No. 08 – Supplement for Parents
For those that would be interested to know, here is what Ellen White had to say about John Bunyan, a man and his book that I will be quoting from in this presentation:
The Great Controversy 252
In a loathsome dungeon crowded with profligates and felons, John Bunyan breathed the very atmosphere of heaven; and there he wrote his wonderful allegory of the pilgrim’s journey from the land of destruction to the celestial city. For over two hundred years that voice from Bedford jail has spoken with thrilling power to the hearts of men. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners have guided many feet into the path of life.”
All parents worry about their children. And so they should. We are living in very uncertain times, and in a time when the attractions of the world are stronger than ever.
Many of you will have children who you love very dearly. Some of you have done the best you can with raising your children, but you still see them going in the wrong direction. Some of you will have become Christians later in life and you now repent and regret the way that you brought up your children. Some of you have been too strict on your children with your principles, and now they are in rebellion. And some may have neglected their duties altogether.
Now, whatever your experience is as a father or a mother, the past is gone. You are now in the present. You cannot change anything. You cannot undo the mistakes that you have made. BUT do NOT become discouraged. God wants us to be HAPPY. We worship a God WHO DOES NOT CONDEMN, but FORGIVES. Remember this. God does NOT condemn you for your failures in parenting. The condemnation you feel comes from yourself. Not Him. And again I say, do not become discouraged about your children’s salvation. There is HOPE for you and for your children. Listen carefully to what I am going to share with you in this presentation.
The first thing I want to do is to emphasize something that we often overlook. We worship a God who is a “SPECIALIST” in doing something in particular. And His specialty is described here in Genesis 1:2-3:
2| And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3| And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
There was darkness, and then, there was light. Come to the first part of 2 Corinthians 4:6:
2 Corinthians 4:6
6| God… commanded the light to shine out of darkness…
God’s specialty is bringing light out of darkness. When you look at your failures as a parent and you watch your children walking away from God’s ways, sometimes all that you can see is darkness. BUT God can bring light OUT OF that darkness.
In Psalm 127:3 it says:
3| Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Now, generally a parent will read this verse, and feel condemned. It says that your children belong to God. They were given to you to take care of, to raise them up and train them to love God and to worship Him. But you have failed. But this verse is FULL of encouragement. Will not the Lord take care of His own, if you will GIVE them to Him?
Perhaps you are coming to realise through our studies so far that it is because you were trying to save them and yourself by YOUR OWN efforts that they are now wandering in the wilderness of this world. Many of you were so strict because you thought that’s what you had to be. You thought that God was strict with you and that you had to meet all of His requirements yourself and so you expected the same from your children. Or perhaps you were just living your own life, without thinking of God, just happily doing your own thing, and raised them up in the same manner. Either way, one thing is clear. Even if you did the RIGHT thing, it was WRONG, because YOU were the one doing the works.
Now, its time for you to LET GOD do the works. GIVE your children to Him. Yes. They may be wandering far away from Him, they may seem to be in the deepest darkness of sin, and they may even be estranged not just from God, but from you as well. Now GIVE them to God and see how He manages the situation. Remember, His specialty is to bring light out of darkness. You will be amazed at what He does, BUT you must understand WHAT He is doing.
Let’s return again to Isaiah 55:10-11:
10| For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11| So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
God cannot lie, because whatever comes out of His mouth, that word ITSELF WILL do what it says. Anything that God says, MUST happen. His word HAS TO do what it says.
And so bearing that right in the front of your mind, come to Isaiah 49:25:
25| But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
The word of God that came out of His mouth, the word that MUST do what it says, says, “I WILL save thy children.” Parents, NOTHING can prevent this word from its fulfilment BUT your unbelief and prevention. This is the word of God. It has gone forth out of His mouth. And that word MUST DO what it says. BUT you MUST believe it and LET it do it.
There is 100% hope for us in this verse. Because this is what God says. God is just waiting for us to believe it. Waiting for us to get on our knees, give our children to God and say here, have them. Please do what you have said you will do.
There are many parents who today are giving their children to God, but they are in uncertainty, they still struggle with doubts that God is able to keep them and make them ready for heaven. But God wants us to be INTELLIGENT about these things. When you are praying for your children, take your Bible and lift up this verse to God. Place your finger upon it, show Him the very verse you are claiming and demand from Him its fulfilment, and NEVER, EVER stop doing so.
Parents, if you love your children and want them to go to heaven, this is what you must do. There are many in this world who will be lost because their parents never claimed this promise. They doubted God’s power to save their children. They concluded that their children were too deep in sin, that God couldn’t help them. Or they blamed themselves and condemned themselves as being at fault and that because of their own sins, God couldn’t save their children. Don’t think like that. Just take this verse, lift it up before God and don’t ever give up. As long as you never give up, God will never give up.
But now there is something that I must tell you. You probably won’t see any changes in their life straight away. But that DOESN’T mean that God is not working. Keep lifting up that promise before God. His word MUST save your children, no matter how bad things may look. God is the most powerful being in the universe. He is also the wisest. No matter WHAT course they seem to be taking in life, never think that God does not or cannot deal with the situation and save them out of it.
You may see them going even further into trouble. Trust God. Keep praying. There is something that we MUST understand about God’s work with human beings. And this may be very surprising to you, but it is true and I have both seen it with my own eyes and heard many testimonies as to this reality. Let’s read Psalm 119:67:
67| Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
David is speaking here in the Psalms a wonderful truth about God’s interactions with us. David says that he was going astray, but then he met with some hard times in his life, and through that affliction, it brought him back to the ways of God.
This is a profound truth. That God will use afflictions to bring us back to Him. What are the afflictions we suffer in our lives? Generally speaking, are they not the consequences of the bad choices that we make in life? God can use even our bad choices to bring us back to Him.
28| And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God is an amazing God. He can use EVERYTHING for good. And that includes even the BAD things. The darkest and most discouraging things in our lives. He can make that work for good also. He brings bring light OUT OF the darkness. Do you realise that is how it actually works? The light comes OUT OF the darkness. In fact, its what creation was all about, and its what RE-creation is all about. So don’t stress when you see things are so dark. God can do it. Just trust Him.
But you might think, this verse is talking about those who love God and are called according to His purpose. My child obviously doesn’t love God, so it can’t apply. WRONG. It does apply to YOU, and if it applies to you, the faith that you have will cover for your child, and ALL things will work together for good for even them. But you have to believe it. And what we are learning applies to not just your children, and your family, but even your friends. We underestimate the power of INTELLIGENT prayer, and we underestimate the power of God. When Ellen White was in her youth, she prayed for ALL of her friends, and she says that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was converted. There’s something to learn from that.
Many times we get discouraged when we are praying and we don’t see anything happening in answer to our prayers, and we think that God is not listening. He is. Don’t doubt it. But NOW HE is the one doing the works, and His works are very different to ours. Come back to Isaiah 55, but let’s read verses 8-9 this time:
8| For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9| For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
And so if God’s ways are not out ways, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see Him working in a way different to us. In fact, many times we don’t think God is working because we are expecting Him to do things in a particular way, and we can’t see it happening. And the great danger is that we get discouraged, and give up praying. No. Don’t do that. Keep praying. God IS working. But notice HOW He works.
Apart from the Bible, and my own personal experiences, I have learned more about the character of God and His ways of dealing with men and women from a preacher in the 1600’s than I have ever learned from anyone else. His name was John Bunyan. And he was one of those preachers who was not afraid to speak of his deep heart experiences with God. When he was younger, he spent many years believing that he had grieved the Spirit of God and committed the unpardonable sin. And he would search the scriptures for hope, but all he seemed to be able to do was find promises for everyone else, except himself. One day, it finally hit him, that he actually was a converted man, and that God was simply waiting for him to believe that those promises were for him as well, no matter how he felt. He writes about his experience in a book called, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” and what he discovered about the character of God is VERY profound. I want to share this with you. It may seem at first a little hard to take in, but listen carefully, and remember that God’s ways are not our ways:
From Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan:
But oh, how did my soul, at this time, prize the preservation that God did set about his people! Ah, how safely did I see them walk, whom God had hedged in! They were within His care, protection, and special providence; though they were full as bad as I by nature; yet because He loved them, He would not suffer them to fall without the range of mercy…
Now before we continue reading, I want to highlight what he has said so far. John Bunyan discovered that God has a “special providence” for those whom He has hedged in. Now, think of your children. You have given them to God – they are His. Now He is the one responsible for their lives. Your children are now under His “special providence” and He WILL NOT “suffer them to fall without the range of mercy”. God may not prevent them from falling, but He will prevent them from falling beyond the range of mercy.
Let’s keep reading:
Now I saw, that as God had His hand in all providences and dispensation that overtook His elect, so He had His hand in all the temptations that they had to sin against Him, not to animate them unto wickedness, but to choose their temptations and troubles for them; and also to leave them, for a time, to such sins only as might not destroy, but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in the way of the renewing of His mercy.
Isn’t this just amazing? Please, believe this and you will sleep so much better at night. I can assure you. By His “special providence” God will have His hand in all of your child’s experiences. AND even in their temptations, so that He would CHOOSE their temptations for them. What does this mean? This means that God can see all of the choices that your child will have available to them in life. He can see the ultimate outcome of each choice. He can see which ones will result in your child’s eternal destruction. Perhaps they are ones that will bury them so deep in sin that there is no way back, or perhaps they are ones that will bring about so much self-condemnation that they will come to think that God will never accept them and so reject Him altogether. THE DOOR TO THESE TEMPTATIONS that will end up like this, with your child grieving away the Spirit, and committing the unpardonable sin, GOD WILL CLOSE. He will NOT PERMIT your children to meet these temptations.
BUT He will leave the door open to the other temptations which will IN THE END, bring them to their knees. Yes, they may be terrible and fearful experiences. He may seem to for a time leave them to reap the consequences of their actions, BUT He will not abandon them. You have given them to Him, you are continuing to pray and lift up the promise that He will save your children, and He will. God may, as it said there, “leave them, for a time, to such sins as might not destroy them, but humble them; as might not put them beyond, but lay them in the way of the renewing of His mercy.” He will work in their lives, BY permitting them to make the very mistakes that will ultimately cause them to fall before Him in repentance.
Let’s finish this awesome revelation of God’s love and wisdom:
But oh, what love, what care, what kindness and mercy did I now see, mixing itself with the most severe and dreadful of all God’s ways to His people! He would let David, Hezekiah, Solomon, Peter, and others fall, but He would not let them fall into sin unpardonable, nor into hell for sin. Oh! thought I, these be the men that God hath loved; these be the men that God, though He chastiseth them, keeps them in safety by Him, and them whom He makes to abide under the shadow of the Almighty….
“He would let them fall, but NOT into sin unpardonable, nor into hell for sin.” Parents, if you have given you child to God, NEVER become discouraged, NO MATTER WHAT you see taking place in their lives. GOD IS WORKING. He has to. His word CANNOT return to Him without doing what it says. Keep praying, keep lifting that promise up before Him, and you will see them, maybe not now, maybe not in this world, but in the world to come. Only God knows the mysteries of the human heart, and you may not have any evidence of what is taking place in the hearts of your children, but something is happening that only God can see, and they WILL be there to enter into that glorious city with you.
You can trust God. You can trust His word. And it says, “I WILL SAVE THY CHILDREN!” It must do it, if you believe it.
And not only does this apply to our children, but God will work with us in our own lives in the same way that we have just seen. Of course, we are not to be presumptuous and plunge into sin so that this grace may abound. By no means! But do we have any excuse for becoming discouraged, no matter what our experience may be? NEVER. Our God can get us out of ANY mess that we put ourselves in – IF we stop trying to get ourselves our of it and LET Him do it.
Can you say “amen” with me?