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The heart of the gospel

This article is taken from the book A shepherd for his heart by Tedd Tripp

I am often asked if I expected my children to become believers. I generally respond that the gospel message is powerful and fascinating. It incomparably satisfies the needs of fallen humanity. So I have always hoped that the word of God would work with power for the salvation of my children. But that expectation was based on the power of the gospel and its relevance to the deep needs of the heart, not some magic formula that would make the little Tripps believers.

The gospel should be at the center of education. Let us not only concern ourselves with the behavior of our kids, but also the attitudes of their hearts. Let's not just show them what sin they've committed: let's explain to them "why" they committed it. Let us help them understand that the Lord is working within us from within. The goal of education is not limited to producing well-behaved children; your children must also understand why they sin and how God can transform them. Giving the gospel a central place in our families is not just teaching our children the meaning of forgiveness sins through repentance and faith in Christ. In the gospel we find the promise of inner transformation and power. Ezekiel 36 perfectly shows the fulness of the gospel:

  • "I will sprinkle you with pure water, and you will be cleansed. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols "(v. 25): in the Gospel we discover the grace of forgiveness;
  • “I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and I will give you a heart of flesh "(v. 26): in the Gospel we discover the grace of inner transformation.
  • "It is my Spirit that I will put within you. Thus, I will make you follow my prescriptions, keep and observe my rules "(v. 27): in the Gospel we discover the grace of the power of God at work in us. The gospel enables us - us and our children - to face the worst in us: sin, evil, weakness. And we can remain hopeful, because the grace of God is powerful!

We sometimes lower our criteria to allow our children to meet them. We believe that, not being Christians, our kids are not able to obey God with all their hearts anyway. The Bible urges, for example, to return good for evil. But we advise our children being abused by a little bully in the playground to ignore it. Or, worse, to return blow for blow!

This unbiblical advice keeps them away from the cross of Christ. They don't need God's supernatural grace to "ignore the little brute." They don't need it to defend their rights either. On the other hand, to do good to those who oppress them, to pray for those who mistreat them, to defer to the just Judge, they will have to be aware of their spiritual poverty; and their need for the transforming power of the gospel.

Left to ourselves, we are unable to keep divine law. It is very demanding, and cannot be observed without the supernatural grace of God. It leads us to recognize this constant need for grace. We will deprive our children of the grace of the gospel if we do not clearly present God's requirements to them.

Tedd Tripp - Pastor, teacher and consultant Tedd dedicates his life to developing the potential of Christian leaders. After years of pastoral experience, he now trains leaders, pastors and missionaries in over thirty countries. He is married and the father of four grown children.

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