Great Commission Church
Psalm 139; Ezekiel 16; Ezekiel 18
Intro: Would you believe me if I told you we now have a new cultural religion? It is very deceiving, and without the help of the Spirit of God, you will not abandon it even if I show you it is not biblical. In 2001, sociologist Christian Smith led a team of researchers with The National Study of Youth and Religion. Their study assessed the spiritual beliefs of the average American teenager. After interviewing more than 3,000 teens, they identified five beliefs the typical teens had in common:
(1) A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
(2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
(3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself.
(4) God does not need to be particularly involved in your life except when He is needed to solve a problem.
(5) Good people go to heaven when they die.
Smith and his team summed up these beliefs by coining a new phrase: Moralistic, therapeutic deism.
Basically, American teenagers were under the impression that God just wanted them to be happy and nice to one another.
This kindhearted therapist in the sky would grant their wishes if they needed anything but would otherwise keep his distance. He certainly would not butt into their sex lives or ask them to do anything to make them feel sad, uncomfortable, deprived, or judged.
For those with this mentality the self becomes the center of the universe.
It is now the year 2023 and all those teenagers are adults. This view of God now permeates our culture. It is dominant even in the Bible Belt.
Collectively, we have bought into this as a local society. We seem radically committed to this moralistic, therapeutic deity on Sundays for a couple of hours, but the rest of the week we hope He won’t bother us or call our plans into question.
It truly matters what we are taught as children because that it when the foundation of our worldviews are established.
WHAT IS CHILDHOOD?
The formative years for human offspring as they learn and grow under the care of their mother and father to know their Creator.
WHEN DOES CHILDHOOD BEGIN?
Childhood begins at life which begins at conception.
Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Personhood precedes childhood because who we are was established by God before we entered the womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you.
WHEN DOES CHILDHOOD END?
Childhood ends when a young person reaches the ability to reproduce physically and reason effectively.
Luke 2:42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
Luke 2:46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Luke 2:47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
We know that Jesus had reached the status of young man because of the combination of His listed age and His ability to carry on adult conversation with men in the Temple listening to them and even become their instructors by His profound questions.
Afterwards, He showed even greater maturity by leaving with His parents after such a successful manhood moment.
Luke 2:51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Most impressive? He “was subject to them.”
Does the Bible describe the physical transition from childhood to adulthood? Yes.
Ezekiel 16:6 “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’
Ezekiel 16:7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.
Ezekiel 16:8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.
“you grew, matured, and became very beautiful” = “…you grew up and matured and developed the loveliest of ornaments.” CSB
It is a natural biological feature: reproduction is not for children – it is for adults.
Prolonged childhood is the opposite of discipleship.
Prolonged childhood exposes selfishness and/or ignorance in the parents.
Prolonged childhood hurts the local church.
illus: What do Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge have in common? They were the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence. Both were 26 in 1776. Both were also from the state of South Carolina. Lynch died at age 30; Rutledge at 50. Of the signers: 11 homes destroyed; 5 hunted and captured; 17 served in military; 9 died during the war. Edwards was taken prisoner by the British at the Siege of Charleston. Thomas Nelson, 38-yr-old signer, had his home confiscated by the British and used as their headquarters during the siege of Yorktown. He reportedly offered 5 guineas to the first man to hit his house with a cannon! In both WWI & WWII, young men lied about their ages in order to enlist to fight to keep their country free. Compare that with the video game, frat-boy mentality that pervades today where young men remain under their parents’ roof until their mid to late 20s.
Apostle John’s Three Categories:
1 John 2:12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
1 John 2:13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.
Under the rule of parents completely until they reach the age of reproduction. Then the parent/child relationship changes…
We are the only nation who believes a 17-year old is still a child.
2. Young men
They live in the home of parents until they leave to establish their own households. The parent/young adult relationship changes…
A young man is never said to have children – only fathers.
The young man category disappears once he becomes a father – and the responsibilities change.
Abram failed. He had fatherly responsibility for Ishmael, his son, but he sent Ishmael away. So God intervened because of the failure of the dad. (So must the church on behalf of the fatherless).
of the child – on the father
1 Tim 3:4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence
Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
of the young man – on the young man
The children of Israel found themselves in captivity in Babylon having been judged by God for their idolatry. In their torment, their attitudes descended into grumbling, so they began to repeat a new slogan that criticized God.
Ezekiel 18:2 “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
The slogan means, “the present generation is paying the penalty for the sins of the previous generation.” “Our parents ate the grapes, but we got the cavities. They got drunk but we got the D.U.I. Why are we suffering for the mess they made? It’s not fair!”
YHWH makes it crystal clear that we are responsible for our own sins, not the sins of others.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
“It is the person who sins that will die. A son won’t bear any of the consequences of his father’s iniquity, nor will a father bear any of the consequences of his son’s iniquity. The virtuous will enjoy the consequences of their virtue, while the wicked will suffer the consequences of their wickedness.” (Leslie C. Allen translation)
illus: Young men wished to be treated as men. A counseling technique for jr. high & high school students – “Do you want me to give you the child answer or the adult answer?”
Heaven’s expectation for adults is to marry and begin a new family with children.
Young men who live in the father’s house come under his supervision in which he makes three decisions:
(1) To provide – peaceful man’s house
The father provides hospitality.
Luke 10:5 But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’
Luke 10:6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.
Luke 10:7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.
(2) To protect – wise man’s house
The father protects those under his roof with the structure/soundness of the environment created by wisdom of the Lord.
Matt 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
Matt 7:25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
(3) To defend – strong man’s house
The father defends those under his roof from all harm.
Mark 3:27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.
Gen 19:4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.
Gen 19:5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”
Gen 19:6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him,
Gen 19:7 and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!
The young men/women are therefore “welcome guests under roof.” They remain under their father’s roof because they have not yet established their own domain.
Expect more out of your sons and daughters than the world expects of them.
Treat the young men and women under your care according to their biblical status.