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Welcome back to the final episode of our four-part continuation of our Parent’s 5 Jobs Series.
I know . . . that was a lot of numbers.
Today we get to talk about the most exciting part of the Christian parent’s job, and I want to jump into it ASAP, but first I do want to talk to you about our Special Speakers.
Whether you’re hosting an event of your own, or you would like for TLP to put on a Truth.Love.Conference for your audience, and whether it’s in-person or virtual, we would love to have the opportunity to serve your church, school, camp, family, and/or ministry.
All you have to do is visit AMBrewster.com or check out the Conferences tab at TruthLoveParent.com to learn more.
And we look forward to hearing from you!
And while you’re at TruthLoveParent.com, you can download today’s free episode notes and get access to all of our resources on the topic of Biblical Parenting.
Now, let’s talk about what God means when He says that parents need to train their children.
I’m going to assume that the vast majority of listeners today are familiar with Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Now, it’s not my intention to work through this passage today because I’ve already done that. In the description of today’s episode you’ll find a link for TLP 94: How to Train Your Child to Stay with God. That show should help everyone understand exactly what God means in Proverbs 22:6.
But — guess what — the New Testament also teaches us exactly the same thing Proverbs is trying to communicate. There is a difference between teaching, reproving, correcting, and training.
If we don’t understand the differences, we’ll never do any of them well.
So, what I want to do is discuss three important points before looking at the biblical vocabulary God uses to define this training stage.
1. Each of these Biblical Parenting Stages can be done the wrong way.
You can teach your children the wrong things for the wrong reasons, and they can learn them well.
You can tell your kids that they’re wrong in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. You can even tell them they’re wrong when they’re actually right, and they can accept that reproof.
You can try to correct your children’s trajectory, and they can accept your correction, only to end up rebelling against God even more because you’re turning them in the wrong direction.
And you can train your children to go in the way that they should not go so that when they’re old they won’t depart from it.
This type of parenting happens every single day all across the world. It’s not good enough for us to tell our kids things that they will actually remember. It’s not good enough that we tell them they’re wrong, and they accept our opinion. It’s not good enough that they submit to our correction and training. We must do it God’s way.
That means we have to use God’s Word when we teach, reprove, correct, and train.
And that leads us to . . .
2. Though all parents train their children, not all of them get to enjoy the biblical training stage to which He’s called Christian parents.
Believe it or not, you — like nearly every other parent on the planet — do a very good job training your kids. The unfortunate reality is that your kids may not be being trained to be disciples of Christ.
It always amazes me that my kids learn from my sinful training better than they do my righteous training. Of course, it doesn’t really amaze me. Their hearts are deceitful and wicked and knotted with foolishness. Obviously they’re going to learn from my bad choices better than my good choices.
And — for this reason — most parents never get to enjoy this glorious stage of biblical training. In fact, their training is actually a nightmare because as the kids learn from their parent’s selfishness and idolatry, the children become less and less influenceable by their parents.
But training our kids in the ways of God from His Word is the single most enjoyable parenting stage ever!
Why do I say it’s the most enjoyable? Well, we can teach our kids, and they not learn. We can reprove our kids, and they refuse to change. And, yes, helping our kids make Christ-honoring corrections to their lives is glorious and sweet, but — since correction always follows sin, it’s not the most enjoyable process.
But biblical training involves our kids learning and growing without the uncomfortable process of sinning and then being confronted in it. That’s why I’m suggesting that it’s the most enjoyable parenting stage.
Of course when I say “stage,” I’m not saying that one day you can reach a magical parenting level where your kids will no longer sin. That’s not it at all. In fact, if you’re a Biblical Parent, you’ll constantly cycle through all four steps of teaching and reproving and correcting and training. But it will be the training step that will likely be your favorite.
And that’s because . . .
3. In order to truly train your child, he or she must participate in the training.
Last time we made the observation that you cannot correct your child without their participation. Unless my child actually changes for the better because she’s invested in making Christ-honoring changes, nothing I say or do is going to actually correct her course.
And the same is true for the training stage.
If I’m giving my child truth, but they’re not learning it and growing in it, they’re not being trained . . . they’re being taught.
Learning is the acquisition of knowledge. But — though we definitely want our kids to learn what we’re teaching them — merely acquiring knowledge results in little more than arrogance. The real key is not just to learn the information, but to start putting it into practice in our lives.
That’s the difference between teaching and training.
Here, let me describe the three possibilities.
A. I can teach my child, but he doesn’t learn what I’m teaching him. This will inevitably lead to reproof because he’s not being matured by what he’s learning.
But the same thing can happen with . . .
B. I can teach my child, and he will learn what I’m teaching him. And like I said earlier — this is wonderful! But simply knowing how to clean his room or how to eat responsibly doesn’t matter if he’s not going to do it. Even though Jesus often said, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 43, etc) this is why James says that it’s not good enough to be a hearer of the Word if we’re not going to be a doer (James 1:23-25). And Jesus would whole-heartedly agree.
A child who’s merely a hearer of the word will have to be reproved at some point because his life won’t be changed by what he’s learned. Therefore, it’s not good enough to learn; we must also be trained.
And that’s C. I can train my child, and she will not only learn what I’m teaching her, she’ll apply it to her life.
“But, Aaron, what if I train her, and she doesn’t change?”
That’s my whole point. If that’s the case, you haven’t actually trained her at all. You taught her. She either learned it or didn’t, but she didn’t change. To say that you trained her, she must have participated in the training. And if she participated in the training then she will have put it to use in her life.
And this is not simply a matter of semantics. It’s a matter of biblical reality.
Now, we need to transition to the rest of today’s episode, but if you’re still struggling with the difference between teaching and training, please listen to How to Train Your Child to Stay with God. That episode should help you greatly.
And — with that — let’s look at four biblical ideas that are all part of training our kids.
Therefore, it makes sense that the first word we want to discuss today is . . .
This Greek word is interesting because it actually has the idea of training naked. You may know that the first Olympians participated in the games naked because they didn’t have clothes that allowed them to run and throw and fight very well.
So the only people who were willing to train naked were the ones who were taking their training very seriously.
In the Scriptures this word is translated “discipline” one time, and “trained” three times.
In I Timothy 4:7-9 we read, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
This verse is very interesting because it uses our word twice — once to describe physical training and once to describe a training that results in godliness.
This is the training in which we need to be helping our kids. As they approach the weight bench of spiritual growth in godliness, we need to help them know which weights to use and how to lift them correctly. This is us teaching them the principles and helping them interpret them correctly so that they can put it to use in their lives and grow thereby.
It’s not good enough for me to do the bench presses for them. But it’s wonderful when I’m there to help them be successful, spot them, and help them really benefit from the spiritual workout.
And consider Hebrews 5:11-14, “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
We’ll talk about this more later, but spiritual training always results in maturity. And maturity is wise enough to be able to discern between what is godly and what is wicked.
We want to help our kids move from the milk of the word to the solid food. But they have to want it. If our kids want to get off their infant diet and sink their teeth into the meat of the Scriptures, we need to help them do it.
By the way, some of you may have noticed the word teach. The author of Hebrews wrote, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God.” This is yet another reminder that teaching isn’t good enough if the child isn’t going to actually learn what they’re taught.
They’ll forget it or refuse to live in the light of it, and they’ll have to be reproved and retaught at some point in the future.
The last point I want to make about this verse is that it once again reminds us the source of our training. “You have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, [that’s referring to the Bible] and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.”
Spiritual training and growth will result in us and our kids being accustomed to the Word of righteousness.
And this training is not for the faint of heart. It’s not a Sunday school experience. It’s a daily, arduous, and often painstaking experience whereby we study God’s Word, resist temptation, stop leaning on our own understanding, and obey regardless of how hard it may be.
This is why the Author of Hebrews says (12:11), “All discipline [another word we’re going to discuss in a couple minutes] for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Once again we see that training results in the righteousness. It’s not theoretical; it’s practical. It will evidence itself in the person’s life.
But we also see that such discipline is often not superficially joyful. In fact, it may be sorrowful. That’s for two reasons, but we’ll get into that more later.
Our second word for the day is . . .
This word refers to getting ready and completing. That’s why it’s translated complete, equip, fully trained, made complete, mending, perfect, prepared, and restore.
In Luke 6:40 Jesus says, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
When you train your kids, they should end up looking like you. That should both scare you and encourage you. It should scare you because if you train them to be like the sinful version of you, they’ll likely excel, but it should excite you because the result of being trained is that they will be different, they will be mature.
By the way, we can’t train our kids to be what we’re not. You need to get serious about your training in righteousness if you hope to be a good trainer for your kids.
If you’re uncertain how to do that, I would encourage you to reach out to us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
I also love that this word doesn’t just talk about the process of being equipped, it also describes the completion of being equipped.
In I Corinthians 13:11 we read, “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
“Be made complete” is one of the English equivalents of our Greek word.
But Galatians 6:1 shows us a slightly different facet of this word: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
I love that this goes along with the correction process. But that’s what training is. Whether it’s the teaching stage or the reproof stage or the correction stage, if our children engage with the truth and are changed by it, they’re participating in the training.
But I did introduce this word by referring to it as “equip” and “equipping.” So, let’s look at two passages where it’s translated that way.
Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Did you catch that? When Jesus equips us, it results in us “doing His will,” and it works “in us that which is pleasing in His sight.”
I’m going to continue hammering this because we can’t afford to misunderstand it. We aren’t training our kids unless they’re participating in the training.
That’s why Proverbs 22:6 is true. If we truly train our kids — meaning that they are participating and growing and maturing — when they get old they will not depart from it.
And lastly Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up [edifying — a word we learned when we talked about the teaching stage] of the body of Christ.”
This should be a very familiar verse to you by now. But what I want you to understand from this is that the process of training our children is identical to the process of a preacher equipping his congregation. Both — the pastor’s congregation and our kids — will result in being equipped to do the work of the ministry.
Now let’s consider . . .
This Greek word is use six times in the Scripture and is translated “discipline” five times and “training” once. It’s the mirror image of the first word we discussed that was translated “training” three times and “discipline” once.
And of course we need to look at our theme verse for this one — II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for . . . training in righteousness.”
You see that? Training in righteousness. Not about righteousness, but actually growth in righteousness.
And this is the exact same word Paul uses in one of the most famous parenting passages in the Bible Ephesians 6:4 commands us, “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
You may remember that our English word “instruction” in this verse actually refers to the reproof stage. It refers to teaching and warning. So we see that the Biblical Parent’s main job includes reproof and discipline.
But the word “discipline” is often mistaken by modern English speakers. Many people hear the word discipline and think of punishment and consequences.
And it can mean that.
But this word also refers to an individual that is personally disciplined. They have the discipline of a disciple.
Let’s go back to Hebrews 12, starting in verse 1. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So the author starts the chapter with imagery of races and running and training. I’ve never run a marathon, I’ve never run a 5k, and — if I’m being honest — I don’t run much of anything.
But I know that it takes a lot of grueling work to prepare to run a race. So, the imagery is perfect. And this makes sense since he’s using Jesus not only as the goal toward which we’re running, but also as the perfect example of how to run.
He continues, “3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Like I said, it’s hard work.
And then the author starts reproving us a bit. He says in verse “4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,”
Now before we consider the words of the exhortation, I want to point out all of the important ideas here. The author is saying that we haven’t trained hard enough. We haven’t yet shed blood the way Jesus has, and the author says that we haven’t yet trained hard enough because we’ve forgotten an important exhortation.
By the way, the word “exhortation” was one of the words we discussed during the reproof stage. So, what is God’s reproof for us? What’s this exhortation that should lead us to train in such a way that we bleed?
“MY son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves HE disciplines, And HE scourges every son whom HE receives.”
This exhortation comes from various places in the Bible. Job 5:17 tells us “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”
And Proverbs 3:11-12 reads, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”
This is the warning God’s given us. We need to delight in His reproof. We need to not despise His discipline. Reproof and training are good and valuable!
That’s why Hebrews 12 continues is verse “7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Earlier I mentioned that this discipline can be sorrowful for a couple reasons. Well, first, sometimes we receive discipline because we’ve done wrong. We’ve sinned, we’re being reproved, and we’re receiving the consequences of our sin. This is Corrective Discipline.
But second, even Instructive Discipline is hard work. We’ve already seen this, and every single one of you who have really prepared very hard for a music recital or stage performance or hockey game or marathon know what I mean. No, you’re not in trouble and receiving the consequences of your sin, but you’re still working really hard.
And yes, this can produce a kind of sorrow — a word here which can simply mean painful — “yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
So, how are we and our kids supposed to approach the idea of spiritual training/discipline? We get the answer in verse 12.
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person.”
I wish we had time to step through that list item by item, but the main idea is that we need to roll up our sleeves and jump in.
It’s not good enough to talk about discipline and training, we have to actually do it. We need to strengthen our limbs, make our path straight, and pursue the fruit of righteousness that characterizes a disciple of Christ — peace, sanctification, grace, righteousness, blamelessness, morality, and godliness.
And we would all agree that a person who looks like that is . . .
The Greek word translated mature has the idea of being completed and perfected. It’s translated complete, mature, more perfect, perfect. In fact, it’s translated “perfect” more times than it is mature. But for the sake of not getting confused, I wanted to refer to it primarily as being mature.
But we should grapple with this idea of perfection. Does God expect us and our kids to be perfect — like perfect, perfect? Yes, He does.
In Matthew 5:48 Jesus commands, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now, that’s the standard, that’s the goal toward which we’re moving in this life and the ultimate goal the Lord will help us achieve when we’re finally glorified in eternity.
So, yes, God does expect us to be perfect as He is even though He knows we won’t achieve it in this life.
And yet, there are legitimate stages of maturity and completion to which we can attain.
In Matthew 19:20-22 Jesus is talking to the Rich Young Ruler and, “The young man *said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?’”
This guy is claiming to have kept the entire law. So . . .
“21 Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”
There was a level of maturity Jesus wanted to see in this young man. Was it sinless perfection? No, but it was mature, and — for him — involved selling all he had and following Christ.
But the Rich Young Ruler is not the only one God wants to be mature.
In I Corinthians 14:20 we read, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.”
The goal of our training is that we grow up and that our thinking be changed. If our kids’ thinking isn’t maturing, they’re not participating in the training.
Colossians 1:28 says it this way, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”
I love how this verse contains three of our four steps. We teach and we admonish so that the individual will be complete — mature.
But I also want to point out that our teaching and admonishing needs to be in all wisdom — God’s wisdom. That’s the only way our kids will ever be “complete in Christ.”
This isn’t merely talking about academic training or sports training or any earthly training. We must train our kids in the things of God.
And though it may be painful at times, this discipline — this equipping and training — is so much fun as a parent. It’s the height of parenting joy to walk arm in arm with our kids as they tenaciously pursue conformity to Christ.
It’s glorious to feed our kids the meat of the Word as they ravensoutly eat it up because they love their Lord.
And it’s this training stage toward which all parents should be working.
We teach and reprove and correct so that — one day — we can train.
I want to finish up this part of our continuing series by looking at James 1:25.
It doesn’t use any of the words we’ve learned today, but it does beautifully illustrate the training stage of parenting.
It reads, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
If you want your kids to be blessed in what they do, they must look intently into God’s perfect Law, and when they encounter commands and principles and glimpses of God, they need to not merely hear the truth, they need to take the information and apply it to their lives as an effectual doer — doing that actually accomplishes something.
Training requires that we take our kids to the Scriptures, and they — of their own accord — learn, understand, and put into practice what they’ve found there.
I hope that’s what you’re trying to do.
I hope you regularly bathe your kids in the Bible. I hope you teach them it’s precepts. I hope you reprove your kids when their choices don’t submit to the Word. And I pray that — at least sometimes — they heed your reproof and genuinely desire to change. At that time, I pray you take your chance to use the Scriptures to help them correct their life trajectory. And that’s the first step of training.
Training isn’t a moment; it’s a process, and confession, apology, and repentance are the first step. From there our hope is that we have to reprove and correct less and less because they’re actively and arduously training in order to be a better disciple of Christ.
Again, there’s so much more left to say, but we must be done.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’d love to help. Just reach out to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or (828) 423-0894.
And, please, for the sake of your church community, pease share this episode on your favorite social media outlets. God wants all Christian parents to eventually get to the point where they’re training up their children in the way that they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it.
And — as always — I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be starting another continuing series. A while back we did a series called “Teach Your Children to Learn.” In that series we discussed the Circle of Learning, and it’s my plan to take 4 more episodes looking at each part of the Circle of Learning so we can better understand it, and — Lord willing — train our children to engage with it.
I’ll see you then.
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