A Charge to Christian Parents

As we head into a new season, and settle back into the rhythm of the school year, I’d like to draw your attention to a few important matters.

The apostles instruct us to not forsake the assembly, as is the habit of some, but to encourage and stir one another up to love and good works (Heb. 10:25). This means the weekly assembly of believers is for the encouragement and edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it ought to be a priority in the rhythm of your weekly routine as a family. By neglecting the regular corporate worship of the church we’ve committed ourselves to, we not only become a discouragement to our brothers and sisters, but we inadvertently teach our children to devalue the local church—while also keeping them, during their most formative years, from one of the primary means God has given for the spiritual growth of His people.

Additionally, as we head into a new season, it would be wise to review with your children the expectations for respectful and godly conduct that they ought to strive for—whether culture and friends encourage it or not. This includes things like not running in the church building (because we must be considerate of others, especially considering the safety of older saints), listening to one’s Sunday School teachers, being kind to others, being respectful to adults, etc. Our society as a whole is facing a crisis as young people become increasingly disrespectful, selfish, unruly, and undisciplined—and this has seeped into the church. That ought not to be the case. The church is to be a contrast-culture. We are to demonstrate the righteousness of Christ, and to shine out as distinct and different and holy in the midst of the darkness.

The temptation, of course, is to say, let them be kids. But one of the most important aspects of raising children to be wise and godly adults is teaching them self-control, self-discipline, humility, respect for authority, and the importance of context (e.g. you don’t run in church, you run outside; you don’t talk in class without being called on) (Acts 24:25; Eph. 6:1–4; Phil. 2:3; Titus 2:4–6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Or, an even more subtly unbiblical temptation yet: they’re just going to be kids, what can we do about it? Well, train them. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord—that’s our job (Eph. 6:4). Letting them be kids shouldn’t mean we allow them to do as they please. The goal is to train and teach them to be the kind of kids who know, love, and follow Christ.

And that is, first and foremost, our job as parents. At Fairview Bible Church, we believe the responsibility to raise children and train them to follow Christ rests ultimately and primarily with the parents. At the same time, we as a church body want simply to come alongside one another as we seek to cultivate Christlikeness in our children; and this means being involved in their lives, teaching what it means to be respectful, kind, and self-controlled young people who know God, think biblically, and live wisely. And that is a tall task—but it’s just one component of the church’s mission to make competent and committed disciples of Christ.

So, I encourage you to be in prayer for the young people in our church, our teachers, and for our congregation as a whole. We’re excited to see what God has in store for this next year!

Households and Warring Over the Cosmos

Pastor C.R. Wiley… Familiarize yourself with his work.

I’ve previously recommended his book, Man of the House: A Handbook for Building a Shelter That Will Last in a World That is Falling Apart. It’s exactly as the subtitle claims—and worth every penny and every minute.

Pastor Wiley has now published a follow-up work: The Household and the War for the Cosmos: Recovering a Christian Vision for the Family.

One of the biggest dangers to the modern church is the downplaying, fragmentation, and recreationalization of the household. We need to get back to a biblical understanding of the strategic and central role the household plays in God’s plan for the cosmos.

Here, Wiley introduces a couple of the concepts he explains through the book.

In order to prepare for some of the concepts Wiley deals with, watch this helpful introduction and summary of the biblical doctrine of the household from Alistair Roberts…

…and this clip of Wes Calihan, of Roman Roads Media, explaining the Roman concept of piety—akin to the Christian paradigm, and an all important concept to grasp, as the idea of piety has been misused and relegated to an effeminate, quietistic cliche. It’s actually one of the core biblical principles of the Christian life.

The Standard and Source for Wise Counsel

If counseling means “giving counsel,” then where else would we turn for the truth we need to impart to counselees than to the Word of God—the defining standard and source of truth?

I have heard many people argue strongly and passionately that we need to add the wisdom of men to the truths of Scripture in order to counsel effectively. But I believe the Bible, as the only authoritative source of absolute truth, is entirely sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

We are warned in Scripture not to trust human wisdom for principles for living, understanding human attitudes, motives, and behaviors, and finding a solution for man’s inner problems (Ps. 1:1–2; Pr. 28:26; Col. 2:8). We are warned not to trust our own wisdom because we can be easily deceived by it (Pr. 3:5–6; 14:12; 16:2, 25; 21:2; Jer. 17:9). In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s wisdom is superior to man’s. Therefore, man’s wisdom must not supplant God’s wisdom as our solution to our problems (Isa. 8:19–20; 55:8–11; 1 Cor. 1:20, 25; 2:2–5; 3:20). We are also instructed in Scripture that God’s wisdom is sufficient to counsel the inner man—the soul (Ps. 19:7–11; 119:24, 99–100; Isa. 8:19–20; Heb. 4:12).

In order to convey this, I include this short statement on the sufficiency of Scripture in my doctrinal statement:

I believe that the Bible was designed for our practical instruction and is sufficient to equip and mature believers. It is to shape the Christian’s beliefs, morals, and affections. Being the defining authority for doctrine and discipleship, the Bible, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and the caring body of Christ, is entirely sufficient for every spiritual, relational, or emotional problem.

Find out more about recommended biblical counseling resources here. Learn more about crafting a doctrinal statement here. And read more on the sufficiency of Scripture here.

Return of the Sons of God

Some time ago, I shared a series on the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6. In it, I argue that the sons of God were, in fact, fallen angels. As bizarre as this sounds, this view is actually the one with the strongest support in exegesis, history, and coherence.

You can read the series online here, but I thought it may be helpful to share the whole thing as a PDF for download. Happy studying!

If you don’t mind, we’re suggesting a $1 donation for the PDF through this link. This is just a simple and small way to help us begin developing and delivering more regular content. Or, you can also become a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get even more content each month!

Proximity, Sprawl, and Being Joyfully Inconvenienced by Your Church

In my posts on proximity and sprawl (here and here), I argued that living close to your church is important. In fact, I believe that, ordinarily, one of the most impactful ways to love your fellow church members, to “consider others higher than yourselves,” and to “look to the interests of others,” is by seeking to live geographically close to your church.

Of course, one of the dangers of being so close to your church is that convenience could breed complacency. For those who live close to their church and misuse that proximity, and for those who currently live a distance from the church, here’s an encouraging blog on why being inconvenienced for your church is actually an opportunity for your faithfulness and joy to shine.

…Those who are hungry for Christ consider it their joy to be inconvenienced for the sake of His church.

Unfortunately, this is in stark contrast to the way many people treat the church today. Countless multitudes attend church regularly, but view it as a commodity—a conveniently located provider of spiritual goods and services for which they make no real sacrifice…

Read the rest of the article here.

Who is the Scoffer?

The Bible talks quite a bit about scoffers. It warns against being a scoffer, taking advice from a scoffer, befriending a scoffer, and giving honor to a scoffer. But what does it mean to be a scoffer?

A scoffer is someone who, even though he himself may not laugh that much, nevertheless believes that pretty much everything is laughable. It’s someone who doesn’t take life seriously, and, in fact, thinks that it’s silly to do so.

The book of Proverbs explains that the scoffer doesn’t listen to rebuke (Pr. 13:1), doesn’t seek wise counsel (Pr. 15:12), doesn’t take justice seriously (Pr. 19:28), doesn’t take repentance seriously (Pr. 14:9), and brings conflict and insults (Pr. 22:10). Despite their irreverent and mocking attitude, God in fact scoffs at the scoffers—in other words, he sees the scoffer as someone not to take seriously (Pr. 3:34). And despite the scoffer’s flippant pride, God will eventually bring him to nothing (Isa. 29:20).

The scoffer acts with disrespectful, impudent, insolent presumption. He is someone who is dismissive, flippant, and derisive.

This recently quoted passage from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is apropos:

“But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.”

If you find yourself thinking that everyone around you takes life too seriously, or that everyone but you is too easily offended, or that others are consistently uncomfortable with how casually, cavalierly, or carelessly you approach life, you may need to examine your heart and ask God whether you may be in danger of the warnings directed toward the scoffer.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. — Proverbs 28:13

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. — Proverbs 13:20