Last Sunday I had the privilege of baptizing my baby girl. As I joked on twitter, that is the closest I’ve ever come to paedobaptism! Every time I witness the baptism of a believer in Jesus I am reminded of the overwhelming grace of God in sending His Son into the world to live, die and be raised from the dead for our salvation. As a “pastor dad,” the felt sense of that grace last Sunday was more palpable than usual.
No doubt that was partly due to my realization that the baptism of Hannah, who is 15, represents a significant milestone in our life of family discipleship. By God’s amazing grace, she now joins her five older siblings as baptized followers of Christ. The occasion of each of their baptisms was special. As I have reflected on all this over the last week I have been clearly reminded that there is only one explanation for the fact that all six of my children, along with one son-in-law and one future son-in-law, are faithfully following Christ and building their lives around His church: the sovereign grace of God.
I married the most amazing woman in the world and those who know Donna well would agree that God simply built her to be a mother. When she left her career as a pediatric nurse to be a stay-at-home mom she saw it not only as a promotion but also as the fulfillment of her life’s dream. Her love, wisdom and skill as a mother have been blessed of God to serve our family in amazing ways. Yet, even with all of her maternal gifts she and I both recognize that God’s work in our children is a testimony to His sovereign grace.
The Lord has poured out His blessings on our family. The fact that He has done so should be an encouragement to every parent because it displays the freeness of His grace. The family blessings that we have enjoyed have all come from Him and therefore all praise belongs to Him for every good thing in our lives. We cannot say that God has blessed our family “because” of anything that we have done. If the Lord treated our family on the basis of our performance, we would all be lost. But He has dealt with us on the basis of His Son’s performance. It is in Christ that we have discovered the riches of His grace and the overflow of every spiritual blessing.
God’s grace does not flow through bloodlines. Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13). God didn’t save my children because they are my children. He saved them because of His grace.
I came across this prayer by Thomas Fuller, 17th century chaplain to Charles II, when my oldest child was still very young. It has comforted me and encouraged me to pray for my children over the last 25 years. The biblical truth Fuller highlights should encourage every dad—and mom—to pray diligently for the children God has entrusted to us.
Lord, I find the genealogy of my Savior strangely checkered with four remarkable changes in four immediate generations. (1) Rehoboam begat Abijah; that is, a bad father begat a bad son. (2) Abijah begat Asa; that is, a bad father begat a good son. (3) Asa begat Jehoshaphat; that is, a good father a good son. (4) Jehoshaphat begat Joram; that is, a good father a bad son. I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed; that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son.