It's Up to Parents to Teach Children God's Word
Accepting the responsibility of teaching the Bible in your home will equip your kids to live by it when they are grown.
Voddie Baucham, Jr.
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Imagine your boss came into your office and said, “Congratulations, you have just been promoted.” What if that promotion meant stepping into a job for which you felt inadequate and/or unprepared? How would you respond? Would you say, “Thank you, sir, but I am not up to the task”? Or would you say, “Thank you, sir, I’ll do my best”? I think most of us would welcome the challenge and rise to the occasion.
As parents, that’s exactly what God said to us when He gave us children. He said, “Congratulations, you’ve just been promoted to the position of parent.” That means that everything God requires of parents is part of your new job description. At this point you have two choices. You can either say, “Thank You, God, but You must have taken momentary leave of Your senses. There’s no way I can train my children in the Word.” Or you can say, “Thank You, God. I know You don’t make mistakes, and if You gave me this child, You will also give me everything I need to bring her up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
I wish I could say that my response was the latter. However, I must admit that I was terrified. I was a twenty-one-year-old college junior who had been married for ten months. I remember looking at one of my professors and asking, “What am I going to do?” He looked back at me and said, “You are going to do the same thing fathers have been doing for thousands of years.” Suddenly it dawned on me—I wasn’t the first man to become a father while he was in college. I could handle this. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew that with God’s help I could handle this.
My professor’s words of encouragement have echoed in my mind for the past fifteen years. I am still trying to navigate my role as a husband and father, but I am sure that God has given me what I need to accomplish the task to which I have been called.
Teaching is the best teacher
As homeschool parents, my wife and I are often asked how we homeschool two high-school-aged children. Many families believe they could never teach their children at home past the third grade! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the standard line, “By the time they reach high school, they’ll be past anything I could handle.”
Whenever my wife and I encounter such comments we merely reply, “You only have to stay a week ahead.” I love to see the look on people’s faces when they realize the simple yet profound truth of this statement. All we really need to do to teach our children is stay a step ahead of them. Of course, this means that we must be in a constant state of learning, but it is doable.
The same is true in teaching the Bible.
So many parents think they don’t have enough Bible knowledge to teach their children. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you can read, you can teach your children God’s Word. All you have to do is stay a step ahead of them.
Don’t be afraid. God has given you everything you need to do this. You don’t have to be a seminary-trained theologian to read the Bible and talk about what it means. Besides, God would not have given you the responsibility unless He knew you could handle it.
One of the oft-forgotten Reformation doctrines is the doctrine of the perspicuity (or understandability) of the Bible. God has given us the Bible in an understandable form. We do not have to break codes or unravel riddles in order to understand the basic teaching of God’s Word.
The role of the home in teaching the Bible
Contrary to popular belief, the home—not the church—has been entrusted with the primary responsibility of teaching children the Bible. In our age of professionalism we tend to hire out virtually every parental responsibility. We want Johnny to succeed at sports, so we hire a professional for private lessons. We want Susie to get into a good college, so we hire a special tutor to boost her SAT score. We want our children to be upstanding citizens and Christians, so we hire a children’s pastor or youth minister.
There is nothing wrong with wanting our children to succeed (as long as we have a biblical view of success). Nor is there anything inherently wrong with seeking help when we need it. However, we have gone beyond seeking help to abdicating our responsibility.
Both of my older children play classical piano. They have a teacher who is very serious about her craft. She insists that her students practice daily, attend lessons weekly, be evaluated at a piano guild, participate in at least one concert and one contest annually, and pass the annual state theory exam.
While each of these requirements is challenging, the one that requires the greatest level of parental encouragement is the state theory exam. However, my oldest child recently had a breakthrough. She realized that her commitment to and subsequent grasp of music theory was the catalyst for her recent growth as a player. She realized that the notes on the page represented what she was to play but theory was the why. Now she is poised not only to play music but to compose it as well.
If giving our children a biblical worldview is the why of family driven faith, giving them biblical instruction is the what. Our worldview shapes the way we think, but learning and memorizing the Scriptures determine what we think. For example, a child with a biblical worldview may understand the inherent dignity of his parents as human beings created in the image of God, but a child with biblical instruction also knows that the God who created his parents says, “Honor your mother and father.” It is not an either/or proposition but a both/and mandate. We must give our children a biblical worldview, and we must instruct them in the Word of God.
In fact, without the Word of God there is no biblical worldview.
Excerpted from Family Driven Faith © 2007 by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. Used by permission of Crossway Books.