Building Faith In Children (Part 1)
Establishing A Foundation
By Kim Butts
As parents and grandparents, it should always be our intent and passion to raise children to build a faith of their own – one that stands independently from ours. Many children from Christian homes are setting their faith in Jesus to one side or are abandoning it altogether when they get out into the "real world." How can we help them to build a strong faith on a firm foundation?
As children grow in the Lord, it is important that they understand the qualities that God the Father wishes us to possess in order to develop into godly, kingdom-focused people. They need to learn that who they are is valued more highly by God than what they do, because who they are will determine what they do. As we examine this passage from 2 Peter 1:3-8, please take to heart what the Holy Spirit may speak to you about your family. Help your children to build a firm foundation built on their own faith, and then help them add layer upon layer until their spiritual homes are built. Cover them in much prayer throughout every day, and pray together as a family. Seeking the face of the Father is the beginning place, as well as the continual activity that allows the Holy Spirit to work in the process of establishing a home and lives upon a foundation of faith.
The Tools of Faith
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3). If children can learn that God is the source of our very being, and that our dependence is upon His grace and not upon our own striving and effort, they will learn how to be content and satisfied with who they are in Christ. Let’s look more closely at this verse:
His divine power: It is important to train children that everything worthy of the Lord is accomplished through His power alone. When we attempt to do things in our own power, we will not succeed in ways that will honor God. Teach children to depend upon God’s power and not their own. They also need to know that they cannot depend upon the power of the adults in their lives. It is God’s power that provides everything they need. He uses parents and grandparents to be instruments of His mighty power, but children must ultimately learn to live dependently upon God before they can learn to live confident Christian lives when they leave our homes. How can you do this in a practical way? Read the prayer of David in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 and talk about what this teaches you about God’s power. Pray this prayer over your family often. Look for other passages of Scripture that describe God’s power.
Has given us everything we need for life and godliness: If children learn that God is the Giver, they will learn to receive from Him. God has already given us what we need to live the way He calls us to. Godliness is the reverence we have toward the Father that rules over every part of life. Therefore, training children how to revere God will train them to have the kind of humility before Him that directs them into lives of kingdom significance. If children are confident that all of the resources of God are in place for their lives to be worthwhile and useful, and they see it lived out in practical ways in the lives of their parents, they will be more likely to be content and joyful. They must know that you, their parents, actually believe what you are telling them is true. If you do not, then before you take another step, please get on your knees and ask God for His supernatural faith to believe that you have all that you need for life and godliness. Ask Him to increase your faith for your own sake as well as for your children.
We must not display a form of godliness that denies the divine power of God! A practical way to teach this concept to your children is to be certain that thankfulness permeates your home. Consistently give thanks for all that you have and point out to your children what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in all of your lives. Especially point out answered prayer and encourage your children to do the same. What God does through our prayers is faith-building.
Be careful to give God the credit for all things and make a point of teaching humility as you recognize together that all that is accomplished, God has done for you (Isaiah 26:12). Children must also learn that God is present and giving in the midst of less than good circumstances! Whenever life is difficult, God is still there and they need to learn to count upon Him and rely upon Him to walk them through those times. That can only happen as they see it demonstrated in the lives of the believers around them. Be a godly example of one who trusts the Lord to be who He says He is! Remind them that it is God who has and is the Divine Power and that He provides your family with everything you need for life and godliness!
Through our knowledge of Him: Following God is a choice our children must make and that we cannot make for them. First and foremost, the faith our children develop as they grow must be their own. If you train them to depend upon your beliefs and what you tell them about God, their feet will not be set upon a firm foundation. Their faith must become their own faith based upon their own relationship with God. Therefore, it is crucial that they truly know Him as Savior and Lord. Otherwise, everything you are reading will not matter. They may have head knowledge, but their hearts must also be connected to the truth of Christ. Children must accept the most important gift of all: "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). Parents and grandparents, if you fail to take seriously the salvation of your children and grandchildren, assuming they will somehow "get it" on their own, you are not faithfully discharging your responsibility before the Lord. If you have trained them to receive from God everything they need for life and godliness, you will have done what the Lord has asked.
Some children will still turn their backs on God for reasons we cannot clearly know; however, if we are faithful to train them as God has instructed us, we must not let the enemy riddle us with guilt. If our children have their own faith, they must deal with God directly. The enemy has tried to destroy many parents, dissolving them in despair and defeat over children who are determined to live in their own power and strength through their own knowledge. We must faithfully continue to pray that their hearts will turn back to what they already know is the Truth and continue to stand firm and resolute as we depend upon the God of divine power who "has given us everything we need for life and godliness."
For a practical way to train your children in the knowledge of God, consider this: If your children know Jesus, they can be formed spiritually into His likeness. It is not hard to find out what Jesus was like while He lived on earth as a man. God’s Word is filled with this kind of knowledge. It is the relationship our children have with Jesus that will help them to live a Jesus-focused life of obedience to Him. Walk your children carefully and patiently through the Gospels and study the things Jesus said and did. Every time He tells your family what to do, practice doing it until it is a part of each person’s lifestyle. Every time you come across something that shows the character of Jesus, practice this character trait in the midst of your family, in your friendships, and with others. You will begin to see a transformation as your family grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Who called us by His own glory and goodness: God called us to belong to Him. It doesn’t take a lengthy search or a long period of time, or a certain kind of maturity level. Because of the amazing awesomeness and excellence of God to extend His grace to us through the death, burial and resurrection of His only Son, we belong to Him. Now, through His power we have all that we need to live the kind of life that will please God in every way. We cannot, by our own striving, ever hope to achieve any level of godliness in our own strength or knowledge. It is only by His glory and goodness that it is possible to have a relationship with God. If He called us, shouldn’t we reflect His glory and goodness to others? To teach your children in a practical way how to understand the glory and goodness of God, learn how to worship together as a family. Give praise to Him together. Look through Scripture to find verses and passages that describe God’s glory and His goodness. For example, read Psalm 19:1-4 out loud and talk about what it means.
"Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4). Through His glory and goodness, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has made a way for our families to be a part of His divine nature so that we have a way to escape the temptations and corruption of the world in which we live. Second Corinthians 7:1 states, "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." Our adversary, the devil, is seeking to destroy families, and to capture the hearts and minds of our children. It is only by taking a stand against him in prayer and through lives that are attached to Jesus Christ that he will be defeated in our lives. How do we purify ourselves so that we can live in the world without being a part of the evil that comprises it? We only become pure as we are formed into the image of Jesus.
Perfecting holiness is part of the process of building faith in our children. Of course, no one will be perfectly holy in this life; however, as we follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to form the characters of our family members, we will be less and less likely to be corrupt and contaminated. The divine power and nature of Christ Jesus can shape us into His image as we yield ourselves to Him. The process discussed above is vital. Our children also need to have a reverence for God that keeps them in constant awe of all that He is. He is more powerful than any human power, and will provide everything we need to live lives of holiness and purity in the midst of our lost culture. Do you believe that? Do you believe it for your children?
Peter has given us great insight as we help our children to participate in the divine nature of God. His instruction gives us several keys to building the faith of our children layer by layer: "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Next month we will visit this passage in depth and dig into each layer step by step. Please pray about this process in your family, and intercede for the minds and hearts of your children, and that your own life will demonstrate Jesus in practical and powerful ways.