March 8, 2017
Fourth Commandment - Honor Your Father and Your Mother
In the name of Jesus. (Amen)
The Fourth Commandment is addressed to four different types of people in our congregation and town. I promise I will focus on only one of the four, unlike last Sunday when I said I would focus on only one of Christ's three temptations but then addressed all three.
The Fourth Commandment is certainly addressed to all children, which is all of you whose parents are still alive. But the Fourth Commandment is also addressed to three other groups who can be called fathers. Biological fathers along with moms. Fathers of the state such as the Founding Fathers but also current politicians. And also fathers of the church which are the pastors of the congregations. Tonight I'm going to focus on the vocation of parents as it fits within the Fourth Commandment.
Parents, you can not guarantee your children will remain Christian. Some will be gained. Some will be lost. You are not expected to guarantee your children will remain Christian. You are expected to be faithful.
Your children learn from you by what you say and do even if you are not intentionally teaching them. They will learn from you much more than they will learn from a Sunday School teacher or a pastor.
Your children will learn from you how much they should regard God's Word by observing how much you care about God's Word. They will learn whether Christianity is good or bad, not from the Holy Bible, but from whether you rely on Christ and His church in times of trouble or if you go somewhere else. They will learn how to use God's name, not from the catechism, but from how you use God's name. They will learn to cherish the Divine Service, from the frequency that you bring them and worship with them at the Divine Service. This is how you teach.
Ask your children or grandchildren a few questions like the following to learn how you are doing:
Ask your children, do they believe they were evolved from apes rather than created by loving God? Your children are bombarded with evolution from every direction, but they will settle this issue because of the position you hold.
Parents, ask your children, how often do they hear that they must “Choose Jesus in their Hearts” rather than hearing “God chose your child in Jesus”
Parents, ask your children how often do they hear that “God helps those who help themselves” rather than encourage them to say the Apostles' Creed again and take those promises to heart.
Parents, where do your children learn Christian Doctrine? from “best-selling Christian books” and “popular Christian movies” or are they immersed in the Holy Bible with the assistance of their Small Catechism and Pew Hymnal as the most dominant sources to learn what Christ is teaching.
Parents, ask your children how often they are encouraged to solve daily problems based on “What would Jesus do?” rather than “What would help my neighbor the most”
Parents, do you tell your HS graduates “I don't care where you go to church as long as you go to a church”? It is unloving to not care about the soul of your adult child
Parents, do you send your children to any Christian summer camp that will teach them any Christian doctrine rather than send them to a summer camp that teaches what they are being raised to believe week after week at home and church.
Parents, do you commiserate with your children that this congregation is old fashioned and a little stodgy and not very beautiful so you understand if they want to go to a church that worships in a fun and lighthearted manner in beautiful structure - at the expense of solid, Biblical teaching.
The problem we encounter with the Fourth Commandment in our day, is not so much the children as it is we parents. Rather, it is the misuse of God given authority to lead our children to the sweet, sweet Gospel which is the motivation to believe that Jesus is both good and God. It is the sweet Gospel in which both parents and children live their days and have their being. The sweet Gospel in the forgiveness of your sins with no strings attached in Jesus.
Do not crush the spirit of the child with the Law. Rather, use the Law they way it is meant to be used, to point the child to Jesus.
More importantly, do not harden the spirit of the child with a false gospel that tells them God loves them no matter what. A false gospel that tells them they are free to believe what the popular books are teaching in spite of God's clear Word. A false gospel that teaches them all Christian doctrine and all Christian worship is the same.
Doctrine is important because it always delivers the forgiveness of sins to repentant sinners. Doctrine is important because it always delivers Jesus who saves sinners; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Amen.)