Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book Review - Believing God; Chapter 5 - Children are a Heritage, Psalm 127

This chapter really begins when Sproul states, "Another great mystery is that people sometimes have a harder time accepting biblical promises of blessing than they do biblical promises of cursing." Until that point, and with the exception of his insertion of stuff about legalism and antinomianism, the chapter didn't get to the point. Had he started with the subsection "A Series of Small Steps" followed by that quote, things would have been crystal clear in this otherwise beautiful and powerful chapter.

Sproul spoke more as a prophet here than a theologian. He says so immediately before the quote above when he says, "If you need someone to stand firm on a hard truth, I’m always willing to volunteer." And from there, he takes right off into the hard truth which in this case is also somewhat subtle. But it is a beautiful truth and I can't think of any other way to describe it.

But before I get to the beautiful part, let me get back to the "mystery" quote above. Why do we have a harder time accepting the blessing rather than the cursing? Well, you could go back to my other reviews for that answer but I think it bears repeating here because it is the subtle piece of this chapter and it is critically important to understand.

Sproul's explanation of the mystery bears some additional information. It is indeed all about the devil and his enticement of the flesh. Once again, it all goes back to the Garden and original sin, that old man that is still with us. We simply want to be god at all costs.

How many times have you heard someone answer the question, "If you were God, what would you do?" with something like, "I'd wipe them all out/kill them all/call down fire from heaven/remove them from the face of the earth/show no mercy and send them straight to hell"? Too many. And we all laugh and say, "That's why we're not God. He shows mercy." You don't have to look too deeply to understand this. The kind of god we want to be is the same that the devil is right now. He wants us on his mission to kill, destroy, and take as many people as possible to hell with him in the end. That is the nature of the old man in us. It is the reason that sinners so easily accept the notion of evolution, a process that is based on destruction (read "survival of the fittest").

So when the concept of birth control (and even abortion) comes up, watch out for the flesh. It will immediately come up with the same answers, logical and righteous as they sound, as Sproul provides in this chapter. And these answers are not beautiful. They are wicked.

But the answer of the Spirit and the righteous is just as the God wrote in Psalm 127. Children are a blessing (not a burden). This truth is humbling.

He goes on with a powerful example that almost got him in trouble when discussing the Christian's involvement with the culture. But he really nailed it with the blessing of children "by affirming not that children need protection in our homes but that they are a protection in our homes." And furthermore, "Rather than seeking to raise up godly seed so that they can clean up the broader culture, we must understand that our children are the culture, that to sanctify them is the goal, the end for which we exist."

He then asks the question, "What might happen if we believed this?" Indeed speculation is endless. Here again a warning is valuable. He is talking about weapons and arrows and warfare. It is good to remember at this point that the weapons of our warefare are not carnal (II Corinthians 10:4-6, Ephesians 6:10-20). I remind my children all the time at the dinner table, "Put your armor on."

Sproul pointed out in the beginning of the chapter that God sovereignly opens and closes the womb. This truth is a worthwhile study in the Word. I have only heard one other man of God speak this truth in my lifetime. Bill Gothard does an excellent job of expository teaching on this subject of child-bearing, conception, and rearing. It is a beautiful thing.

My prayer is that my little children walk in the truth (III John 1:4), that they walk in the Spirit, worship in the beauty of holiness, and know that they are One with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. This is at the price of His life's blood atonement. That alone put to death that god in us who wills death upon all others, including our very own children. We must believe God that they are a blessing and repent of the wicked belief that they are a burden.

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