If you are a Christian parent, how does Deuteronomy 6:7-9 & 11:18-21 shape the way you parent your children in the faith?
- It is interesting that these passages are found in Deuteronomy, but not Leviticus. Leviticus was the initial giving of the Law & Deuteronomy is a re-telling of that same (somewhat expanded) Law to a new generation.
- After seeing a generation (including himself) fail, Moses wants to make even the basics explicitly clear. If the older generation wants to see the younger generation live faithfully according to God’s principles, it cannot just be a once-a-week conversation.
- A God-centered lifestyle is a necessity for the faith to be transmitted to the next generation. For Moses, this involves parents teaching their children when they sit down at the breakfast table, ride in the car to basketball practice, when you’re watching a movie together, & as you go to bed each evening (to modernize the translation). See how all-inclusive Moses makes this most-important task of biblical parenting? In order to properly teach your kids about God, you need to commit to making your entire life centered around being a worshipper!
- Keep it ever before your mind’s eye. Take every thought, word, & deep captive to make it serve the purpose of explaining God’s world to the children God has entrusted to you. This is how God has designed parents to pass on the faith to kids.
In Deuteronomy 27:1-8, what does God tell the people of Israel to do as they cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land? What does this tell us about the kind of people that the Lord wants us to be?
- God tells them to get large stones, cover them with plaster & write on them the words of the law. Then as they crossed the Jordan, they would set up the stones on the other side as an altar. The idea was that it would stand as a testimony to all that they had experienced up to that point.
- As individuals & families, we need to set up “altars of remembrance & celebration” in our lives as well. These would be things that provoke gratitude & worship unto the Lord for the great things He has done in our homes, offices, vehicles, bathroom mirrors, etc. It could be a picture of a loved one that has passed away, a verse that the Lord gave you to cling to during a certain season of your life, or a prominently displayed list of answered prayers in your life. Essentially, we are to live in remembrance of God’s victories in the past so that it can fuel our present obedience & our future faith.
All of the first five books of the Bible have had clear depictions of God’s sovereignty & human responsibility. What advantages do we gain from a rigorous understanding of God’s sovereignty? What advantages do we gain from a rigorous understanding of human responsibility?
- While these topics bring much contention in the American church, it definitely shouldn’t be that way.
- Let’s start by defining our terms:
- God’s sovereignty is not just the fact that He is all-powerful (omnipotence). It is His freedom to do whatever He chooses without influence from sources outside Himself. God doesn’t look for outside counsel. He never experiences peer pressure (because He has no peers!).
- Human responsibility is NOT human free will. Many people confuse these two.
- When most people talk about free will, they speak as if human beings are sovereign & autonomous (just like we defined God’s sovereignty above). However, let’s consider this:
- Human beings cannot be sovereign because we are creatures. Since we have been created, we are dependent upon external factors for our existence.
- We are also not free morally, but we were in God’s original design though. In fact, did you know that there have only been three people with a will that was “free” (that is, unencumbered by another influence)? They are Adam, Eve, & Jesus. Adam & Eve were created with free will, but used that free will to disobey God. Therefore, they & all of their offspring (which includes us) were stained with a sin nature. Sin has corrupted the free will that God gave us. The is why Jesus had to be born out of the normal means of human reproduction. The Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary’s sinfulness so that Jesus was conceived without a sin nature. Therefore, He had free will as well.
- So, a biblical definition of human responsibility is the accountability we have to God of what we do with the life, energy, & opportunities He has given us.
- When we understand this in these biblical terms, we can see that there is no conflict between God’s sovereignty & human responsibility. God is sovereign over all His creation. Human beings created in His image are responsible to God for their actions.
- So, back to Deuteronomy & our current question. We have seen God’s sovereignty on display (the creation of Adam & Eve, the flood, confusing the languages, overcoming the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, the humbling of Pharaoh & Egypt, etc.). We have also seen the responsibility that humans to choose & heed what God has said. When people follow God, the result is life (think about Moses’ call to them in Deuteronomy 30:19 — “choose life” & Jesus’ words in John 10:10). When people don’t follow God, there is judgment & death (think about Adam & Eve, Pharaoh, & Israel in the wilderness for 40 years).
- A rigorous understanding of God’s sovereignty builds a firm foundation of hope in our lives. No matter what we encounter, what evil befalls us, what others say or do to us, the promise of God’s sovereignty governs & overrules our feelings & our tendency towards anxiety & despair.
- A rigorous understanding of human responsibility speaks of the blessings of obedience & the consequences of disobedience. It dispels the myth that we can hide anything from God & reminds us that we will give an account for all of our thoughts, motives, & actions.
- When you hold these two doctrines in balance, you have a thoroughly biblical & life-giving perspective on life that God is at work & I have been given the privilege of moving & working with Him.
In the New Testament, Peter says that we need to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). What kind of evidence should you look for in your own life to do that?
- As we have seen, the core concept of Moses’ sermons in Deuteronomy is the reality of choice. We must choose God’s way & in doing so, choose life for ourselves.
- Concurrently, this is also how we gain the assurance of our salvation — which is what Peter is talking about in 2 Peter 1:10.
- Remember the C.S. Lewis quote from this past week’s message? It is worth quoting again. He said that “every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.”
- So along with other evidences of salvation (the presence of the fruit of the Spirit, do I endure through trials, what do I treasure), I would persuade you that the foundation of all assurance is: Who is being glorified in my choices? This is the initial proving ground of our faith that we should all be aware of.