Joel Beeke’s Address

The title of his address is “Parenting By God’s Promises.”

The premise of his book is that God is a God of grace. The covenant of grace is the bedrock of parenting. We parent based on the covenant. He doesn’t want to presume regeneration, nor does he want to ignore the covenantal promises. He argues that if we refuse to say to our children that they need to repent and believe, then we will create little Pharisees.

After laying the covenantal foundation of parenting, he gets into the how, which is written under the rubric of prophetic, priestly, and kingly tasks. Finally, he looks at some of the major problems. In this address, he wants to focus on four areas.

These foundational covenantal truths are the first issue. Parents need to believe that the covenantal structure of the promises is the reason why we will believe in God’s grace. The only perfect parents are those who don’t have kids yet. We should bring up our children “seamlessly,” which means that all the major influences will work together to bring up our children in the nurture of the Lord.

Secondly, we should use this rubric of prophet, priest, and king in the home. Of course, these offices have an echo in our lives in general. However, it is also true in our parenting. The prophetic task means that we should seek out opportunities for teaching. Family worship is vitally important to this. As priests, we are to be intercessors for our children. We should pray for them in our family worship. As kings, we have to fight against Satan and sin in this life. As parents, we help our children to discern God’s will. We discipline them, and guide them in their spiritual and temporal lives.

The third thing is that we must ourselves be models for living out the Gospel. Proper child-rearing is as much caught as taught. We have got to live what we teach them. A parent has to be a transcript of their teaching. We must love our children as Christ loves us. We should never fail to let our children know that we love them. We should not be shocked when our children sin. We sin, after all. We must ourselves grow in sanctification. The Gospel must inform and shape the way we deal with problems in the home. None of our children will ever treat us half as badly as we have treated our Lord Jesus Christ. We should therefore make sure that our interaction with our children should be largely positive.

Fourthly, we must recognize the times and seasons of the Christian life. How can we teach our children about the changes that will come into their lives before those changes occur?


  1. Reed here said,

    March 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    An excellent session. I highly recommend his book. As well, pick up Paul Tripp’s DVDs on parenting. Together they offer a powerful two punch on raising kids according to the provisions and promises of the gospel in the covenant of grace.

  2. John Harutunian said,

    March 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Agreed -some fine insights. But one major question remains:
    I assume that Beeke would agree that as soon as a child comes to know right from wrong, he needs to be told of the need to ask forgiveness from God (as well as from any human person[s] he may have offended). I also assume that Beeke would agree that once the child has done that, he should be assured that God has forgiven him.
    The problem is that this rarely (if ever) coincides with the child’s understanding of some basic Christian doctrines, such as the substitutionary atonement. Therefore one must either say that a)at that point God has forgiven some of the child’s sins but not all of them (surely a theological monstrosity from the Reformed perspective), or b)subscribe to some form of presumptive regeneration.

  3. AJ said,

    March 16, 2012 at 10:45 am


    I would wonder if the question remains if we teach our children the need for repentance but neglect to teach them of the need for faith. The two must both be taught as necessary for salvation. So, yes, we teach them to repent and ask forgiveness, but hand in hand with that, we tell them that forgiveness is found in Christ and that they must trust in Him and what He accomplished on the cross for that forgiveness. The assurance does not come in our proclaiming to them that they are forgiven (this is no better than telling the man who prays a prayer that he is now “saved”). The assurance comes in trusting the promise that those who seek shall find, and unto those that ask, it shall be given, and unto those who knock the door shall be opened unto them, and then the subsequent obedience life that is produced by the Holy Spirit and from a heart full of love and thankfulness for the grace received. Allow the Holy Spirit to sovereignly work in them, as He sees fit, the faith, obedience and assurance.

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