Ligonier National Conference - R.C. Sproul Jr.
R.C. Sproul Jr. followed Dr. Lawson with a message entitled “Evangelizing Your Children.” R.C. Sproul Jr. is the founder of the Highlands Study Center in Mendota, Va., which seeks to help Christians live more simple, separate, and deliberate lives to the glory of God and for the building of His kingdom. He travels extensively as a conference speaker and has written several books including Tearing Down Strongholds: And Defending the Truth, When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling, and Biblical Economics: A Commonsense Guide to Our Daily Bread.
R.C. Sproul Jr. noted that regardless of whether we see our children as in the Kingdom (as do many Episcopalians, Anglicans, and Lutherans), as “half-way in” (as do many Presbyterians), or as “fully out” (as do many Baptists), our obligations to our own children (and to those who gather with us on the Lord’s Day) are the same: We need to continually preach the gospel to them and call them to repent and believe. The gospel is not something we master once and then move on.
APOLOGETICS & GENUINE CHRISTIAN LOVE
Yet Christians often fail to recognize this. Consider, for example, our enthusiasm for apologetics (which R.C. Sproul Jr. shares — he recently pointed out Ravi Zacharias to his children as one of his heroes in this regard). Yet in the Bible we’re never told that giving a clear apologetic argument for Christianity will be the means by which “all men will know that we are His disciples.” Rather, Jesus said that would take place in and through the saints love for each other. And what better place for that to happen than in the home? Francis of Assisi famously quipped, “Preach the gospel, and use words when necessary.” Our lives need to be so shaped by the gospel that our behavior and comportment shine brightly as lights set on a hill, for others to see and believe in our Father in heaven.
But the reality is that in our homes we often do not bear the fruit that we should. So what should we do? We repent and believe the gospel. Our children need to see us modeling repentance for our own sinfulness within the home. Regular repentance will help ward off hypocrisy, which strongly militates against passing on the Faith to our children.
And just as we should model repentance for our children, we should also model forgiveness. When you forgive your kids during the discipline process, do they know that you love them? Do you take the time to preach the gospel to your children? Do you tell them the truth - about God’s feelings toward sin, and about God’s forgiveness? R.C. Sproul Jr. noted that after he disciplines his children he gives them a big hug, a kiss on the check, and then tells them that he loves them, loved them while discipling them, and will always love them.
A GOSPEL-SATURATED HOME
So when does this start? In the very beginning. Deuteronomy 6 tells us that our homes should be infused with a gospel culture from Day 1. God can cause children to believe the good news even before they are able to communicate it with full articulation. (Later, during the Q&A session, R.C. Sproul Jr. offered several measures for determining the legitimacy of a child’s profession of faith.)
Finally, R.C. Sproul Jr. exhorted us to pray for our kids. Saint Augustine’s mother Monica prayed daily and fervently for her son while he lived a licentious life well into his adulthood. Our prayers for our children change the world. We rightly pray that God would prosper our work, our health, and our marriages. But isn’t the superlative language that John uses rather striking: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (III John 4)