Transcript of Voddie Baucham’s “Doctrine of Total Depravity”

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HA note: The following is a transcript of Voddie Baucham’s sermon “The Doctrine of Total Depravity.” Baucham delivered this sermon on the Calvinist ideology of total depravity (and its implications for mental health and child training) on May 2, 2010 to Grace Family Baptist Church. Baucham is the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church, which is the host of Baucham’s Voddie Baucham Ministries and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. This transcript was created by HA Community Coordinator R.L. Stollar.

Click here to read other transcripts by and posts about Voddie Baucham.


As we come to Romans, Chapter 3, Verses 9-18, we come to a point of Paul’s argument that basically is a culmination of his case against all mankind and his case against anyone or anything that would boast in being worthy of God’s favor or standing and being declared righteous before God. We have already seen, beginning in Chapter 3 [sic], and Verse 18, that he builds his case carefully in that chapter against the Gentile world. And beginning in Chapter 2, he builds his case carefully against the Jewish world. And we come to Chapter 3 and we are beginning to reach this crescendo. But as we reach this crescendo in Chapter 3, it’s important to understand that we are now at a moment of great tension. That tension, however, is not relieved until next week. But remember, the letter was meant to be read at a single sitting. But we come to the place of being laid low today. We come to the place of recognizing what it is that we actually deserve from God and what it is that we’ve been saved from.

If we don’t get the doctrine of total depravity, total inability, if we don’t get the doctrine of man’s sin — by the way, not the doctrine of original sin; we’ll get to that later on in Chapter 5, when we talk about Adam and original sin — now we’re talking about total depravity and what that means. Or radical depravity, as it is sometimes referred to.

Here are just a few implications of this doctrine, why it’s important that we understand this doctrine rightly:

One implication, for example, is the way we discipline our children, or discipline our children. If you disciple a child, or discipline a child, and don’t believe in the doctrine of total depravity, it will change the way you approach the discipline of that child.

Secondly, the establishment of civil government. There is a difference between the establishment of government among people who believe that man is basically good and the establishment of people who believe that man is a sinful creature and we must keep an eye on him through checks and balances.

Determining guilt and/or punishment of criminals. If you don’t believe in total depravity, it will change the way you view guilt or innocence. It will change the way you view punishment for those who have sinned. Was it this person’s sin or the way they were raised?

This doctrine also has a great deal to do with the way we treat so-called “mental illness.” There’s a great debate in the land as to what constitutes mental illness and when we’re actually dealing with sin. Your understanding of this doctrine and the doctrine of total depravity can be the difference between believing a person in a particular instance — not every instance, but believing a person in a particular instance — perhaps just needs a pill to feel better or should feel horrible about what’s going on and needs to come to repentance.

Again, every time we talk about this I make the same disclaimer because of the accusations that are always hurled. We do not teach nor do we believe that there are no persons in this world who have actual, organic problems that need to be dealt with medically. That’s not our argument. That’s not what we’re saying. But we do have a culture that, because of the denial of this doctrine and because of a failure to acknowledge the depravity of man, automatically and in every instance goes straight to, “Let’s make a person feel because nobody ought to feel bad.”

This doctrine affects the way we share the Gospel. There’s a difference between the way you share the Gospel with a person that you believe is kinda bad and one that you believe is radically depraved.

This doctrine also affects the way that we hear and receive the Gospel. If I feel like I’m a pretty good person, I will never comprehend the depths of my own sin and the depths of my need of Jesus Christ. If I feel that I’m a pretty good person, I will never, ever come the place where I magnify Christ rightly and worship and adore him in the way that he is to be worshipped and adored — because I do not comprehend the vast magnitude of difference between him and me.

It is only when I understand sin rightly, that I magnify and worship Christ appropriately. So this is bad news today. It’s very bad news today. But without the bad news, you don’t understand the goodness of the good news. Amen?

With that in mind, let’s look, beginning in Verse 9 of Romans, Chapter 3. It begins with his rhetorical questions again:

“What then, are we Jews any better off? Not at all. For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are under sin.”

By the way, when did he already charged that? He already charged that in Chapter 1, Verse 18 through this point.

“As it is written, none is righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave. They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood and their paths are ruin and the misery and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

That’s the picture of man in his sin. That’s the picture that God has painted.

Several things that we need to understand. First, I want you to grasp this doctrine. Listen to this, from Loraine Boettner, in his classic work, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:

“This doctrine of total inability, which declares that men are dead in sin, does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is evil in itself, nor that man’s spirit is inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead. What it does mean is that, since the Fall, man rests under the curse of sin, that he is actuated by wrong principles, and that he is wholly unable to love God or to do anything meriting salvation. His corruption is extensive but not necessarily intensive. It is in this sense that man, since the Fall, is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, wholly inclined to all evil. He possesses a fixed bias of the will against God and instinctively and willingly turns to evil. He is an alien by birth and a sinner by choice. The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions. And it is this phase of it which led Luther to declare that, ‘Free will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.’”

By the way, this is not a new idea that Paul comes up with. He quotes from several places. Most of these quotes come from the Psalms. For example, listen to Psalm 14, 1-3:

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt. They do abominable deeds. There is none who does good” –

Does that sound familiar?

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside. Together they have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one.”

That’s what’s being quoted in Romans, Chapter 3. Listen to Psalm 53, 1-3:

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity. There is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there is any who understands, who seek after God. They have all fallen away. Together they have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one.” 

That’s what Paul’s quoting here. Not a new concept. Not a new doctrine. This is something that has been since the Fall. But what do we understand from the way that Paul lays out this argument?

One thing we understand is this: The universal nature of sin. Verses 9-12. Look at Verse 9:

“What, then, are Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are under sin.”

By the way, when he says “Jews and Greeks,” he means “the whole world.” His argument in Chapter 1, Verse 18 through the end of the chapter, is against the Greek world — or the non-Jewish world. His argument in Chapter 2 is against the Jewish world. In other words, whether you’re inside the Jewish world or outside the Jewish world, Paul has stated clearly up to this point that you are not righteous before God. You are a sinner.

“As it is written, none is righteous. No, not one. No one understands. No one seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together, they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one.”

There is a Greek phase that is used there five times between verses 10 and 12. And in the English it comes across as “No one,” or “Not even one.” Over and over and over again he makes this statement in order to be clear: “I’ve made an argument, now I’m going to summarize that argument, and as I summarize my argument I want you to understand that every human being on the face of earth — from Adam to the end of time — finds himself in the same condition, and that condition is completely and utterly ruined before a holy God.”

There is no one who is righteous. There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. No one. And this is difficult for us because deep down inside of us, here’s what we want to believe: We want to believe that God looks at the little old lady down the street who doesn’t know Christ and somehow grades on the curve. Amen? Somehow we want to hold on to that.

Somehow we want to believe that because there are men who have been so much more evil outwardly than other men, that somehow God has to grade on the curve. Somehow there has to be some people who are good, some people who decent. Folks, no one is as bad as they could but everyone, everyone is condemned and no one is righteous.

But there’s one thing to say — that sin is universal, that sin touches all of us. But Paul goes beyond that point. His point is not just that sin touches all of us. But his point is also that sin touches every aspect of us. If you remember, we talked about the Pelagian heresy last week. The Pelagian heresy is not that, you know, that there’s no Fall and nothing wrong with man at all. The Pelagian heresy doesn’t just go that far and state it outright. People today who hold to that idea aren’t saying that there is no effect of sin, no effect of the Fall. But what they are arguing is — though man is effected by the Fall, there are aspects of man’s character, man’s nature, man’s soul, man’s spirit, that somehow are somehow still able to respond to God. So they believe in partial depravity. Not total or radical depravity. Man is only partially depraved. And there is something in man that somehow is able to cooperate with God in this synergistic process of salvation.

Well, two things: First of all, here’s the problem with that idea. It’s going to be addressed particularly but even when speaking of sin as being universal, notice what Paul says: “No one is righteous.” So again, there’s nobody who’s righteous at all who can stand before God. “No one understands.” So there’s no one who can reason themselves to God if there’s no one who understands. “No one seeks for God.” Again, remember the Pelagian argument: “There is part of us, there is something in us, that is still untainted enough to seek after God.” Really? That sounds good in theory but Paul just said there’s no one who does that.

“No one does good, not even one.” So again, Pelagianism has a problem. Because what are we arguing in Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism? That somehow there is part of man that is able — number one, to do some good, ‘cuz you have to do some good in order to come to God; number two, seeks after God; number three, understands enough to—; number four, be declared righteous. In other words, the Pelagian heresy denies every principle that the Apostle just put forth in explaining the nature of sin. It’s universal and it’s complete.

How do we see it? First, look at the sin that we speak. Look, beginning in Verse 13:

“Their throat is an open grave. They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

I want you to notice what is spoken of here. The organs. Throat. Tongue. Lips. Mouth. In other words, complete corruption. Total corruption. Everything that comes out of your mouth is utterly corrupt. Throat. Tongues. Lips. Mouth.

Is this something new, by the way? Turn with me, if you will, to the right. Look at the Book of James. James, Chapter 3, beginning in Verse 1:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers. For you know we who teach will be judged with greater strictness for we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also. Though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member yet it boasts of great things. How great a force is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”

Jesus said it is not what goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out. We read in Ephesians, Chapter 4, that we are to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but instead, that which is fit for building up. Why is there such an emphasis? Here’s why there’s such an emphasis: because one of the evidences of man’s fallen nature is what comes out of man’s mouth. One of the evidences of the fact that we do not belong to God, that we are not right with God, and that the lost, hurting, and dying world desperately needs to be saved, is what is spoken.

Yes, sin is universal. But what we see of it is first, what comes out of the mouth. But not just what we say, but also look at how we live among one another. Look at the next verse, Verse 15:

“Their feet are swift to shed blood, and their paths are ruin and misery and the way of peace they have not known.”

This is the way they walk. And when he says, “The way of peace they have not know,” he’s not saying that these individuals have no inner peace. What he’s saying is that fallen man has not known, cannot know, peace with one another. Because fallen man has fallen desires and his feet are swift to shed blood. Why? Because he wants what he wants and everyone else is an obstacle to his own satisfaction.

So fallen man apart from God is swift to shed blood. Fallen man apart from God reeks havoc on his fellow man. Fallen man apart from God wars with his fellow man. Interestingly enough, if you look at Psalm 1, Verse 1 and 2, and compare it to this text, you see that there’s perhaps another Psalm that informed what Paul is saying here. Psalm 1, Verse 1 and 2:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, not stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Walk. Stand. Sit. Blessed is the man who does not walk, does not stand, does not sit, in these places. And here, in Romans, Chapter 3, we see: their feet are swift to shed blood, they’re walking and their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. This is a man who’s walking on his way. And as he walks on his way, the only thing he leaves in his wake is destruction. That is the state of fallen man. That is the state of every fallen man. It is the state of every culture because of fallen men.

It is your state and my state apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. And we must understand this. If we don’t, we cannot comprehend his greatness and his majesty.

There’s a final piece — the sin we can’t see. Verse 18:

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So now we have it: all men are shut up in sin. Every man who has ever lived in every place around the globe. Not only that, but we see the evidence of it as man opens his mouth and has opened his mouth throughout the course of history, we’ve seen evidence of it in what man speaks. As man walks forth along his way, we’ve seen evidence of it in what he pursues and what he leaves in his wake. And by the way, there is no hope for this man in and of himself. Because there is no fear of God before his eyes.

So here’s the picture: Lost man is walking under a curse. And as lost man walks under a curse, he opens his mouth and spews forth things that are in keeping with the curse under which he lives. His feet take him to places and bring about destruction that is in direct relation to the curse under which he lives. And as man goes forth and brings agony on himself and fellow man, he knows that something is wrong. But because there is no fear of God before his eyes, he doesn’t know what it is and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s lost.

This is what it means to be lost. You can’t educate a man away from this. You can’t argue a man out of this. You can’t discipline a man into this. You can’t coax him, you can’t — there is nothing that you or I can do about this because the blinders on his eyes are there supernaturally and must be removed supernaturally. Otherwise there will never, ever be a fear of God before his eyes.

But here’s what we often do: we find man in this condition and we try to compromise with this man. We find a man in this condition and we try to clean him up on the outside. We find a man in this condition and we begin to work with him and we say, “Don’t talk like that, talk like this.” And if you get a man who is in this condition to talk differently because of behavioral modification, what you have is a man who inwardly is still corrupt but outwardly has learned to use his tongue, his throat, his lips, and his mouth in order to get what he wants by being deceptive about it. If you can somehow guide his feet so that he is no longer as quick to shed blood, if perhaps you can incarcerate him so that he longer has the opportunity to shed blood, what have you really done? You have merely put a man in a position where what he is on the outside — what he is on the inside cannot be expressed on the outside.

I’ve told you before about my opportunity to preach in Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the world — and that eery moment where I had that opportunity that few human beings ever do and none should ever want, to stand face to face and eye to eye with a serial killer there on death row. Twenty three hours a day he is in this cell by himself. Twenty three hours a day. One hour a day he gets to go outside in a caged enclosure so that he can walk around. No more than you’d have for a doggy run. And after that one hour he goes back to the remainder of his twenty three hours a day. I stood there, face to face and eye to eye. Had a conversation. Knew the history of these feet that were quick to shed blood. Heard the words that came forth from his throat, his tongue, his lips, and his mouth. And have never been more disturbed by another human being in my life. And I realized: You can cage evil but there’s nothing you or I can do to eradicate it. There was no fear of God before his eyes. Radically depraved.

But here’s the news flash: Apart from Christ, neither you nor I would be any better off. Why? “Well, he doesn’t seek after God!” Yeah, I didn’t either. “Clearly he doesn’t understand.” Yeah, I didn’t either. “Clearly he doesn’t do good.” Yeah, I didn’t either. “Clearly he’s not righteous.” Yeah, I wasn’t either. “Clearly his feet are swift to shed blood.” Yeah, mine were as well. Or do you not remember the teachings of Christ on the Sermon of the Mount? —

“You’ve heard it said that you shall not murder. But I say to you, if you hate your brother, you’re guilty enough to face the fires of hell yourself.”

But for the grace of God, there go you. There go I. But for the grace of God, this is who we were apart from Christ. And unless and until we grasp this, we will never, ever, ever properly understand or appreciate our debt to Christ. Unless and until we understand this, we will never grasp, and we will never understand, how worthy he is of our worship. But your problem and my problem is this: we believe this about everyone else but not about us. We believe this about the serial killer but we don’t believe it about me. We look back on our lives as we were before Christ and if the truth were told, we actually believe that in us there was some inkling of something that Christ must have seen and must have appreciated and must have made us catch his eye. But instead, we ought to say with the Apostles, “I was chief among sinners.”

But we do not. We do not. If we don’t understand this — I’ll say it again — if we don’t understand our children and their greatest need, and we look at these behaviors of our children, and yes, we want to correct those behaviors but we do not understand that the reason our children — these small little cherubs — these so-called “innocent ones” — the reason that they do what they do is because they are every bit of Romans, Chapter 3, Verses 9-18. They come into the world like this.

One of the reasons that God makes human babies small is so they won’t kill their parents in their sleep. They’re evil.

Yes, this is true of children: “None is righteous; no, not one. None understands. No one seeks God. No one does good.” Yes, that little, precious one — you better believe it. If you don’t, you miss the big picture and you don’t realize your desperate need to get the gospel to your child again and again and again and again.

Here’s the other thing you need to understand: It takes your whole life to wash this off. Amen, somebody? The sanctification process — again, we are declared righteous before God. There is that legal declaration — and praise God for that legal declaration.

But here’s what that legal declaration doesn’t mean: You are declared righteous and from this day on you will forget the things you used to know, your feet will no longer those well-worn paths to shed blood, your tongue will no longer remember how to shape those words that destroy. No, you and I know better than that. And every once in a while we’re reminded that we’re saved but we remember some stuff. And it causes us to remember once again our great need and dependence every moment of every day on the saving and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ, of our great need — week in and week out — to have the Gospel preached to us, of our great need to actively refuse to be conformed to this world, and to be actively transformed by the ongoing renewing of our minds.

Here’s the other thing: I pray that this truth causes us to realize the great need of our family and our friends and our neighbors. What they need is the Gospel. You know, one of the reason we don’t preach the Gospel to people around us — aside from just outright fear and trepidation — one of the reasons we don’t is ‘cuz we don’t believe they need it. We’re not desperate over the souls of our lost loved ones ‘cuz we don’t believe this paragraph. We look at our lost loved ones and all we see is the inconvenience they bring when they come over to our house with their “stuff.” And I don’t mean their suitcases. Amen? That’s all we see. And as a result of seeing just that, here’s what we pray: “Lord, when they come, will you please help them to just not be as horrible as they were last time?” Instead of praying, “God, this is who they are. They’re not righteous. They don’t seek after you. They don’t understand. They do not do good and nor did I. They haven’t known the way of peace. Their feet are swift to shed blood. There is no fear of God before their eyes. And they need the Gospel. Grant me wisdom to share what they need. And will you continue to break my heart so that I share it again and again and again? And instead of praying that they don’t inconvenience me so much, help me to pray that they will not offend you with their sin. ‘Cuz the fact of the matter is, God, I am much more concerned about my lost friends, neighbors, and relatives inconveniencing me than I am jealous for the glory of your name.”

That’s why we don’t share the Gospel. ‘Cuz we don’t believe this. That’s why we’re not on our faces before God, weeping over people who have never heard God’s truth. Weeping over places where there are no churches. ‘Cuz we don’t believe this. But we believe that somehow there are pockets of people in the world who are ignorant but not evil. Somehow there are evil people all over the place but somehow, there are people in the world who haven’t had an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those people aren’t evil. They’re just ignorant. That’s why we sit down and we ask questions like, “Well, what about those people? Surely, surely God wouldn’t condemn those people.”

Do we need to go back to Romans, Chapter 1? They are without excuse.

They, too, are not righteous. They, too, do not seek after God. They, too, do not understand. And they, too, are absolutely no good. That’s why we must preach to them.

Folks, this is why the Gospel is good news. ‘Cuz the fact of the matter is, neither you nor I would have seen fit to go and redeem this. And yet God, being great in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, he did just that. While we were yet sinners, he did just that. Christ did not die for those who had a little spark and a little inking, that did something with it that made it worthwhile for him. Christ died for the ungodly. And it is because of his finished work and his shed blood that we are able to be saved.

We get that? We get the greatness of the Gospel. We get that? We get the majesty of our Savior. We get that? And we get some of these proclamations that we make, week in and week out.

Do you view your sin this way? ‘Cuz only when you do will you view Christ rightly.

Transcript of Voddie Baucham’s “Child Training” Sermon at Hardin Baptist Church

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HA note: The following is a transcript of Voddie Baucham’s sermon “Child Training.” Baucham delivered this sermon on the subjects of patriarchal marriage, Quiverfull fecundity, and corporal punishment on November 4, 2007 to Hardin Baptist Church in Hardin, Kentucky. This sermon has received substantial media attention due to Baucham’s call to spank a child “5 times before breakfast” and labeling shyness in children as “sin.” Baucham is the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church, which is the host of Baucham’s Voddie Baucham Ministries and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. This transcript was created by HA Community Coordinator R.L. Stollar.

Click here to read other transcripts by and posts about Voddie Baucham.

Content warning for transcript: advocacy of intense corporal punishment and descriptions of corporal punishment sessions.


(Transcript starting at 1:40 time stamp)

There are two sides of my life that are incredibly important. One is the area you’ve heard much about — the area I call the professional side of my life where I have the privilege of serving as a professor and as a pastor and preaching different places around the country. And then there’s the other side of my life where I am the husband to Bridgette and the father to Jasmine and Trey and Elijah and Asher and all of those arrows yet to come. And it is that side of my life, really, where the rubber meets the road. It is that side of my life that lends validity to everything else in my life. The fact of the matter is, if I am a failure as Bridgette’s husband and as Jasmine and Trey and Elijah and Asher and whoever else comes’s father, then whatever I say as a pastor, professor, or whatever else, is illegitimate as far as I’m concerned. Because that is where I am who I am. That is where I demonstrate the veracity of what I say in every other realm of my life.

There’s a place where those two things come together. A place where my emphasis on cultural apologetics and this emphasis in family come together. Apologetics quite simply is a defense of the faith, a response — a reasoned response — to those who question the faith, either passively or aggressively question the faith. Cultural apologetics is an idea that really was made popular by Francis Schaeffer. And it’s the idea of applying these principles and the discipline of apologetics to cultural issues and cultural trends. And I do that specifically in the area of biblical manhood and womanhood, marriage, and family. Because I find that so many Christians are unaware of the influence that the culture has had on us in these areas.

We have been lied to in the areas of biblical manhood, womanhood, marriage, family. We have been deceived. We have bought into the deception, specifically in 3 areas that I’ll mention — and one I’ll spend a little more time on.

Area Number 1 is the area of marriage. We have been deceived in the area of marriage. We have bought a cultural lie as it relates to marriage. We do not value marriage properly. We do not value marriage biblically. We do not hold marriage in its proper esteem. We don’t. We think marriage is something to be avoided as long as possible. That’s what we teach our children.

If you don’t believe me, just talk to anyone that was in my circumstance: My wife and I got married the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college. And church folks gave us fits for doing that. It was as though we were in sin. Had we been living together, we would not have received as much ridicule from church folks as we did by getting married before we graduated from college. Because evidently somewhere over in Second Hesitations it says, “Thou shalt no marry until after college graduation.” You know? And I mean, we believe that. We do. We believe that a college education is more important than marriage.

That’s a lie from the pit of hell. A college education is nowhere near as important as a marriage. Nowhere near as important. But we don’t believe that. We really don’t. I’ve had people come up to me — I’ve had a woman come up to me not long ago, weeping, wailing, over her son. Just, I mean, you know, the chest-heaving cry? You know? Was one of those. Could barely stop it. [engages in mock crying from woman] And I’m bracing myself. I’m like, “Man, whatever she says, I gotta be pastoral. I can’t be shocked.” ‘Cuz the last thing somebody wants when they tell the pastor something is for the pastor to go, “I don’t know if God can handle that one!” So, you know, I’m just, I just really… [engages in mock crying from woman] “It’s my son.” I go, “Wow, it’s her son. She’s weeping for him.” I put my hand on her shoulder and she’s just, [engages in mock crying] “He’s… he’s… he’s…” “It’s ok…” “He’s… he’s… he’s getting married…” “Come on, you can tell me…” “He’s… he’s getting married…”  “Ok…” Something horrible is happening, like her life is over. Her son’s getting married.

And it just dawned on me. I just stopped and said, “It’s… to a woman?” Nowadays, you know, that would have explained the hysteria — if it wasn’t. And she stopped crying: “Yes it’s to a woman.”  Like she could tell by my posture that I was no longer feeling very, you know, empathetic here. And that was her deal: “My son’s getting married and he’s not through with college.” Needless to say, by the time we finished our conversation she found I had gotten married earlier than her son was about to get married and I was absolutely in favor of it. Absolutely in favor of it.

“But why didn’t you wait?” “Well, a couple of reasons. Number one, I didn’t want to communicate to my future bride that anything was more important to me than her. I didn’t want to start my marriage off by saying to her that school was more important to me than she was. Secondly, the wisest man in the Bible, the most godly man in the Bible, and the strongest man in the Bible all fell into sexual sin. I was not wiser than Solomon, I was not stronger than Samson, I am not more godly than David, so I got married. Amen, somebody?”

All of a sudden her eyes got huge. “Your son want wants this woman. And you’re asking him to stay in contact with her, committed to some day consummating a relationship with her and to fight it for two years? You don’t need to ask somebody. Go let that boy get married!” But again, we’ve bought the cultural lie: Wait. Live your life. 

Let me just put it in plain English. What we’re saying to our young men today, when it comes to marriage, here’s what we’re saying to our young men: Young men, this is the attitude you ought to have toward a woman someday. You walk up to her, you look her in the eye, and say, “I have sucked all of the joy out of life, now I’m ready to give you the leftovers.” That’s what we’re communicating.

You don’t believe me? Talk to somebody who has a child. 10, 11, 12, 13 years old. And ask them about their future goals for that child’s college. They’ll tell you have much money they’re saving, they’ll tell you how much it’ll cost by then, they’ll tell you why they moved to where they lived because of the schools in that neighborhood, they’ll tell you the classes they have their children taking. And all of the things they have them doing so that they’ll get the right SAT scores to get into the right college. 10, 11, 12, 13 years old — they’re already doing things to prepare their children for a college education.

Then ask the same parent: “What are you doing to get them ready to be a husband or a wife?” They’ll look at you like a calf staring at a new gate. They’re doing nothing to prepare their children for marriage. Why? Because we do not value marriage. We don’t. We don’t.

You who have sons and daughters, let me ask you something: What do you think will shape their future more? The degree they get from some university or the person with whom they enter into covenantal marriage and start a family? Think about it. We’ve bought a lie, people. We’ve bought a lie.

It is far more important for me to prepare my children to be husbands and wives and mothers and fathers than it is for me to prepare them for an entrance exam.

We’ve bought a lie.

Secondly, we’ve bought a lie in the area of child bearing. Our attitude towards children is “a boy for me and a girl for you and praise the Lord we’re finally through.” That’s our attitude. There is an unwritten rule in the church — it’s not written anywhere but almost everybody in the church knows what this rule is — and that rule you is, You get two. And there’s one exception, one exception where you can get a third. That is if you got the same sex the first two times, you get to try for the opposite sex on Number 3. That’s the only way we will allow you to have more than 2 kids and not ridicule you. In the church. Because we do not believe Psalm 127. We do not believe Psalm 128. We believe that children are a burden and a blight and not a blessing. We are the richest culture in the history of the world and one of the only ones that talks about how many kids we can afford. It’s sick. It’s godless.

We have bought a lie when it comes to children. An absolute lie. We mutilate our bodies so that God won’t bless us with more kids. Some of you, if your child came home with a tattoo — a tattoo — on their skin — you’d have a conniption fit. You’d go pass out somewhere. But if they have 2 children and get a vasectomy, or a tubal ligation, go under the knife, disfigure themselves, we celebrate that. Tattoo? Don’t do that! Mutilate your body so that God can’t bless you with any more kids? Amen!

Are you hearing me, people? This is where we are now. We’ve bought a lie when it comes to marriage. We’ve bought a lie when it comes to child bearing. By the way, those of us who don’t mutilate ourselves will put things into our bodies that actually cause abortions. You ask your doctor about what birth control pills do. Do they always prevent pregnancy? No, they don’t always prevent pregnancy. Sometimes they just end them early enough for you not to know that you just had an abortion. Ask them about IUDs. Talk to them about these things. It’s amazing: some of the most pro-life people in the world, some of the most pro-life men and women in the whole world are putting things into their bodies that are actually causing the abortions that they say they’re against. Marinate on that one for a minute.

We’ve also bought a lie when it comes to child training. And that’s where we’re going to spend our time. Open your Bibles with to me Ephesians, Chapter 6. Ephesians, Chapter 6. We’ve bought a lie when it comes to the way that we raise our children. And we don’t get it. We don’t understand it. We don’t know how to do it. We’re not taught this. We don’t see this. It’s not modeled for us. And because of that, we got parents who just really don’t like their kids. But we explain it away. You know? We explain away the reason we don’t like our kids. We got teenagers who are 13, 14, 15 years old, they’re look at us eye to eye, they’re going word for word, they’re working their necks, clucking their tongues, smacking their lips, slamming doors, and we can’t stand them. We love it when it’s youth group time ‘cuz we get to pass them off on somebody else. We love it when school starts back. We have parties. Parents have parties when school starts back ‘cuz they can’t stand having their kids around them. Because they’re brutish beasts. But that’s ok because it’s just the “phase of life” — “Hey, those are the teen years.” No, that’s sin. And it don’t matter what name you put on that, it’s sin.

And here’s what’s worse: That sin is basically what we’ve produced. Because when it was small, we laughed about it. It was cute. “Oh aren’t they cute at that age?” No, that’s a viper in a diaper and you better get it under control. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. But if we ignore it at that age, it grows up. And then we’re mad at them for being what we’ve taught them to be. Amen, right? And we can’t stand them. We just can’t stand them.

But we want them to grow up and walk with God. What are we supposed to do? And I’m saying this to you today, if you’re here today — let me tell you why I think this message is important. For at least a couple of reasons. Number One, first let me speak to those of you who have earned some gray hair. ‘Cuz you may be sitting here thinking, “That’s great, you talk about training children, well I’ve already raised my children.” That’s great. Then take your Titus 2 responsibilities and don’t coast on the second half of your life. But grab some young person by the hand and show them how to do what you did or what you should’ve done in raising your children. This is for you. This is for you.

And if you’re a young person here today, and you’ve got kids, and you’re already pulling your hair out, — and a lot of people, the reason they mutilate their bodies so that God doesn’t bless them anymore is ‘cuz these blessings are wearing them out. Ok? That’s why they do it. And for those of you who are in that situation, listen: I recognize that you’re like me. We got married somewhere between sophomore and junior year, I just turned 20 years old, we had our first child 10 months later. We were efficient. And we didn’t know “come here” from “sic ‘em” as it related to being parents. Ok? We just were clueless. And that’s where some of you are. You just don’t know. Nobody’s ever told you. You don’t even know if the Bible addresses these issues. Well, it does and this morning we shall.

Ephesians, Chapter 6, Verses 1-4, I want to take you through 3 things. I want you to see 3 things. 3 phases in the training of our children.

Phase Number One is the discipline and correction phase. The discipline and correction phase. These are the first few years of life. Incredibly important. It’s where we lay the foundation for everything else. The discipline and training phase. In this phase we’re saying to our children, “Give me your attention. Give me your attention. You need to pay more attention to me than I do to you. Give me your attention. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Your world revolves around me.” That’s what we need to teach our children in those first few years of their life. Because they come here and just by nature of things they believe that the world revolves around them. And for the first few weeks, you know, that’s okay.

But eventually we have to teach them that that’s over. “The world no longer revolves around YOU. Your world, toddler, revolves around me, around me.”

So Phase Number One, the discipline and training phase: give me your attention.

Phase Two, the catechism phase. So we’re teaching what to believe and why to believe. And Phase Two, we tell them, “Give me your mind. Give me your mind.” That happens as soon as they become verbal — we start working on that.

Phase Three, the discipleship phase, when they enter into biblical adulthood. Biblical adulthood is considered from age 12 or 13 to age 30. You ever notice we only see Jesus at two ages in the Scripture? At 12 and at 30. Why? Because according to the biblical model, childhood is from birth to 12. At 12 there is a ceremony. Some people still do it. It’s called a bar mitzvah. And at 12, that ceremony means you’ve gone into Phase Two [sic], which is adulthood — 12-30. At 30 you’ve entered into senior adulthood. By the way, at 30 is when you can become a rabbi. That’s why we see him at those two ages. Because they’re the two breaking points in the life cycle and development cycle. And so at that second [sic] phase, it’s that discipleship phase and that phase is, “Give me your hand. Give me your hand.”

Phase One, give me your attention. The discipline and training phase.

Phase Two, give me your mind. Let me teach you what to believe and why to believe it.

Phase Three, give me your hand. I’m gonna show you how to live out what I’ve taught you to believe.

K? These are the three phases. Let’s look at them in turn from Ephesians, Chapter 6, Verses 1-4:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Stop there. So first of all, if I tell my child to do something and my child doesn’t do it, not only has my child just disobeyed me, my child has directly violated Scripture. Ok? So I tell my child to do something? My child doesn’t do what I tell my child to do? My child has disobeyed me? They’ve sinned. They’ve violated the clear teaching of Scripture if they don’t do what I’ve told them to do.

By the way, if I tell them to do something and they don’t do it when I tell them to do it? That’s delayed disobedience and the technical Greek word for delayed disobedience is disobedience. Ok? So if they don’t do what I tell them when I tell them, my child has been disobedient. And according to Scripture, I cannot tolerate that. If I tolerate that, I’m tolerating sin. If I tolerate sin, I’m teaching my child that sin is ok. Alright?

Verse 2:

“Honor your father and your mother. This is the first commandment with a promise — ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”

So he goes back here to the 5th Commandment. So he must honor his mother and father. So now here’s what we add: In Phase Number One, my goal is to teach my child in those first few years of life to do what they’re told when they’re told and with a respectful attitude. If they do what I tell them when I tell them but they roll their eyes and smack their lips and cluck their tongues and slam the doors, they’ve still sinned and I can’t tolerate that. So I cannot have the attitude that says, “Well, at least they did it.” No. No, that’s sin. It’s a violation of the 5th Commandment.

It’s the first commandment that has a promise attached to it. And that promise is about longevity. We must not tolerate disobedience and disrespect from our children. We must not. We must correct them when they do this because they are in direct violation of the law of God.

“Well then, what are we supposed to do?” I’m so glad you asked! You know, we love Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the ways he should go and when he’s old he will not depart from it.” K? Now that doesn’t mean what a lot of people think it means, but that’s ok — that’s for another time. If I don’t make y’all too mad today, you ask me back, I’ll tell you what that means, alright? Now, you read nine verses later and you find the key verse, verse 15:

“Folly, or rebellion, is bound up in the heart of a child and time-out will drive it far from them.”

— that ain’t in the book, folks.

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child and the rod of correction will drive it far from them.”

In other words, God says your children desperately, desperately need to be spanked.

Amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord! — and spank your kids, okay?

They desperately need to be spanked. And they need to be spanked often. They do. I meet people all the time, you know, and they say, “Oh yeah, I can think of maybe 4 or 5 times I’ve ever had to spank Junior.” Really? That’s unfortunate, because unless you raised Jesus the Second, there were days when Junior needed to be spanked 5 times before breakfast. If you only spanked your child 5 times, then that means almost every time they disobeyed you, you let it go. And almost every time they dishonored you, you let it go.

When they were 2 and you said, “Come here,” and they said “No,” — you should have worn them out.

But you didn’t. And so you think because they didn’t escalate to a certain point, that that means you didn’t need to spank them. No, they disobeyed. We can’t tolerate disobedience. They dishonored you. Can’t tolerate the dishonor. We can’t. We can’t.

So in those first few years of life, you might get tired somedays. Physically, emotionally. You might feel like picking up the phone going, “I think I’m gonna kill him.” That’s ok. ‘Cuz you know what Proverbs says about that? It says don’t spare the rod! ‘Cuz “though you beat him with the rod, he will not die but you may save his very soul from destruction.”

Couple of problems we have with that. Number One, we listen a lot more to Dr. Phil and Dr. Spock than we do to Dr. Jesus. That’s Problem Number One. Problem Number Two: we all hear horrible things about abuse and all these sorts of things. You know what, people who are abusive to their children— again, first of all, it’s sin — but secondly, a lot of times those are people who don’t spank their children enough.

“What do you mean?” Here’s what I mean: Junior does 15 things by lunch time for which he should have been spanked. And you push it down and you push it down and you push it down and finally, when you can take no more, you unleash your wrath and your anger and then you’re in sin. Then you feel guilty about it. So guess what happens next time? You don’t address it again. And again and again and again. Until you fill up again. And there is this cycle that goes on and on and on. Whereas, had you been dealing with it consistently, you could have kept the emotions under control.

And again, I’m not just talking about flying off the handle. Absolutely not. It should be remorse full time. It is. One of our children is right at the tail end of this phase. One of our children is a 3-year-old. And we’re right at the tail end of this phase. He gets spanked regularly. And so we bring Elijah in, you know, and I talk to Elijah about what just happened, explain to him where Scripturally it was a violation, and why it’s sin and how sin grieves the heart of God, and why Jesus had to die for sin, and why — as his father — I have been commanded to spank him for what he just did. Because God desires that he not be that kind of boy.

“Do you understand that?”

“Yes sir.”

And then one of the Scriptures that he’s memorized directly related to whatever it was, sometimes it’s this one — “Ephesians 6:1 says what, Elijah?”

“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

“And that’s exactly what you violated, is it not?”

“Yes sir.”

“So Daddy must spank you.”

So I spank Elijah. Firmly. And he weeps. And that’s all he gets to do. If he goes beyond that — if he screams and yells and throws a fit — then I spank him because that is rebellion. And if I don’t, then I teach him that he can embarrass me and make me not spank him. Hello, somebody?

A lot of your toddlers throw fits because you’ve taught them that that’s the way they can control you. When instead you just need to have an all-day session where you just wear them out and they finally decide, “You know what? Things get worse when I do that. Maybe I should stop.”

We finish. And we hug. And we kiss. And we pray. And then we rejoice when we go out. I’m not sending him to his room where he can sulk in his sin and build up anger and animosity towards me. No, I’m bringing justice. I’m bringing it swiftly. I’m bringing it Scripturally. And then it is over. I am not “mad” at him. I am not withholding affection from him. I am not building barriers and walls in my relationship with him. No, we deal with it. We deal with it swiftly. We get it over with. Then we go out rejoicing together! And his conscience is delivered!

You see this, folks? By the way, that takes time, effort, and energy. But when you got an obedient 3-year-old, it’s so worth it. Because not doing it takes more time, more effort, and more energy.

By the way, there almost must be training. Discipline and training. That’s the other side of it. Imagine a coach who walks out, day one — he’s a soccer coach. And he throws the ball out there and he’s got these kids and he says, “Ok, I want you to run this play!” And they go, “What?” “Just run it!” And they go out and they do all this sort of stuff and then he gets on, “You didn’t do it right!” But he never told them what it was! He never drew it up on the board! He never said, “You go here, you go here, you do that.” He never trained them or taught them what they’re supposed to do.

That’s what many of us do with our kids. We never have a session where we train them to do what we expect them to do. Let me give you an example — the prime example. The so-called shy kid, who doesn’t shake hands at church, okay? Usually what happens is you come up, you know — and here I am, I’m the guest, and I walk up and I’m saying hi to somebody and they say to their kid “Hey, you know, say good morning to Dr. Baucham!” And the kid hides and runs behind the leg — and here’s what’s supposed to happen. This is what we have agreed upon silently in our culture. What’s supposed to happen is: I’m supposed to look at their child and say, “Hey, that’s okay.”

But I can’t do that. Because if I do that, then what has happened is, Number One, the child has just sinned by not doing what they were told to do. It’s direct disobedience. Secondly, the parent is in sin for not correcting it. And thirdly, I am in sin because I just told a child that it’s okay for them to disobey and dishonor their parent in direct violation of Scripture.

I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

I’m gonna stand there until you make them do what you said.

“Well what am I supposed to do?” Train them. So on Saturday night, before you come to church — “Hey, listen, we’re going to practice! We’re gonna meet a whole lot of people tomorrow. We’re gonna practice. So the first time, I’m gonna be you, alright? And you’ll be the stranger. And I’m gonna show you what to do. The stranger’s gonna come up and say, ‘Hi Johnny,’ and then you’re gonna say, you’re gonna look them in the eye, shake their hand firmly, and say, ‘Good morning! How are you?’” And you do that four or five times. And then you say, “Now you get to be yourself. And I’ll be the stranger.” And you practice that five, six, seven, eight, nine times. Have a ball! When they do it correctly, rejoice. Act like they just won the Super Bowl. High five, hug, kiss, roll around on the floor, everything! Have a blast with it!

The next day, they’ll surprise you. They’ll be nudging you when they see people and they’ll go, “Can we do it now?” And you walk over and they’ll do it and it’ll be awkward — “ok, shake the hand, look at the eye…” — you know? But they’ll do it. And when they do it, you just look at them and you say, “I’m so proud of you. You just hug them and kiss them all over the face and everything. You high five them and they’ll go, “Let’s do it again!”

If they don’t, you take them to a private place and wear them out.

Because they have just been directly defiant after you trained them and told them what to do. I have a pastor friend of mine. One of his daughters was just really defiant in this one particular area. And they had one instance where they had drawn the line and they were like, “This has to end today.” And they told her, did the training, everything else. And so they were leaving and there was a deacon — there was a deacon family — and they walk out, you know, supposed to greet, say bye to the deacon, shake the deacon’s hand. She won’t do it. Pastor goes back in the office, goes through that whole process — spank the child, comes back out, child won’t do it again. Goes back again, asks the deacon, “Will you please wait here?”

Thirteen times.

Thirteen times.

That deacon was like, “Little girl, please…”

They never dealt with it again. Never dealt with it again.

Are you gonna reign in your home or is sin gonna reign in your home? Which one?

Next part of the text says,

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger or to wrath.”

How do you do that? Here’s some ways you do that, let me just explain this. Some ways I’ve done that. Some ways I’ve actually helped my children, coached my children, to be more sinful. Right? One of them was by yelling. By yelling, k? And I’d yell — [unintelligible example of yelling] — I was yelling. Now, how is that coaching my children in sin? Basically what I was teaching my children was not “you must do what I say when I say it,” [rather] “you must do what I say somewhere between the first time I say it and the time I begin to yell.” That’s what I was teaching them.

I was also undermining my wife’s authority in the home. How so? I’m big and scary, got a deep, scary voice. If I teach my children to obey my big, deep, scary voice and my huge sighs, my wife doesn’t have any of that so they’re not gonna respect her the way they respect me. Men, are you smelling what I’m stepping in? All the yellers in the house, please hear me today: You’re undermining your wife’s authority in the home.

You’re also being a poor example to your children. And you’re also teaching them delayed obedience. “You don’t have to do it the first time I say it or if I say it with a whisper. You only have to do it when I become frustrated enough to yell.” You’re teaching your child delayed obedience. You also teach them delayed obedience by telling them things three, four, five times. Then you’ve just taught them, “You don’t have to do it the first time. You have to do it somewhere between the first time and the time that I use all three of your names and the veins pop out of my neck.”

Tell them once. If you think they might not have heard what you said when you told them the first time, you clarify. You don’t tell them over and over and over again. That is coaching them in disobedience. You’re teaching them delayed obedience.

Another way we teach them delayed obedience? The famous count. “Boy — 1, 2, …” You just taught sin. “You don’t have to do what I say when I say it. You have to do it somewhere between when I say it and when I count to 3.” By the way, I’m telling myself now. These are things I had to learn. Ok?

Also, inconsistency. Inconsistency. Couple of ways we’re inconsistent: One, mom and dad have a different philosophy on this. And instead of going — we call it the war room. K? We go into the war room and we deal with these things. Not that there’s a war between myself and my wife. But basically that’s where we strategize for this war against the sin that wants our children. And we go into the war room and we say, “Listen, here is going to be the standard.” ‘Cuz we can’t have two standards. That’s provoking our children to anger. That’s not consistent. Can’t have one standard for mom and one standard to dad. You get on the same page.

And Dad, it’s your responsibility to lead here. It’s your responsibility to set the tone here. Wife, when your husband sets the tone and the standard, you live by that standard — whether he’s there or he’s not. If you don’t, you are undermining the authority of your husband. You are not being submissive. And if you are not submissive to your husband, don’t you dare get mad at your children for not being submissive to you. Amen?

It amazes me, how many times I sit down and talk to women and they are having these huge problems with their children — first question I’m gonna ask a woman is, “Describe for me your level of submission to your husband.” “Huh?” “Yeah. You want order in your home, right? And you want your children to be submissive and obedient to that order in your home, right? Are you modeling it for them in your submission to your husband? Or are you modeling for them that that order is meaningless?” That’s where we gotta start. Because if the sergeant is disrespectful to the lieutenant, don’t expect the private to be respectful to the sergeant.

If you can’t say amen, you gotta say ouch.

I hope we’re beginning to see here some of the problems that we’ve created for ourselves. I hope that’s what we’re beginning to see here. Ideas have consequences. When we buy into these ideas, and allow them to take root in our homes, they have consequences. And sometimes they have consequences for generations to come.

Second Phase. We don’t have much time for these phases but I want to get to these two phases. The catechism phase. And I call it the catechism phase because catechism is the tool that we use. Catechism is learning doctrine and theology through a series of questions and answers. When our kids are little, for example, we use the Children’s Catechism. Some of you may be familiar with the Children’s Catechism. Most people are familiar with the Westminster Catechism. You know, Westminster — “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” K? That’s the Westminster Catechism, Question Number One.

Well, the Children’s Catechism, you know — “Who made you? God made me. What else did God make? God made all things. Why did God make you and all things? For his own glory. How can you glorify Go— I mean, why ought you glorify God? Because he made me and he takes care of me. How can you glorify God? By loving him and doing what he commands. Who is God? God is a spirit. He does not have a body like man. Where is God? God is everywhere. Can you see God? No, I cannot see God but he always sees me. How many gods are there? There is only one. In how many persons? There’s just one God exists, in three persons. Who are these three persons? The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.”

Now I’m only gonna go that far ‘cuz that’s where our 2-year-olds get. They’re learning doctrine and theology through a series of questions and answers. They’re learning what to believe and why to believe it. We also read Scripture. We have them memorize Scripture, the great songs of the faith, ok? We’re pouring it in there. We’re getting it in there.

Now, one of the objections I sometimes hear from people is this: “Well, you know, I just don’t, I understand what you’re saying but I want my children to love God and have a relationship with him and not just rote memorization.” Really? Then how come you teach them, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G,” but you want them to love reading? And not just “rote memorization”? How come you teach them 2×2=4, 3×2=6, 4×2=8? Why you teach them the times table? That’s, that’s rote memorization. How come rote memorization is ok everywhere except in theology? Help me understand that, somebody. Why is it that in every other area we understand that children must start with rote memorization but when it comes here, it’s, “I just don’t want them to have rote memorization.” Well, you better pour everything you can in there. “Well, I just, you know, I don’t want to force, I don’t want to force religion on them. I want them to grow up later and be able to make that choice on their own.” Really? What if I said that about education? “I don’t want to force education on my children. I want them to grow up later and make a decision on their own whether or not they want to be educated.” How ridiculous does that sound? That’s how ridiculous it ought to sound when we talk about the same thing from the standpoint of doctrine and theology. Get it in there! Amen?

And when you think you’ve got enough in there, just stuff a little bit more. K? Get it in there. And as much as you can, get it in there. Do it regularly. Deuteronomy, Chapter 6: “These words I am commanding you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons when you rise up, when you lie down, when you walk along the way.” Get it in there. Teach them God’s truth. Teach them God’s word. And then teach them and teach them and teach them some more. From the time they become verbal, get it in there.

Give me your mind. Teach them what to believe and why to believe it.

You know, often I have people that come to me and they go, “You know, my kids are, they’re 14 and they’re 15 and do you think that, you know, they can handle, you know, some doctrine and some theology by now?” When they’re 14 or 15 they have a theology already. You might be too late. All things are possible with God. But by the time they’re 14, 13, they already have a theology. They don’t necessarily know that, but they do. By the way, this is why some of you have had conversations with your 13 or 14-year-old and they’ve said things that are in complete contradiction with what you believe about a particular issue and you’re going, “Where in the world did that come from?” You didn’t teach them theology so somebody else filled the void. MTV taught them theology or somebody taught them — the movies that they watch, the music that they listen to. They’re being taught theology constantly. Constantly. Get it into them early.

This final phase is the discipleship phase. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. These two words, again — teach them to believe like Christians, teach them to behave like Christians. And again, by doing this, we don’t guarantee that they’re saved. That’s the work of God, k? That’s a work of God. However, I trust God completely to take care of that work. But I also believe that he is sovereign over the means as well as the ends. And he’s given me the means. I’m going to employ them to the best of my ability and trust him to use them, amen? And this last phase, that 12, 13-year-old phase, we tell them, “Give me your hand. And now that I have taught you what to believe and why to believe it, walk with me and I’m going to show you how to live in accordance with these truths.”

Our son is not with me, our oldest son. Our oldest son is 14 and he travels with me full-time. I gave him the weekend off. We’ve been busy. But he travels with me full-time. We’re a homeschooled family. We homeschool our children. My son — one of the things that we’ve done in our home, we’ve just had the privilege because of the things that the Lord has given us and the way that we’ve been allowed to organize our lives when our sons reach manhood, we take them through a manhood ceremony and from that moment, my wife turns over the books and I become their teacher and their disciple-er. It scares her to death. Scares her to death, k? But what he needs to learn now more than anything else is how to be a man. And God put him in my home ‘cuz he intends for me to teach him that. Me to teach him that.

So my 14-year-old son spends every moment with me that is humanly possible. Every moment that is humanly possible. Because I’m discipling him. I’m pouring my life into him. I want to teach him everything I know about everything. Ok? Sometimes I teach him by doing well. Sometimes I teach him by blowing it.

My 14-year-old son was with me a while back — and I’ll close with this for the sake of time. And you know, we were together, and there was this guy who came up to me — this young guy who was twenty-something-years-old and wanted to have this, you know, discussion with me and may have been over the issue of marriage or ministry or — one of these issues, ok? So wanted to have a discussion. Really he wanted to have a debate. And this guy comes up, and he’s got a couple of his buddies with him and he just gets all up in my grill. And we’re talking. And when we’re talking, he won’t even look at me. He’s looking over there somewhere, you know? [pretending to talk like the young man] This kind of thing, just utterly disrespectful. And I said, “No, brother, you actually misunderstood what I said. ‘Cuz what I clearly said was this. So that’s not accurate.”

Well he wasn’t satisfied about that: “Well what about so-and-so and so-and-so? What about with so-and-so?” He’s showing off for his boys, ok? My son, who’s 13 at the time, who is with me — standing with me — this guy’s been disrespectful — finally I say, “You know, brother, here’s the deal. First of all, you don’t even have the respect to turn and look me in the face when you’re talking to me. Secondly, you’re asking me questions that I’ve already clearly answered. Thirdly, it’s obvious that you’re trying to impress your friends. This conversation is over.” And he turns and he goes, “How come you people always gotta turn it into a respect issue?” “‘You people?’ I really hope you’re talking about tall people. I really hope I didn’t just see the race card fall out of your pocket.” And he goes, “Yeah, you people always want to make this a matter of respect, like I disrespect you or something like that, and you can’t just —“ And I said, “You know what, sir? This conversation is officially over.”

He took a breath to say something else. I stepped forward and got about this close and I said, “This… conversation… is…. over.”

His buddies start backing up and grabbing him with them. ‘Cuz I guess at that moment they just had an inclination: “You know what? This man is saved but I think he remembers some stuff.” My son and I get in the car and we ride back to our hotel. Not a word is spoken. We get back to the hotel, we finish up, and we do our stuff. My 13-year-old son goes, “Dad, did that guy not know that you could crush him?” And I said, “Yes, son, he was very well aware of the fact that I could crush him.” “Dad, did you want to crush him?” “Oh Lord, yes I did.” And then he says, “But if you had crushed him, he would have won. ‘Cuz then you’re the angry, out-of-control black man.” And I said, “Yes, son, that is true.”

Couple of minutes later, my 13-year-old son — tears streaming down his face — and he says, “Dad, I’ve never been more proud to be your son.”

He can’t learn that in a book. Nor can he learn what happened the next day. When we had to stop at the airport, go back outside security and walk up to the gate agent where I had to apologize and say, “M’am, I was short with you and I was upset with you. You didn’t mess up my reservation. Would you please forgive me for my tone of voice when I spoke with you a few minutes ago?” And she wept. She wept. ‘Cuz they always get abused and never respected.

I don’t know what’s taught my boy more: the great victory that he saw or the broken man who blows it. But I know that his head was in mine and I was showing him the validity of all that I had taught him to believe and the reality of what it looks like when you live in accordance with those truths.

I have said to him, “Give me your attention,” and he has. He’s an obedient, respectful young man. I have said to him, “Give me your mind,” and he has. And now I say to him, “Give me your hand,” and he is. And he’s my best friend. I don’t hate my boy. I miss him like crazy. The teenage years don’t have to be like that. My 17-year-old daughter is my business partner. We started a business together. I miss them. I love them. I rejoice over them. I want to spend every moment with them I can.

That’s what we can have, people, if we stop buying the lie. Train your children well. They will become a delight to you and to others. And they will bring honor to you and to the kingdom — as opposed to disgrace.