I am reading through something that my dad alerted me to by telling me it is one of the best things he's read in the blogosphere in a long time. When I read that, I had to check it out, and he's right. Nathan Finn has written a series that started with his post titled "Why I Don't Want to be a Southern Baptist Sometimes." I'm reading through his reasons and his suggested ways that local Southern Baptists can confront or fix these things. Very interesting reading. In fact, I've been neglecting some of the chores that must be done today in order to read more, because I find I'm having a hard time quitting.
His ultimate conclusion, and I agree wholeheartedly, is that we have lost or watered down the Gospel in many of our churches and preaching. So true! Why is it so hard today for preachers and teachers and lay people to correctly articulate the Gospel?
One of his first concerns is the baptizing of very young children who may have shown an interest in Jesus but may not yet be regenerate. This is one that really hits home as a mom with small children. In fact, as we're working on catechizing the boys (Boo is only 7 months old, but we'll do the same with her), I'm having some really interesting conversations with them. In fact, Monk has actually prayed "the prayer" a few years ago, but we have not pushed baptism, because we, first of all are watching for fruit and evidence of regeneration, and second of all want it to be the leadership of the Holy Spirit in his life and his faith in Christ that bring him to the altar, not our pushing him to do so. And, I do not want him putting his trust in a formula prayer but in Jesus Christ's atoning work on the cross. Last night, while working on the catechism questions, Monk said to me, "I'm a Christian." Now, I believe we should encourage every step of faith that we see the kids make, but I do not want to put words in their mouths.
So I asked him, "Why do you believe you are a Christian?"
"Because I believe in Jesus."
"What do you believe about Jesus?"
"That He died on the cross to save me from my sins."
Well, I do think this 8-year-old is learning the correct answers, but I'm waiting to see if he has the understanding of his own sinfulness and true need of a savior. I believe God is working in his heart. I also believe that when the time is right for Monk to be baptized, he will know that, too. Until then, we will continue to teach them the Bible and work through the catechism and just talk about these things. And most importantly, I am praying that God will be working in their hearts and that they will recognize His voice when He calls and respond in saving faith. I'm praying we will teach them the Gospel, not some watered down, powerless thing that will only serve to inoculate them to the truth.
And I constantly pray that we will not be lazy in this most important part of parenting. I fear that too often we are not as diligent as we must be. This is one of those areas where I really feel like a hypocrite, as I've written before. I KNOW it is important to teach our children the full Gospel, not make it mushy. But too often we get all caught up in the relentless day-to-day, and I find we've not been careful enough. I don't want to do or say anything that will make it hard for these kids to know and believe the Truth. And I want to give them the right answers when they make these steps of faith. That's why I grill them when they make those kinds of statements. I want them to really think about what they are saying means, not just spout off Sunday School answers or answers just to please mommy and daddy. I write and think about Truth all the time, but I'm not sure I speak clearly about it enough. But, I rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign and these children are in His hands. As Hubby and I are discussing these things, the children are hearing them. I know that is one powerful way that God taught me, through hearing what Mom & Dad talked about at home. Not only did they teach us, and we also learned at a good church, but they talked about these things all the time - to each other and to us. It was just a part of who they are. And that's what I want my kids to see in our home as well.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7