In a post entitled Daddy, am I really forgiven?, Pastor Mark Jones asked a series of leading questions for Baptists raising their children. I wanted to post my response to those questions in an effort for paedobaptists to better understand the position of baptists, and perhaps to help other baptists who encounter these types of questions.
1. When my children sin and ask for forgiveness from God, can I assure them that their sins are forgiven?
Yes. The apostle John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)
2. When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics?
There is one standard, which is God’s, according to which both believers and non-believers are accountable. There are not two different standards. So the commandment for children to obey their parents shows no distinction of believers and non-believers, and neither does the commandment to parents to raise their children according to God’s Word. As Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)
3. On what grounds do I ask my three-year old son to forgive his twin brother? Because it is the nice thing to do? Or because we should forgive in the same way Christ has forgiven us?
On the grounds that it is according to God’s righteous standard, by which all are accountable. We know this is true from the Scriptures when the apostle John writes, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15 ESV)
4. Can my children sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” and enjoy all of the benefits spoken of in that song? (“To him belong…He will wash away my sin”)
If they do not love Jesus, then no they should not sing it. In our family, we tell our children only to sing this song if they confess Jesus as Lord. This is also the same reason why we instruct our children not to sing the children’s song “Father Abraham.”
5. When my children pray during family worship to their heavenly Father, what are the grounds for them praying such a prayer? Do they have any right to call God their “heavenly Father”? Do non-Christians cry “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15)?
We know that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6 ESV) God has the same names for both believers and non-believers. As to whether or not they pray by that or any other name in the right spirit by faith, that is only by the work of the Holy Spirit.
6. Should I desire that my children have a “boring” testimony? (Though a testimony to God’s covenant promises can never be boring, of course). Is it not enough for them to simply say each day that they trust in Christ alone for their salvation?
Absolutely. I pray this for my children often, and hope they already have a “boring” testimony.