“God has no grandkids”. Have you heard that one? In one sense it is proper. It is true that none can come to God apart from putting his faith in Jesus Christ. Christian children cannot simply come in on the coat tails of their parents. But there is also a sense in which the afore mentioned statement is flat out false. For the promise of God’s covenant is indeed given “to us and to our children...” (Acts 2:39a).
So Christian children must come to Christ. They are also promised a standing in the covenant as children of Christian parents. Does that sound like an oxymoron? Sounds like, maybe? But it’s not. In ancient Israel, each son or daughter born to a Jewish household was identified as members of God’s covenant. As such, the baby boys were circumcised on the 8th day and both boys and girls would have lived from their earliest moments aware of the tremendous blessings and obligations that belonged to them. The chief blessing of the covenant was that God promised to be God to His people and to their children. The chief obligation of the covenant was to believe God’s promise and to live in loyal faithfulness to Him always.
It is no different in the New Covenant. In fact, the blessing is even more glorious. We have not only the promise that God will dwell in our midst, as He did in the glory cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle, but our God has come even nearer, pouring out the Holy Spirit upon us to abide with us forever. The obligation of the New Covenant has likewise remained the same. The demand of the New Covenant is faith leading to faithfulness. So then, what was given to ancient Israelite children is no less given to the children of Christians. Our children belong to Christ. They must grow to trust, love, and obey Him all their days.
Such a perspective will obviously make a substantial difference in the way a child grows up. If a child is told and believes that he or she is merely, “a devil in diapers” the child will grow up one way. But if children believe that they are Christ’s lambs they will grow up in a very different fashion. From this latter perspective Christian children see themselves richly blessed. They will come to glory in the electing grace of God, shown in the fact that they have been born into a covenant household. That will know the joy of forgiveness from their first breath. They will experience the discipline of the Father, proving that they are His true children, not illegitimate sons and daughters (Heb. 12:5). They will feed on His Word and be nurtured by the fellowship and love of the Body.
To grow up Christian then, is a fantastic blessing, not to be despised. For this reason, we must jettison the old revivalistic notion that early childhood training in the faith is next to worthless. To know Christ from the cradle, to call on the Father from infancy, to wake up in the arms of a faithful family; these are treasures to be gloried in and preserved.
Christian parents must therefore take heed to raise up their children faithfully. But likewise, Christian children must seize upon the privileges that are theirs. Baptized children are Christ’s. Whether infants, toddlers, primary graders, or teens, blessings are theirs and with those blessings come great responsibility; responsibility to live and love faithfully all their days. As the history of ancient Israel demonstrates, those who receive the promises may wander and apostatize. When they do, the wrath of God will fall. But when covenant children are faithful, when they continue in the right way and even pass on that faithfulness to their own children, the rich blessings of God are poured out.
Exodus Books exists in large part due to a commitment on the part of its ownership and staff to see to it that Christian children grow up faithful. We do so by offering materials to assist parents. But we also provide resources, like those listed below, to enflame the zeal of Christian children, so that they will join in the work of their own discipleship in Christ.
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