We talked about how the average churchgoer rarely, if ever, reads their Bible. They don’t really know what the word of God says and they don’t “teach it diligently to their children, talk of it when they sit in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up.” (Deut. 6:7)
We talked about how Martin Luther recognized that people needed access to the word of God and how making it available to the common people was one of the things he fought so passionately for during the reformation. Education and the invention of the printing press made it possible for everyone to have the word of God in their homes, and Bible translations made scripture available in common languages. They no longer had to rely on the priests to teach the whole, true word of God (which they were not doing at the time). The people needed the treasure of the word of God to read and study for themselves.
Luther wrote in his Ninety-Five Theses, “The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.” The church couldn’t know the gospel until they could read it! And he believed they should be able to read it and treasure it for themselves.
Martin Luther and many others fought passionately to have access to scripture. The founders of our country fought passionately for the freedom to read, live, speak, and worship as they pleased.
Why then, do we leave our Bibles collecting dust on the shelf? Where is our passion for the word of God? Why were those men willing to die to have access to scripture?
By this point in the conversation I had two children feeling strong conviction about not knowing more of God’s word—one that has barely even learned to read. That certainly wasn’t my intention, but it was clear that the Spirit was working in both of their hearts as we continued to discuss things and they continued to ask questions.
While I don’t believe it is healthy for them to constantly question their salvation, I also do not want them growing up with false assurance of salvation. Conviction that causes them to search their hearts and question their motivations can be a catalyst for growth in the knowledge of Christ and personal revival in their hearts.
I also assured them that they would continue to learn the word of God on their own as they could read more, and through our family discussions and worship time. God gave children parents to help them to learn and obey the word of God. Their desire to obey God by reading the Bible and their conviction over not loving God passionately in all things only proved that the Holy Spirit was working in their hearts to draw them into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Meanwhile, the same conviction was taking hold in my heart.
As I was teaching the children, I began to see that my own passion for God’s word had been dwindling. I find it far too easy to fall back on my years of good Bible teaching, drawing from it like a reservoir but neglecting my need for a constant stream of fresh, living water flowing into my heart for myself and for my children.
If the word of Christ is “dwelling in my heart richly,” it flows out naturally in everyday talk. Just like our impromptu conversation in the car, everything is an opportunity to point them back to the glory of God. But I can’t teach my children about God and expect them to love and obey the Lord if I am not doing the same.
When Paul addressed the Roman church he asked, “You who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” He wasn’t specifically addressing parents in this passage, but the principle still applies.
God’s word flowing into me trickles out to my children in everyday talk though the normal events of the day. God calls me to draw their attention to Him and to share God’s wisdom in response to the foolishness of the world. (1 Cor. 3:19) The speech flowing out of the overflow of my heart helps them to understand how scripture applies to all of life and how God’s truth is real wisdom.
Today I am praying that I will love God’s word more passionately and pursue knowledge of Him wholeheartedly, so that my speech overflows with the radiance of Jesus—that my children will develop an unquenchable thirst for wisdom from the Lord and not for the foolishness of the world. (Matt. 5:6, Ps. 119:37)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Ps. 119: 9-16)