“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deut. 6:4-9).
I ask you from time to time this question from the pulpit: “Christian, what do you believe?” We respond by affirming our beliefs through the use of creeds and catechisms. We get the word “creed” from the Latin, “credo,” which means, “I believe.” In generations past, these were regularly used by parents to pass on “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This, coupled with regular Bible reading and memorization, established a firm foundation upon which future generations could build.
There are still families today who regularly do these things, but it is the exception rather than the rule. We have become so busy that we have lost sight of the necessary. Training up our children and grandchildren is a blessed obligation that we have to our children. This is not something superfluous to our parenting, but is the heart and soul of what it means to be a parent.
When we baptize our children, parents are asked this question: “Do you now unreservedly dedicate our child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him a godly example, that you will pray with and for him, that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?”
In all my years as a pastor, I have never had a parent say “No!” But practically, there have been many “Nos.” We find so many other things that take precedence over this responsibility that is of first importance. There is nothing greater or more honorable than to train up our children in the faith.
Of course, this isn’t anything new. We read in 2 Kings 22: “And Hilkiah the priest said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord…And Shaphan read it before the king. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest…saying, ‘Go inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
The importance of knowing the Scriptures is also vitally important for dealing with the onslaught of false teaching that pervades the church. Most of our creeds and catechisms were borne during times when certain heresies threatened the church. As Samuel Stone wrote:
The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation by water and the Word;
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.
Though with a scornful wonder men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Read and study the Word; memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism; and teach them to your children and grandchildren.