Eph 6:4 Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath 8/4/2013
· Intro: (Eph 6:1-4)
#1. God Fearing Fathers (Eph 6:4b, Psalm 58:3, Prov 2:2,5, Matt 10:28)
· Who is there that fears God? (Rom 3:11-18, John 6:44, Prov 3:11-12)
· Children on the way to fear God (Prov 13:24, 19:18, 29:17)
#2. Children of Wrath (Eph 6:4a)
· The rod of correction (Prov 22:15, 23:13)
· Children on the way to wrath (Prov 28:9, 30:17)
#3. What Is Found in Our Homes? (Acts 2:42-47, Matt 24:12, Jer 17:5-6)
· What do parents want for their children? (1John 4:1, Heb 7:22, 8:6, Isa 53:11, 2Sam 23:5, Rom 3:10-11, Eph 6:4, 2Tim 3:13)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 6:1 (2X). When we think of the Bible and the Christian home, we must not fall in the trap of a man-centered way of thinking, coming out of the pages of the Bible. What is a family? God created human families like pictures of God’s family here on earth. We know that Christ is the Head of God’s family. His Bride is the Church. The Church is like the “mother hen that watches over her little chickens”. Today we will talk about “the little chickens”. Let us begin to read here Eph 6:1-4
Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The first verse starts with “Children”! That is not addressed to only the children here. The word “Children” is addressed to all those who are elect children of God. Hopefully this is the relationship we all have with our Heavenly Father. What is the first thing we see in these four verses in Eph 6? God is giving us rules: Obey your parents, honor your father and mother, and so on. But God is not a tyrant. God is a loving Heavenly Father. Every single rule is given because God wants the very best for us. Throughout the Bible God is giving us many more rules, like rules about marriage and divorce, and rules about order in the Church. And many more. We should see all these rules as testing programs. God is testing us all the time: Are you going to be faithful? Every household has rules, and that also applies to the household of God. For example, let us focus on Eph 6:4,
Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
How can we understand this verse? What does it mean “to provoke your children to wrath”? Whose wrath? And why does it begin with “Ye fathers”? Well, this verse consists of two parts: the first part is in contrast to the second part. We know what the second part means: “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Therefore the first part means just the opposite: “bring them NOT up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, so that they will be under the wrath of God! It is the wrath of God that is in view here in verse 4. Now, that is an important conclusion. That is worth talking about for a couple hours. Let us start with the second half of this verse:
#1. Fathers who are God fearing fathers (Eph 6:4b) Fathers who fear God want the best for their children: They bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What does “admonition” mean? An “admonition” is a friendly reproof, which is at the same time a warning against a particular sin. These are fathers teaching their children the fear of God! But what does it mean to fear God? Does not everyone fear God? No! Not everyone fears God. Only those who are drawn to the Lord Jesus by the Father will fear God. It is not the nature of the natural man to fear God. Natural man is in rebellion against God. The Bible says, “We are conceived and born in sin”, and we sin as soon as we come into the world. God says, “Little babies are conceived and born in sin.” I will read just one verse:
Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Who is God talking about? Yes. God is talking about these cute little babies; those little innocent cuddlings. Those little bundles of joy! Doesn’t everyone love these little babies? No! Not everyone! Paraphrased, God says: they are not innocent! These cute little babies are unsaved creatures, and they are sinning from the day they are born, and therefore the Law of God says that they are subject to eternal damnation. The Bible says that from the moment we were created and came into this world we were made like our father Adam after the Fall; spiritually dead. One of the principles of this creation is that “Like begets like”. God says: We all were dead in trespasses and sins, and we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. If we are raised by a loving father who is also a child of God, he will teach us the way of salvation, because everyone needs to be taught the path to Hell that they are on from the day that they are born. Paraphrased, God says to every child and every adult who is not yet saved: “incline thine ear unto wisdom”. (Prov 2:2)
What is this wisdom that we are to incline our ear to? It is the wisdom that leads us unto salvation. It is the wisdom of the Gospel of salvation that is found in the Word of God. That is the knowledge we must cry for. It is the understanding that we must plead to God for mercy, because we find ourselves on the way to Hell, and we ourselves are unable to change our way of life. And God says in Prov 2:5,
Prov 2:5 “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”
Repeatedly, God says in the Bible: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of God is understanding”. The fear of the Lord is not something of an outdated culture, something of another age. The fear of the Lord is something very practical. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. According to the Bible this is the beginning of wisdom; the beginning of understanding.
· But Who Is There that Fears God? (Rom 3:11-18, John 6:44, Prov 3:11-12)
God answers this question from Rom 3:11-18: “There is NO ONE! NO, NOT ONE! There is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
How is it then that there are fathers who seek after the God of the Bible; fathers who fear God, like David did when he taught Solomon to fear God. Was God exaggerating when He said: “There is NONE that seeketh after God”? No. God was not exaggerating the sad situation of mankind. In order for anyone to seek after the God of the Bible, God has to change that person into a new creature with a different mindset. When the Lord Jesus said in John 6:44, “No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him“, the Lord Jesus was actually referring to an earlier statement in John chapter 3: “Ye must be born again”, and the only ones who will be born again are the ones who were chosen by the Father and will be drawn by the Father to the Lord Jesus. This is the only way!
Mankind is so rotten to the core, that for any person to become saved, God has to choose that person, God has to wash off that person’s sins through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus on the cross, God has to give that person through His Holy Spirit a regenerated soul that is free from guilt in the sight of God, and God has to continually pour His grace on the unsaved body of that new person so that this person is drawn to the Lord Jesus, and receives His faith and continues in the faith until the very end. How does God draw this person to the Lord Jesus? This can be a little child, or a big child, or an adult, or an old man. How does God draw this person to the Lord Jesus?
Remember that word “nurture” in Eph 6:4b. “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” We looked at the word admonition. But now, what is that word “nurture”? Actually, that particular Greek word has been translated “nurture” only once, and that is here in Eph 6:4. Once has it been translated “instruction”, and everywhere else it has been translated “Chastening” or “chastisement”. Therefore, this particular Greek word really means the whole training and education of children as well as adults, especially through chastening. What is chastening? God says in Prov 3:11-12, My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
So, what is chastening? It is a correction from God. Not just a warning against sin, but a very painful correction, like when a father chastens his son for something that he should not have done. This is how God draws a person to Jesus, through some calamity or some painful situation. This is also how God draws His children closer to Himself, through some painful experience.
God says: “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD”. This means, we should welcome the chastening of the Lord, because chastening is an integral part of God’s dealing with us in our sanctification. It is a sign that we are His children. It is God’s method of giving us wisdom. If we are not chastened, if everything in our life is going very well, then we should worry. God reminds us that we “bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. We deal with our children the way God is dealing with His children. We chasten them, and correct them, and warn them of their sins. Don’t call it mistakes. Call it what they are: SINS. What if my children do not take correction very well? It means you have not trained your children very well. Then you have a serious problem, both physically and spiritually, because God says: “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” and “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction”. Paraphrased: a fool is someone who is still under the wrath of God, and is on the way to Hell. When we became parents, we were instantly promoted to be expert Child-educators, and Child evangelists, and Child psychologists, and so on. But God is helping us, through the Bible, to do our job right, to do it just like He wants it. Here it is. We are going to look at:
· Children on the way to fear God (Prov 13:24, 19:18, 29:17)
Please turn to Prov 13:24,
Prov 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. You do not necessarily have to use a rod. Your children may be too young for it, or they may be too old. It is physically difficult to spank an 18 year old son. But there are other ways of chastening. Paraphrased, God says: If you love your children then you chasten them whenever they need it. Teach them the fear of God. If you do not chasten your children, then actually you hate your children, because you provoke them to the wrath of God. Now please turn to Prov 19:18,
Prov 19:18 “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
“While there is hope”. When is that? That is when they are young, less than 5 years old. Those are the formative years of your children. Do not waste those years. In chastening God is not speaking only about sons, but also about daughters. Some children need more chastening than others. But when you have laid down the law, and you promised chastisement when the law was broken, then please follow it up. And please do not warn your children three times. Once is enough. But always, chastening must be done in love.
And does God say: If you chasten your children and if you do all these things that I have commanded, then I guarantee that I will put the fear of God into your children? No! That is no guarantee. You cannot bribe God. Please turn now to Prov 29:17,
Prov 29:17 Correct thy son, and He shall give thee rest; yea, He shall give delight unto thy soul.
Trust that God means what He says: God shall give thee rest. God shall give delight unto your soul when you have done what was right. He will give you peace at heart. We must obey the rules that God has given. But in obeying these rules in raising our children, we cannot impose our will upon God, for God is sovereign. But now, let us look at the first half of Eph 6:4a. Let us look at:
#2. Children of Wrath (Eph 6:4a)
In Eph 6:4a God says: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath”
Paraphrased, God says: If you do NOT bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, then you are provoking the Lord’s wrath upon them. We know that God is sovereign. But God works through people to work out His plans. God works through parents to work out His plan of Election. There are several examples of that in the Bible.
What happens if parents are not as diligent as they should be? For example, look at the household of Isaac and Rebekah. It was far from perfect. Little did they know that they were instruments in the hands of God. God’s plan was: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”. And God used the sins of Isaac and Rebekah to accomplish His plan. In addition, God gave us the example how NOT to raise our children. Do not foster any favorites among your children.
But why does Eph 6:4 start with: “ye fathers”? Since the father is the head of the household, the father also is called upon to be the spiritual leader of the household. Like Christ is the Head of the Church, the household of God, so fathers are appointed by God to take the spiritual leadership in their own households. Are fathers the only ones to chasten their children? No! That is not found in the Bible. Both parents should equally apply “the rod of correction”. But what is the rod of correction?
· The rod of correction? (Prov 22:15, 23:13)
Please turn to Prov 22:15, and there we read: Prov 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
What is that foolishness that is bound in the heart of a child? That is nothing else than his own sinful nature, the rotten selfish nature with which the child was born. And where did the child get it from? He got it from the parents. Like begets like. But if the parents have become saved, then they will realize the condition where they came from, and it is not pleasing to them that this rotten selfish nature shows up in their own children. That is how the rod of correction comes into the picture. The rod of correction is just another word for any form of chastening. Please turn to Prov 23:13-14,
Prov 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
The focal point is always the same: “Lord, give me wisdom so that I will train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and please deliver my child from Hell”.
And God warns us: If you do not chasten your children, most likely they will become:
· Children on the way to wrath (Prov 28:9, 30:17)
Allow me to give you two examples of “Children on the way to wrath”. Please turn to Prov 28:9
Pr 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
We want to train our children to hear the law: When I speak you listen, and I will not say this twice.
Just think of what could and most likely would happen if they become accustomed to turning a deaf ear to their parents. Most likely they will also turn a deaf ear to God’s Law and end up in Hell. Even his prayer shall be an abomination to God.
The second example is found in Prov 30:17. Please turn to Prov 30:17. Here is a very profound parable, which is well worth memorizing. There are not many parables as profound as this one,
Pr 30:17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
The eye is the gate to the soul. This youngster is not mocking or despising his parents openly, but in his heart. God has no pleasant words for this rebellious child. “The ravens of the valley” are exactly the same words as the ravens that fed Elijah by the brook Cherith. Perhaps you remember those sermons on Elijah earlier this year. “The ravens of the valley” are referring to “The ravens of the brook”. What God seems to say is that the providence of God that gave Elijah his daily food, that same providence of God is going to work against this youngster, so that he will not be able to discern good from evil, and will end up under the condemnation of God.
#3. What Is Found in Our Homes? (Acts 2:42-47, Matt 24:12, Jer 17:5-6)
What example do the parents give to their children? Do we take God at His word? Is there discipline in our household? Is there discipline in our lifestyles? Look around in our homes and what do you see? TV, radio, Nintendo, toys, the newspaper, books, magazines, computers and software, a calendar with a schedule, bills to pay, the Bible, a table where we meet with friends and neighbors for Bible study, or for coffee, or for both, and so on. Which of these has priority in the life of the parents?
That is easy to answer. How much time do we spend on any of these things? Then, is there any time left to do things that are pleasing to the Lord? Do we give God our leftover time? How did our forefathers do it? Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:42-47. At the feast of Pentecost the New Testament church was born. It was not our doing; God did that; God established the church. Let us read how God the Holy Spirit guided the church in activities pleasing to God.
Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Let us see what example the parents gave to their children in the beginning stage after the church was born. Where were their priorities? We read in verse 42, “they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” In other words, they had frequent Bible studies and fellowship with one another during the week. How does that compare to the life of our church today? I am sorry to say that most people today are not interested in having a Bible study at their home. Initially you might get some people to join the group. But since there is no interest there is no commitment, and in a few years the attendance drops down to almost zero. Can we explain this? Yes we can. We are living near the time of the end, and what did the Lord Jesus say about the time of the end? We read in Matt 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Yes indeed, “the love of many for Christ shall wax cold” and that is why there is no interest in Bible study. You see, those who have been Born Again have a fervent desire to live close to Christ, and they have an intense desire to hear Christ speaking to them. That is simply the nature of love. But when Christ says, “the love of many shall wax cold” it means that those people have not been saved. They have never been Born Again. They simply go through their church-routine every week, but their heart is not in it. Let me prove it to you. Please turn to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 17:5 (2X). We have here a verse that tells us plainly if we have not been saved. It tells us where our priorities have been in the past when our love for Christ was cold. We read in Jer 17:5-6,
Jer 17:5, “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm (his strength), and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
God tells us here that if we believe the preacher, verbatim, and we put our trust in what he says, then we are cursed, for we have made the wisdom of man our strength, and thus we have departed from the Lord. Verse 6 says that we will be like a shrub in the desert, and we shall dwell in parched places in the wilderness in a salt land. Instead we must trust God, not man. And so, what would be the behavior of the man who trusts the Lord? This is a man who will check out what the preacher says. He will do his own Bible studies rather than believe what people say what the Bible says. On the other hand, if a person goes to church every week, and afterward stores his Bible and does not do any Bible study, he is under the curse of Jer 17:5. There are simply no shortcuts. We must do our own Bible study. Our children see that. They will see if we have a fear of God. By the way we treat our Bibles they will see if we have a love for Christ. Therein we must be a role model. How can we be an example to our children if we are living like a hypocrite? We must be consistent. Is God consistent? How involved is God in our life? God spends all of His time with us. He watches over every detail in our life. Then where is our gratitude for what He has done for us?
· What Do Parents Want for Their Children? (1John 4:1, Heb 7:22, 8:6, Isa 53:11, 2Sam 23:5, Rom 3:10-11, Eph 6:4, 2Tim 3:13)
We want for our children that they would be children of God. We must do all we can to train our children in the way they should go. We know that God is sovereign, but God did not write Eph 6:4 and then ignored it. This verse strongly suggests that we must make sacrifices in all those areas that feed our own ego, and that we must spend time with our children. We must teach them the true Gospel.
What is the true Gospel and what is the false gospel? Let me now take the gloves off, and while I am telling the truth I will be stepping on toes, because the true Gospel is an offense to the natural man. Our danger is real and pressing, for false prophets have risen in large numbers (1John 4:1). If we are deceived by them and imbibe their lies the result is almost certain to be fatal, for error acts upon the soul as deadly poison does to the body. We should be informed and we should be on our guard. When the Lord Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16) we need to understand that the doctrines of the false prophets are far more dangerous than their supposed good works. The genuine servants of God give evidence of their Divine commission by the doctrine they proclaim. Their doctrine is in full accordance with the Word of truth.
The true prophet gives God His rightful place. He acknowledges God to be the sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth, at whose disposal are all creatures and events, for whose pleasure they are created (Rev 4:11), whose will is invincible and whose power is irresistible. He is the One who is to be held in utmost reverence and awe. One who is to be served with fear and rejoiced in with trembling.
Such a God the false prophets neither believe in nor do they preach Him. They talk about a god who wants to do this and who would like to do that, but He cannot because His creatures will not permit it. And while this Deity is filled with lovely intentions He is unable to carry them out, for man is the architect of his fortunes and the decider of his own destiny, and God is a mere spectator.
But the true prophet gives Christ His rightful place, which is very much more than admitting that He is the Son of God. The true prophet proclaims Christ as the covenant head of His people, who was set up before the foundation of the world to fulfill all the terms of the covenant of grace on their behalf and to secure for them all its blessings. He sets forth Christ as the Surety and Mediator of the covenant (Heb 7:22, 8:6) as the One who came here to fulfill His covenant engagements. All that Christ did here upon earth and that which He is now doing in heaven was and is the working out of an eternal plan. Everything relating to the church’s salvation was planned and settled by covenant stipulation between the eternal Three in One. Nothing was left to chance, nothing remained uncertain, nothing was rendered contingent upon something the creature must DO. About this glorious and fundamental truth the false prophets are completely silent.
It was to fit Him for His covenant engagements that Christ became incarnate. It was to redeem His people, His elect, from the curse of the Law that Christ was made under the Law, fulfilled its terms, endured its penalty in the place of His covenant people. It was for them, and for no others, that Christ was crucified. Because Christ faithfully and perfectly discharged His covenant obligations, the Father has sworn with an oath that all for whom Christ acted shall be eternally saved; not one of these shall perish. God says in Isa 53:11, He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.
God has made with Christ an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure (2Sam 23:5). But the false prophets reverse all this. They misrepresent the redemptive work of Christ as being a vague, indefinite, general, promiscuous thing, and rendering nothing sure. They believe Christ shed His blood for Judas Iscariot equally with Peter, and for Pilate equally as for Paul. They preach a salvation which is uncertain and contingent upon the acts of men, as though this salvation were for anybody or for nobody as the caprice of men shall decide. Christ provided His well-meant offer, and if we accept it, that is well and good, but if we do not accept it He will be disappointed. That is not the Gospel of the Bible. The Gospel is the Good News for men who realize that the penalty for their sins is an eternity in Hell. The Gospel is that we do not have to go to Hell, for Christ has paid the penalty.
The true prophet puts man in his proper place. He declares that man is a depraved, ruined and lost creature, spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. He shows from the Bible that man is alienated from God, that his mind is enmity against God, and that he is an incorrigible rebel against God. He shows that this is not only true of the heathen who worship idols of wood and stone, but also of those who were born in Christian families. God declares, “There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom 3:10-11). Because of what transpired in the Garden of Eden man has become a slave of sin and the captive of the Devil. He has no love for the true and living God, but instead he has a heart that is filled with hatred against Him. And man is absolutely unable to change himself. Only if the sovereign God is pleased to perform a miracle of grace upon man, is there any hope of salvation for him.
But that is the very opposite of what the false prophets preach. The false prophets teach that man still has the power to accept Christ or to reject Him. In other words, man is not dead in trespasses and sins, but man is able to do things that are pleasing to God, like accepting Him. And what does the Bible say? The Bible says that the deciding factor whose will shall be done, God’s will or mine, is determined by the principle of election, which is well documented in the Bible. Before the foundation of the world God elected some people unto salvation and others He passed by, leaving them in their own sin and guilt. But the false prophets hate the very word “election”. However, the truth of the Bible tells us: “Had not God eternally chosen me, I certainly would never have chosen Him.” The false prophets deny and ridicule this truth that is clearly stated in the Word of God. In fact, they will never teach this, because it will upset their doctrine that man was created with a free will. But the Bible declares that the only free will we have is the free will to sin. Our will is in bondage to sin and Satan, and our will is to sin and to sin more. Only God can change our will.
And so, the false prophets are spreading lies about this church, and about the doctrine of election, and about the sovereignty of God. They put a label on our doctrine, which they call “Hyper-Calvinism.” It does not matter to them that the truths we are teaching are clearly in the Bible. It does not matter to them that they are taking away words and passages from the Word of God. It does not matter to them that they are degrading the honor and majesty of Almighty God. The goal that they are after is to elevate man to be the King-maker, not God, for this is the doctrine that the natural man desires. In this way they intend to increase the size of their congregation and in this manner bring in more people, more baptized pagans, who will put their money into the treasure chest.
And so, this is what parents want for their children. They want their children to know the truth, and to be aware that there are false prophets in sheep’s clothing who want to take the life of their children. Therefore God says to us:
Eph 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” for this is right in the sight of the Lord, and He will give us strength to proclaim the truth. But remember that we are close to the end of time. The Word of God tells us that the wickedness of men shall not be gradually resolved. Instead we can expect it to become worse and worse. God tells us that in 2Tim 3:13, where we read: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived”. Praise God that grace is still available. Praise God that we can still pray for our children, and that we can pray for wisdom.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.