Well, good morning once again, and welcome to Cannon Beach Bible Church. I will take just a quick moment and brag about the special privilege I have to sit up front and be able to hear everybody’s voices. I get the best blessing out of everybody here being up front and hearing everybody singing. So, thank you; it’s quite a pleasure for me.
At this time we can dismiss any children that might want to go to Sunday school. Any children five and younger are free to go to Sunday school. They’ll be learning from the Generations of Grace curriculum which is a systematic theology through the Bible over a period of three years. And of course, children are always welcome to stay. We love having children here. I think the only people they distract are their own parents. Everybody else knows how to ignore them, so we are happy to have children here with us.
Well, we are continuing in 1st Timothy Chapter 3 as I had mentioned. So, 1st Timothy. Go ahead and turn there in your Bibles: 1st Timothy. And the big picture of this is that this is referred to as God’s plans for His church. That’s what we find in the book of 1st Timothy: God’s plans for His church, and by plans, we’re talking about a blueprint or an outline, rather than, maybe, His hopes or His desires. This is how God wants things structured and ordered. And in particular, what we find in chapter 3 where we have been now for some time are what are referred to as elder qualifications. These are the qualifications that are required for a pastor or elder or bishop or presbyter. Those are all synonymous terms. They all mean the same thing: bishop, presbyter, elder, pastor. It all means the same thing in the Bible. So those are synonymous terms. And these are the qualifications for the one who would hold the office of elder: the qualifications. But, one thing that we have drawn out of this text week after week is that all of these qualifications are found repeated in the New Testament in other places for all believers. These are not requirements only for elders. These are requirements for all of us, with one exception. The one exception is that “he must be able to teach”. That is a spiritual gift. So not everybody must be able to teach. Everybody must know their doctrine. But all of these other qualifications are directed at everybody. And so we’ve entitled this particular section in Chapter 3, “Models of Maturity.” These men are not “super” Christians: these are just mature Christians and they’re modeling for all of us what it looks like to be a mature Christian. That’s it: just models of maturity and they model Christ to the congregation and they model Christ to the community. And that’s important because we imitate those whom we see. We notice that even in the way we speak. People will pick up different accents. It’s almost subconscious that we pick up the accent of where we live. We model what we see in front of us and, therefore, it is essential that these men model Christ accurately. And that’s why we have these lists of qualifications.
Now, just by way of a very, very quick review. 1st Timothy is written by the apostle Paul. It’s written to Timothy. Timothy is in the church in Ephesus. Ephesus has had a solid sound church for over a decade that Paul had planted. But Paul ended up in a Roman prison. He ended up in a Roman prison and after he was released, he returned to Ephesus with Timothy and he discovered that what he had warned. He had warned the elders in Ephesus that after his departure, they needed to watch for two things: savage wolves coming from the outside seeking to devour the flock and then, men from amongst their own selves would arise, speaking perverse things, seeking to draw the disciples away. We find that in Acts chapter 20. It’s a chapter in the book of Acts that everybody ought to know and ought to know well. So Paul warned about two things and what he discovered upon his return was that exactly what he warned about had happened. There were now elders who were false teachers, teaching error. And we find that in the very first chapter and the very opening of this letter. 1st Timothy chapter 1, if you just look quickly. Verse 3: “As I urged you,” Paul writes. “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines.” That’s why Timothy is in Ephesus: because there are now men teaching strange doctrines. And if you were to turn back now to chapter 3; in chapter 3, verses 14 and 15, we find what is the purpose statement of this letter. We just read why Timothy is in Ephesus. Now we are going to read why Paul writes this letter and this is important. This is very important. 1st Timothy 3:14, Paul writes, “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long. But, in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how to one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” This is important because what this tells us is that these are universal principles. This is not for how you’re to behave in Ephesus or in Asia Minor or in the first century: this is how you are to behave in the household of God, which is the church. So, wherever you find the church, wherever you find the household of God, this is how God wants things ordered. So to go back to the blueprint analogy, all of these things in this text are like load-bearing walls and, if you remove one, you are second guessing the Designer and you are putting at great risk those who have come under that roof.
So we find ourselves in chapter 3. And we are just going to read the first four verses. Paul introduces the topic of pastoral leadership, spiritual leadership. He writes in chapter 3, verse 1: “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a find work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
So these are the qualifications for pastoral leadership, for spiritual leadership, the elder qualifications. Here he’s called an overseer. That’s a synonymous term with pastor or elder: overseer. And we see in verse 1 that, if the man aspires to this office, it’s a fine work that he desires. So he desires, he aspires to it and it’s a work. But that’s not enough, that he aspire and desire. He must meet these qualifications. He must meet these qualifications. We see then in verse 2, an overseer, then, “must be”. Our word “must” is a imperative: “he must”. It’s absolutely essential. It’s non-negotiable. “Be” is in the present tense: not “he must have been”, not that “he must be becoming”. He must right now be these things, which tells us that there are potentially men who, at one time met these qualifications, but for whatever reason, presently do not and if they do not, they are presently not fit for pastoral leadership. And that can happen for a variety of reasons.
Today we are focusing on one of the requirements and we won’t cover it all today. I’ll let you know that now. Verse 4 is where we at, and that’s what we’re going to look at. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity. (But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) Now as I’ve stated already today and week after week, these are all requirements for all of us. Now that’s only a half truth, because there are some ladies here who will not be required to manage their own household in the same way that the men are. This is particularly directed to men. The assumption is that elders be men, that is, the requirement. So men are being addressed, but even for the ladies who won’t be an elder, you still need to know what the word of God teaches because unless God has given you the gift of singleness, which is a possibility, you will likely get married and if you’re going to get married, you ought to know what a mature man looks like. You want to marry a believer, and you want to marry a mature believer, and men, if you have a daughter, you want your daughters to marry a mature Christian man—not according to the world’s standards, but according to the Biblical standards. And for everybody, even if you’re just visiting today, if these are God’s qualifications for who can lead His church, then, you want to use this as a grid to evaluate any church that you would consider attending: Do they value God’s Word? Do they do things the way that God has said they must be done in His household? So this is important for all of us.
So, in verse 4, he must be one who manages his own household well. Now today’s going to be somewhat of a Bible study rather than a sermon, because there is a lot of background information that we all need to know and so there’s going to be a lot of information that I’m going to pass on. These sermons are always recorded: you can listen to them later, once they’re on line in a day or two, but we’re going to have a lot of background info, and part of what I do as a preacher and teacher is teach you how to interpret the Bible. As I’m teaching, I must also teach you how to interpret the Bible. It’s a lot like the saying, “if you give a man a fish…but if you teach a man to fish….” That is my job is to teach you how to rightly divide the Word for yourself. And you’ll see that as we go through, that that is what we’re going to be doing.
So this man must manage his household, and we’re going to begin to unpack that. That is our Greek word “oikos”. Now this Greek word oikos which here is translated “household” really means…has two different meanings. Sometimes it’s used in a very literal sense to mean a house, a dwelling place, a physical property where you dwell. We see that a lot in the Gospels when Jesus would visit people’s houses, their homes. He would go to the home of the centurion. But also very common is the figurative use of this word: the figurative use. One of the ways it’s used is to speak to the totality of somebody’s property or possessions, everything that they have. We find that usage, for example, in Acts chapter 7. There we have the speech of Stephen. Stephen is the church’s first martyr. And in Acts chapter 7 we see him giving the longest recorded sermon in the New Testament and it’s a sermon that he’ll be killed for right there on the spot. He’s the church’s first martyr and in Acts chapter 7, he mentions Joseph when he was in Egypt, how pharaoh set him over all his household; which is to say, he set him over everything that pharaoh had. He managed it. But another figurative use is referring to family: somebody’s family, not necessarily their material possessions and not necessarily the literal house, but referring to their family. You’re here in 1st Timothy. If you would just turn over to to 2nd Timothy, just maybe two pages over…2nd Timothy chapter 4 verse 19 we read “Greet Prisca and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.” Now to greet the household does not mean to greet the building nor does it mean to greet all the material possessions. It’s the family, the family. And actually, you may even be able to see it on the same page, in Titus chapter 1 verses 10 and 11, I’ll show you something interesting. Titus chapter 1 starting in verse 10 reads “There are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families.” That word for families is our same Greek word oikos. And so what happens is the translators, as they always do, they’re trying to figure out how should I translate this word. And here, it’s so clear to them that it’s being used to refer to family, because you can’t upset somebody’s property, it’s so clear to the translators that he’s talking about families that they actually translate it as families.
But back where we are in 1st Timothy, the translators have done, what is the right thing to do, and that is to allow us to interpret what is meant by household. They don’t give us the meaning. Here they leave us to that. They leave us to interpret: what does he mean, that he must manage his household well? Are we talking about a totality of one’s possessions or are we talking about one’s family. And that’s a question we need to answer. Are we talking about: he must keep up the repairs on his house, his windows caulked? Are we talking about: he must be a good steward of everything that he has? Or are we talking about: he manages his family well? And what we have to do, we have to guard against something. This is a phrase you should know. It’s called a totality transfer fallacy. Totality transfer fallacy. It sound hard; it’s not. Totality transfer fallacy. Fallacy means error. And what it means is that when you take all the potential meanings of a word and you cram them into one use. That’s never the right thing to do. Just because a word can mean a bunch of different things, that does not mean that “all” means all of that in one usage. It never…We don’t do that. We don’t do that in normal language ever. I’ll give you a couple of examples. If we are walking out the door and I say, “Let me borrow your key. Let me have your key.” You know that I’m probably talking about something related to a lock; probably not talking about your key to success; and probably not talking about what key you sing in, whether it’s C or D. Context tells us which meaning is intended, and it doesn’t mean that all of those. I’ll give you another example. If I say that “I love football” and “I love God”; obviously, I don’t love God and football in the same way. And if we add in that “I love my wife”, I don’t love my wife in the way that I love God or I love football. Or my children. “I love my children”, but not the same way I love God, or football, or anything else. And so we never cram all the meanings down into one. We don’t do that in language. We don’t do that in the Bible. So, how do we determine which usage we should go with here? Well, context. Context helps us, and I’m going to show you two things right here in the immediate context that help us narrow it down to family. So, in verse 4, in this opening line, we have the requirement stated. We have the requirement stated: he manages his own household well. But then we have it restated. Restated. What does he mean by that? Well, keeping his children under control. Keeping his children under control. So now that’s our first indicator that we’re talking about family. We’re talking about family. He’s restated for us what it is that it means to manage his household well; he’s referring to children. But we have a second clue and it’s in verse 5: “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” Now we have a change in verbs. Here, it is “take care”. “Take care”. When we’re talking about the church of God, we’re talking about the people of God. The church is the people. The church is not a building, even though we talk about it that way today, right? We talk about going to church, are you at the church…No. We are the church.
So when we read the Bible, we need to define our words the right way: the people. And, what’s here is that if he doesn’t know how to manage his household, how can he take care of the people? So that’s a second indication that what we’re talking about here is people, not so much possessions. Not so much possessions: we’re talking about people. So, what that then tells us, is that we need to know how this church in Ephesus would have understood what this test meant? To this church in Ephesus, what did it mean that a man managed his family excellently, or well, or good, depending upon your translation? What did it mean to them? Because that’s what it has to mean to us. We would maybe apply it slightly differently, but the meaning is to them: it was written to them. So we need to understand it their way, and in order to do that, we need to understand families in the Greco-Roman world. How were families structured? What did a family look like? If we don’t know, how could we possibly understand this text?
So, we’re going to spend a little bit of time looking at the Greco-Roman family. Now in the first century, we’re in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was a Greek city. It’s under Roman law. So they were originally Greeks by ethnicity. The Roman law now applies. And what you have in the Roman world is a word, two words, in the Latin words: pater familias. Pater familias. What that means is the father of the household. He is the patriarch of the household. He is the king. He is the one who’s in charge. In a household back then and actually, really even in our generations all the way up to maybe fifty or seventy-five years ago, a household, a family would be multi-generational. You would potentially have three, four, maybe even five generations under one roof. And the patriarch of that family, he had the ultimate authority. He was in charge of everybody. As a matter of fact, by Roman law, he had something called patria potestas. Patria potestas. That is what the Roman gives this guy who is the pater familias. He is the father of the family and what he has under Roman law is patria potestas, which is absolute authority. And by absolute, what I mean is, he can carry out capital punishment. He can kill people in his own household under Roman law. And that would go all the way from little babies to his slaves or even to his children. Now, that extreme usage of lawful rights was generally frowned upon, but he had those rights. He was the master of his household. Three areas in which his relationships would be grouped. Three areas that this man who manages this household, three areas in which there’s three relationships that he would interact. One of them is the husband and wife sphere. That’s where he would interact. Another area is the father and child relationship, and the third one is master and slave. So, master and slave, father and child, husband and wife. Those are the three main spheres that this man would operate in.
And it’s important to understand that, and when we consider the fact that this was multi-generational, and when we look at Roman history, what we know is that when it came to children, if they lived on his estate, he owned his grandchildren, literally. He could put his grandchildren to death. And, in a poorer family, often times because of a dowry, when they were married off, they were married off with a dowry; a lot of times poorer families couldn’t afford that. It wasn’t terribly uncommon for this man who had the ultimate authority to have a slave leave the daughter on the side of the road. That was called exposure. They couldn’t afford her, didn’t want her, and they would just leave her on the side of the road. He had the right to do that according to Roman law. Everybody’s possessions were his: all of it. So even his children, his adult children who labored, whatever they owned, whatever they earned was his. Generally if they served in the military, they would be allowed to keep those funds, but everything was his. All authority was his. All of it. He could put to death whomever he wanted. When he would marry off his daughter, then what would happen is, the authority that she was under when she was under him would be passed to her husband; and if her husband lived with his father or his uncle, then this young lady would then ultimately be under the authority of that man, not just her husband, but of the head of that household. And generally, what would happen in that instance is that the young woman would be expected, even obligated, to adopt the religion of that family. Whatever that head man’s religion was, that was what everybody’s religion was.
Now for this man, this pater familias, having all of these rights would also result in responsibility. If he has all of these people and he has all of their resources, then he has a certain responsibility with them. And what would be common in the Roman world was that a man’s identity, his honor, his societal status, would be tied up in how well he managed his family. You would be known by how you managed your family. And certain social classes would handle it differently, but this was a really, really big deal. And so even with daughters, the giving of daughters, it wasn't, when your daughter went to marry somebody it wasn’t because she dated him and loved him; it was because it was strategic. Everything was strategic back then. Now the family would have been viewed, really was, not only a consuming unit—we understand that concept, that’s what families do: we consume, but a family also had to be a producing unit. And that’s been really common, even in America, you might be a blacksmith, hence the last name. Or you might be a farmer; whatever trade your family carried on would be passed down and passed down and passed down. And so in the Roman family, the family would be a producing unit and they would function as a team to carry out a trade. And that is how they would be known. And that family unit then became the building block of the Roman society. So now we’re boiled it down. We have this building block of the Roman society. Everybody’s under the man, the oldest man; that might even include his own sisters that were under him. That could even include his aunts that are older than him, if their husbands had passed, or whatever. They would function as a team. They would be a producing unit. The building block of society. And then the family, because of this, they would get their identity from their family. They would get their security from their family unit, their protection. Their purpose would come from their family. Even their provision would come from the family. Everything was tied in to the family you were in. That’s the world that these recipients live in: this church in Ephesus. That’s the world that they’re in when they hear that he must be a man who manages his own family well; he manages his own family well. Now, the person could be the head guy; he might not be the head guy. So even if you’re not the head guy in the family, maybe that’s your father, and you just have young children of your own, you’re still required to manage them well. Even though you don’t have the ultimate authority, you’re still required to manage them well.
And I want to continue on with a little bit more background because this would create some difficulties, in particular for Christianity. One particular issue would be, remember that everybody’s expected to have the same religion as the head guy. And that’s actually, you’ll see in apostolic preaching, it was common to say, “you and your whole household can be saved”. Because God, in working with what the culture was like at the time, it wasn’t uncommon for him to save an entire household. Not always, because we do see letters written to women who have unbelieving husbands. We see directions written to slaves who have unbelieving masters, so that didn’t always happen. But it would be very difficult for you to become a believer because you’ve heard the word and you live in a household where you’re expected to hold to the religion of the head guy. But not only that. We remember that churches met in homes. Churches, universally, met in homes. They would meet in home of men who were referred to as patrons: a wealthy patron who would have a home large enough. He would donate some money, he would provide the space. He was referred to as the patron. And so generally this man would be wealthy. What’s really interesting is that, when we just stop and consider that: if this guy is the head of the family, he’s hosting the church, supporting the church; well, then, of course he thinks that he should be an elder. Right? He’s in charge of his whole household, he’s a believer, and the church meets in his house. Of course, he’s an elder! That’s not in the text, though, is it? Did you notice that in our elder qualifications that we read through, wealth, success, power, personality, none of that was there. None of that was there. Nowadays, we look at the CEO model: what makes somebody a successful businessman, or a successful communicator. But we have to be reminded that, oftentimes, the things the world loves are the very things God hates. And when it comes to pastoral leadership, it does not have anything to do with success or power, popularity, prosperity. It has to do with character. That’s how we determine who God has chosen to be leaders in His church is by their character. So that would create some difficulty for this church in Ephesus..
Now, what’s interesting is another side point, that this Greco-Roman household actually becomes the perfect illustration for the church. Think about it for a moment. We’re family. We’re brothers and sisters in Christ. If you’ve been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ and born again, given a new heart, then we are brothers and sisters. We all share one Father. Not only are we brothers and sisters, but we are His children. So we have the relationship of brothers and sisters. We have the relationship of “He is our Father.” Not only is He our Father, we are referred to as slaves. We are His slaves. He is our Master. Our Lord said, “You call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say.” Not only that, we are referred to as the Bride of Christ. He is the Bridegroom, we are the Bride: the church is his Bride. So now we have all three of these relationships. We are his household, which is exactly what Paul said in 1st Timothy 3: So that you would know how to behave in the household of God. We are brothers and sisters; He is our Father; He is our owner, and Christ is our Bridegroom. Not only that, does He not have absolute authority over us? Absolute authority over us? The power of life and death over us? Our children, if we have children, is He not sovereign over them? Does He not own them? Does He not own all our possessions? All our possessions are not actually ours: we’re just merely stewards, entrusted with something that’s His that we have to use His way. Or we end up being disobedient stewards. And so, it’s just fascinating that this Roman family ends up being the perfect illustration for what it is to be the church of God.
And so this man, this man in order to be fit for spiritual leadership, he must know how to manage his own family well. And “well” is going to be defined Biblically. “Well” has to be defined Biblically. Because if he can’t do that, how can he care for God’s family? If you don’t know how to take care of your own family, how can you take care of God’s family? You can’t, is the implied answer to the question.
So what we need to do then is try to understand a little better, what did it mean to manage a household well? Now that we understand what a family looked like, what did it mean to manage it well? Before we get there, I want to talk briefly about a topic: it’s called a household code. Household codes. If you were to pick up some commentaries written by scholars that have read everything ever written on a particular book of the Bible. A good commentary is written by somebody that’s done just that: literally. I mean, the bibliography will be a couple hundred sources long, and they’re read everything in the original languages: Latin, and Greek and Hebrew. They’ve read it all, in German normally. Those guys will point out that in two places in particular, in Colossians and Ephesians, we find something called Household Codes. Now, what do you think household means? Family. Family codes. In the reason they call them that is because they’re not unique to the New Testament. They’re actually common for this era, both in the Greco-Roman world and in the Jewish world. There would be household codes, and I want to show you one, to help you see it with your own eyes.
Turn over to the book of Ephesians. Now part of the reason we’re going to Ephesians rather than Colossians is because this church in Ephesus, when they’re hearing about the qualifications for elders, they’ve already received the letter of Ephesians. It’s the church is Ephesus that received this exact letter. And so whatever Paul writes in 1st Timothy, he’s already said what we’re about to read. They already know this what we’re about to read. So if you go to Ephesians, chapter 5, look at these household codes. 5:22: Wives, subject to your husbands. 25: Husbands, love your wives. Now we have that husband-wife relationship. Guess what’s next. 6:1: Children, obey your parents. 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children. So if we have husband and wife, father and children, guess what’s going to come next. Well, we see it right here. Verse 5: Slaves, be obedient. Verse 9: Masters, do the same things to them.
These household codes. We find really the same thing in the book of Colossians, and if you were to read literature from the first century, you would see that this wasn’t terribly uncommon: a list of ethics for how a household should be run. What I want to look at in particular, since we know that this man manages his own household well, we know that; that is the requirement. We know that it’s relating to children and we know that this church has already received the letter that we’re reading right now in Ephesians. They’ve already received this, we should see what Paul had already told them about fathers and children. That would just make sense, because that’s what they’re going to be going off of. Paul’s already instructed them. So, look at Ephesians chapter 6, verse 4. We have a contrast set up. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” That’s side A. Side B is the contrast: but, rather than provoking them to anger, “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Two paths. Two ways to go about things: either you provoke children to anger, or you bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
This first word for discipline: Greek word “paideia”. It’s not used very much in the New Testament, but turn over to the book of Hebrews. If you’re in Ephesians, you’ll go past a couple books: you go past 1st Timothy and 2nd Timothy and Titus and to Hebrews. If you get into James and Peter, you’ve gone too far but go to Hebrews 12. I want you to see the other use of this word, so that we understand discipline properly. We use the word discipline different ways in our language, in our culture. We say, “I’m self-disciplined.” “He has a lot of discipline.” That’s not the Biblical idea here. Look in Hebrews chapter 12, verse 5. The author of Hebrews is writing to this group of Jewish believers who are suffering. They’re being persecuted. Some of them have had their property seized and been imprisoned. And he writes to them and he says, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,” and then he quotes from the Old Testament: “‘My Son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;” We have parallelism: it’s saying the same thing two different ways: the discipline of the Lord, reproved by Him. But then look at verse 6: “for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” The idea for discipline in terms of the Hebrew mind was that discipline equaled “scourging”. That is, physical. That is to strike. That was allowed, even as a legal system under Jewish law, when the Jews were able to self-govern, in Deuteronomy 25, if a man was found guilty in court he could be whipped, same word, he could be whipped no more than forty times. And that’s why Paul actually says he’s been lashed thirty-nine times because it was common for them to do one less. And so, anytime you have this idea of discipline, in the Hebrew mind, we’re talking about physical. We’re talking about physical pain, painful affliction, for the purpose of growth. And that’s key. Painful affliction for the purpose of growth. Now our other word here, our other word “discipline and instruction” and we’re going to come back to these and dig down in these, but, when those in Ephesus, the fathers were instructed, “Don’t provoke them to anger”, but instead discipline and instruction. The first part would have been physical correction. The second part, “instruction”, is “nouthesia”. Nouthesia and it has the word for mind in there, and this particular word, if you were to read a Greek dictionary, they would say it means to counsel or admonish, but a very specific type of counseling or admonishing; a very specific type. And this is a quote: “it is counsel about avoidance and cessation of an improper course of conduct.” “Counsel about the avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct.” So what we have here, ultimately then, is physical correction and verbal correction that’s intended to either cause one to avoid or cease improper conduct: verbal and physical correction.
That’s what was expected to the church in Ephesus. That’s what it would have meant to the church when they read, “Don’t provoke them to anger,” but rather, you use physical and verbal correction. Now that should start to raise all kinds of questions: What about this? What about that? What if? What do you mean? What don’t you mean? And we’re going to begin to unpack a little bit of that. That’s why we’re not going to cover this all today. It’s going to take us another Sunday to unpack this. Before I unpack this any further, out of Ephesians, I want to remind you of something. Go to Acts chapter 20. And I’ve said…We’re probably looked at this chapter every Sunday, and I probably say every Sunday that this is a verse, or a chapter you ought to know and know well. You really want to be able to say what Paul said in Acts chapter 20. What’s happening in Acts chapter 20, and we’ve looked at this many times, I’m going to point out something different this time. He stops south of the city of Ephesus. He’s left and he now has sailed in; he’s stopped south of the city of Ephesus, and he’s gathered the elders that he appointed. Now this is at least a decade before he gets out of prison and visits and writes 1st Timothy. This is at least a decade earlier. So Paul, he stops south of the city, probably because the last time he was there, there was a pretty big riot, so rather than going into the city, he calls the elders to himself. And he says two very important things to them. He says a lot of important things. But he starts out, we could look in verse 20; he’s reminding them of what he did when he was there planting the church. He was there for three years. He was in Ephesus for three years and look what he says. He reminds them how, “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.” So he taught them everything that was profitable. It’s not the only verse we want to look at. Look over also at verse 26. Based on all that he’s just said, he says, “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” That is to say, he taught them all of the Scripture, and at that point in time, it was primarily the Old Testament. He taught them all of the Old Testament. So when he writes the book of Ephesians to them from prison years later, when he writes, he’s already walked them through the entire Old Testament and he’s taught them everything that’s profitable. And so when they read, or have read to them, Ephesians chapter 6 verse 4 that says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” that would have rung in their ears. “Oh! Wait a minute! You already taught us that. That’s Old Testament theology.” So we need to understand: what is that Old Testament theology that he taught them and is referring to. If we are going to understand Biblically what it means to manage one’s household well, if we’re all called to that, then we need to understand what Paul taught. And that’s what we’re going to start doing.
So what I want to do is take you into the Old Testament and see, begin to see; what does the Bible teach on child rearing? And this is important, because whether you have children or not, maybe you have grandchildren. What we’re looking at here are universal principles. And I’ll just back this up. Let me back up here a second and tell you: ultimately what we’re going at here is anthropology. Anthropology is just the study of man. That’s what that word means: the study of man. We need to know who man is, where did he come from, what’s he doing, what’s his makeup, what is man? Because, once we know who he is, what he’s doing, what is he here for, then we can figure out if he’s in the right place or not. And if we know if he’s in the right place or not, (and the answer is, no, man is not in the right place where he’s supposed to be), then we can come up with a solution. How do we fix the problem? Now if you’ve had children, you know that your children are not where they’re supposed to be. They lie, and you did not teach them that. They take toys from one another, and you didn’t teach them that. It comes naturally to them. It comes natural. They’re not where they’re supposed to be. So, consider for a second going to a doctor when you have a disease. The first thing he must do is rightly diagnose that disease. If he gets it wrong, you’re in trouble. At best, the disease will continue, and at worst, it will—you’ll get worse. But not only that: not only must he diagnose it right, he must prescribe the right correction. He must go at it with the right course of action. If he gives you the wrong medication, it could actually get worse. The wrong medication might kill you! It might do nothing, and you just continue to suffer, but it might actually kill you. So not only do you need the right diagnosis, but you need the right correction.
And that’s why we have to go and understand: what does the Bible teach about man? If we’re talking about managing children, raising children; if we’re talking about managing a household well, then what is the problem, and how do I fix it God’s way? That’s what we need to know. Right? The last thing we want to do is perpetuate the problem or make it worse, or do things our own way. So, we’re just going to look at some Proverbs. We’re going to look at some proverbs and kind of lay a foundation. We won’t get out of the Proverbs. But go to Proverbs 29:15. Proverbs is kind of right in the middle of the Bible, maybe slightly in the beginning half. Proverbs 29:15 is the verse that Paul based Ephesians 6:4 off of. When he said, “raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” this is what he was talking about. This idea of physical and verbal correction comes from 29:15. 29:15 gives us two ways: two choices, two paths. “The rod and reproof give wisdom.” Physical. Verbal. Those two give wisdom.
What’s the other route? “But a child who gets his own way brings shame on his mother.” That’s where Paul is getting that text in Ephesians 6:4 from. “The rod and reproof give wisdom.” Now, why, though? Why? I mean, there’s more to it than this, but we just have to start there. When Paul writes to the Ephesians and says, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction,” what he means is this text right here: that it’s the rod and reproof that bring wisdom. So let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s go to Proverbs 22:15. Proverbs 22:15 starts to give us a right anthropology. Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” This is what God has said. The One who created us all, who knows us all is giving us an authoritative statement about the makeup of man. This transcends culture and time. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” And what is the recourse for that? Well, it’s “the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” And so we’re all left with a choice: will we be wise in our own eyes, or will trust in the Lord with all our Heart? Which one is it? We can’t do both. What is it that is going to drive foolishness out of the heart of a child? We have a choice: God’s way or our way? But we have to keep going deeper. What this tells us is about the very heart of a child. It’s not because he saw this from somebody else; he learned this activity from somebody else. Anybody that had their first child knows this. The very first child: “I didn’t teach you that, and you didn’t see anybody do that.” It is in their heart. And that’s important. I’ll come back to that.
But I want to turn the page back, one or two pages: Proverbs 19. In particular we’re going to look at verse 18. God gives us two ways: “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.” Really simple: two ways. You either discipline him, and if you don’t, it’s because you desire his death. That’s God’s judgement; not mine. And what does it mean to discipline? We’ve already seen. Discipline: it’s the rod that fixes the heart. Look over back to Proverbs 27. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” It’s bound up there. It’s the rod that gets it out. If you choose to be wise in your own eyes, and not do what God has said, God equates it to hating your child. 27:22. It said to do this while there is time. We saw that in 19:18. Now I’ll read that just again: don’t turn there. 19:18 “Discipline your son while there is hope,” but now, when you go to 27:22: “Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle, along with crushed grain,”—that’s the idea of a stone cup, if you will, and you would crush grain in there. Though you do that to a fool, “his foolishness will not depart from him.” There comes a point in time in which the foolishness has been left in the heart of a child for too long; it wasn’t driven out when he was a child. And now, you can’t drive it from him. The opportunity has been lost. And I think everybody has seen this in our culture: children that weren’t disciplined. And now, you have to send them to prison for a couple of years. It’s not going to change anything. I mean, does prison reform people? It’s one of the greatest problems that we have, and I’m not a social activist, but our prisons don’t reform people. They don’t fix people. They end up right back in there because the problem is in the heart, and the foolishness was never driven from the heart when they were a child. And there’s many reasons for that. There’s many reasons for that, but that foolishness was never driven from them.
And, I’m not one that talks about myself very much, but I’ll just give my own testimony to the truth of this text. Now I, myself, was raised by a single mom. When I was in late elementary school, I would come home at 2:30 and my mom wouldn’t get home until 6, 7, 8, 9 o’clock at night, and so I ran the streets. And, I won’t say on record what I was doing as a kid, but I got kicked out of my first year of middle school, three out of four years of high school. I didn’t finish high school because I got a GED. Because I didn’t have a father to discipline me and drive the foolishness from me. And by the time I was seventeen, I got a GED and moved out on my own, and you couldn’t tell me anything. I had run-ins with the law in high school. I had run-ins with the law all throughout my young adult life. When I was almost thirty was when God saved me, and at that point in time, my motto was, “I keep enough in my pocket to be out before the sun comes up.” And what that meant was, I have enough money that I’m going to do whatever I want: I don’t care about any authority whatsoever, and I’ll just bail myself out of jail by the time the sun comes up. I was that hardened because nobody had ever corrected me as a child, and most of the people that I grew up with as a kid are dead: a couple of them are covered in tattoos, not that that’s a bad thing, but I’m talking about neck to foot because they’ve spent multiple years in prison multiple times and that’s never fixed them. I’ve had them come live in my house, and try to help them. But that’s my own testimony. There was nothing that would drive my foolishness out of my heart because it was too late for me. The only thing that fixed it was the Gospel. And that’s where we get into the point of all this, and we’ll unpack some of this next week.
The point of all of this is that when we talk about the rod, we talk about correction as a child, and we talk about physical, there’s a lot of concerns and rightfully so. So let me just set some guardrails for what’s off limits. We’re not talking about child abuse, number one: that’s absolutely out of the question. And what we’re also not talking about is punishment, which may seem a little bit counterintuitive. See, the rod is not punishment. The Bible never prescribes punishment for children. The purpose of the rod is not to punish; it is to teach that disobedience leads to pain; every time, whether you’re a child or an adult. If you disobey the authorities that God has put on this earth, it will be painful for you. I think everybody here can attest to that. If you disobey the authorities on this earth, it will be painful. Paul tells us in Romans that the government is God’s minister, and it does not bear the sword in vain. So we’re not talking about punishment. What we’re talking about is correction: correction that shows that bad consequences come from bad decisions, from disobedience; and it results in pain. So what’s off the table then, is anger. We don’t ever discipline in anger. And whenever you see child abuse, I can guarantee that there is anger, at a minimum.
So, when we’re talking about the using of the rod, it’s not with anger. And that requires that we have a right anthropology, a right understanding of man, and a right understanding of God. You see, if you’re a parent, you have a right understanding of man, then what that means, and this is something my wife and I talk about and we—I talk about it a lot; the fact of the matter is that my children are not mine. They are not mine and they are not hers: we are temporary stewards of those children. The only authority I have has been delegated to me by God. That’s the only authority I have: what He has specifically delegated to me and I have no authority outside of that. And when the child has been entrusted to me… Let me back up for a minute. God will do with that child as He sees fit. He owns that child. He made that child and when He decides whatever’s going to happen to that child, that’s up to Him. If He wants to bring that child home at five years old, ten years old, fifteen years old or seventy-five years old, I have no say in that. Now I can teach wisdom. I can teach wisdom to help them avoid foolish decisions. But ultimately, God owns this child; I do not. My wife does not. He owns them; we’re just temporary stewards with a delegated authority and the only authority we have is to do exactly what He has told us to do, the way that He has told us to do it.
And so when the child disobeys, they’re not disobeying me. Who are they disobeying? They’re disobeying God. They’re disobeying the authority that God has created, and here’s the thing; where does that come from, that disobedience? It comes from their heart. So, I have to be working towards their heart. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Out of the heart comes all uncleanness, and wickedness.” Scripture tells us to guard our heart for out of it flow all the things of life. Jeremiah tells us the heart’s deceitfully wicked. And so if I’m angry, it’s because I’m taking, whatever their sin is, I’m taking it personally. I’m taking that sin against me, but they haven’t sinned against me. They’ve sinned against God, and it’s coming out of their heart. So, the purpose then is to teach that disobedience results in pain. And a fascinating thing happens: when a child learns that, what it does is that the callous that’s on the heart that results in sin, the callous gets removed and now the heart is tender. Now, the heart is tender and I can now do the work of a surgeon. I can now speak to the child and say, “Why? Why did you take your toy from your brother?” I don’t care who had it first. I don’t care whose it is. All of that’s irrelevant. It’s totally irrelevant, because whatever happened, happened because of the sin in their heart. They weren’t thinking more highly of their brother or sister; they were thinking more highly of themself which ultimately is idolatry. And that tells me one of two things: either you need a new heart, which is the standard of all children—they need to be born again. They either need a new heart or, maybe they are a believer and they have a new heart, and they are acting inconsistent with it. The thing’s still the same. I still need to help them see: what was in your heart that caused you to do that? But how am I going to that if I’m angry? And if I don’t even bother to go that route, am I really exercising the authority that God has given me? Of course not! Of course I am not. And so anger in a parent reveals an idol. And sometimes the idols are easy to spot; sometimes they’re not so much.
But an idol might just be well-behaved children. How dare you behave that way in public? You just shamed me. That is not what you want the Lord to hear you say. That’s not what you want in your heart, but it will be there: I can promise you. And that’s sin which means you’re going to have to go deal with that before you go deal with the child. Because ultimately we’re not looking for behavior modification. Behavior modification is external which creates what? Pharisees. Does anybody want to create a Pharisee in their child? Does anybody want to see a Pharisee created in their grandchildren? Does anybody want to be a Pharisee? No! What we need with children is to address the heart. And we need to make sure that we have an avenue to their heart, which is consistently hardening, over and over and over and rebelling against God. So how do I keep an avenue into that heart so that I can help them see for their own self their need for a Savior? But if I deviate from that, I’ve deviated from God’s own authority, and it’s God that has said what drives foolishness from a heart. What is it? It’s the rod. So I want to unpack that some more. We don’t have time today. We don’t have time today, but I do what to just leave you with those guardrails: we’re not talking about child abuse; we’re not talking about punishment. We’re not talking about anger. We’re not talking about behavior modification. We’re not talking about any of those things. What we’re talking about is dealing with the heart of a child. Because remember, it’s not just discipline, but what? It’s instruction. It’s both. And so the rod is merely a tool to create a way to get the instruction in there; to get the Word of God in there. And where’s the power? The power is in the Word of God. And that’s who we want them to fear; not us. Right? The discipline we bring as a parent is not because they disobeyed us; it’s because they disobeyed God. And my disciplining is merely my act of obedience. You may have chosen to disobey God, but I’m not going to; I’m going to obey God. God has told me not to spare the rod, but it is the rod that will make the way to drive that foolishness out. We’re not talking about childishness either. I could go on and on about this, but we’re not talking about childishness. What we’re talking about is just blatant disobedience. So this isn’t just an indiscriminate use of the rod.
And I would just warn all of you; that’s my own testimony: without having that. God was very gracious in my life, but there’s others that I grew up with and ran the streets with, that they turned out very differently. I’m by no means great, but I turned out better than all of them just by God’s grace; several of them are dead and several of them are in prison or have been multiple times. And so don’t disregard God’s Word. And for some of you, you may not have ever had a new heart. You may have learned how to cover the foolishness. We’re good at that. We’re chameleons. We act one way in one group, and another way in another group. But you know, deep down, that it’s a heart problem. You’ve never seen a time in your own life in which you used to be an enemy of God and now you’re a friend; in which you used to not care about the Word of God, but now you do. You used to not care about the people of God, and now you do. You used to not care about sin, but now you do. For the believer, that’s their experience; all those things are true. You have a new relationship to God. You have a new relationship to His Word, to His people, to sin.
But, there’s got to be some here, because that’s just the way church works; there’s got to be some here who have never had that experience. And the opportunity, by you being here and hearing the Word of God, is the opportunity of salvation. Faith, faith comes by hearing. That is how a man is saved. They hear the Word of God and God saves them. And the Word of God is simple and that is the Gospel. The Gospel means good news. Greek word: “euangelion”. It literally means good news, and what is the good news? The good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ, which we’ll celebrate at Easter; He hung on the cross and he sweat drops of blood the night before in the garden of Gethsemene. Why, because of the cross? No. Martyrs after Him went to the cross singing hymns. That was common. They got fed to the lions in the arenas singing hymns. So why did the God-man sweat drops of blood? Well, it was because of the wrath of God that was poured out upon Him. When He said, “let this cup pass from me”, that’s an Old Testament reference for the wrath of God for sin. And He understood that He was about to bear the very wrath of God for the sins of every person who would ever believe. Every person who would ever believe on the Lord Jesus Christ has had all of their sins transferred to Him on the cross. All of them. And right before He gave up His spirit, He said, “It is finished.” It is finished. The wrath of God is finished for everyone who believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ. And in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ not only do your sins transfer to Him, but then His perfect righteousness transfers to you, so then when God looks down from heaven, He now sees you in His Son. It’s called being in Christ. It’s a prepositional phrase that’s in the Bible in every book. In Christ, in Christ, in Christ. Over and over and over. We are the Body of Christ. We read it in 1st Corinthians 12 earlier. Many members, one body. And so every person who believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ get this: it’s called “double imputation”. Imputation is an accounting word; it just means that you credit into somebody’s account. All of your sins go to His account and all His righteousness goes to your account. Just like that you become a new creation, you have a new relationship to God, a new relationship to His Word, and a new relationship to His people, new relationship to sin, and it’s all because of faith. All because of the goodness and mercy of God. So if that’s not a reality for you, I just pray that you cry out to God. Cry out to Him. If you have questions, I’m happy to talk with you afterwards. We’ll celebrate His resurrection here in a couple days on Sunday. The resurrection is the evidence that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice. He was vindicated by His resurrection. And it’s also the evidence that there will be a resurrection for all of us. All of us will be resurrected, believer and unbeliever. Why are unbelievers resurrected? Because they need a new body; they need an eternal body that will bear an eternal hell. Your human body will not survive an eternity of hell, so you will be resurrected with an eternal body that will bear an eternal hell. So His resurrection is the proof of everything He said being true. He is God. He is the only way of salvation. And there will be a resurrection for all of us, so if you have questions about that, I’m happy to talk with you afterwards. I just pray that you will cry out to the Lord. For those of us who know the Lord, I look forward to celebrating this Easter coming up and meeting with you and seeing God’s goodness in your life. And next week we will continue to look at this. We will continue to see what it is that God has said about His people who He created, children. How do we love the children as Jesus loved the children? How do we love them, how do we manage them, care for them. So let’s pray.
Cannon Beach Bible Church - A Grace Advance Church
264 East Hills Lane
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Sunday Service: 10:30 AM (Sunday school available for children 5 yrs and younger)
Adult Sunday School: 9:30 AM