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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, June 19, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

When Mr. Griffith sang that song a moment ago, it was about the faith of our fathers. Every young person here this morning needs either a Christian father, or Christian men in the church to be his mentors. God has placed Christian fathers and father-substitutes in the local church for the benefit of you young people.

My own father left when I was two, and I never knew him well. Two men in the church took his place as my mentors and guides. These two men have been substitute fathers to me, and I thank God for them every day.

I myself am a father. My boys are now twenty-one years old. They are very fine young men, and I am deeply proud of them. And I love them very much. I love the other young men and women in our church as well. I like to have them in my home often. I like to hear them laugh and talk. They are my boys and girls - and I love them with all my heart.

Many men here this morning are fathers. Many other men here are substitute fathers to the boys and girls and young people in our church. You men are far more important to these kids than you will ever realize. They respect you. They look up to you. They look to you for guidance and encouragement that only a father can give - or a father substitute.

Those of us in a father's position play a terribly important role in the lives of these young people - a role far more important than we sometimes realize.

Now I am sixty-four years old. I have already lived a long time. And I have studied the Bible on the subject of fatherhood for decades. May I share with you some of the things about fatherhood that I have learned? These are just some random thoughts, but I do hope they will be of help to some of you men this morning.

Our text says,

"Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

"Provoke not your children to wrath." The idea in the original Greek is, "Do not enrage your children." There is sometimes a fine line between proper discipline and "provoking to wrath." But I think the answer lies in letting the child know that you are disciplining him because you care about him, not because you are angry. Dr. McGee told about a man who said, "Son, this is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you." The boy said, "Yeah, but not in the same place" (Thru the Bible, Nelson, 1983, vol. V, p. 274). Dr. McGee said,

These little ones who simply will not obey need to be spanked. They need a trip to the woodshed. [But] a child should never be whipped while the parent is angry; this is stated very clearly. We are never to provoke our children to wrath, which will happen if they see that we are simply venting a mean disposition on them (ibid.).

So, children are to be disciplined but not enraged by an angry parent. And then we are told to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). They are to be disciplined and taught, nourished, provided for (Rienecker), educated and trained. And, will you notice, that the main responsibility for all this lies on the father.

"Ye fathers…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

"Nurture" means "education by discipline" (Strong). This is a father's work, not a mother's, according to our text. It has been largely lost in our society. You may say, "How do I do it?" There is no easy answer. You must ask God to help you. It is difficult in these days. "Admonition" refers to "rebuking and warning" (Strong). You must tell your children why you are rebuking them. This also requires the help of God. A lot of prayer must go into it.

Now I will give you a list of things a father should do for his children.

1. A father should provide a spiritual home atmosphere. If a father isn't able or willing to do this, the men of the local church must act as substitutes by having the young people in their homes and making the church like a second home.

2. A father should bring his children to church with him several times a week, to the stated meetings. He should realize that his children will be lost to the "pop culture" of the world unless they become part of the counter culture of the local church.

3. A father should conduct daily Bible reading and prayer in his home.

4. A father should insist that his wife and children join him around the dinner table at least once or twice a week. He should insist that they sit around the table after the meal to discuss the events of their lives and spiritual journey.

5. A father should open his home to his children's church friends as often as possible. He should encourage young people in the church to come to his house often. His children, and other children in the church, need friends from the church to support them in a secularist society.

6. A father should pray for his children daily. He should also speak to his children daily about their souls.

7. A father should work hand-in-hand with the leaders of the church, and seek their help in guiding his children.

8. A father should work with his wife. They must work together to help their children to become good Christians and productive adults.

9. A father must realize that he may not see his children converted, though he does his best. If a child refuses to be led by him, and refuses Christ, the father must realize that his child was not one of the elect, and leave the matter in God's hands.

10. A father must decide that he will continue in the work of Christ whether his children are converted or not.

11. A father must be careful not to nag. He must know the difference between admonition and nagging. If he does not know the difference, he should pray for God to show it to him.

12. A father should provide his children with the material needs to get a good education or, if unable to do this, he should give them all the encouragement he can to get an education on their own.

A father may say, "This is difficult!" Indeed, it is. That is why a man must lean on God in prayer. And he must do the best he can. As Coach John Wooden said, "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." And always remember that great verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

Now, what about kids who don't have a Christian father? As I said at the beginning of this sermon, young people who do not have Christian fathers need to have men in the church as mentors. The word "mentors" means "counsellors, advisors, guides." Let the men in the church be your guides. Follow their examples and you will not go wrong. Also, read the lives of great Christians. Let them also become your mentors. We have many short biographies of great Christians in our church bookstore. Read the life of David Livingstone. Read the life of George Whitefield. Read the life of John Wesley. Read the life of Jonathan Edwards. Read the life of great Spurgeon. Read the life of Gladys Aylward. Read the life of Florence Nightingale. Read the life of William Carey, the father of modern missions. Read the life of John Bunyan. Read the life of the Great Reformer Martin Luther. And be sure to read the life of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The lives of these outstanding Christians will inspire you to follow in their steps. Read these biographies for pleasure instead of watching some hackneyed piece of computerized junk of the type Hollywood cranks out today. Let others go to one mindless, debasing modern movie after the other, but you take the time to read about the great Christians of history. They will become your mentors and guides. They will point the way for you and help to take the place of your non-Christian father. They will become your advisors and counsellors. I personally have read the lives of Luther, Whitefield and Wesley countless times throughout my life, with great benefit.

Then there are secular biographies that will help you. Read the life of Abraham Lincoln especially. Read the life of Winston Churchill. I recommend the two-volume set on Churchill by William Manchester. You will learn much by reading about his life. And read "Nixon: A Life" by Jonathan Aitken. It will show you how a poor boy, through hard work and strong force of will, conquered the poverty of his youth to become the president of the United States in a terrible time of American history. Aitken said, "Nixon is the only politician I know who looks better the closer you get to him." Nixon was not a Christian, but he had many good traits, including duty and hard work. He was a far better man than the liberals said he was.

Reading about these great men, and these great Christians, will give you pointers that will help shape your life. They will become your mentors and guides. And don't forget to read a good biography of President Reagan, one of the most outstanding men our nation has ever produced.

But don't just read biographies of great Christians and outstanding statesmen, important as that is in building your character. Also get to know the deacons and other leaders in this church. These men will be delighted that you take an interest in them, and they will guide you to become to kind of men they are.

One last thought. Make Bible reading and prayer an important point of your daily life. The men in the Bible, like Job and Abraham and Joseph and Daniel, and Peter and Paul will give you guidance and help you avoid the pitfalls. By all means read several biographies of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, who literally shed his blood by assassination to save America and free the slaves. And read the life of Richard Baxter, probably the greatest pastor England ever produced. It also would be of great help to you to read a biography of our presidents, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. These men will instill principles in you that will literally change the direction of your life.

Young people who do not have Christian fathers can be guided, mentored and helped by reading these biographies. I can't stress this too strongly. And be sure to read the Bible every day. Model your life on Christ, on the Apostle Paul, and other great men in the Bible.

And then get close to the men who lead our church. Watch them carefully. Emulate them, by following the way they live. They will not let you down. Ask them questions about life and then listen and inculcate their wisdom into your own life. Especially read Robert Sumner's great biography of Dr. John R. Rice, titled "Man Sent From God." Dr. Rice was a man whose life will put you on the right track and keep you there. Drop out of the vapid, empty junk that Hollywood now puts out. Instead of going out to yet another stupid, debasing movie, curl up in a chair and make it a life-long habit to read about great men of the past. Spend time reading about the great Christians, ministers, and missionaries of history. It will be an immense help to you in the years to come. Instead of seeing one computer-generated piece of Hollywood junk after the other, make friends with the men in our church. Phone them. Talk at length with them, and learn how to live a godly life from them. And make friends with the pastor. Phone me. Come to see me in my house as often as possible. Seek my counsel at church. The pastor is like a coach in sports. He will coach you to become all you can for Christ. He will help you to succeed.

And one more thing. Be sure you are converted. Jesus said,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29).

Strive with all your heart to find Christ Jesus. He will not only save your soul from sin, but He will become your very best mentor, teacher and guide.

And it all starts when you give up on yourself and your sin and, as Spurgeon put it, "lie flat on Christ." Let no other trust intrude. Use all your natural faculties to find Christ - and then trust Him by faith. He will cleanse your sins and justify you in the face of God. Your life will truly begin when you throw yourself completely on Him. Christ can save you from a life of sin, even though this may seem impossible to you. He said,

"For with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27).

God will save you from guilt and will justify you, and make you sinless in His sight, if you will only strive to find Christ. Then you will be able to say,

"I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go" (Song of Solomon 3:4). 

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 6:1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Faith of Our Fathers" (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

(Philippians 4:13; Matthew 11:28-29;
Mark 10:27; Song of Solomon 3:4)