When we read 2 Timothy 2:15, it’s easy to assume that it applies only to pastors, but if our teenagers don’t understand the Bible correctly and read it regularly, they have no hope for a godly life or a life directed by the Lord. In his excellent book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp says that the best thing he did as a parent was simply to read one-third of a chapter of Proverbs to his kids before school each day. Proverbs presents every aspect of true spirituality. As a teen I started reading the Bible, and I was stunned at what I learned. I ate it up. That Bible is literally in tatters today. It was my lifeline for a solid decade. Are your teens reading the Bible? I think everyone needs, in fact, three Bibles:  They need a good study Bible. Probably the best one is the ESV Student Study Bible. It’s excellent.  You also need a little portable Bible (often called a “thinline” or “compact” Bible).  I recommend the Bible on your phone. (the entire ESV translation is free, or you can upgrade to the ESV Study Bible – even more content than the student study Bible – for $18). You and your children need to own and love their Bible. As you read it, it draws you in.
In 2 Timothy 2:16-18 we see that false teachers will mix the Bible and culture, and that completely corrupts their faith. The world is pushing in just as hard on our kids now. As stupid as the theory of Evolution is, and how it’s been thoroughly disproven by the discovery of intelligent design, the fossil record, and the laws of physics, it persists. Not because it makes sense but because people are committed to vehemently resist the truth about God and human sin. And the pace at which entertainment is becoming debauched is literally breathtaking. I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, but check it out at IMDB. com. While you’re at it, you can evaluate the movie, just in time for Halloween, called Happy Death Day. And teach your kids to research IMDB.com and make wise decisions. There’s an ocean of entertainment out there. They don’t need to experience the trash.
And now, our culture is all about gay and gender rights. Google “When women become men at Wellesley” and you’ll get an idea of the confusion non-believers are experiencing. And it goes beyond mere confusion: Miguel Martinez, who identifies as “Michelle”, is a transgender man who was just convicted of raping a 10 year old girl in a public restroom. It’s a confusing world for our kids today, and as we see in 2 Timothy 2:18 reveals, it was the same for Timothy back then too. Paul’s response to that confusion is insightful. He simply says “God knows those who are his.” (v. 19). True believers depart from iniquity. It’s by their fruit that we know them. He gives advice for us today too (v. 20-21). I still remember, as a young believer, hearing a more mature student praying, “God help me to hate sin.” Christians must hate sin (Jerry Bridges’ Pursuit of Holiness and Respectable Sins ought to be required reading if you’re serious about living purely before God). Confession of sin is an essential part of Christian living, and we need to cultivate this practice at home. The next time you raise your voice at your kids, the next time you’re selfish or rude, this is what you do: You look them in the eyes, own your sin, and ask them, “Will you please forgive me?” You must model humility and sincere repentance, that’s called spiritual leadership. And according to v. 21, that’s what prepares us “for every good work”. That’s your job—to get them ready. But if you don’t have a deep, abiding relationship with the Lord, don’t expect your kids to. So v. 22 says that the most important thing you could do if you’re concerned for your kids, is begin to walk with the Lord more closely yourself.
Paul Tripp, in his book, Age of Opportunity, identifies the teenage years as an unprecedented opportunity to coach, inspire, love, and correct our kids and disciples into true usefulness for God. Consider this helpful chart:
|FRUIT IN TEENS
|No absolute standards; each person determines right and wrong
|No convictions; no internal restraints; easily influenced; dislike of rules
|TRUTH Willing submission and obedience to the principles and commands of Scripture
|No higher goal than one’s own happiness & pleasure
|Selfishness; self-centered; laziness; irresponsibility; grumbling
|TWO GREAT COMMANDS A life shaped by loving God & neighbor
|Feelings as personal guidance system
|Moved by what feels right; crave the approval of others
|BIBLICAL FAITH A commitment to test everything by Scripture
|Living for the moment
|“Got to have it now”; no sense of consequences
|ETERNITY Living with an eye towards the reality of eternity
|Ignore spiritual world and focus on what is seen
|No independent pursuit of the Lord; no focus on character. Focus is clothing, beauty, things.
|SPIRITUALITY A life shaped by seriousness about issues of the heart and relationship with God
|No responsibility to a higher authority
|Rebellion to authority; no God-ward focus; Correction viewed negatively
|CREATUREHOOD A life guided by a recognition of the Creator & living to His Glory
|No sense of personal responsibility; “My experience made me what I am.”
|Regular blame shifting; rationalizes behavior; defensiveness
|SIN Humble recognition of struggle with sin & thankfulness for the forgiveness of Christ
If you want to learn a lot more about how to love and parent your teenagers well, Age of Opportunity is must reading!
Verse 22 ends with this helpful phrase: “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart”. In order to glorify God, we need the help of genuine Christian community (also see Proverbs 13:20 and 18:1). This is a huge issue for teenagers and all of us. Good relationship decisions are life-shaping decisions. Our kids don’t need to be tentative. They don’t need to be insecure. All the answers to all the questions in the world are found in Christ. All the solutions to all the problems in the world are found in Christ. As they grow in Christ, they will literally find the answers for our broken world. And God will start to use them. As we grow in our walks with Christ, we can’t help it. We’ll influence the world for Him (v. 24-26).
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Review your “Parenting Arrow” plan in light of this sermon; edit in any changes.
- It’s true—we never stop being a parent! So, how do we launch our older children into adulthood? What skills, attitudes, and commitments will they need to fulfill their God-given purpose of glorifying God and enjoying him?
- Consider acquiring / reading Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp (TCC doesn’t manage links to external site resources so if link is broken we apologize but, please feel free to let us know by sending an email to our Admin Team.)
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)