The word “glory” means heavy, and so it is, but then when you receive the glory of God, you find that you can- not imagine it any other way. The yoke of Christ is light and only gets lighter, but the burden of the world, the flesh, and the devil is crushing. The gift of children and parenthood is heavy, but it is heavy like a table full of food, like a basket full of fresh fruit.
“…and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:16-17).
“…though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered…” (Heb. 5:7-9).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXTS
God the Father is the perfect Father and Jesus is the perfect Son, and yet we see here at least two principles that we can apply in our families. The first is the glory of parenthood and the parent/child relationship. While the Trinity is certainly a mystery, and the Father and the Son are one God in a way that parents and children are not, our covenantal union with our children is a true analogous union. And if God the Father was right to proclaim His love for His Son, and His pleasure in His Son, how much more so is it important for us to do so in a fallen world? And the fact that the Spirit descends at the same moment, highlights the glory of that love and pleasure. Second, in Hebrews, we see that even the perfect Son learned obedience through the things He suffered. Adam was cut open before he met Eve and there was a dragon in the Garden, before any sin entered the world. If Jesus endured discipline to learn obedience, how much more must our children, if we want them to come into His glory?
OBJECTIVITY OF THE COVENANT
The world loves to talk about “unconditional love,” but there is no coherent foundation for that notion in an evolutionary worldview. If you are in charge of making your own world, your own meaning, your own happi- ness, your own identity, then nothing is fixed, nothing is given (including family). This is the goal of the Leftist revolution of the last 60 years: seeking to redefine human life, marriage, gender, and therefore, parenthood, but this means that if the Federal Government is now the final arbiter of what any of these things mean, it is functionally also claiming to be the judge of what a family is, what parents are, and whether a child actually belongs to certain parents or not. Always remember that a rejection of God’s authority is the first move in vy- ing for His job. It is not whether there will be a god; but which god will it be.
The true and living God has created the world with fixed realities, and one of those is the covenantal nature of all things. All things are objectively in a covenantal relationship with God. You do not get created by God and then exist in a neutral space, with the universe waiting breathlessly to see whether you “consent” to reality. Even if most Christians reject that radical version of existentialism, there has still been a strain of it in modern evangelicalism, where we put all the emphasis on “deciding” for Christ. But Christ is risen from the dead, and our children are “holy” to God (1 Cor. 7:14). Paul does not say that the Ephesian parents should wait and see whether their children want to be Christians before bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord (Eph. 6:4). We are not waiting to see if they “consent” to Christ, any more than we wait around to see if they consent to food or air or love. It is absolutely true that they must embrace all of these good gifts, including a personal, vibrant faith in Jesus, but they are objectively members of the covenant by baptism. You do not wait to see if they choose to be your children or members of your family, and neither does God. So the question is: can you look down at your son or daughter right now and say the same words the Father said of His Son? And do those words echo in Heaven? You must, and they do, by faith alone in the Father, Son, and Spirit.
SOME BASICS OF DISCIPLINE
Hebrews says that the Lord chastens and scourges every son that He receives, and therefore, if you are not chastened, then you are bastards and not sons (Heb. 12:5-8). Discipline is how parents prove that their children belong to them, and when they discipline their children in the Lord, they are also proving that they belong to Jesus. The Bible clearly teaches that the opposite is also true: failure to discipline is a form of hatred and therefore a false gospel (Prov. 13:24). Hebrews also says that this discipline must be painful, and it must yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11). The particular requirement of the Bible is the use of a rod of discipline: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (Prov. 23:13-14). The rod is not the only tool in a parent’s tool- box, but it is an important one. All discipline must be done calmly, cheerfully, and with biblical justice. Another basic principle of parenting is that it is easier to teach and train the younger they are: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6).
Parenting should consist of lots of joyful teaching and training and practice. Think of yourselves as coaches: lots of praise, lots of drills, show them how to do it, run it again. The rod is particularly for acts of defiance, refusal to obey when you are sure they know exactly what you are requiring and know how to do it. Many children will give you at least one good battle (sometimes multiple battles), and parents are required by God to win because God commands our children to obey their parents so that they may be blessed (Eph. 6:1-3).
Zephaniah 3:17 says: “The Lord your God is in your midst; the Mighty One will save. He will rejoice over you with great joy; He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” The prophet says that when God comes, He comes singing. But He doesn’t just come singing, He comes singing a song of rejoicing, a song of celebration. But this is the mind-blowing thing: it’s a song of rejoicing over sinful people. And this is exactly what happened in Jesus.
The song is boisterous, flamboyant, abundant, and loud. It’s like a father standing on a table in a public place, announcing his love and joy over his family. It’s so loud and joyful and embarrassing and wonderful. And this is how God determined to save the world. He determined to save the world through singing a sea shanty, a rollicking bar tune, with fiddles and drums and dancing over His Son in the water, on the cross, and now at His right hand. He is still singing, and the words go like this: free grace, free grace, free grace. And that’s our glory.