Text: 2 Timothy 1:4-7, 3:14-15
Title: Godly Inheritance
Theme: Because God has revealed to us His TRUTH in the Holy Scriptures, therefore we as parents have the responsibility of passing it on to our children .
In 1967, David Lam went to Canada from HK with his family. He soon acquired great wealth and became a recognized businessman and philanthropist. In 1988, he became the first Chinese to be appointed as the governor of British Columbia . In an interview several years ago, he stated that his children would not inherit his great wealth. Most of the it will go to charity and cultural organizations after he died. He wanted his children need to earn their own money so they'd know how to treasure them.
Some of you have already decided what to pass on to your children when you die: house, stocks or CDs. Others want to but may not have much to leave behind.
In the passages we read today, we noticed that Timothy received something from his mother and grandmother. It appears not to be material wealth, but is something the Book of Proverbs calls a godly inheritance. This morning we want to take a closer look at Timothy's family and see what we can learn from them.
I. What do we know about Timothy's family? Very little, except what is in these two short passages plus Acts 16:1, “ 1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. ”. Timothy was the son of a mixed marriage. His father was not a believer; he was a Greek, a gentile. His grandmother and mother were Jews and were believers in Jesus Christ.
At the time of Paul's writing, Timothy was a leader in the church at Ephesus . Timothy was probably in his late 30's or early 40's. He was discouraged by the problems facing him. From Paul's letter, it also appeared that Timothy by nature was a rather timid person. So Paul wrote to Timothy to cheer and encourage him to stand firm and be strong. At the very beginning of this letter, Paul pointed to Timothy the influence of his family of origin, mother and grandmother, had on him.
Paul reminds Timothy of his faith that was first in his Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. 3:14-15, “ 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” During the time of Timothy's childhood, the only sacred writings available were the OT scriptures. His mother and grandmother taught him the truth revealed in these OT books. Not just information or knowledge about the OT, but to help Timothy to have faith, to believe in the truth of the OT. John Calvin said , “Timothy's parents educated from infancy in such a way that he might have sucked godliness along with his milk.”
The faith that was passed on to Timothy may not be complete, but it was adequate. Timothy was taught to believe in the creator God who has an eternal and loving covenant with his people. And as a response to his love, his people are to obey him and live in godliness. With the firm faith in the truth revealed in OT, when Timothy and his mother and grandmother later heard the gospel message of Jesus Christ, they believed in him and became his followers.
Timothy's mother and Grandmother taught this faith to him. They were begin obedient to what God in Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 instructed the Israelites: “ 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Why such obedience? Because these are God's words. In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, we also read; “ 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ” These are God's truth; the absolute truth. It is the truth against which every thing else will be measured. Without this truth, men will not be able to know how to live. This is what Shaeffer called, true Truth. The parents are to teach their children God's word, simply because it is the TRUTH. This TRUTH can save us from God's wrath. This TRUTH enables us to know how to live a life acceptable to God.
Here, we see a simple truth; because God has revealed to us His TRUTH to us in the Holy Scriptures, therefore we as parents have the responsibility of passing it on to our children . Parents , whether single or with both father and mother, have the responsibility of teaching their children about faith in God, in his revealed truth. If you are a single parent or your spouse is not a believer or not motivated to do so, then you will have to do your best to do it alone.
I want to say a few words to the fathers among us. Apparently, Timothy's father was a silent father. We don't even know his name. His was not involved in this process of teaching Timothy. In today's lingo, he was out to lunch. But you don't have to be a silent father. With God's help, you can take the lead in your family to teach your children the truth from God's word.
What does this mean to us? I have several simple suggestions:
1. What do we teach? Here are some examples:
a. We need to explain to our children why we believe there is a God. Remember, many of us are fighting against an education system which looks down on faith in God and instead, worship the atheistic evolution theory. Just saying there is a God because the Bible says so is not adequate. Explain and discuss with them about the beauty of the universe, the intricacy of the human body, the nobility and cruelty of human beings can only be answered by the existence of God.
b. Explain to them that if there is God, the only way we can know about him is for him to speak to us about himself. The Bible is the only book on earth that boldly states that it is a record of God's communication to men. It is God's word.
c. We need to know that God created men and women in his image. and because of human disobedience, this image, and his created world was broken and distorted. This is the reason we see both goodness and ugliness in the same person.
d. Because of sin, every aspect of our being; mind, emotion and body are corrupt. This explains some of our very ugly emotions.
e. In spite of our corruption, God unconditionally loved and chose us to be his children. No matter how hard we try, we cannot gain God's love. For we simply don't have any merit. It is all his unconditional love.
f. The scripture tells us that when Jesus died on the cross, he died for our sins. His death is effective, and therefore can actually take away my sins and make me holy and righteous before God.
g. God also take the initiative to come to us. And when he calls us, his grace is powerful and overwhelming that we have no choice but to obey and follow him
h. Having believed him, his Holy Spirit will also continue to help us to obey his words that we become more and more like him. As we love him, we also love those around us. We all wait for that day when Jesus Christ will return to this world and take us to where he is. In his presence, we'll be like him completely.
In other words, we teach our children the Sovereignty of God over our entire life. Of course, we not only teach them through words, but what is even more important is to demonstrate these truths in our daily living. This may have scared some of us for we find ourselves very inadequate. If this is how we feel, then we need to start reading books, attending SS and other Bible study groups so that we are equipped to teach our children.
How do we teach such truths to our children? Martin Luther spent one hour every afternoon with his family. They would sit around the table listening to Luther preaching. These sermons were collected and published into a book, “The Table Talk”. There was a time Larry Crabb would have his family sit down and he'd use an overhead projector to teach them. I know of a family that every morning before the children go to school, they would have family devotions together. There are many resource s in the market that we can use . Since every family's needs are different , there is no one single resource that will work every time for every family. Each family will have to find one that best fit you.
This is how we do it in our family. Once a week, after dinner, it used to be 5 of us, then 4 and now 3, would read a passage of scripture. Lately I have been reading from 1 Kings about the life of Solomon. Each time I read a short passage and brief explanation to show how God works through sometimes faithful and other times unfaithful men and women to accomplish his redemptive work in human history. We also read a passage from the book of proverbs, providing us with some wisdom about daily living. For the last several months, we have been going through the Shorter Catechism, two or three questions and answers at a time. This helps us to have a clear understanding of the basic doctrines in the scriptures. We close with a time of prayer. We pray for our other sons and their families. We used last years Christmas cards and prayed for the senders. We pray for our study and work. Using the fruit of the Holy Spirit as reference point, we also ask God to help us to improve in one aspect of Christian character during the week. This is just one of the ways we can teach our children. Make it short, meaningful, simple and creative.
The next question we ask is: as parents we teach our children, how about the children as they grow up? In 3:14-15, Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in what he had learned from his grandmother and mother. This means that Timothy also had the responsibility to continue in the teaching he received from his mother. He was responsible to be obedient to what he had learned.
I have seen great mature young Christians with non-believing parents. On the other hand, I have also seen children coming out of godly families; have for the time being strayed away from God.
This tells us that parents' teaching is no guarantee that the children will turn out ok; they will automatically walk in God's path. They have to make some personal choices. This means that when our children turn out good and godly, we claim no credit, for it is all God's grace. If our children later forsake some of the truths and values we have taught them, we don't have to give ourselves that unnecessary guilt. It ' s all my fault or if only I have done more. No, as adults, they have to make their own choices . It is between them and God. As parents, our responsibility is to faithfully communicating God truth to our children, so that when they grow up, it will assist them in making the right decisions.
Some parents have planned and have much to give their children when they die. Other parents may have less or nothing to leave behind. From our study of Timothy's family, we learn that we can all pass on to our children the Godly Inheritance (Heritage).
Some of us can thank God for the blessing of the godly inheritance we have received from our parents. There are also many of us did not receive such blessing. But with us, we can begin to give this blessing of godly inheritance to our children.
I think of the young unmarried persons a mong us. As you are praying that God will bring the right person into you life, it is also important that this person has the desire to work with you to pass on a godly heritage to your children . This is the reason why it is so import not just to marry a believer, but one also with the same desire to teach the children God's truth.
Some of us older parents may regret that when our children were with us, we did not take up the responsibility of teaching them the biblical truth. We can pray for them that God's grace will cover our past neglect.
Our children may have grown up and left, or we do not have any children. I want to encourage you that you can still help other parents by teaching some of their children in this church Sunday School ministry. You can help to give this blessing that they may not receive from their parents.
As I share this with you, being the father of 3 sons and being a pastor, I can tell you that teaching your children those truths is a constant struggle. I am not creative and sometimes it could be boring, even to me. Sometimes I feel i t is easy for me to teach the congregation than my children. I know full well that I can not do it alone. I need God's grace to help me. I also need the community of the Redeemed to support and encourage me. I am so thankful, that in the two churches I have served, I have the church, and especially the Youth ministers and workers to help teach the biblical truth to my children.
This morning, you have seen how Timothy's mother taught him God's Truth. Now, will you also make the determination to pass on to your children the blessing of the godly inheritance?
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