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I read a cute story I want to share with you. A family had three young children who wanted to have a puppy. Mom objected. She knew she would be the one caring for the puppy. The children promised and promised they would take care of it and finally mom relented. They brought their little puppy home and the children named him Danny and did care for Danny for a while. However, just as mom feared she became more and more responsible for the dog and eventually began searching for a new home for Danny. When she found one and told the children, she was surprised they had very little reaction. One of them even said, "We'll miss him." "I'm sure we will," Mom answered, "but he is too much work for one person and since I'm the one that has to do all the work, he's going." Another child said, "If he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, could we keep him?" Mom said, "No. It's time to take Danny to his new home." Suddenly, with one voice and with tears and sadness, the children cried out, "Danny? We thought you said Daddy!"
As sad as it is, that's about the affect too many father's have on their families and children. In many families, the father is just messy and eats a lot. For the good some dads do, a dog would be better for the children and give them more love. I know many of you were not blessed with the greatest father in the world and you are today suffering from the effects. You are doing exactly what the Bible says happens when fathers are not good fathers. It takes generations to correct the iniquities of a bad dad.
Exodus 20:5-6 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto THE THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION of them that hate me; but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
When a man has any idol before the Lord God, it creates iniquity that comes upon following generations. When there is a decline in the father's roll, it takes three or four generations to root out the evil he produced. A bad father will not only mess you up, but also mess up your children, your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren. A bad dad messes up generations! A bad dad is a very bad thing.
However, when fathering is done correctly, they bring God's love and blessing to thousands of generations. A good dad sends blessings to untold generations. So, dad, which are you bringing to your generations? Are you a good dad, or a bad dad? We've got some good dads at Life Gate.
How terrible it would be for a man to appear successful according to the world, but his children be damned to hell. That's not success at all. Here's what I want to talk about today. Every father should ask these questions: "Are My Children Saved?" "What affect am I having on the next three or four generations?"
God has always held fathers to great accountability for their children.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. IMPRESS THEM ON YOUR CHILDREN. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
The word impress is shanan meaning to point; to pierce; fig. to hammer, pound, repeat.When was the last time you "hammered" the things of God into your children? It's your responsibility dad to make certain the things of God are talked about, pierced, pounded, and hammered repeatedly into your children. Too many men leave this up to mom. No. It's you dad who will answer to God.
Ephesians 6:4 And, YE FATHERS, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (KJV)
Ephesians 6:4 FATHERS, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
Any way a father raises his children other than training and instructing them in the Lord will result in his children becoming frustrated and angry people. Fathers are evangelist for their own children. Dad, have you evangelized your children? Are your children saved? Have you made certain your children have a relationship with Jesus Christ? How would you know for certain?
I want to talk about that today and attempt to give you some thoughts intended to help you evaluate if your child is heading for eternity with God, or heading for hell. How horrible it would be if your child went to hell because you, father, didn't train and instruct them in the Lord.
Let's say this first. Dad, you CANNOT count on your child having salvation because the child prayed a prayer asking Jesus to come into his or her heart. Nothing is wrong with the child praying that prayer. It can certainly be a great beginning, but we all know lots of people who prayed that prayer several times during their lives who honestly do not have salvation. You can't determine they're saved because they prayed "a sinner's prayer." I prayed that prayer at about age six and again at sixteen, but there is not doubt had I not seriously received the Lord at age twenty-eight, I would have gone to hell. I THINK THIS IS IMPORTANT TO SAY. Sometimes a child will pray that prayer, but later in life - middle school, high school, or later - it becomes obvious the child never truly accepted Jesus and Jesus is not in his or her life. I've had people stand at this very spot, hold my hands, repeat a sinner's prayer after me, but never experience an encounter with Jesus.
So, how do you know if your child (or anyone) is saved? Jesus said,
Matthew 7:16-20 BY THEIR FRUIT YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears GOOD fruit, but a bad tree bears BAD fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THUS, BY THEIR FRUIT YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM.
You can literally see something. Though speaking specifically about false teachers, it's true for all. Dad, your child's life produces evidence. It will be good evidence, or bad evidence. As simple as it is to look at a plant and determine if it is a grapevine or a thorn bush, or a fig tree or a briar bush, it's that simple to know where your son or daughter is concerning God. Though grapes can be stuck onto the thorns of a thorn bush and figs can be stuck onto briars, with a little inspection of the evidence, it's simple to see the thorn bush did not produce the grape and the briar did not produce the fig. Have you ever seen something like that in someone's life? Sure you have. Someone attempted to appear good who was truly bad. Jesus went on to say in the next verse…
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who SAYS TO ME, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven… Then I will tell them plainly, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU. Away from me, you evildoers!'
He didn't say, "I don't know you." He said, "I NEVER KNEW YOU." They were deceived their entire life. MERE VERBAL CONFESSION DOES NOT CUT IT WITH THE LORD. He requires doing God's will. How many people are self-deceived because they simply prayed a prayer one time, or had an experience? Are your children doing God's will? So, dads, we must be, and we are expected to be, fruit inspectors - evidence inspectors - when it comes to our children. Are they attempting to stick grapes on thorns and figs on briars? Are they self-deceived and perhaps deceiving us? What fruit do you see? What evidences do you recognize as salvation?
Let's look at some obvious evidences that produce fruits. When the presence of the Holy Spirit is in a person's life there are evidences. One of the evidences is CONVICTION.
John 16:8 When he comes, HE WILL CONVICT the world of GUILT in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
When he the Holy Spirit comes into any life a convicting guilt happens in regard to sin. There must be a convicting guilt of sin if your child is saved. There must be a desire to do what is right - righteousness and a healthy fearconcerning God's judgment.
When you're child does something wrong, apart from your punishment and displeasure, do you see honest, personal conviction? You need to see your child feels badly about sinning, not because they got caught, but because they displeased and dishonored God. You're not looking for their prayer. You're looking for the Holy Spirit's presence. A changed heart concerning their personal sin shows the presence of God. The EVIDENCE of conviction produces the fruit of guilt and a changed heart. You can RECOGNIZE it.
Another thing to look for concerning your child's salvation is a REVELATION ABOUT THE GOSPEL. I know that sounds a little deep, but it's not. I simply mean there is a revelatory realness concerning what Jesus did. Man sinned and is hopelessly doomed. Every person's own sinful experiences prove and confirm that fact. Jesus Christ, the center of the godhead, came as a human, took man's punishment for sin by dying on the cross, was buried, resurrected from the dead, and ascended back to heaven where he now rules with Father God. We receive what Jesus did for us by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, but, again, it's not just a prayer. It's a revelatory realness that you can RECOGNIZE.
Every person experiencing salvation has a fresh revelation of the gospel. You need to get your child to tell you about what Jesus did. You will know the Holy Spirit has worked and is working in their heart and mind by the words coming from their heart.
Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth AND in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH, "Jesus is Lord," AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is WITH YOUR HEART THAT YOU BELIEVE AND ARE JUSTIFIED, and it is WITH YOUR MOUTH THAT YOU CONFESS and are saved.
If salvation is in their heart, it will come out their mouth. There is a revelation about what Jesus did for them. Ask if they understand and if they believe. Make certain it's personal. The EVIDENCE of the revelation of the gospel produces the recognizable fruit of belief.
Next you look for SANCTIFICATION. I know that sounds like a "Churchese" word. I'll explain. Sanctification basically means separation. When a person is sanctified by God, the person is separated unto God. The child will honestly desire to please God and be where God is, i.e. church, student ministries, Christian functions, etc. Sanctification causes them to separate from what is not God or "godly." This is literally the separation from sin. Dad, it's what you desperately desire to see. It's good they feel guilty about their sins. It's great when they have a revelation about Jesus, but it's even better when you see they've separated from personal sins. There's obedience to God, but also obedience to you. They will desire to please God and they will desire to please you too. The EVIDENCE of sanctification produces the recognizable fruit of obedience.
We will end with this one: ASSOCIATION.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
Bad company corrupts us. If your child gravitates toward a crowd who dishonors God, you and your child have a serious problem and you need to question their salvation.
1 John 5:2 THIS IS HOW WE KNOW that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
If I love God I will love the people who love God and try to carry out his commands. This is called "fellowship." It's a desire to be with other believers. This becomes touchy. You want your child to witness and love all people all sinners included, but you must make your child aware of people who dishonor God. They will corrupt them.
Our daughter is beautiful and always has been. In high school, Bonnie was very popular and constantly asked out on dates. Way before she became old enough to date, we made it clear, she could not date until she was sixteen and then she could only double date and then only with a boy who we had met AT CHURCH. If they would not come to this church to meet me, they would not date Bonnie - PERIOD! We showed her it was for her protection. Once, Bonnie had a crush on a boy who actually came to our church. Bonnie's mother and I simply didn't like it for several reasons. He was rebellious and disobedient. I saw none of the previously mentioned recognizable evidences and fruits in the young man proving to me there was salvation although he had "prayed the prayer." We had to tell Bonnie she could not see him, PERIOD! She didn't like it, cried, and became very upset with us, but she submitted as she always did. Not long after that the young man went through all sorts of problems as he does to this day. Bonnie soon realized our parameters really were for her good. Just as a side note, Bonnie never asked us to allow her to single date. I mean at twenty-two, when her husband wanted to propose to her, we had to set Bonnie up so he could have her alone. There are recognizable evidences when someone is saved.
My point is Dads, your children are exactly that - children. You must help them through reason to select company who will not dishonor God. The wrong people corrupt them every time. Paul warns us to not be deceived about that. With whom does your child fellowship? The EVIDENCE of associations produces the recognizable fruit of fellowship.
Dad, how are you affecting coming generations? Are you a good dad or a bad dad? According to what we have talked about, IS YOUR CHILD SAVED? You're not asking if they prayed a prayer. You are looking for God's saving evidences producing recognizable fruit in their lives. The evidence of CONVICTION will produce the fruit of grief for their sin. The evidence of REVELATION OF THE GOSPEL will produce the fruit of belief. The evidence of SANCTIFICATION will produce the fruit of obedience. The evidence of ASSOCIATION will produce the fruit of the fellowship. When you see those evidences producing good fruit in your child, you can smile and rest with confidence. God is at work in your child's spirit, heart, soul, mind, and body. Your child is in love with God. If you ever question these things, and you will, intensify your prayers, your conversations with them, and, most importantly, your example to them.
Dad, as you know, these things don't just happen. That's why the Bible says,
Ephesians 6:4 FATHERS, do not exasperate your children; instead, BRING THEM UP IN THE TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION OF THE LORD.
Fathering is more than making a baby. Fathering is hard work. I know you are up for the task. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
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