The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 37

Passing on the Faith

Before Joshua died, he was very concerned about passing on the faith to the next generation. He was the leader chosen by God and Moses to lead the Israelites into the land of milk and honey which God had promised them. He was the one who led them to conquer the Promised Land, and they served God during Joshua’s life time. They witnessed the great things which God did for them, defeating the enemies in the land. But sadly, by the time Joshua died, and the elders who outlived him also died, we are told in Judges 2:10 that “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”

Can anyone forsake God?

Is this really possible? It may be hard to believe, but the whole Book of Judges records for us the many times during which the people of Israel did not lead lives which pleased God. Judges 2:11-13 say, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the
LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”

Isn’t this shocking? These were the people who saw the many wonders which God did – how He enabled them to defeat the Amalekites and others in the land; how He helped them to cross the River Jordan on dry ground; how they saw the walls of Jericho collapse before their very eyes, and even witnessed the sun standing still. Yet after all these miraculous deeds that could only happen with the powerful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on their side, the entire next generation actually did not know the Lord or the work he had done for Israel.

What happened to Joshua’s last words to his people? Remember his parting words before his death? Joshua said: “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)

Can anyone forget God and His wondrous works?

Did the generations after Joshua forget to remind their children of the things which their Almighty God did for them in the land of Egypt, or in the Wilderness or in the process of conquering the Promised Land?

Did they gradually became so comfortable, and then complacent after they had settled into the land (enjoying the milk and honey) and forgot about their God completely? The Jews are known for passing down the laws of Moses to their children, and all things concerning the words of God. But somewhere, somehow, some people forgot to pass their faith in God to their children and grandchildren! And someone said, “a great big God became so small in the eyes of His people that an entire generation could no longer see Him.”

Whenever I read the Book of Judges (incidentally, we are also studying this Book at the Thursday night prayer meeting), I am saddened by how the Israelites forgot about their God. But it is possible for us to forget our God. History tells us that human beings are forgetful creatures. And, as a result, we become ungrateful and unthankful, and will choose to lead lives as if God does not exist. Judges 21:25 tells us: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Responsibility of every Christian parent and church leader

As parents and church leaders, we have the heavy responsibility to ensure that we pass the baton of our faith to our children and their children. We must do our part to pass on the baton carefully; for once the baton is dropped, the ones that follow after us are disqualified from the race that is set before them. Heb 12:1 says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Indeed, someone before us faithfully passed the baton of faith in God to you and me. Can we also be found faithful in passing the baton of our faith to our children, and they, to the generations to come?

Last Sunday, brother Felix Song mentioned 3 points which helped him to keep the faith which his great-grandparents passed down to his grandparents, his parents, and finally to him and his brother. In all his struggles to remain a Christian, he shared of how he needed to be true to himself, acknowledging that without God, he is nothing. In all his life, he learnt to trust God. He saw how God answered prayers and provided for his family in China, as well as his new family in the US. He also shared about his struggles as a Christian, and how he learnt to work with God through all the experiences which God allowed to happen in his life.

Beloved, and I speak seriously to all parents and other adult Christians: what are you doing to ensure that the baton of faith in God is passed on carefully to the next generation? To all the children who have grown up in Christian homes, and attended Sunday School from young, attended YF meetings, church camps and many other important meetings, what are you doing to ensure that you will be the ones who will “commit (thou) to faithful ones who will teach others also?” (2 Tim 2:2)

Olwyn Mark in his research and report “Passing On Faith”, found that many so-called Christian parents do not see it as a priority to pass their Christian faith to their children. This very much explains why “British culture is more agnostic…indifferent or even actively secular today than it was a generation or two ago is hard to deny, and it is probably that fact above any other that is shaping parental views on passing on the faith”. He reports that “evidence of recent years has increasingly come to the recognition that children are, in fact, innately spiritual – maybe even natural born believers.” Olwyn Mark strongly believes that “the passing on of ‘faith’ invariably happens in every home. The challenge before any parent who cares about what their children ends up believing is to pass on those beliefs with guidance, love and integrity.”

Proclaim the faith in Christ

We proclaim that we love God because He first loved us. But our love for God does not stop there. He wants us to share His love with our children, our parents and grandparents, our siblings, friends and neighbours. Christ’s Great Commission was for us to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19-20)

May God grant us the strength to ensure that we will carry out our great responsibility to pass on the baton of our faith.

Pastor Bob Phee

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