! She taught her little son about Christ. And God saved him.
Oh beloved, the family does not save. Just like the church does not save. Jesus saves. He uses family to tell their children about Jesus. He uses the church to tell people about Jesus. But only He does the saving. And He does.
Oh beloved, God makes promises to the parents of Believers that He will be a God to us and to our children after us. We stumble and bumble and sin all the time. But God is faithful. He uses saved sinners to bring other sinners to salvation in the Savior.
Parents share Christ with children they love.
Now I will say, fathers and mothers actually are uniquely equipped to teach our children about Jesus. God has created the father and the mother to have a special love for their children. And their children have a special love for them. Yes, we are called to love all people. But that love bond between father and mother and child is from God to by used for God.
Think of it, it was Christ’s love for His Bride that made Him endure the suffering and shame of the Cross for the joy set before Him, the joy of saving His people.
Oh beloved, what father and mother wouldn’t sacrifice themselves for the material, temporal, bodily welfare of their children? Endless hours of works. Sleepless nights. Cares, and tears, and prayers. All out of love. But we do this for the soul welfare of our children as well. We love them so much we want them to know Jesus, to be washed clean of their sins by Jesus, to love Him and to serve Him all the days of their life. Isn’t that true?
I have a question for you. Of course, believing fathers should be so active in this for their children. But who spends more time with the children when they are little? Father or mother? Mother.
Oh beloved, it is not for nothing that Winston Church said the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Oh, what power the believing mother has. All the labors. All the prayers. Singing with their little ones about Christ. Teaching their little ones to read about Christ. And when does all this love and prayer and concerns for their children to love Christ and be loved by Christ stop? There is no time limit.
Beloved, I want you to think of this. As a believing father and mother you have a divine calling on your life. A higher calling. Higher than serving self. Higher than things. Eternal souls are placed into your care for Christ’s glory.
We are called by Christ to minister Christ to others. Husbands, Jesus calls you to minister Christ to your wife, so that she will shine in Christ. Wife, Christ calls you to support your husband in his service of Christ. Parents, Christ calls us to minister to our children for the good of their eternal souls. To teach them about Christ with our words. To show them that we believe in Christ and love Christ by our lives, especially in our marriages.
Finally, by this I do not restrict this teaching our children of Christ only when they are young and in the home. Certainly, that is when we have the most direct access to them. And certainly, instruction looks different for young children and grown children, especially when our children have established homes of their own.
But I mean this. Beloved Believer in Jesus your whole life is a gift for you to teach your children about Jesus, how good He is and how worthy to be loved and worshiped He is.
A brother in the Lord once told me, when I was young my father taught me how to live for Christ. Now that he is older and near death, he is teaching me how to die for Christ.
Oh beloved, what a wonderful Savior we have. What a wonderful gift our children are. What a wonderful gift to present Christ to them. Glory to His name.
- How has Christ made you a fit or acceptable worshiper of God? What are some elements in corporate worship? (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, Acts 2:9-11, I Tim.6:15, Rev.17:14, 19:16, Jn.17:1-3, Eph.3:16-19, Hab.1:13, Rev.1:5, Ps.86:9, 2 Cor.7:1, I Pt.1:15-16, Rom.12:1, Lev.20:26, Rev.2:1, 1:10-11, Exod.3:5, Josh.5:15)
- Where did Timothy’s grandmother and mother learn of salvation? Where did Timothy learn of salvation? What lessons do we learn by this? Does being born into a Believing family save us? How does God save sinners? Does being born into a Believing family give us spiritual or religious benefits? What are they? (2 Tim.3:14-17, Rom.3:1-2, John 17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, James 1:18, I Pt.1:23, WCF 1.1, Mt.28:18-20, Mk.16:15, Gal.1:1-4, 2 Cor.5:13-21)
- How did God create Adam? What were some of the privileges that Adam enjoyed before he sinned? In what way is Man as created before the Fall a religious creature? What was Man’s relationship with God before the Fall? (Gen.1:26-28, Gen.2:7; Eccl.12:7; Lk.23:43, Mt.10:28, Col. 3:10, Eph. 4:24, Rom.2:14-15, Eccl. 7:29, Gen. 3:8-23, WCF 4.2, WLC 20)
- Who created marriage? What is marriage? What are the parties in marriage? How is marriage a religious relationship? How is marriage to be seen in connection with God or serviceable to the kingdom of God? (Gen.2:18-25, Mt.19:4-6, Gen.1:26-27, Eph.5:22-33, Ezek.16:1-14, Mt.9:15, Jn.3:29, Rev.19:7, 21:1-3, I Pt.3:7)
- What does call the children of Believers? What should we think about our children in relationship to God? How are we to have them and raise them to be serviceable to the kingdom of God? How ought we to view our children “religiously”? (2 Tim.3:14-15, Eph.6:1-4, Gen.6:6-18, Exod.6:4-7, Gen.17:7, Acts 2:38-39, 2 Cor.6:16-18, Ezek.16:21, Mal.2:14, Ezra 9:2, I Cor.7:14, WCF 24.2-3)
- As relates to teaching our children about Christ and the Gospel of Christ and the Bible in general why is it important to marry a Believer in Jesus Christ? How will marrying an unbeliever affect our religious instruction of our children? What do we do if our spouse is an unbeliever as regards to teaching our children about Christ? (WCF 24.3, Gen. 34:14; Exod. 34:16, Deut. 7:1-4, I Kings 11:4, Neh. 13:25-27, Mal. 2:11-12, 2 Cor. 6:14-18, I Cor.7:12-16, 39, I Pt.3:1, Acts 5:29)
- How did Adam and Eve sin? Why is sin reckoned to Man via Adam? What is sin? What is the wages of sin? What did sin do to Man’s relationship with God? (Gen.3:1-24, Eph.2:1-3, I Jn.3:4, Rom.5:10-20, James 1:14-15, Mt.15:19, Rom.6:23, WSC 18-19)
- What three creatures heard the first proclamation of the Gospel? What human beings heard it? What lessons are we taught by this? What is the gospel? Who is Christ? What has He come to accomplish? (Gen.3:14-15, Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, I Cor.15:1-6, 2 Cor.5:17-21, Eph.2:1-9, Rom.16:20, I Jn.3:1-8, Rev.1:5, WCF 20.1)
- God gave the gospel to our first family, a man and his wife. Why is the family the first religious instructor of their children? What does require of the parents as regards to their instruction? (Exod.12:25-27, Dt.4:9, Prov.1:8-9, 22:6, Ps.78:3-7, Eph.6:4, Col.3:20, 2 Tim.3:14-17)
- What is the responsibility the believing parents have towards their children as regards to what church is attended by the family? What are the marks of a sound church? Is it right for parents to choose a church that their children find fun and exciting?
- How or why are believing parents equipped to share Christ with their children? How does our struggle with sin affect our witness to our children? (Jn.3:16, I Cor.15:1-6, Eph.2:1-9, 2 Tim.3:14-15)
- How does the love relationship between a parent and a child help our gospel witness to our children? What are some aspects of being a parent that prove advantageous to our gospel witness to our children? Hint: think of time and access. (I Tim.1:5, I Cor.13:1-13, I Pt.4:8, Isa.66:13, Isa.49:15, Titus 2:4, Exod.20:12, Eph.6:1-3, Prov.31:1-3, Lev.19:3)