(Gloria overlooking Colorado Springs)
From a series of talks I gave at a Classical Conversations' parent practicum.
How does this homeschooling by faith stuff work? Are the promises automatic? Is there some promise in scripture that says if a husband and wife are believers their children automatically will be? Absolutely not! That is the sin of presumption that Jesus so severely rebuked the pharisees for (Luke 3:8).
Instead of God's promises being automatic, they are conditional. They always have one condition, and that one condition is faith. However, just because something is conditional, does not mean it’s earned. For instance, say someone was to say to your child: I want to give you an undeserved blessing. Out of my generosity, I want to pay 100% of your college tuition to any college you want to go, no matter how expenses. But the condition is that you must graduate from high school. If your child graduates from high school, does that mean she has earned this lavish gift? Of course not.
God has lavish promises in scripture for families. They are so extravagant that they could never be earned, not by a million hours of Bible reading and prayer. But we must remember that they are only realized in us through faith.
We need to make sure that we are clear on the order of faith and works. You could have two families on the surface doing similar things. One is saying, "Maybe if I work hard enough and read enough Bible verses to my kids, the Lord will have mercy on us and save my children." That is not what I’m saying. Faith must come first. Another family has two parents who takes God at His word and fervently believes that God desires to see families where His knowledge passes from one generation to the next. Because they believe this, they passionately teach their children. The difference may seem subtle but is vital. Faith is the only condition to seeing God’s promises revealed.
Now true faith will always demonstrate itself in faithful obedience to God’s commands, such as teaching your children the scripture. Here is an illustration of what faith, or belief, looks like:
Two toddlers are playing at the edge of the ocean and two moms are sitting in beach chairs behind them watching. A man walks up and says, “I know the ocean looks safe now, but there is a kind of shark that can swim in really shallow water and could quickly snatch your baby. I heard talk that one was spotted this morning.” Both moms smile and thank the man for his warning. But one of the moms darts up from her seat and runs as fast as she can and snatches her baby out of the ocean. The other mom says she believes the man, but continues to sit and watch. Which mom has faith in the man’s words? Which mom believes him and how do we know? True belief always demonstrates itself by action.
True belief in God's promises will always lead to a certain kind of action. If that action is not taking place, true faith is not present. In this great mystery of faith, we see that the works of faith are always the means to bring about God's promises. (You may need to reread that last sentence a few times. Believe me, I had to many times before I finally caught on to these concepts.) In other words, when God promises that the knowledge of His glory will pass from generation to generation, the way it will pass is by the works of faith done by the families. Consider Genesis 18:19:
"For I have chosen him [Abraham], that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
See the condition in that verse? The Lord has made many great promises to Abraham that He desires to give to Him, but they are only realized as he works through faith.
This may make more sense to you when you read the next post about Jonathan Edwards.