Gospel, Law, Wisdom, and Parenting
Over the weekend, I was thrilled to attend a homeschooling conference with two days of teaching from Dr. Voddie Baucham and Dr. Tedd Tripp. Whoo! The main focus was how to make sure that we are clearly announcing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus in our parenting and in our homes.
Talk about a power-packed weekend; it was phenomenal! I want to share some of the highlights that were the most encouraging and heart-challenging for me:
First was the need to get clear about the difference between obedience and Gospel.
“Obedience is not what the Gospel REQUIRES. It’s what the Gospel PRODUCES.” ~Dr. Voddie Baucham.
LEGALISM VS. GOSPEL IN PARENTING
This was such a wonderful reminder for parents in every stage:
Am I telling my kids:
- “You can do it!”
- “You need Jesus!”
The first is legalism, personal effort, and self-justification (“TRY HARDER!”). The second is the Gospel (“RUN TO THE CROSS & BE SAVED!”).
He pointed to Ephesians 4:32-
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32
His point was this– too many times, parents point to, “be kind to one another” without pointing to the “as God in Christ forgave you.” The way for our children to be able to have Christ-like kindness is to look to Christ, not to “try harder” to be nice.
The same verse, he said, can do one of two things:
- entrench my children in legalism
- confront my children with the Gospel.
NEED FOR THE GOSPEL
In a different session, a man named Monty Simao said, “Every child– rebellious or obedient– needs THE SAME GOSPEL.” He said all of us come with a default setting of self-rightousness yet sin is a daily struggle. We need to be pointing our children to the Gospel.
WHAT ABOUT WISDOM FROM PROVERBS?
One of Dr. Tripp’s break-out sessions focused on how to use wisdom literature biblically, and particularly how to use it in light of the New Testament revelation of Christ. He began with Proverbs 9:10:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. ~Proverbs 9:10
“Children can not interpret life wisely without the fear of the LORD.”~ Dr. Tripp.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ~Psalm 14:1
Because the predominant worldview around us is “there is no God,” according to Psalm 14:1, that means that our culture is speaking with the voice of a fool. We must help our kids see cultural messages (like “only you can decide what’s good for you”) rightly– as the epitome of arrogant foolishness.
Dr. Tripp made the point that our children need to learn to see culture through the lens of wisdom and foolishness… And that, as we talk with them about the attitudes and actions of the culture around us, they should see us living in light of the fear of the Lord. The decisions we make, the conversation we have (and don’t have), the relationships we pursue, etc, should all point to a genuine “fear of the LORD” at work within us.
Dr. Baucham on wisdom literature:
- First: Are we developing character? Or pointing our children to Christ?
We need to approach OT wisdom literature with the full revelation that Jesus IS the fulfillment of wisdom. He is the “wise son” of Proverbs. He has already done the work. Thus, the message they get from us by our use of the Proverbs should not be, “work for your righteousness!”
“It is not enough to raise kids who live according to Proverbs.” ~Dr. Voddie Baucham
He gave these principles for using wisdom literature:
- use it as wisdom, NOT law
- they are general truisms, NOT absolute promises (ex: contrast Prov. 14:26 & the life of Job)
- point to faith, not guarantees
- point to God’s sovereignty, not an assembly line of rules and outcomes
The difference between the fool and the wise is not in who tries harder. The difference between them is who fears the LORD.
When talking with our kids, we should look to the roots of belief and faith rather than the external fruit that we’re seeing. What is it our children are believing? What is it they are trusting in? Are we pointing them to the right resting place for their faith RATHER THAN simply looking at the external behaviors?
…”Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” ~Colossians 2:2-3
Jesus is the One in whom all treasures of wisdom can be found. He is the only means by which our children can become wise sons. Christ-less parenting is foolish. Gospel-less parenting is foolish.
Proverbs is not merely a series of behaviors we are shooting for. It is what God produces in His wisdom in the life of one who is yielded to Him.
“Christ, not effort, is the fulfillment of the Proverbs.” ~Dr. Voddie Baucham
Our children need to hear us say:
- “You need Jesus to be formed in you. THIS will conform you to who you need to be as you are sanctified by Him.”
- “You need Christ, not obedience!”
- Instead of “try harder,” “RUN TO CHRIST!”
The final question he posed was this:
“Am I causing my children to run deeper & deeper to their own efforts, or to run faster and harder toward the cross?” ~Dr. Voddie Baucham
IN THE COMMENTS:
- Questions/input about any of this?
- Is this new to you, or does it frame these ideas differently than you are used to thinking about them?
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