The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 10:11-21 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. The rich man’s wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool. When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.
The family is the basic building block of empires. No civilization in history has come into being, or lasted very long, without a respect for the institution of marriage between man and woman. This union between man and woman is vital to fulfill God’s commands to mankind: “be fruitful and multiply and take dominion”. It was given to us as the means by which God’s Kingdom would go forth in the world, and serves as a picture of His plan of salvation for us: as Christ loves the church and gave His life for her, husbands ought also love their wives.
Hatred stirs up strife.
Hatred for our wives, and they for us, injects discord into the marriage relationship. Rather than bearing with one another's burdens, husbands forget that their wives are the weaker vessel, and wives fail to respect their husbands. Instead of a gentle and quiet spirit adorning the wife, there is contention, which makes for an unbearable home. Likewise the husband, led by feelings and emotions rather than the word of God, behaves like a tyrant, seeking his way, rather than what is best for wife and home. Strife and contention in a home will follow after a husband and wife who have hatred towards one another.
But love covers all transgressions.
Philippians 2:1-5 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Despite what our world is screaming right now, it’s not about you. It is about God’s glory, and He is most glorified is a marriage relationship that displays a clear picture of His Son’s relationship to the Church, His bride. Ladies, this means respecting your husbands and being subject to them, as the church is subject to Christ. Husbands, it means loving your wives as your own body, and treating them as precious, showing her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. Selfishness, conceit, and a “me first” attitude has no place in a marriage. We are called to take up our cross daily, and follow after Him. This means having a face set like flint towards Zion, resolved to say “Not my will be done, but Yours O Lord”.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
If you are able, let us kneel as we go boldly to the throne of Grace as we confess our sins to a Holy, Just God.
Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
We come before you this morning totally exposed before Your gaze.
Though we seek to hide behind our feigned worship, our works of self righteousness, and our hollow words of praise, We know that our iniquities are ever before You. Father, You love us, and gave Your Son that we might live. Yet far too often this truth falls upon an unfeeling heart.
Time and time again You display Your faithfulness towards us. And repeatedly, we turn instead to that which is passing away for comfort, joy, and peace. We say “God is love” and praise You with our mouths, and in the next breath curse our neighbors. Husbands despise the wives of their youth, and wives contend with their husbands, and bring You shame in doing so.
Father, we are weak. We believe ourselves able to stand on the day of testing, when trials come our way, circumstances weigh us down, and then we fall. Please be merciful towards us sinners. Please forgive us of our sins which we have sinned against You alone, and restore to us the joy of our salvation.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
(From the 12/8/19 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)
(Here at Sovereign King Church we are committed to the unity of the church even while disagreeing on the timing and mode of baptism. This commitment to charity in the midst of disagreement has allowed for sweet fellowship in this church. With this charity still in mind, I wanted to share something from the pen of Cotton Mather. He was a New England Puritan and one of the most prolific American writers. In this excerpt from his work entitled "A Family Well-ordered", Mather speaks to parents of baptized children. He impressed upon them the duty of evangelizing their children, which he calls improving their baptism. His words here are an encouragement to those who have baptized their children and yet should also encourage those who do not hold to infant baptism to be about training their children in the fear of the Lord.)
Cotton Matthers on Improving our children's baptisms:
Consider the Condition of your Children; and the Loud Cry of their Condition unto you, to Endeavour their Salvation! Know you not, That your Children have precious and Immortal Souls within them? They are not all Flesh. You that are the Parents of their Flesh, must know, That your Children have Spirits also, whereof you are told, in Heb. 12.9. God is the Father of them; and in Eccles. 12.7. God is the Giver of them. The Souls of your Children, must survive their Bodies, and are transcendentally Better and Higher & Nobler Things than their Bodies. Are you solicitous that their Bodies may be Fed? You should be more solicitous that their Souls may not be Starved, or go without the Bread of Life. Are you solicitous that their Bodies may be Clothed: You should be more solicitous, that their Souls may not be Naked, or go without the Garments of Righteousness. Are you Loathe to have their Bodies Laboring under Infirmities, or Deformities? You should be much more Loathe to have their Souls pining away in their Iniquities. Man, Are thy Children, but the Children of Swine? If thou art Regardless of their Souls, truly thou dost call them so! One of the Ancients, namely Cyprian, hath a pungent comparison for this matter;
"Pray, Consider, He that minds his Child's Body more than his Soul, is like one, that if his Child and his Dog were like to be drowned, should be solicitous to save his Dog, but let the Child perish in the water."
How deaf art thou, that thou dost not hear a loud cry from the Souls of thy Children in thine Ears, O my Father, my Mother, Look after me!
But more than so; Don't you know, That your Children, are the Children of Death, and the Children of Hell, and the Children of Wrath, by Nature: And that from you, this Nature is derived and conveyed unto them! You must know, Parents, that your Children are by your means Born under the dreadful Wrath of God: And if they are not New-Born before they Die, it had been Good for them, that they never had been Born at all. The law of equity was, in Exod. 21.19. If one man wound another, he shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. Your Children are born with deadly wounds of Sin upon their Souls; and they may Thank you for those wounds: Unjust men, will you now do nothing for their Healing? Man, thy Children are dying of an horrid poison, in their Bowels; and it was thou that poisoned 'em. What! wilt thou do nothing for their Succor! Thy Children are thrown into a Devouring Fire; and it is from thee that the Fiery Vengeance of God ha's taken Hold of them. What! wilt thou do nothing to Help them out! There is a Corrupt Nature in thy Children, which is a Fountain of all Wickedness and Confusion.
What shall I Say? I may say, The Time would fail me to mention a thousandth part of what might be said. But, in short: Is it not a sad Thing to be The Father of a Fool? Alas, man, till thy Children become Regenerate, Thou art the Father of a Fool; Thy Children are but the Wild Asses Colt! I add; would it not Break thy Heart, if thy Children, were in Slavery to Turks, or Moors, or Indians? Devils are worse than Indians, and Infidels: Till thy Children are brought home to God, they are the slaves of Devils. In a word; Can thy Heart Endure, that thy Children, should be Banished from the Lord Jesus Christ, and Languishing under the Torments of Sin among Devils, in outer Darkness throughout Eternal Ages? Don't call thy self a Parent; Thou art an Ostrich!
Improve the Baptism of your Children, as an Obligation, and an Encouragement unto you, Parents, to Endeavour the Salvation of your Baptised Little Ones. Of your Children, you may say, with Jacob, in Gen. 33.5. These are the Children, that God hath graciously given to me. Now, Will not you Heartily give back those Children to God again: Their Baptism is to be the Sign and Seal of your doing so. You generally bring your Infant Children unto the Baptism of the Lord: I suppose, 'tis because you are satisfied, That the Children of Believers were in Covenant with God, in the Days of the Old Testament; and, That the Children of Believers then had a Right unto the Seal of the Covenant; and, That in the days of the New Testament, they have not Lost this privilege. Well, But when you bring your Children to the Sacred Baptism, what is it for? Oh, Let it not be done, as an Empty Formality; as if the Baptism of your Children, were for nothing, but only a Formal and a Pompous putting of a Name upon them. No, but let the serious Language of your Souls, in this Action, be that of Hannah, in 1 Sam 1.28. I have given this Child unto the Lord, as long as he Lives he shall be given unto the Lord.
When you have done thus, for your Children, you have a singular Advantage to plead for the Fulfilment of that word upon them, in Isa. 44.3. I will pour my Spirit upon thy Seed, and my Blessing upon thy Offspring. You may go before the Lord, and plead, Lord, Was not the Baptismal Water poured by thy Command upon my Children! Oh, Do thou now pour upon them the Heavenly Grace, which that Baptismal Water Signified. And now, no sooner let those Children become able to understand it, than you shall make them understand, what the Design of their Baptism was. Parents, I am to tell you, That if you Let your Children grow up, without ever telling them, That, and, Why, they were Baptized into the Name of the Lord, you are fearfully Guilty of Taking the Name of the Lord in vain.
Let them know, That in Baptism, they were Dedicated unto Him. Show them, That when they were Baptized, they were Listed among the Servants and Soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that if they Live in Rebellion against Him, Wo unto them! Show them, from, Mat. 28.19, 20. That since they are Baptized, into the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they must observe all Things, whatsoever the Lord Jesus Christ has Commanded them. Show them, from Rom. 6.4. That since they are Baptized, they are Buried with Christ in Baptism, and must Live no longer in Sin, but be Dead unto all the Vanities of the World. Show them from Gal. 3.27. That since they are Baptized, they have put on Christ, and must follow His Example, and be as He was in the World. Show them from 1 Pet. 3 21. That being Baptized, they must now make the Answer of a Good Conscience, to all the proposals of the New-Covenant: and God propounding to them, Shall my Christ be thine, and wilt thou be His? they must conscientiously answer, Lord, with all my Heart! Put this very solemnly unto your Children; My Child, Shall God the Father, be thy Father? Shall God the Son, be thy Saviour! Shall God the Spirit, be thy Sanctifier; And art thou willing to be the Servant of that one God, who is, Father, Son, and Spirit? Leave them not, until their little Hearts are conquered unto That for which they have been Baptized. It has been the Judgment of some Judicious men; That if Infant Baptism were more Improved, it would be less Disputed.
Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds; -Proverbs 27:23
With the recent mass killings fresh in our mind, something that always happens after one of these tragedies is that the people close to the murderer routinely say they had no idea the person would do something like this. Neighbors, school friends, or coworkers all say the same thing “he was such a nice person, I never knew he was into things like this.” And while it is hard to put much blame on someone who only has acquaintance level of familiarity with someone, it is far more troubling to hear that the parents of these young men are equally ignorant. Most of the time, these young men live with or near their parents but their parents are utterly clueless to the condition of their sons hearts.
Alas we think this is just a problem with fathers of murderers, how many times does a young lady get pregnant out of wedlock and their parents act totally surprised. How many teenage children are doing things right under the noses of their parents and their parents seem to have no clue of any of it. Often it’s not that the parents are given no signs of these things. There are always signs all around for everyone to see. But we have made a culture out of closing our eyes to things we really don’t want to see.
“See something, say something” has a big brother totalitarian ring to it and no one wants tattlers running to a tyrannical government. But honestly, there is no need to worry about people saying something because we have all collectively agreed not to see something. That young woman struggling with her kids being disobedient at church- What young woman struggling with her kids being disobedient at church are you talking about? That young man who won’t look you in the eyes when he is talking to you because he might be experiencing guilt for looking at porn- What young man you talking about? I didn’t see that. Well how about that young boy with all the effeminate mannerisms and lispy voice, maybe he is struggling with unnatural lusts. Didn’t see him either.
We are very good at not seeing what we see so we don’t have to get involved, so we won’t have to say something.
The Proverb says: Know well the condition of your flock. This has application beyond the farmer. Pastors need to be able to see what they see. Fathers need to be able to see what they see. Fathers do you know the condition of your children? Do you have talks with them about what is on their heart. Do you know what they are consuming on the internet or in the books they read? Do you know what your son does in his room with the door locked all the time? Do you know what your daughter is thinking about the boys she is hanging out with?
You need to know well the condition of your household and that will require seeing what you see and saying something to your household when you see it- not as a nag or a private eye snooping- but as someone who genuinely cares to know the heart of their son or daughter. If you don’t know the condition of your flock it is because A. you are just an absentee shepherd or B. you are self-blinded shepherd. Both will end up with a diseased and sickened flock.
Yesterday I posted on facebook a quote from a puritan named William Gouge. In his exposition of Ephesians 6 he made this observation: "when parents are too indulgent over their children, God does punish the sin both of parent and child, by shortening the child's days."
He was observing that just as the scripture contains a promise of long life and prosperity to those who obey their parents, so does it warn those who disobey their parents that they deserve death. Many people took issue with this statement by Gouge. Even one "pastor" said he showed people at his church and mocked it. He should know better and I am saddened by that response.
I still affirm this quote by Gouge and I believe that is faithful to biblical teaching. One theme that kept popping up in the pushback from other commentators was the idea of exceptions to the rule. People asked about those who die young and were obedient or those who were faithful parents and had children who rebelled. What about the exceptions?
First of all, we don’t sacrifice the normal on the alter of the abnormal nor the general on the alter of the exception. The Bible has a lot of general promises that we would do well to believe and hold. For example, the general promise is that if you raise up your child in the way he should go when he is old, he will not depart from it. What a wonderful promise to parents that they should treasure. This, however, does not mean though that God in his good will and pleasure may not allow something else to happen. God may allow the child to go astray like the prodigal son. This exception to the promise does not invalidate the promise but shows that God is God and he does what is right. As the book of Romans says, God will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy. In the cases where God allows these things, he has a good purpose and we can trust that even the rebellion of our children will be a part of all the things that God works together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.
Furthermore, the promise to long life that attends the commandment to obey your parents is also a general promise. God in his good pleasure may determine that there is something better for the obedient child than long life. He may decide to take the life of a young man who was and is honoring his father in order to protect that young man from something else or to use that young man in a mighty display of the gospel. Again, this exception to the promise does not invalidate the promise. It shows that God may give above and beyond what he promises. William Gouge said: “God does never simply deprive his Saints of that which is promised, but only instead of it gives a better: as in taking away wealth, he gives the more store of grace: in restraining liberty of body, he gives freedom of conscience: with affliction he gives patience: by taking away this temporal life, he gives eternal life. God herein deals, as if one who having promised so much iron, should instead thereof give as much silver: or for silver give gold: and so for one pound give the worth of hundreds or thousands."
In these cases, we must trust God above all. He is a good father who gives good gifts to his children. He is also a just judge which is why he warns those who dishonor their parents that they are walking a dangerous path. Those who dishonor their parents and disobey should tread lightly. They may find that their life is ended short. If it is not ended short, it may be prolonged so that they may face earthly consequences for their disobedience or so that they may store up wrath for themselves when they do die.
Christian parents should keep all of this in mind. They should know that they have an awesome responsibility to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. They should pray for and long for the salvation of their children. They should believe the promises of God for their children and they should fear the warnings of God for their children. In doing so, they will not abrogate their responsibility and over indulge their children. They will see that to do so is to harm their children and is a grave sin against God and their children. They will instead strive to teach their children faith and obedience to Christ.
The following are some scripture texts to meditate on and are foundational for this post:
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Sunday 10:30 AM