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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

This morning, our mind is again drawn to a paramount Biblical concept of "cause and effect." Many times, people ask what the difference is between the household of faith (Primitive Baptist Church) and other ideologies and groups of people. The correct, Biblical stance of the church on cause and effect is one of the major differences between the two. What most people believe to be the cause of something, the Old Baptists believe to be the effect. For example, the Bible teaches that confession, belief, faith, baptism, and other acts of obedience are the effects of salvation, whereas many others believe them to be the cause. The Bible clearly teaches that God is the cause of salvation (Hebrews 5:9), and He is the finisher of it as well as shown by the words of the Saviour, "It is finished." The effect of His great work is that all of His chosen and redeemed will be housed with Him in heaven and immortal glory at that great and notable day of the Lord when He shall gather us unto Himself in the resurrection. While we many times discuss "cause and effect" in the terms of the doctrinal reality of God's salvation, the Bible also clearly teaches the concept in other more practical ways as well. The verse above is one such cause and effect that we wish to examine.

Many things in Holy Writ are known as positional statements of fact, and the redemption of God's people is a positional statement of fact. But, there are other things declared that are conditional statements of fact, and the reality of the consequence is realized on whether the condition is met or not. For example, God promised that if we are willing and obedient, good consequences will result, but if we refuse and rebel, evil consequences will result. (Isaiah 1:19-20) A conditional statement proves one of two realities based on the success or failure to meet the condition. Solomon discloses a conditional statement of reality with a clear cause and effect in the statement. The training of a child in the way he should go is the cause, and the effect is that departure will not result when mature years come. There is not a hint of the "possibility" of this effect being realized, but rather, Solomon gives it a cemented feel of reality in his language. So, to discover this reality, we must investigate several fields of thought to disclose what is and what is not being said.

We understand from Scriptures that God alone can quicken someone from death in sins to life in Christ. (John 5:25) Since that work is His alone, we understand that parents cannot bequeath this blessed state to their children, even though some would claim otherwise. Therefore, the point could be raised, "How can we be assured of the reality of our children not departing from the good way if they are never regenerated?" This is a valid question, and to identify the correct, Biblical answer, we must understand how natural man reacts to consequences. When we train up a child, we need to impress upon them that there are good consequences for moral behaviour and evil consequences for immoral behaviour. A man that is void of the Spirit of God will not act in a moral way for the right reason (a good heart), but he can act in a moral fashion if he perceives the consequences more than he desires to bear. If a murderer looks at his prey who is at that moment standing next to a policeman, he may refrain from his murderous intent because of the dire consequences looking at him in the face of the officer of the law. Again, this is not some benevolent act of mercy; it is a desire to not suffer the bondage of imprisonment or death for his actions. A man that is an adulterer may remain faithful to his spouse if he perceives that infidelity would demote him from his status in the community. This moral behaviour (withholding of immoral conduct) is done out of the consequences that would arise.

Therefore, we should not get caught up in the thought of our children not being born again, but rather, we should teach them right from wrong and the consequences of each. In keeping with that teaching, we need to impress upon them the reality of it by executing praise for their good conduct and enforcing chastisement in the form of the rod (Proverbs 22:15) for their evil conduct. By this impression from an early age, our children learn good habits to keep all their days by heeding moral behaviour and not walking astray.

Another point that is raised from time to time is, "How can we be assured our children will not depart from the way we teach them when only God can open the eyes of the understanding?" Again, this is a valid question as God alone can cause the effect of our eyes being opened to the truth. (Matthew 11:25) Notice that our lack of ability to open their eyes does not neglect us (as parents) from teaching them the truth of Scriptures any more than it would free the gospel minister from proclaiming the truth by the heralding of the gospel. The Lord has not called us to wait around doing nothing, but rather, parents should bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and ministers are to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. So, while we cannot make our children understand the Scriptures, we are teach them the Scriptures as Timothy's mother and grandmother did for him. (II Timothy 1:5)

What Solomon is declaring is that the parents have the responsibility to teach their children right from wrong, good from evil, and the associated consequences. We cannot make them children of God any more than we can add them to the Lord's church, but their continuance in the right, moral path is assured when we do our duty as parents to them. Now, consider the converse for a moment. What would happen if we did not teach them right from wrong, and God saw fit to regenerate them by His Spirit? What if we failed to teach them the Scriptures, and He saw fit to show them the truth and the church? God is merciful to do so, but consider their plight because of our negligence.

Paul was trained in all the law and the prophets from a young age while Saul of Tarsus and eventually a Pharisee. (Philippians 3) While he had not the spirit to see the true import of what he was taught, consider all the knowledge that he had ready for use when the Lord quickened Him and opened His eyes. Consider Timothy's good foundation from Lois and Eunice when his eyes were opened to the gospel. Neither man had to begin from "ground zero" as it were. They had a head full of knowledge now ready for the using that was immediately put to good use in God's kingdom.

When considering my own experience, I am certainly not the cause of my own salvation to grace and glory from sin and misery. God alone is the cause of that, and my benefits for it are immeasurable. In conjunction with that, I am certainly not the cause of being brought up in a Godly manner, taught the Scriptures from a young age, and instructed on right from wrong, but the benefits of these things from my parents are more than I can count. As I recall to memory my experiences as a young boy, I despised being required by my parents to read 5 chapters of Scriptures a day. Before we could play outside or do things that we desired, mom and dad required of us to read from God's Book. I did not do these things because I wanted to; rather, I did them because I wanted to play outside. Eventually, the reading of 5 chapters a day was followed by a quick recitation of what we read before we could do that which we desired. Again, I retained what I read not
out of love for the subject matter, but to play outside. Today, the benefits of that upbringing are more than I can count, and certainly more than I deserve.

My parents had no idea whether or not their children would be regenerated any more than they could know whether we would ever see, rejoice, and love the truth and God's church. But, dear friends, when the Lord quickens and enlightens, the child has a good foundation from which to draw, and if these things never transpire, they will certainly do the child good and not harm. Therefore, let us not get caught up in wondering about our children's eternal state or if they will be added to the Lord's church. Rather, let us bring them up in the good things of God and His word, for at the very least, we are assured that our efforts will bring about moral conduct from them as adults from their good habits formed as children. Then, should the Lord perform His word, may we be ready to answer their questions and guide them further into His word and truth so that they will see why it is that these things are so precious to us. Children understand what is precious to us, and should they be blessed to see it, may their love for it shine forth as well. At that day, they will have the foundation that they need to continue studying as mature disciples of Christ and press further into His kingdom.

In Hope,

Bro Philip