Raising Prophets, not Scribes

by Pastor Keith Knight

‘They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells us what he has seen.’  – A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

 As our church family walks through the book of Revelation, we are gripped by the account of what the Apostle John saw. Apocalyptic literature brings all of our senses into what is unfolding through poetic imagery and vivid descriptions. It is a reminder that the Bible is not merely words on a page, but the very words of God through men who were moved by His Holy Spirit, and had an encounter with the Holy One of Israel.

In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer spoke of Christians who had hearts that were ‘fit to break’ with love for God. He defined these as people who ‘had been in the presence of God and reported what they saw there.’ Clearly, we see the same of John. He is not just writing down a ‘nice story’ about the world, but was taken into the presence of majesty for an unveiling of the resolution and restoration of this world. He writes with a passion and urgency that comes from being in the presence of God. When we are tempted to simply see this as a book to be read, or information to memorize, we are missing out on the reason for the words – to usher us into God’s presence, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As a parent, this is what I desire most for my children. I want them to be people who have had their hearts broken for God alone, have been in His presence, and report what they have seen there. But, I must confess that many times I have defaulted to raising them as scribes instead of prophets. Here are a couple differences

Scribes look into the law, Prophets look upon the Lord:

If we are intent on raising kids who look upon the Lord, then our ‘goal’ is not just ‘getting them to read the Bible.’ I know sometimes as a parent, it feels like a monumental victory if we can finally get our kids to read the Bible for 5 minutes a day, but reading alone is not the point.

Never forget Jesus’ words in John 5:39-40 ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.’

Action Step: Find a good, simple, Bible-reading plan. If you have older kids, assign them the reading – if you have younger kids, read it to them. Always end your time together by asking two questions:

–       What does this passage teach us about God (character and ways)?

–       What does this passage teach us about sinful humanity?

Use these questions to remind your kids that ALL of Scripture is not just a list of information, but an invitation to know the God who created all things. (Tweet this)

Scribes are ‘better’ people, Prophets are ‘changed’ people:

 Many well-meaning Christian parents tend to focus their efforts on changing the behavior of their children. Don’t misunderstand me – very young children need to be trained to obey, for the sake of obedience! But as our kids grow, we must begin to help them see that the point of all these things is not to make them better than the people around them. This is what encourages our kids to be divided people, and struggle mightily with self-sins.  – Self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, etc.

The goal of training prophets is again, helping our kids come face-to-face with the Holy God of the Universe, and to see that they have absolutely nothing to add to Him. Our kids must find all of their hope and satisfaction in what God does in us, not in what we can do for ourselves.

Action Step: Exercise patience in affirmation and praise of your kids. In short, don’t be too quick to rescue them from hurt, and don’t be too quick to praise them for their efforts. I know that some of you might think, ‘that sounds pretty mean!’ Let me shed some light on these two areas:

  • Sometimes, God wounds us for a purpose: If your kids have a genuine sorrow for sinful action, let God wound them and encourage repentance. You don’t help them see the need for a changed life when you’re telling them that their sin is ‘okay.’
  • Affirm the need for God’s work in them: When your primary praise focus is on their physical abilities and accomplishments, you are unconsciously supporting all those self-sins. Remind them that ‘in Him we live and move and have our being’ and when they are obedient, praise the work of God in them.

In reality, no parent can ‘make’ their children into people who encounter the presence of the Lord, only God is able to change the heart. However, we can continually encourage them that they must yield themselves to God, and trust in Christ alone, and in doing so they can experience the presence of God in life-changing ways.

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