18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
The second purpose of marriage found in Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,” is to reproduce a Godly heritage.
At first glance, we go to biological children, which we recently talked about on our podcast and wrote a blog on. What we don’t really see right away is that this command is to expand from biological children and look at it from the lens of spiritual children as well.
We believe that God wants us to do more than just raise children, whether ours or spiritual. God wants us to raise godly children.
Reproducing a Godly Heritage Includes Making Disciples
In the book “Two Becoming One” Don and Sally Meredith write, “If you put this verse (Gen 1:28a) in the context of the rest of Scripture, simply having children is not the full purpose that God intended here (see Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 127:1, 3-5; Proverbs 22:6). This purpose could be stated as “to reproduce a godly heritage that will also reflect God.” This would include adopting and reproducing “spiritual children,” disciples (Matthew 28:19). God Himself adopted us as His own children forever when we trusted Christ as our personal Savior (Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:5-6).”
When we look at this purpose through the lens of discipleship, we are made aware that God wants us to invest in others. Matthew 28:19 says, “to teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Some have asked if this second purpose of marriage, to reproduce a godly heritage, is limited to child rearing. And the answer is no. All couples are to make disciples. To help others conform to Christ by reaching out to the lost world. God uses all of us to make Him known.
Youth Ministry can be a Vital Part of Reproducing a Godly Heritage
I know that in the many years of ministry that Suzy and I have been involved in, especially during the years of youth work, God placed many children in our lives. Our desire was to make sure we were investing in our own children spiritually, but also in the lives of those who did not have a family to foster this type of relationship.
Over the years, we saw many couples in our church answer the call to be available to invest in young kids. They volunteered as youth leaders. Took kids out for a meal. Invited kids to their homes or to the beach with their family. We had couples volunteer to work in various ministries in the church and they would include kids in what they were doing. It was truly a beautiful sight to see couples all over the church investing in more than just their own children. It was also inspiring to see couples that did not have children love on others like their own.
Scripture Affirms the Calling to Reproduce a Godly Heritage
Suzy and I understand the demands that our own family have on us. There were seasons that it seemed we did not have enough margin to invest in more than our own children. What was interesting is how God provided ways for us to still be involved in others' lives. In the verses found in Matthew above, there are two phrases that we found to be very true. The first one is “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. The evil one does not have the authority, but God does! Don’t believe the lies that you can’t do something if God calls you to it. You absolutely can because you are doing it under His authority.
The second was just as profound. You are not alone! “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Whatever fears you may have or uncertainties in investing in another child, youth, adult, or couple, you can know that if God is leading you into that relationship, He will not leave you to it alone. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can proceed with confidence. What affirming words these are in scripture to motivate us to disciple others.
Relationships Lead to Discipleship
Within the world of discipleship, it always starts with relationships. As relationships are formed and strengthened so are the conversations we are having. These conversations will often turn to spiritual conversations that will lead others and yourself into deeper waters with the Lord. God wants us to teach others to obey all that He has commanded. His model from scripture is discipleship.
Remember, as a married couple, it is incumbent upon you to disciple your own children. But, that does not exclude investing in others. For those of you that do not have children at this point, you are not without responsibility. Invest in your spiritual children and help them grow to reflect the image of God. Reproducing a godly heritage is not limited to child rearing. Pray that God would send you someone that you could help raise up to be someone that will reflect the image of God.