Obedience versus Regeneration

I just started reading a new parenting book called, Give Them Grace (by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessics Thompson), and I really liked the part I read today.  But first, an introduction to the book…

The authors say that “the premise of this book [is] that the primary reason the majority of kids from Christian homes stray from the faith is that they never really heard it or had it to begin with.  They were taught that God wants them to be good, that poor Jesus is sad when they disobey, and that asking Jesus into their heart is the breadth and depth of the gospel message.”  They go on to say that we’re basically giving them moralism—“’Say you’re sorry,’ ‘Be nice,’ and ‘Don’t be like them.’”  This occurs because we as parents have “a wrong view of the Bible.”  It isn’t about US and what we should be DOING, yet that’s what we often teach our children when we leave out the gospel story.

So what I read today was that there are different forms of rules and obedience, and while they are important to teach and essential for children to learn, they DO NOT in and of themselves bring about salvation and true righteousness.  Also, it’s easy to confuse this kind of obedience with being saved, which may lead to laziness in rehearsing the gospel story to ourselves and our children.  Here they are…

Initial Obedience – Teaching them to obey no, stop and come to me,  “concepts that will protect them from harm and enable them to begin to function within the family and society.”

Social Obedience – Basically learning to say please and thank you.  But remember, “…the social conventions of any particular culture don’t have anything to do with one’s standing before a holy God.”  (But if they refuse to obey these, they probably haven’t learned the first “level” of “initial obedience.”)

Civic Obedience – Instructing our children in “the laws of the land in which they live” and teaching them to obey those laws.  But again, only Christ’s righteousness will bring true peace and neighborly love.

Religious Obedience – Teaching them the practices of the faith—praying before meals, singing in church, etc.  Obeying these may be “the fruit of real faith, but we must never assume that because a child closes his eyes when the family prays, he’s regenerate.” 

I see these as “hooks” on which to hang the obedience-concepts that our family is working on, and they will also help me be more clear in my mind when I am talking to my children and praying for them!


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