Scripture Reading: Genesis 17:9-17; 18:16-19
“For I have chosen him, so that he will teach his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised.” (Genesis 18:19)
We have been looking at the covenant God established with Abraham. The essence of the covenant is found in Genesis 17:7 — “I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” Children of believers are included in God’s gracious covenant.
The sign of the covenant is to be given to the children as well — “This is My covenant with you, the covenant you are to keep. Every male among you shall be circumcised…For the generation to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised…” (Genesis 17:10,12). The Old Testament sign of the covenant was circumcision; the New Testament sign is baptism.
Parents have the major responsibility to their children in the covenant. Notice what God said about Abraham — “For I have chosen him so that he will teach his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He promised.”
God gave Abraham the primary responsibility to teach his children and household to keep the way of the Lord. God was very specific in His instructions to Abraham. The broad responsibility was to teach his children to kept the way of the Lord, that is, to train them to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.
God also gave Abraham specific responsibilities. Abraham was to teach his children about righteousness. We know that true righteousness can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must teach our children about justification by faith (Romans 5:1,2). Justification is central to the Christian faith.
Abraham was also responsible to teach his children about justice. The Hebrew root word translated “justice” in this passage is found again in Exodus 21:1, where it is translated “ordinances” or “laws.” The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20. The chapters following the giving of the Ten Commandments explain the application of the commandments to the society in which the people lived. This gives us a hint to the meaning of teaching our children justice. It means that we teach them God’s law and its application to their lives. Parents have the responsibility to teach and train their children to obey God.
Let’s put these two specific responsibilities together. Parents are responsible to teach their children the gospel. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is not based on works (religion, morality, our feeble efforts to earn God’s favor). It is a gift from God. This is the only way to true and abiding righteousness — Christ’s righteousness imputed to us at justification. Once justified, we are called out of love and gratitude to Christ for what He has done for us to obey Him. Obedience is the fruit of our justification, not the basis for it.
After many years in the ministry, I have been disappointed by so many parents who failed to take their covenantal responsibility to their children seriously. Notice the end of the verse — “”so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He promised.” Many parents do very little to teach and train their children in the way of the gospel. God holds us responsible for this awesome task. The greatest loss a parent can have is to lose his or her children spiritually. Don’t let that happen. As we trust God, He will give us parents wisdom to raise our children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord.
Lord Jesus, I pray for my children and grandchildren. I pray that they will grasp the wonder of the gospel and experience the great joy of knowing You. I pray that they will follow You and obey You all the days of their lives.
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