To the parents of ignorant children,
Parents, your children have souls which God expects you to nourish with at least as much care as their physical needs. Who will teach them if not you? No one is surprised to hear that a ship put out to sea without a compass has sunk or run aground. Why should we be surprised to see children wander far from God, when they have received no spiritual direction?
We see a pattern set for us by the saints of old. David, busy king that he was, thought it his solemn responsibility to instruct his son in the way of the Lord: 'Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.' (1 Chron. 28:9). And what need I tell you of Timothy's mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a child? I believe a man calls in question his own Christianity if he does not bother to acquaint his child with God and the way the leads to Him. I will even go so far as to say I've never known a true saint who was not deeply concerned about his child's relationship with the heavenly Father.
You will give a poor account at the Last Day if all you can say is, 'Lord, here are my children. I bred them like gentlemen and left them wealthy.' What a mocking witness to your own folly that you would do so much for that which rusts, and nothing for a knowledge of God unto salvation, which endures forever!
A careful study of the principles of God will show how serious this matter is. If we neglect the spiritual training of our children, we fail on three fronts:
1.You obviously fail your children when you leave them ignorant. Faith and unbelief are fundamentally different, not only by definition, but in the way they operate as well. Faith will not grow without planting, and will even die where it is planted unless it is watered and fertilized with the Word of God. Atheism, irreligion, and profanity, on the other hand, not only grow without planting, but will not die without forceful plucking up. Indeed, they thrive best in an untended soul - until simple ignorance and disbelief in the child become willful attitudes in the man.
What a grave injustice is done through your neglect! Your child is not born with a Bible in his heart, or in his head. Satan has already done his work in the womb at conception. Now you must do yours. The strain of faith you plant in your children's heart must be hardy enough to spring up and choke out the tares of Satan. And the best season for planting faith is in your child's youth.
You also fail yourselves by leaving your children in a state of ignorance, for you heap upon yourselves the consequences of their sins as well as your own. When a child breaks one of God's commandments, it is his sin; but it is also the father's if he never taught the child what the commandment of God was. Wicked children become heavy crosses to their parents. When a father or mother must trace the source of wickedness to his or her own neglect in training the child, cross is laid upon cross and the load becomes unbearable. Can there be a greater heartache in this life than to see your own child running full speed toward hell, and know that you were the one who outfitted him for the race? Oh, do your best while they are young and in your constant care, to win them to God and set them onthe road to heaven.
Most important, you fail God when you rear an ignorant child. Scripture tells of those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Among others, this includes parents who lock up the knowledge of salvation from their children. Where is the parent who will rob hs own son's house? Yet this is what you do if you neglect his spiritual education. For you keep in your own pocket the gold talent God intended you to give your child. If you leave no godly inheritance, what will happen when you die, and the truth of the gospel is buried alongside your rotting bones?
If you are God's child, then your children stand in closer relationship to the heavenly Father than the children of unbelievers. God depends on you to nurture them as you have been nurtured, and to protect them at all costs from the devil's education. Training your children up in the ways of the Lord is no casual suggestion, but a solemn command given to all Christian parents. Your refusal to obey, whether the product of deliberation or neglect, will pay you bitter wages when you stand before the King of kings in judgement.
-William Gurnall, Christian in Complete Armor
If you need guidance and rearing children in Christ, I recommend Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle.