Prov. 1:7 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” For the Christian parent this maxim is the chief cornerstone to developing a foundational, biblical worldview of learning and application in the hearts and minds of their children.
Prov. 1:7 begs the question, what is the fear of the Lord? The Bible is very clear on this. The answer can be found in Deut. 17:19, “That he may learn to fear the Lord his God by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes.” The fear of the Lord is displayed through obedience to His Word. Christian parents have a biblical responsibility to instruct and admonish their children by cultivating an attitude of obedience to Christ.
We live in a world increasing in opposition to the teachings of Jesus and one where authority structures are held in contempt on every level. These attitudes are not only in the marketplace, but are regularly found in the pews of America’s churches. I believe Christian parents have an opportunity to reverse this trend and raise children with biblical worldviews that honor God and the sovereign authority He has placed in every person’s life while transforming a society whose Judeo-Christian foundations are crumbling.
How do parents raise children who “fear” rather than who are “fools”? Begin with the Bible. I’m not talking about teaching it to children from the perspective of it containing good stories and moral teachings even though it does contain those things. Teach it for what it is, a historically accurate document containing the history of God’s relationship with mankind and how they should respond to it. I believe the church, as a whole, is failing to teach the Bible as a living, breathing book where the real history of our relationship with God is on display. It, in large part, is teaching it as fairy tale and myth; uncertain of its truthfulness or reliability. The Bible doesn’t contain the Word of God. It is the Word of God. Obedience to it is not an option for the believer. It is essential for their ability to gain wisdom and understanding of God and the world around them.
It is an easy thing for parents to tell their children to believe and obey the Bible. It takes very little effort. Sunday School teachers and small group leaders across America are telling students every week that the Bible has all the answers. The hard work comes when parents actually have to give children a reasonable defense for what they believe. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the work gets messy and wearisome. It requires giving children the practical tools and instruction to build their faith in Christ and the reliability of His Word.
I see three areas in which parents can concretize a child’s understanding of God’s Word and their ability to trust and obey it.
1. Teach the Bible as absolute truth.
Children should understand the Scriptures are the very words of a holy God who only speaks truth and never error. In Ken Ham’s book Already Gone we find children are leaving the church in droves due to not believing the Bible is true. They are suspect of its reliability and are not being given logically sufficient answers to their questions concerning its truths. When a child is not given the answers they need, it casts a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of their faith. Parents should instruct their children on how to discover the truth of God’s Word and give them the information they need to stand firm on its absolute authority.
2. Teach the Bible as being historically accurate.
Very few secular historians deny Jesus as a real, historical figure. Archeology has revealed over and over again the people and places of the Bible were real and the remains of those civilizations are unearthed every day. Historical texts, other than the Scriptures, make references to persons and places found in the pages of God’s Word. The Bible is the most independently historically verified document in the history of mankind. It appears secular historians and archeologists are more convinced of the Bible’s people and places than Christian parents and churches. It is my opinion parents have not done a sufficient job of teaching their children the Bible’s account of human history can not only be trusted, but embraced as real, accurate and reliable. When students can see the accuracy of the historicity of God’s Word their trust and obedience to its teachings will increase.
3. Teach the Bible apologetically.
No, I’m not talking about being sorry for what it is saying. I’m talking about giving students the ability to give a reasonable defense for what they believe. That is the function of apologetics. An example of this is the necessity of apologetics when it comes to the Genesis account of creation vs. the theory of evolution. The teaching of evolution has had one of the most destructive effects on students embracing the reliability and absolute truth of the Bible. One reason for this is they have not been given the information and tools they need to refute the teachings of evolution and affirm the Genesis account of creation. The great reality of science today is as mankind continues to peer deeper into the subatomic world and the far recesses of the cosmos it is confirming the accuracy of the book of Genesis. Parents should nurture a logical, reasonable, historical environment of apologetics in the lives of their children.
I am the father of a 10-year-old daughter and am keenly aware of how much work it takes to instill the complete reliability and authority of God’s Word in her life. It does not happen over one hour, one day, or even one year. It happens every moment of our lives together until she is no longer under my authority as a father. It never stops and it’s never enough. We cannot exhaust the wisdom and instruction of our Lord. As parents we should be driven by this reality. Time is fleeting and today is the day to begin teaching our children the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge and it is foolish to despise it.