Heidelberg Catechism Meditations (366)

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July 8 – LD 27, Day 7: The Covenant Responsibility of Parents

Wednesday the 8th of July

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

Read: Colossians 3: 16-21.

No doubt not all who read the meditation today are married and have children. Even the unmarried, and those to whom God has not given covenant children by God’s grace, should still be interested in the subject of this meditation. As members of the church, even if we are single or married without children, we should be concerned about the proper nurture of covenant children. In one of our meditations, we emphasized that these children are members of the church. They must be so regarded by all members of the church. Parents in particular, should be given support and encouragement to raise their children in the fear of the Lord.

The practice of infant baptism in the sphere of the church does not at all eliminate or minimize the need for the serious instruction of children in the church. The practice of infant baptism does not mean that repentance and faith are not necessary for these children. In the case of adult baptism, none ought to be baptized by the church, except those who demonstrate repentance in their lives and who confess faith in Jesus Christ. In the case of covenant infants, this repentance and faith will not evidence itself until later in their lives. God uses covenant parents and the church to work and develop this faith in the hearts of children.

The Reformed Church teaches that we conceive and bring forth our children in sin. These children are born in spiritual depravity. This depravity is passed down from parents to their children. Grace is not inherited by covenant children through the genes of their parents. The grace of God alone can and will deliver these children from this depravity.

When covenant parents bring their children to be baptized in the Reformed Church, they are admonished and exhorted to do their utmost in raising their children in the fear of the Lord. Parents of covenant children must teach them the knowledge of the true God and the reality that there is no hope of salvation except through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Parents are bound by their covenantal responsibility to admonish their children, to call them to repentance and faith, even daily.

This is a mighty responsibility for those to whom the Lord gives children. The true church of God takes a great interest in this as well. The children of the covenant are the hope of the church of the future. The task of raising children is a very difficult one and takes a lot of sacrifice, diligence and steadfastness on the part of parents.

No amount of labors on the part of parents, however, can make any of their children God-fearing. God Himself must do this. He must give His Holy Spirit to the hearts of these children to work faith and repentance in their hearts. Covenant parents are wholly dependent on the Lord. In all their labors, they must pray for grace to be able to properly train their children. They must pray most earnestly, clinging to the promises of God’s covenant.

Those who oppose the practice of infant baptism in the Reformed churches, falsely imagining that it implies that covenant children do not need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, simply have a wrong understanding of the practice of infant baptism. In fact, the practice of infant baptism and its covenantal basis should be the strongest imaginable motive for parents to labor earnestly and prayerfully in the raising of their children.


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