Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
- 2 Timothy 1:5
We have heard about salvation by Grace. The entire Bible boils down to that. God is love. We screwed up. God had a plan in case that happened that required His Son to die for those who trust their lives in Him – the one thing that transcends the screw ups.
The world view is a salvation by works. The Bible tells us that works cannot save you. The best we can do is nothing better than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Yet, so many Christians cling to the words of James 2:20 that faith without works is dead. But many seem to have more faith in their works than in God, with the works as an outpouring of the faith in God.
But then, no one seems to preach salvation by parent. Yet, there are many who rely on the Scripture above. For every parent, these two verses must be something to base your parenting upon, but you lose sight of God when they become your entire theology. In essence, God is not saving your children, you are. That gets us back to the filthy rags concept and puts us on dangerous ground.
Proverbs is a book of ‘wisdom.’ There are no guarantees that a child will become a Christian by growing up in a Christian home. The child can become a militant atheist but live a moralistic life that Christians could not conceive of living. Even the most legalistic Christian knows that they sin. The atheist who grew up in a Christian home determines their own set of values and they are quite consistent in following those moral laws to which they ascribe. In an odd way, they took the legalism upon which they were reared, but rejected the God in it. They did not see the relationship that the parents had with God for one reason or another. Yet, from the standpoint of rule following, they had become better at Proverbs 22:6 than their parents had been.
There are many that quote 2 Timothy 1:5 as being their method of salvation. My mother had the entire family read Scripture every night before bedtime. Yet, salvation did not come from that Bible reading. In my thinking, it did not come from Lois and Eunice in the case of Timothy. Since Lois and Eunice had instilled a need for faith in God within Timothy, I can imagine that Timothy attended a sermon by the Apostle Paul, and accepted Jesus at the service. Lois and Eunice brought Timothy up in an Old Testament world. Timothy saw how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, because Lois and Eunice had taught him those things. Yet, many today feel that an intellectual understanding of Old Testament prophecies and the parallels with the fulfillment of those prophecies in Jesus is sufficient. They attend church. They live legalistic lives. Yet, there is no relationship with Jesus.
We are all children of parents. Our parents’ faith (or parent’s faith for single parents or families where only one parent believes) cannot save us. We must accept Jesus Christ on our own. We must enter into a relationship with Jesus where we not only believe His existence, but we rely on Him, we trust Him, and through the Holy Spirit inside us, we are guided by Him.
For us who are parents, we need to hold onto Proverbs 22:6 and 2 Timothy 1:5 as a guide in our parenting, not as a doctrine of works that ensures our child’s salvation based upon what we do. Parenting is a hard job. Some people question whether Mark Twain said this or not, but someone said that he said it. “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” May you, as a parent, get to hear those words. It validates Proverbs 22:6. And if they follow Jesus in faith, it becomes another story like that of Lois and Eunice. Yet, it was God that did the salvation by Grace through Faith. But when the angels are singing in Heaven that your child has been saved, you can sing along with them.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.