Godly Parents and Evil Children
This document is intended to answer the question, “How can a Godly and righteous person rear a vile and evil son?”
This question indicates that the person asking it has assumed that child rearing works according to the popular understanding of Proverbs 22:
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The popular understanding is that a child who is trained in a Godly manner will not depart from that Godly manner when he is old. The child might depart from Godliness for a time, according to this belief, but will eventually return to Godliness and fervency in righteousness, and will stay that way until death.
Those who use the parable of the prodigal son to gain assurance that a child who becomes pagan and godless in behaviour will return back to Godliness when he regains his senses hold the same beliefs.
These teachings always return to the issue of the assurance of salvation also known as ‘once saved, always saved’. Those who hold that a person who has been saved, that is, who has become a recipient of salvation by the grace of God through faith and not through works cannot also hold the belief that the same person can turn away from God and Godliness, and die in unbelief.
Others hold that a person who has truly been a recipient of salvation can later voluntarily reject it and spurn it, and can thus lose that gift of God and become unsaved.
A gray area is introduced regarding such a person then turning back to God. Did the person temporarily lose salvation, and then was able to regain it? Two texts in Hebrews deny this possibility:
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come—6if they shall fall away—to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we willfully sin after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation that shall devour the adversaries. 28He who despised Moses’ Torah died without mercy under two or three witnesses. 29Of how much sorer punishment do ye suppose shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden the Son of God under foot and hath counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing by which he was sanctified, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
The solution to this riddle is found in another parable:
Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together and were come to Him out of every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and it was trodden down. And the fowls of the air devoured it. 6And some fell upon a rock. And as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8And others fell on good ground. And they sprang up and bare fruit, a hundredfold.” And when He had said these things, He shouted: “He who has ears to hear, he shall hear!” 9And His disciples asked Him saying, “What might this parable be?” 10And He said, “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others in parables so that they will not see, seeing, and they will not understand, hearing. 11Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12Those by the way side are they who hear. Then the devil comes and takes the word away out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved. 13They on the rock are they who receive the word with joy when they hear. And these have no root that believe for a while, and fall away in time of testing. 14And that that fell among thorns are they that go forth when they have heard, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And they bring no fruit to perfection. 15But that on the good ground are they that keep it in an honest and good heart, having heard the word. And they bring forth fruit with endurance. 16No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed. But he sets it on a candlestick so that they that enter in will see the light. 17For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, nor hidden that shall not be known and come abroad. 18Take heed therefore how ye hear. for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even what he seems to have.”
If a reader doesn’t miss verse 13 and its implications, the reader will see that “these have no root that believe for a while” indicates a real faith that is temporary. They believe for a while. That faith is real. It is not salvational. Faith is not automatically salvational. If it were, the importance of the Grace of God in salvation would be diminished and unnecessary. Even the demons believe, and they do not have the advantage of the possibility of salvation.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou doest well. The devils also believe and tremble.
Children have temporary faith in their parents. Sons often think their papas can fix anything. They believe. That faith can be destroyed. It must be temporary if it is destroyed. Permanent faith will last without regard to circumstances and situations.
The Israelis had faith when they came out of Egypt, but it was temporary:
Exodus 4:31 And the people believed. And when they heard that Yehovah had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Exodus 14:31 And Israel saw that great work that Yehovah did upon the Egyptians. And the people feared Yehovah and believed Yehovah and his servant Moses.
The Bible later affirms that the Israelis did not believe.
Psalms 106:24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land. They didn’t believe His word, 25but murmured in their tents. They didn’t hearken to the voice of Yehovah. 26Therefore He lifted up his hand against them to overthrow them in the wilderness.
One must hold the doctrine of the possibility of temporary faith in order to keep from being theologically confused.
Permanent faith is different. The above parable of the sower shows the difference in verse 15: “That on the good ground are they that keep it in an honest and good heart, having heard the word. And they bring forth fruit with endurance.” Joshua and Caleb, did exactly this. A permanent faith and a temporary faith will appear the same at the beginning. The temporary faith will probably be accompanied by much greater excitement and outward zeal. It appears that those who have great and exciting ‘conversions’ to faiths are the same ones who often switch to other faiths and errors. True faith is accompanied by great thoughtfulness. (This is true regardless of whether that true faith is Biblical or not. Persons who are strong in idolatrous faiths will show the very same symptoms. The trueness of a God/god has nothing to do with whether a faith is real. Those who fervently believe in their idols and continue to their deaths held a true faith, but a faith that will lead them to destruction.)
Faith Cannot be Transferred
This may seem obvious to the reader, but it is not obvious to the majority of folks holding faiths throughout the world. Adherents to child baptism may think that they don’t hold the belief that faith is transferable, but they prove that they believe it is by their actions. After all, they do believe that this enters their baby into the ‘Body of Christ’.
Parents who diligently rear their children according to their churches, making sure to participate and have them participate in all aspects of church life and practice, including Communion/Lord’s Supper/Lord’s Table/Eucharist are not just doing this to feel good. They hold that they are instilling the Christian faith into their children. They are very pleased and proud when they hear their children recite texts and give testimonies. This assures them that they have successfully given their children what is necessary for faith. This is a great error, but a popular one that is promulgated from pulpits.
Make a distinction between instruction and installation. Instruction in faith does not install that faith into a child. Most children will think that they hold the same faith as their parents. Most parents who see faithful children will think that the children hold their faith. This is not the case, and it has never been automatically the case. Most children will choose a faith or a faithlessness based on their own experiences.
Yehovah commanded the Israelis to instruct their children in the Word of God. That command did not guarantee the faith of the children. The only time when faith is guaranteed will be in the Millennium with the Israelis. Yehovah Himself stated,
Jeremiah 31:30 (Hebrew) “Behold, days are coming,” declares Yehovah, “and I will cut a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the house of Judah— 31not as the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I grasped into their hand to exit them from the land of Egypt—which they broke—my Covenant, and I, I husbanded via them!” declared Yehovah. 32 “For this is the covenant that I will cut with the House of Israel after those days,” declared Yehovah: “I gave my Torah into their midst, and I will write her upon their heart. And I will be to them for Gods. And they shall be to me for a people. 33And they shall not teach a man his neighbour and a man his brother again, saying, ‘Know-ye Yehovah!’ For all of them shall know me to-from their littlest and unto their biggest,” declared Yehovah. “For I will pardon to their iniquity. And I will not remember again to their sin.”
He thus guarantees Israel’s faith as of His instilling the New Covenant into their heart (mind). He also gave prophecies about a few folks who will be in faith. There is no guarantee of faith apart from these. The most faithful parents have no guarantee that their children will be faithful to Yehovah.
The Bible would have specified if faith could be transferred from parents or adults or even children to other children. The Proverbs text mentioned above has been translated in a manner that gives a wrong impression.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I do not fault the translators, however. It does say, “train up”. It did not say, “Instill”. Child training is not the same as faith instilling. Thus, readers have wrongly assumed that this text states what it doesn’t. A literal rendering of this text follows:
Proverbs 22:6 Dedicate to a youth upon the mouth of his way. Indeed for he will not eschew from her when he will be old.
Consider this text and its implications. The first part states, “Dedicate to a youth.” This word is the basis of the name Enoch and of the word Khanukkah. Dedicating anything has to do with placing that thing (or person in this case) to a set task and set purposes. The set task and purposes must be defined.
The next part states, “upon the mouth of his way.” This Hebrew expression means that his way will speak, since it has a mouth. His way will be the way he does things, and can include where he will go. The mouth of his way will be what his way speaks. Since the parent is the instructor of his way, the mouth will be what the parent instructs the youth regarding his way. This is best seen in apprenticeship. The master commands the apprentice how he is to perform his way, his duty. Samuel was Eli’s apprentice. He taught Samuel how to function in the priest’s office. Apprenticeship is an excellent way to teach one to be professional. Thus, it is the way of the profession. One who dedicates to a youth upon the mouth of his way is behaving as an apprenticeship master, and is commanding the youth what to do to fulfill that task. When that youth is old, he will not throw off what he learned.
This text has nothing to do with faith. No person can be an apprenticeship master in areas of faith. Anyone who wrongly thinks that this can be done is arrogant. Every person must establish faith or reject faith on his or her own. I have not yet found where regular faith in Yehovah is a gift of God. I only found where his Grace is a gift. It seems that the person must establish faith of this type. The parable of the sower above lends credence to this. The soil is the person’s heart/mind. It must be prepared by the person to receive the seed that is the Word of God. (This is not a discussion of the gift of faith that is one of the ministerial gifts, and must be given by God since it is given to do miraculous works.)
Many religious parents would very much like to transfer their own faiths into their children. Some live for this very goal. Their lives would be nothing in their own eyes if it were not dedicated to the instillation and installation of faith into their children. They will usually succeed in rearing very religious children. Being religious and holding faith are different and are not related to each other. Religious parents are often proud of their religious children. They feel success as they see their older children pursuing religion with great zeal. That still does not mean that faith has been transferred. The same parents will sometimes have another child who totally rejects his/her parent’s religion and all its bases. Those parents will suffer with feelings of guilt, believing they failed. Their failure is theological, because they thought they could do what even Yehovah has not done.
Did Yehovah instill faith into Adam and into Cain? Did Yeshua instill faith into Judas Iscariot? Consider the theological problem if the answer is, “No.” Does that mean that Yeshua intentionally blocked Judas from faith? Wasn’t Judas a disciple of Yeshua? Isn’t the master of disciples behaving in the role of a parent? Is Yeshua a failure because one of His children didn’t gain faith? Anyone who draws this conclusion isn’t in faith.
Luke 22:67 “Art thou the Messiah? Tell us!” And He said unto them, “If I tell you, ye will not believe.”
If Yeshua Himself does not instill faith knowing fully well that all who do not have faith will be damned, can a parent instill faith in a child? Is a parent mightier than Yehovah?
“How can a Godly and righteous person rear a vile and evil son?”
Since a parent cannot adjust and instill the faith of a child, rearing has to do with habits and patterns, not with faith. Thus, a Godly and righteous person can instruct properly in every way, and the child can turn to be evil regardless of every proper rearing from that parent.
Esau and Jacob had the same rearing. Yehovah hated Esau and loved Jacob. Esau’s father preferred (loved) him because of the food. Yet Isaac’s faith was in Yehovah. Esau never ‘caught’ it. No text seems to indicate where Jacob acquired his faith. Jacob was perfect before Yehovah from his youth.
Genesis 25:27 (from the Hebrew, literally) And Esau was a man knowing hunting, a man of a field. And Jacob is a perfect man dwelling tents.
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles that followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness—even the righteousness that is from faith. 31But Israel that followed after the Torah of righteousness has not attained to the Torah of righteousness. 32Why? Because not by faith, but as from the works of the Torah. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone.
The order of events must be the following:
- Hearing the Word of God.
- Considering the Word of God.
- Hearkening to the Word of God.
- Believing the Word of God.
A fifth act can occur anywhere in the above list including before number 1:
- Doing the righteousness of the Word of God.
A person can do the righteousness of the Word of God before ever hearing the Word of God! And Yehovah does not discount for that. He does the opposite! The ‘Sheep-Goat’ judgment of Matthew 25:31 and following will prove this to anyone with the sense and discernment to realize that ‘my brethren’ refer only to the Israelis.
It is popular in modern Christianity to believe that one can come to faith before carefully hearing/reading the Word of God and properly understanding it. Thus, a person makes a confession of faith, and is then instructed to read the Bible, and often especially the book of John. This person didn’t come to faith (and probably never will). The order is given in the Bible:
Romans 10:17 So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
This gives the order, but a careful reader will notice that it is reversed. The first item is The Word of God. The second is hearing, that is, hearkening. The third item is faith. This verse, then, indicates:
- The Word of God, then
- Hearing/Hearkening, then
Those who obtain faith first did not obtain that faith through hearing or hearkening. They perhaps heard the words of a preacher, a missionary or a fellow worker, but that didn’t given them enough information from which to obtain faith. They must acquire the Truth of the Word of God in a more direct way. Preachers often speak errors, especially in regard to salvation. Missionaries claim to be sent, but their claims are as good as the folks who sent them. If they are fallible and if their prophecies are not infallible at all times, their sending is a lie. Missionaries of error include almost all. The Bible shows folks who were truly sent by Yehovah, and gives examples of His calling them so that distinctions between the real and those not sent by Yehovah can be clearly seen.
Obtaining a faith from a missionary’s or a preacher’s or a pastor’s or a Sunday school teacher’s opinions and views of what the texts mean is an excellent way to obtain a non-Biblical faith. The person who is wise will look into the Word of Truth for herself. If she is physically blind, she can either use Braille or tapes or a reader. If there is no Bible and no access to a Bible, Yehovah Himself has no problem getting Truth to that person infallibly. Avram was of this ilk. Yehovah taught him infallibly with no Bible. Still, then, faith must come from hearkening to the Word of God. Since most have never looked with thought into the Word of Truth, most hold faiths that have nothing to do with Truth.
Consider, now, a person who does hold the Truth of the Word of God and the faith of God, and has the Biblical everlasting Salvation. That does not mean that a son or daughter will look into and hearken to that Truth. Josiah, a Godly king in Israel, believed and is a recipient of Salvation through faith by the Grace of God. He hearkened. His first son did not hearken. He did not believe. He would not look into the Word of God. That is how a Godly and righteous person can rear a child who turns out vile and evil. It is no more complex than this.