Recently I picked up William P. Farley’s book, Gospel-Powered Parenting and found exactly what I needed to hear as a young father. I’m not going to write a full review, since Tim Challies already did that, but I hope this post whets your appetite a little.
Since discovering that the gospel is the fuel that drives Christians to loving, joyful obedience, I’ve had my eye out for a book that would help my wife and I apply the gospel to our children as we nurture them in the Lord. We don’t want to train up a group of thespian (fake) Christians, but joy-filled, fruitful, enduring (real) ones. As Farley points out, the devil can produce outwardly “moral” children—our goal as parents ought to be the new birth. Once this happens, Farley says, “the rest is mop up.” Christ will not deny himself and promises to begin the work he starts. If we assume our children are already regenerate because they signed a card, prayed a prayer, were baptized or whatever, then we fail to provide them a means of grace that God normally uses to save his people.
An aspect of our parenting that has been lacking is in the area of what Farley calls “gospel fear,” which he beautifully expounds in Chapter 3. We can be timid as parents to explain the wrath of God to our children because we’re afraid they’ll be too frightened and want nothing to do with him. But we are forgetting that the fear of God is a means God uses to stir up in us the desire to be forgiven by him. God does this to keep his children from falling away into works righteousness by pointing them to their only hope, Jesus Christ. This fear is the “beginning of wisdom.” “ Gospel fear” is a powerful weapon against unbelief. Far from being something to avoid, it is crucial to our children’s salvation and sanctification.
This was just one of the many insights I’ve gained from the book and I heartily recommend it to any Christian parent, especially those whose constant cry is for their children’s salvation and joyful obedience of faith. You will also find that your own faith will be nourished as you read.