Monday, October 15, 2012

How I Help My Children Be Righteous

There are six things my children need to be righteous: love, truth, outward ministry, pursuit of the Kingdom of God, good doctrine, and deploying-debriefing.

Love and Truth

My job as mother is to love my children like Jesus loved us.  He was sent to us and moved into the neighborhood to dwell with us.  He was available.  I want to emulate Him and be available too.  I want to be interrupted to hear them when they speak (but this is not at all an easy discipline, right?).  Jesus loved and nurtured and protected and provided for us.  But it wasn't pointless love.  It was not love without the love of wisdom, it was not love without a message.  Truth was meant to help His children be happy and know freedom no matter what trial might come their way.  My father confessed recently that his deepest aspiration for his children was that as adults they would know happiness, real and lasting happiness.  Is that not a great insight into why we've been given grace through Jesus Christ?

Outward Ministry

The best way to show my children how to live in the Kingdom of God is to practice the Great Commission as a family.  Whatever passage we read from God's Word will become real when they see it "working" out there in the real world where outsiders have no obligation to me at all.

I am certain one of the most common ways the enemy gets Christian parents out of the work of making disciples is to convince them that their number one purpose is to sell their lifestyle to the world.  "Lifestyle" is the principles by which I run the house and interact in society.  In my heart I'm like every other parent; I think I'm wise.  I admit that.  I am so desperate to make sure, especially on my best days that my children not believe there is anything good in me.  I don't want them to get a tolerable way of life from me and miss everything that Christ is going to be for them.  The truth is, if I try to persuade others to do the same things outwardly that I do, I am sickeningly building my own kingdom, not Christ's.  So what I want to listen for is what God is telling my children to become for Him.

Pursuit of the Kingdom of God

One of the most challenging places to make disciples is in my own family.  Yes, because they know me most intimately.  They reveal whether I truly am walking in the Spirit because they get me at my most natural state.  I try to admit that to them so that they can get a true picture of the difference and see grace to continue after failing.

But it is also challenging because I have to somehow find a way to teach our children to look past the culture of being a Christian family in the normalcy of Christian friends and by-and-large Christian community, and gain true faith and fellowship with God for themselves.  This requires the most creative and diligent work of reading the Word of God and then acting on it by the grace of Jesus Christ.  My job as mother is to make tangible the Kingdom of God in their midst.  It is much easier to disciple someone who does not come from a church-background.

I'm not all that good at it.  I'm doing my best.  I wish I was better.

If the church at which we attend and serve was gone tomorrow, would my children know how to advance the Kingdom of God successfully in their sphere of influence?  This is my concern as I listen to their concept of God.  Matthew 19:14,
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Every time the Kingdom of God shows up, the people experience it as Good News.  They get cured.  They are fed.  They are forgiven.  They are reconciled.  I want to live in a way that invites my children to experience the Kingdom as good news to them.  And I don't want them to be judged or made to feel criticized until they're ready to taste and see that the LORD is good, because criticism is not good news.

Insufficient Doctrine

My delightful husband Ben hears well the need for true righteousness and gave me an article.  It said,
Parents who raise their children with nothing more than Christian values should not be surprised when their children abandon those values. If the child or young person does not have a firm commitment to Christ and to the truth of the Christian faith, values will have no binding authority, and we should not expect that they would. Most of our neighbors have some commitment to Christian values, but what they desperately need is salvation from their sins. This does not come by Christian values, no matter how fervently held. Salvation comes only by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The article presented a story of a 16-year-old girl who was raised in the church and said "I don't think I believe in God anymore" to her mother, who understandingly panicked.  The mother's number one sense of loss in this situation was for her daughter's morals and manners.  The article replies to this concern saying, "Hell will be filled with people who were avidly committed to Christian values.  Christian values cannot save anyone and never will."

Being righteous does not mean being right.  It does not at all mean superiority.  Being righteous means that God has credited a certain supernatural capacity into a child's life, to bear with life and experience victory to the praise of God.  Every other moral or virtuous code that does not give the glory to God's supernatural enabling is what Revelation describes as Lukewarm.  Rev. 3:14-21,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
The question I ask myself is this: Are "Christian manners and morals" inadvertently teaching my children to be self-sufficient from God's righteousness?

Good Doctrine

"But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt. 6:33).  I totally trust Jesus' righteousness to make my kids moral and mannered!

Here are some basic truths about righteousness for the Christian parent to read and digest.  You might not be able to pass the teachings below directly on to your children, but hopefully they will help you read passages from the Bible to your children with an angle of revealing His Kingdom to them.

I used to believe that once I got saved, God dumped all Christ's righteousness into me, into my spirit.  So the righteousness I had when I got saved is Me-Centric.  But that would mean that once I'm saved I no longer are in need of God in order to be increasingly transformed.  This was a wrong belief.  Even after salvation, righteousness is not Me-Centric, it is still in-Christ, it is Christ-centric.

Isn't that a great picture?

How then am I connected through salvation to Christ, where His righteousness dwells?  Legally it's mine, the righteousness and holiness I need is in an account that Christ has set up for me to use.  But the salvation funds have not been transferred in to the way I live unless I approach God by faith continually and ask Him to give it to me.

How are the righteousness funds transferred?

They are transferred through faith.  Sometimes most specifically through asking God directly, even knocking diligently by prayer to have them.  If there is a Christian parent here who is reading and knows way down deep that God is elusive and distant and you can't seem to break through the barrier, don't give up on God or on His credits toward you.  They are there and they are definitely yours because of Jesus.  For me too sometimes He expects me to directly ask Him to be kind toward me, and help me in the name of Jesus.  Even at these most difficult moments, God has always given me the righteousness for which I asked.  He is good!

Look at the picture of water below.  The water is righteousness.  Faith is the straw.  Faith is the conduit through which what you seek is given to you.

Faith is the way we were saved and it is also the same conduit through which we are being made holy.  Here is another graphic illustration on where righteousness comes from.

Children may be able to understand that their life choices are like erecting a building.  1 Corinthians 3:9-15 says,
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
As a parent, I want my children to consider having their life's choices tested by God's holy fire.  The quick and easy answers here, are, first - no one can lose their salvation based on their performance as a Christian (See the cross in the building above?  The foundation has been laid; see Ephesians 1:13).

Second - when your child yields to the Holy Spirit and allows God to lead them by faith, those building materials (life choices) construct more building onto the corner foundation of their salvation.  Works done in the Spirit are God Himself at work and obviously will endure eternally because there is no sin or imperfection in them.

Third - when your child does things in his own strength or his own ideas and purposely excludes God, those life choices are like hay and stubble - they also add building onto their foundation.  However with fire they disintegrate.  More, they are the materials which make the fire hotter.  Everyone will pass through that fire, yet every child of God is guaranteed to pass through to the other side and live.  See the cross stones embedded in the picture above?  Those are the materials at minimum that are guaranteed to pass without burning up.

Lastly - if my children have any sort of edifice remaining after the Day of testing by fire, then over those life-choices they will eternally experience the joy of their LORD.

Deploy and Debrief

Devotions with kids can quickly become busy work, another task to lay upon our already busy lives.  May I suggest another model that I believe works:  Help children hear Jesus deploying them out with power on a mission just like He sent His disciples in the Gospels.  And just like the disciples, children need to come back in to our huddles to debrief.  Debrief means to report on what happened and what it means.  Instead of scripting out their Christian experience through a book written by a best-seller, I want them to discover God in the day they share with me.

I don't want to parent them as much as possible.  When they present a problem to me, I want God to fix it in replacement of me.  When they are sad about a friend who can't come to AWANA, I want to ask them to pray about that person coming, rather than try and arrange seats in the minivan for them as just another thing that I do for them.  When they are scared about laying in bed at night, I would rather them pray than find comfort from mom sitting in their room another night.  The more they turn to Him, the less pressure I have as an adult.  And, most importantly, we become a family of coequal-servants of Christ.

I do not want my children reading the Bible like homework.  The tone of approaching scripture should come from interest to approach God Himself.  When I interact afterward with what my child has read from the Bible, I should but rarely ask them comprehension questions.  "What was the man's name in the story?"  "What did God tell this person to do?"  Why do I suggest comprehension questions are a bad thing?  Because it teaches them to read the Bible like scientists observe nature.  It trains them to think the major point of any passage is to answer the five Ws (who, what, why, when, and how).  My kids come home angry about looking at a Bible.  They say, "uhh, I already know the stories Mom!"  That breaks my heart.  Instead, they should be reading it to hear what God is saying to them and to respond in their daily life, to choose something differently because of what they have seen and heard of God.  The best answers come by asking the best questions.  I try my best to do this for them.

I respect what God wants to do through them and I make sure not to invade any space that God wants to have to reach their hearts.

I also want to create children-disciples who can think for themselves when it comes to God.  Questions are at the heart of understanding His promises and watching those blessings unfold through faith.  I want them to think about their issues in life and feel safe sharing them openly with me.  I want to treat them as just as responsible for following Jesus as I am capable of being responsible.  They understand what it is to feel something, and God cares for their emotions.

Uprightness of a child is one who, though he fails God 7 times, he rises back into the presence of God 8.  No accusation from the enemy will blind this child's eyes from trusting that God is the only one, the best one and the sufficient one to advocate for their soul.

I accidentally left out prayer.  My friend Chelsy has a heart for Christian mothers to pray for their children, and she has imparted a godly example to me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Birth Control: A Five Hour Discussion with Five Christian Ladies

About a year ago 4 ladies and I got together for a miniature conference on birth control and God's will for childbearing.  It was not a "church-sponsored" event.  We gathered together in a home and let our kids play together while we sat in an adjacent room and opened our Bibles together.

Our questions were these:  How many children does the LORD want a man and his wife to have?  Is any kind of birth control a sin?

Three ladies came from the perspective of believing that any form of restricting the conception of a child between a man and his wife was not an expression of trusting in God.  Their main verse was the command given to Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply."

One lady came to sit and listen because she wasn't sure exactly how she believes about the issue.

I represented an alternative position.  I'm not sure what to call my position, but I intend to use this post as a way of outlining what I believe the Bible says about children and therefore paint an alternative perspective on the will of God for women as mothers.

With Love and Respect

I don't believe as the other ladies do but I want my readers here to know how much I honor the women who shared their stories with me.  I hope that everyone would emulate their faith.

I walked away totally blown away by the servanthood of the three ladies who represented this conservative view on birth control.  One lady's inspiration is Katie Davis, an American woman who at the age of 18 knew that she was called to adopt children and live in Uganda with them.  She at the age of 22 has I believe 14 girls who she has now adopted and raises as her own.  How does she get up and have the strength to do what she does?  Only by the amazing power and love of Jesus Christ!  This lady shared for the group her own story of having deep faith in Jesus for her own family.  She has 4 children and is expecting her fifth at this time, and she also credits Jesus for her strength to serve and love her children.  I am humbled by her faith and by the example of Katie Davis.

I believe that these ladies are called to serve Jesus Christ by opening their hearts and their homes to as many children as the LORD will give them.  I applaud their faith and their testimony of God's power.  However I am at the same time sure that not all married women are called to glorify Jesus in this same manner.

Birth Control Methods

We all agreed at the forefront that any kind of contraception that harmed a fertilized embryo was not a reflection of God's heart.  So off the top we skimmed out a discussion on the pill, Plan B, IUDs, etc.  But that still leaves at least two methods of contraception to use that do not harm a child: abstinence, which 1 Cor. 7 prohibits except in mutual agreement for a short period of time so that a couple may pray, and NFP.  Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a method similar to the Rhythm Method, but it claims a higher success rate of 99% contraceptive effectiveness.  NFP uses no chemicals nor physical barriers.  It monitors cervical mucus and the woman's body basal temperature to pinpoint when she is ovulating so that for only 6 days out of the woman's 28-day cycle she must abstain from intercourse in order to avoid conception of a child.

Should married couples use something like NFP to control how many children they conceive?

Some families are actually incapable of having children.  Are they not obedient because they have not multiplied?  These ladies say, "no, of course not.  They are operating by faith in God to give them as many as He has planned for them, even if it is to have no children."  Some families only want one, two or three children.  Once they reach a certain dynamic in their family they do not want to have any more children.  If they should prevent further conception, are they in sin?  These ladies say, "Yes they would be.  That is, assuming they are capable of having more children and they take it out of God's hands and into their own."

This is an important issue in my mind because it gets to the heart of our purpose as Christians.

What do you think?

The Scriptures

The three ladies representing this most conservative take in opposition to birth control believe that no efforts should ever be made to limit the number of children born into a family.  They see so much of God's character and lovingkindness through trusting Him to give them exactly what they can handle.  They trust God completely and so they believe that using birth control would be an expression of doubting God's plans for their lives.

A central supportive text the ladies used was the story of Tamar and Onan.  The account is in Genesis 38:9.  Onan was punished for refusing to conceive a child.  My response is as follows: I am not sure the story of Onan is prescribed for every man and wife everywhere, especially for the Church.  What was Onan's sin, exactly?  Was it disobedience of the command in Genesis, "be fruitful and multiply?"  Onan was not hardened against conceiving children generally but he was hardened against producing an heir on behalf of his deceased brother.  Birthright and inheritance was traditionally a battle between sons.  The law of levirate marriage was also supposed to provide for Tamar in the loss of her husband.

I believe that "be fruitful and multiply" is inextricably linked with Spiritual dominion, not merely an earthly and physical dominion.  Producing physical children is not the picture of holiness God expects of Christians.  Remember that John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:9,
and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

The Jews looked to their physical birth as some sense of accomplishment of God's purpose.  But because there was no righteousness in God's people, God could not accept them as His children (Rom. 9:7) on that standing alone.  It is not all Israel who are of Israel (Rom. 9:6), and they were cut off from the LORD (Rom. 11).  He wanted a physical descendant, yes, for salvation is through the Jews (Jesus Christ).  But He also required a righteous-acting descendant.  Let's go back to the garden of Eden.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Not only did God want them to multiply physically, but moreover He wanted them to have dominion.  Dominion means that God wanted humanity to have spiritual control over this earth, and this spiritual power wielded by mere men would come through walking in fellowship with God.  Psalm 8:3-8,
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.
That means man was born to rule spiritually, having all his supply to rule righteously from intimacy with God.  Through faithfully practicing dominion, a life's stewardship would be rewarded by inheritance of the earth.  In the end, the faithful Church will have dominion with Jesus on the earth because Jesus took dominion back from Satan.  Satan controlled it temporarily only because man abdicated his own seat of power.  Until Jesus, there was no one who had righteously managed the reins of dominion given to Adam and Eve.  Jesus took the keys of dominion back from Satan's grasp when He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins at His own adoption, perhaps His seal, His certification of son-ship, His "adoption, indeed" in Hebrews chapter 1, verses 3-4; 9,
...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.  ...  You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
"Here I am, and the children whom God has given Me." Heb. 2:13
At His resurrection, Jesus inherited that over which he faithfully practiced dominion through the supply of His heavenly Father.

We the Church are meant to have dominion now in this life, with the expectation of inheritance in the next dispensation (Psalm 8, Revelation 2:26-27).  It is possible now not only because it was originally a gift of dominion handed to Adam and Eve and their descendants, but most especially because Jesus Christ overpowered the enemy who overpowers us, and is graciously supplying it through faith alone as King of his brother partakers.

It is important to note that even though God could raise sons of Abraham from mere stones, God has not planned to accomplish His will in such a way.  For us to seek to be spiritual descendants to the point of despising Christians who create physical descendants is to go the way of Gnosticism, and I do not suggest such a preoccupation.  There is nothing wrong with pursuing the physical and earthly, the bodily.  Having children is one of the most satisfying blessings God gives to the living.  I am only suggesting that bearing children not be elevated to a holy work without bringing forth righteousness as well.

Be Fruitful and Multiply

God said "be fruitful and multiply" to Adam and Eve.  Does this mean that He commanded the Gentiles as well as Israel to produce children?  Is this command for all humanity?  I would like to suggest that this command was not for Gentiles in Old Covenant times.  It is for Israel, proto-Israel, and in a Great Commission sense, the Church.

If God wanted Gentiles to multiply and have children, someone must explain why God looked with grief at humanity's first grand corruption, their choice to do evil in Genesis 6.  God decided to wipe out humanity forever with the flood.  Why did He want to destroy them all?  Was it because of their failure to have physical children?  No!  They were plenty multiplied.  It was because they were not righteous!  But Noah was righteous.  And he and his family found favor in the sight of the LORD and they were spared.  The flood is sure evidence that God does not desire ungodly people to bear children!  God wants a righteous descendant, not only a physical one.
righteousness will protect our children

The covenant with Noah prevented any subsequent flooding as His way to deal with unrighteousness.  His promise is that no future grand corruption of humanity will affect nature and result in our immediate physical death.  As God commanded man to have dominion in connection with the land of the earth, so God would no longer destroy the earth immediately because of wickedness.  God's promises to people are tied to land.

Since Noah, as Jesus teaches in the Gospels, God causes the rain to fall on the just and the wicked (Matt. 5:45).  He's spending His grace in a pay-it-forward sort of manner.  In the end we will be consumed just like Genesis 6, this time by fire.  There will be wrath, but for now it is being stored.  At judgment we will have no excuse for the way we have chosen to spend this life which has been relatively wrath-free because of the covenant God made with Noah.  God uses his wait-till-judgment-day-to-settle-accounts, pay-it-forward grace as a model (Matt. 5:45) for how we ought to make disciples of all nations.

"Be fruitful and multiply" was brought up by the ladies as a command reiterated by God throughout the Old Testament.  It's true, it is indeed spoken by God more than just in Genesis 1.  However, in every case where God gives this command, He gives it to those who are already His people, and He gives it to those who are already in fellowship with Him.  This command was not only pointing at the physical; God was pointing at us to replicate a people who would be taught how to walk in fellowship with God, who would be taught to practice true righteousness.  He wanted a people who could inherit the earth through practicing spiritual dominion in this life.  I do not believe we can believe as Christians that because we bear children, we therefore please God.
"fruitful" in the NT refers to discipleship not babies
"Be fruitful and multiply" was only spoken to Israel, or proto-Israel (the fathers of those who became Israel; Adam and Eve and Noah).  "Be fruitful and multiply" is never repeated in the New Testament.  Can a Christian be certain we are commanded today by God in this age to bear children or else be counted disobedient?

A Woman Will Be Saved Through Childbearing

These ladies also make a scriptural case by 1 Timothy 2:15,
And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.  Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
Childbearing, they say, produces tests and trials which refine and grow our faith in God.

It is always a good idea to interpret obscure verses in light of clear Biblical truths.  We know that a woman is not granted eternal life by works of any kind including childbearing but by faith alone in Jesus Christ who gives it freely as a gift to anyone who will trust Him.  We also know that a woman or a man is not sanctified by childbearing per se, but more Biblically by obeying the Word of God.

I do agree with the Ladies, that having children certainly is a sanctifying force in my life.  It causes me to need God in such a bigger way, it helps me to understand the sin nature and how important grace is.  It helps me to understand the role a Father plays with His children in all its facets such as withholding blessings for the sake of not spoiling a child, and why discipline is absolutely necessary to raise a child to be happy.

But God does not need me to have children in order to sanctify me.  The only pictures of Christ sanctifying me through others is the husband toward the wife, which is a picture of Christ and the Church.  That is the relationship designed for a woman to have a partner with which to grow in the LORD, along with a community of believers in the local church.

What is Family in the Kingdom of God?

Jesus taught very clearly on who we should count as our family in this life as well as the next.  He said in Matthew 12:46-50,
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”  But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.
The Family that endures eternally is not necessarily the one that lives with you in your home as you read this post.  I mean, read it and flame this blog post all you want but Jesus is the audacious one to say such a thing.  He doesn't wait till the resurrection to call disciples His true family.  He says, "Here" these disciples are His mother, His brothers, His sisters.  So here is what I as a Christian lady ought to be asking myself: Is my husband Jesus' brother?  Are my children, Jesus' brothers and sisters?  I certainly want them to be.  All my faithfulness and unconditional love are a picture of this hope for them.

In fact, the quintessential heart-test Jesus gave for discipleship was forsaking the orientation of our earthly family.  Luke 14:26,
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
I truly hope that Christian women everywhere see the importance of making their children into disciples, not simply making children, as God's heart for families.  As much as it pains a parent if our children should not choose to follow Jesus (and I can understand this pain), the truth is He will not recognize the resemblance of God in them when the Kingdom is ushered in.  What can I do to give them life in Jesus?  As a mother I must do everything I can to teach my children to forsake the natural orientation of our family, as good as I think my lifestyle happens to be.  I want them to count the cost of offending me as a parent and find Christ for themselves, seeking the Kingdom of God first.

Children who Inherit their Parents' Faith

These Christian ladies truly hope to make disciples of their children in their home.  I can attest to this because I know their children and how they raise them.  They hope that multiplying and adopting children who inherit the Christian faith is a way to transform culture around them to be Christ-followers.  But is physical descendancy the model of multiplication given by the New Covenant?

Israel needed physical and righteous descendants.  They got that through Jesus Christ.  No Jew is going to top that.  What is left of "be fruitful and multiply" that means anything left to await fulfillment?  This is why that command for physical birth was only used in the Old Covenant.  Jesus' New Covenant was targeted to the Gentiles; strangers to the physical family of God's people.  He is calling a people who were not once His people, a people who are not related to Him at all by blood.  I know that I, Michele Painter, cannot trace my lineage back to Jesus Christ or Abraham.  I'm not a Jew.  Birth by blood is not the course of the New Covenant.  It is Spiritual birth that matters.  In order to see and enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus said in John 3:7,
Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
The word "born" in that passage also means "citizenship."  This is a fulfillment to the prophecies about Zion.  Psalm 87:5-6,
And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”  The Lord will record, When He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.”
The Spirit and all his ridiculously rich wealth of grace is now poured into a Gentile's account by faith.  So why should I be preoccupied to think that the Christian heritage is going to be primarily transferred through physical relatedness?

Let's Crunch the Numbers

It takes 20 years to raise a maximum of say 20 children in your home.  Conversely, let's take 40 Christians who commit to disciple 3 strangers into the Kingdom of God.  They do disciple those 3 people each, and then require one thing of them: that they go and in like turn, disciple 3 additional people into the Kingdom of God.  Guess how many repetitions are needed to disciple the entire United States?  Only 25!  It takes more or less about 1 year to disciple a person.  And each Christian believer can disciple 3 people at once.  That means 25 repetitions to disciple our entire nation!  It would take only 37 years to disciple the entire world!  That's it.  Which is more effective for creating a righteous people on the earth - physical descendancy or church planting?

What do you believe the LORD's will is for a married woman regarding childbearing?  I do believe that God works with us all according to conscience where Scripture doesn't give us detailed answers.  Some of us need to exercise faith in God through opening our homes to as many children as God would give.  Some of us have handicaps whether they be emotional, physical, or whatever it may be.  I believe that if we do not feel equipped to bear endless numbers of physical children, God knows our condition and has grace for us.  In the end, I believe the question of "how many" children is not terribly relevant.

However, it is clear that a Christian woman's purpose is to multiply in Spiritual births.

Luke 11:27-28
And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”  But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

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