Title: Assembly Required
FCF: We often struggle expressing the communal aspects of our faith.
Prop: Because the discipleship of the family is the job of the church, we must as an assembly disciple one another.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to I Samuel 2:6. Normally when we have a children’s dedication, it is only a component of the service. However, this time we have 8 children from 6 families being dedicated. That is a lot! I decided to separate the teaching time from the ceremony and do a more robust sermon focusing on a single question. That question is, what are the duties of a Christian when it comes to children? Not their own children necessarily – but children in general. What are our responsibilities to these little humans?
The teaching of scripture on this topic is quite extensive. For today I will only focus on two particular groups of people. First the duties of the parents of the children. What has God ordained for you?
I.) What are the Christian duties of parents?
a. [Slide 2] Worship God for His sovereignty over all things including life and death
i. Hannah, mother of Samuel, promised to dedicate Samuel to the Lord if she would have a son. God gave her Samuel, and she followed through on her promise. This was her song at his dedication in I Samuel 2…
[Slide 3]“6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
iii. We must recognize that God alone is worthy of praise for blessing us with a new life in our care. And since God is sovereign over all things – even if your child is not biologically yours, God still wove the child in the womb of his or her mother and providentially led the events to unfold so that you would be their parent.
iv. No court, judge, nameless force, natural means or byproduct can be praised or blamed for life or death. God alone is sovereign over all things.
v. We ought to praise the Lord for His sovereign hand in giving life to our children.
vi. This cannot be a one-time thing anymore than life is a one time thing. Everyday we must worship the Lord for His provisioning and sovereign will to offer us these little ones.
b. [Slide 4] Thank the Lord with regard to His choosing to gift you a life to help shape–
i. [Slide 5] Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
ii. [Slide 6] We must also realize that they are a temporary gift. We know this to be true in several ways.
1. All things belong to the Lord. Even our children are not ours. Ultimately, this world and all that is in it belongs to the creator.
2. The scriptures also clearly teach that our children are being raised to be their own household someday. We know that although they will always be our children, the clock starts ticking the moment they are born. We only have a few years with them before they leave our family to form their own household. This is the nature of families. This is how God has designed them.
3. In submission to God’s sovereignty we also know that there is no guarantee that we will be entrusted with our children’s care for any length of time. God may not plan for them to outlive us.
iii. The temporary nature of the gifting of children to parents should not lead us to fight and claw to save every moment. But we do cherish each moment with them, thanking the Lord for giving us the privilege and responsibility of caring for them.
c. [Slide 7] Submit to God and the responsibility He has placed on you as parents
i. [Slide 8] Deut 6:4-7 - 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
1. [Slide 9] Parents have a responsibility to love God above all else
a. Parents are not to sacrifice God’s word or ways on the altar of their children. Children are not idols to be worshipped but students to be taught.
b. Parents do the best for their children when they clearly show them that they are not the first priority in the family. But God first, spouse second, and they are third. Only then will the biblical values be solidified in the heart of a child to treat their future husbands and wives with the proper love and respect God desires them to give. And only then will the child understand the proper place of God – above all else.
c. Ultimately, parents loving God above their children is the best way to show love to their children.
2. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children -
a. The buck stops at the parent.
b. It is not a professional school teacher’s job to teach your child. It is your job.
c. It is not a pastor’s job to spiritually lead your child, it is your job.
d. And to be even more precise, ultimately the responsibility for the child’s nurture and counseling or admonition is the father.
ii. We also see this demonstrated in Nehemiah 8:13 –
2. After the reading of the law to all the people, the families went home in joy at what was read to them. After this, the family leaders or rather the fathers of the households, came to meet with Ezra to consider further the application of the law of God.
iii. Ultimately then, the spiritual instruction and discipline of God is to come from the father.
3. But this is not always in formal training or devotions, but as the Deuteronomy passage said - when you lie down or get up - it should be during life, should be obvious to your children who you serve by your words AND your lifestyle
4. And this is not a duty that expires when they leave your home to form their own household. In fact, for the rest of your life, they will come to you for guidance, advice, and direction. And if we do it right, they will eventually be teaching you.
d. [Slide 10] Bringing all this together, we might say that God has given you an 18 year floor to ceiling discipleship opportunity where you MUST do life together with this individual. You will see each other at your worst and best. You will know each other better than any other relationship save your marriage. And every single relationship outside of the one you have to your children, will be tested. Your only hope, is to cling to the Lord, desperately lean on Him for understanding, trust him in all you do, and He will guide you. He will help you to teach His ways to your children, in word and deed.
[Slide 11(blank)] Truly the Christian duties of a parent are monumental. But God has provisioned another ally in this endeavor, His church, for exactly this purpose as well. What then, is the role of the Assembly as their members are blessed with children? How can the rest of the assembly help?
II.) What is the role of rest of the Assembly as members are blessed with children?
a. [Slide 12] The purpose of the assembly is to glorify God by knowing Him, obeying Him, and making disciples of Christ.
i. [Slide 13] Matthew 28:19-20 - 28:19 Therefore go27 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,28 28:20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember,29 I am with you30 always, to the end of the age.”31
ii. Churches have tried to fulfill this purpose in various ways over the years. And today the struggle is no different.
iii. How do we reach our communities with the gospel? How do we impact those around our church for the sake of His name.
iv. For the past few years, the church leadership and I have viewed this much like a Chinese finger trap. Our natural impulse is to take the full force of the church and turn it outward. We could have this event, that program, this concert or that ministry. None of these are wrong per se, we just don’t really see them as legitimate fulfillment of this command from Christ. Rather than reaching out into our communities with evangelistic programs and grand and expensive efforts to share our faith or help those in need –
v. [Slide 14] We see the primary role of the assembly is to build up the body of Christ, 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to16 the measure of Christ’s full stature.17 4:14 So18 we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.19 4:15 But practicing the truth in love,20 we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 4:16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together21 through every supporting ligament.22 As each one does its part, the body grows in love. Ephesians 4:12b-16
vi. And as we all grow up in love, we take that into our work places, grocery stores, hospitals, family gatherings, indeed every single human interaction is an opportunity for us to represent Christ and His Kingdom to the world both in word and deed.
vii. The more like Christ we are, the more impact we will have on our community.
viii. The buzzword surrounding many churches in our nation is “outreach” but because we are not your average church, we have playfully described God’s pattern for us as “inreach”.
ix. Of course this doesn’t mean we do not connect with the lost in our community or help those in need. Of course we do – sometimes even as a church organization.
x. But the primary purpose of our ministry is not a museum for the healthy, nor a hospital for the sick, but rather, a med school for doctors who have the cure for all that ails the world. Namely the gospel of Jesus Christ.
xi. That being said… the opportunity that is afforded to the Assembly when its members are blessed with children becomes all the more apparent. Inherent within our members having children are opportunities for making disciples and sharing the gospel. We need not strain ourselves to look outside these walls. Especially when God has blessed us with SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES. You were here for Columbus Christmas right? You saw the SLEW of kids we have here?
xii. But the role of the assembly is not only toward the children, but also the parents.
b. [Slide 15] The assembly must always be discipling the ones who come after them.
i. [Slide 16]Titus 2:1-8 2:1 But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with1 sound teaching. 2:2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled,2 sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.3 2:3 Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. 2:4 In this way4 they will train5 the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, 2:5 to be self-controlled,6 pure, fulfilling their duties at home,7 kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message8 of God may not be discredited.9 2:6 Encourage younger men likewise to be self-controlled,10 2:7 showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, 2:8 and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss,11 because he has nothing evil to say about us.
ii. How can a new mother be encouraged to love their husbands? How can they be encouraged to love their children? How can be self-controlled, pure, and fulfilling their duties at home, being kind, and submissive to their husbands? How can they NOT inhibit the gospel of Christ by their motherhood? – By the older women, who are holy, not slaves to vice or gossip, pouring into these women. Wow! It doesn’t even say grandmothers friends. Just older women. You don’t have to be my wife’s mother or grandmother to teach or encourage her.
iii. How can a young father be self-controlled, an example in good works in every way, including an example to his kids and wife? How? By older men who are self-controlled, honorable and grounded in doctrine and love and perseverance – pouring into these men. You don’t have to be my father or grandfather to do this.
iv. [Slide 17] This is trickle down godliness my friends. God has given His church to be an instrument for discipleship.
v. And when members of the assembly have children of their own, they give the assembly that many more opportunities to disciple.
vi. As the assembly of Columbus Baptist Church – you have no need of wondering who God is calling you to minister to. That question has been answered.
[Slide 18] So how then shall we live?
Parents, God has given you a marvelous and daunting privilege and responsibility to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now we can’t go too far here. Their success and failure, spiritually and physically does not all depend on you. In fact, more correctly, it all depends on God. However, God has allowed you to share in His work and has promised to be with you.
He has also given you His family, His body, His Assembly to assist you too.
First he gave church leaders, who are responsible to equip you with everything you will need to accomplish this task.
But you are not equipped in isolation. The whole church is equipped for the ministry. The ministry is to build up the body of Christ. To grow them in the knowledge of the Son of God. To grow them into the stature of Christ. This is the ministry. And the ministry is the responsibility of the whole assembly.
And so to the assembly, God has given you a marvelous and daunting privilege and responsibility as well. Namely, to learn from your leaders, so that you can be equipped to do the work of the ministry, which is to build up the body of Christ, growing in the knowledge of Christ and growing up into the full stature of Christ.
Literally every person in the church is responsible for the physical and spiritual needs of every other person in the church – without distinction. We have already seen this with regard to church discipline, that when 1 leaves the 99 we pursue the one. But this transcends correction and goes to all areas and walks of life. Encouragement, admonishing, edification, teaching, mercy, love, counsel, peacemaking, etc.
If this assembly is to be what God has intended it to be, the body of Christ, we must pour into one another’s lives.
Empty-Nesters – Fill your lives and your home with new children that are not your own. Humbly advise and guide those who are young parents. Tell them about your successes, confess your failures.
Single Adults – God may not have blessed you with a mate yet, or perhaps your mate has passed away, but you probably have enough resources to be able to assist those who have less. The time, money, and energy you are not devoting to a mate or children, could be spent on those who have little.
Young Singles – You may be deeply and frantically looking for a mate – but in the process of that what you do have is a strong back and fewer commitments. The elderly need your back, and the couples with young children need your time and energy. They need it so much they might even pay you for it. The children need role models to follow. Their parents are easily ignored… but you won’t be. Be a godly role model for other people’s kids. The elderly may need someone to talk to. It can be lonely. They may just want to tell you stories. Listen and learn.
Retirees - You may not be wealthy, you may not have the energy or strength to keep up with our kids. But what you do have is in short supply in the assembly. You have an abundance of wisdom and time. We need you to spend time with the younger generation and sharing your wisdom. We will listen. Don’t waste your time and wisdom on selfish pursuits. I know you have worked all your life for retirement. But there will be plenty of rest for you in the New Kingdom. Finish strong. Any rest you clamor for here is not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come. Time is short. We need you. Get back in the fight!
Parents of young children – While your time may be full and your wallets light, you have the most direct connection to the youth of our church. Because they are your kids and your kids friends. Do not squander any opportunity you have to make sure you interact with the children of your children’s age. Babysit for other parents so they can go on a date. Encourage and edify other young parents. You cannot afford to be spiritually dry during this time. When you are dry there is nothing for you to pour out. And do not forget to serve. Rather than filling your Saturday mornings with cartoons or sports, go to the nursing homes or visit the sick with your children – provided that they themselves are not sick. Your kids, and your kid’s friends, must see Christian service demonstrated. They must see you learn from God’s word if they are to learn from God’s word. Seek out those older than you, with skills you do not have, and either learn those skills or let those folks teach your children.
Couples with no children – With no time constraints and no attachments save yourselves, you ought to be growing your marriage as an illustration of God’s love to all the single people in the church. Teach them what to look for in a mate. Teach them the scriptures and be a role model for them. You may not know it but every young adult who is single is looking to you and wanting to be like you. So – no pressure or anything.
These are suggestions. They are not commands. But I hope you understand. All of us have spiritual and physical needs, and we can lean on God and His people to meet.
It truly does take a village to raise a child – and truly, if we are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – The Assembly is required.