“PASSING FAITH TO OUR CHILDREN”      By Pastor YAU

Text: Judges 2:6-15                                            September 5, 2010.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A modern day case: Eric (not a real name) is a third generation Christian. His grand parents and parents were faithful and dedicated Christians, very committed in personal life, service, giving in many ways in building churches, supporting mission work and Christian education. When Eric went to college, far away from home, he stopped going to church, stayed away from old time Christian friends and campus Christian fellowship. Now he is a successful, rich and famous cosmetic surgeon and a celebrity in his field. But his life has nothing to do with God or the faith of his parents and grandparents.

2)   An ancient-day case: Thousands of years ago, God led the ancestors of the people of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Many of these people saw with their own eyes what God had done in miracles in exodus and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, these people were committed to God and His laws. (Judges 2:6-7) “But after the passing of that generation, a new generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Then they did evil in the eyes of God and served the idols. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers.” (2:10-11)

 

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO ABOUT THIS?

1)   It is sad, but true: Losing the faith of one generation to another generation is a sad but true problem of God’s people. It was true in the history of Israel, through the 2,000 years of Christian history and still is true in our generation, among some of our people today. We see with our own eyes that many godly parents are unable to pass on their faith in God to their children and grandchildren. The flames of faith, dedication, service and commitment last only in one generation. This is a serious problem in the continuation of a family tradition, in soul saving of children and grandchildren. It is also a huge burden on church growth, reaching others in missions and making an impact in the secular society.

2)   Heed God’s warning: “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and their children after them.” (Deut. 4:9) God knows the best. God knows that if parents of faith neglect their duties in teaching their faith about God and what God has done in their lives, their children could lose the basis on which they can build their faith. God commanded the Israelis to observe the Passover: “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your children, and when your children ask what does this ceremony mean to you, then tell them.” (Exodus 12:24-25)

3)   Set good examples: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:5-6) Christian parents need to set examples of godly living so their children can learn from them what does it mean to be real Christian. The value parents hold, the way parents live, the goal parents set for themselves and their children all affect the faith of their children.

4)   Teach the godly way: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This is about teaching our children the wisdom of fearing God. King Solomon commanded parents to train their children the way of life they should go, not they love to go or their parents want them to go. Often times parents teach their children the way of the world or the way they want them to go. Christian parents need to learn and believe in the way of God, the Bible, so they can teach their children the way they should go. Godly parents will teach their children to follow God. Worldly parents will teach their children to follow the world.

WHY PASSING FAITH TO CHILDREN?

1)    It is God’s command: From the very early days of the Exodus record, God was very clear that Israeli parents were responsible to tell their children what God had done for them so their children would know and keep their close relationship with God. This is a very important duty as well as privilege for parents to teach their children about God, to lead them to build a relationship with God and to live their life according to God’s teachings in the Bible. This is also the best heritage we may leave with our children than anything this world may offer.

2)    It is a biblical tradition: Even though the Bible is never intended to be anything like a family genealogy, it recorded some good examples of godly heritage, passing faith from one generation to another. Stories like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Father Jessie to David to Solomon, King Amaziah to son Uzziah, (2 Chron. 26:4) and in the New Testament, grandmother Lois and mother Eunice to Timothy. Do we need any more examples to show us that it is biblical and good for parents to pass on their faith to their children? Just in our church here today, we see many beautiful examples of passing faith from grandparents and parents to their children. May God bless and reward them.

3)    It is a parental privilege: Who else is more responsible and in better position than parents and grandparents to lead children to God? When God gives parents children, it is a heritage from God that they come with privileges and responsibilities. What else is more important to lead these children back to God. Yes, we have the church, the Sunday School, the AWANA and other children ministries in churches, but the starting point is from the parents. Living examples, encouragement, support and setting Christian principle in everyday life are some of the things only parents can do to bring their children to have faith in God.

4)    It is good for churches: What else can a church do to inherit all the good younger generation of faithful Christians from their present member families? This is one of the most effective ways to grow a church, to build strong leadership, to support mission and ministries of a church and to expand the scope of services a church can do. One of the most problems of many declining churches is they cannot reach the children of adult members to participate, support and carry on the mission of their church. If a church can’t reach her own children with the help of their parents, how can it reach others for Christ? Every church needs to pay more attention to youth and children ministry.

 

A ROADMAP TO SUCCEED: (Judges 2:6-15)

1)    All begins with repentance: “When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelis, the people wept aloud and they called that place Bokim (weeping). Then they offered sacrifices to the Lord.” (2:4-5) The angel delivered words of God in 2:1-3 on the need of their faithfulness to the Lord. After they had heard the words, they realized their shortcoming so they wept with loud voice and offered sacrifices to show their grief and repentance. As Christian parents, we also need to feel sorry for our shortcoming in passing our faith to our children. By admitting our fault, we can start to turn around to do right.

2)    Build a foundation for children: “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who has seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.” (2:7)It is a blessing for every church and family to have elders, parents and grandparents who have strong faith in God in their life so their children have examples to follow. Parents and elders need to have first hand of a close relationship with God so their life can be good influence for their children.

3)    Beware of negligence: “After that whole generation had gone to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (2:10)How could it happen that the new generation knew not the Lord nor what he had done for the Israelis if the elders and parents had been faith-ful in teaching their children about God and what he had done in the past. Too often, parents, including some Christian parents are just too busy in their own life or focus on wrong priorities of life in themselves and that of their children. Negligence in our own spiritual growth and teaching our children the importance of God in our family is the biggest mistake parents make.

4)    The inevitable will follow: “Then the Israelis did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the idols. They forsook the Lord the God of their fathers.” (2:11-12)Many Christians parents falsely believe that even though they don’t do right in helping their children to build their faith in God when they are small, they think when the children grow older, have family and more time, they will come back to God on their own. The Bible and history have proven that they are wrong. If parents neglect to train their children when they are young, the children will fall into the life of the world and do evil in the eyes of God.

5)    When life is without God: “In his anger against Israel, the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around whom they were no longer able to resist.” (2:14) If one wants to live his life on his own, then he will be on his own when God retracts his umbrella of protection from him. To live a life with God is not very easy, but to live a life without God is lot more difficult. The choice is yours.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Give your best to them: The best thing you may give to your children is your strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Live your life as good examples so they may learn from you. Teach them to believe God, trust God and life for God. When they have God in their hearts, they will have God in their everyday living.

2)   Give your best to God: Give your life, your future and your all to God is the best decision you may make. The next thing you may do is to bring your children to God. Help them learn to know god, to believe in God and to live their life according to God’s direction and value. Nothing may replace His bless on you and your children if you will just ask Him to forgive your sins, come into your heart and follow His direction for your life.