Faithful Witness

“When that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the lord or the work which He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

Each generation is born in sin and must come to faith in Christ or there will be a speedy turning away from knowing the Lord toward the world’s religions. This is evidenced in the book of Judges as well as in our modern world.

The attractions of the world’s religions are that they appeal to comfort, greed and pride (1 John 2:16). True Christianity often results in tribulation in this world and produces sacrifice and humility in the Christian as exemplified in Jesus Christ.

The experience of the church is not unlike the experience of Israel. Many parents are grieved because their children do not come to know the Lord and walk with Him. There may be several reasons why children do not choose to follow Jesus but in the verse quoted above the reason given is that the new generation did not know the history of God’s dealing with the nation. This is much more than just academic knowledge of history. It also includes acknowledging God’s hand in history.

In earlier years I attended churches where people regularly stood before the congregation and shared how they came to faith in Jesus Christ or some experience in their life where the Lord had intervened. This does not seem to be happening as often these days. So children may not hear of the ways in which the Lord has changed lives in earlier generations.

A biography or autobiography by someone not known personally are helpful but can only go so far. If our children have only known us as Christians we need to explain to them that it was not always so and share our spiritual path. A niece of mine was reluctant to accept that in my youth I was extremely selfish and self-centred because she has only known me as a Christian. From that point I was able to explain that it is Jesus Christ who is making a change in me. It helps her to understand why I follow Jesus.

As we read the earlier books in the Bible regarding Israel’s departure from Egypt and arrival in Canaan we observe many events and practices designed to teach and remind the people of how they made that journey. How will the next generation in our churches come to faith if they do not hear the testimony of previous generations? Yes, we share the Gospel of Christ with them but our own personal testimony will give great weight and help make it personal.

Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:5). It is a church family responsibility and privilege to share testimony to the next generation, confirming the parents’ testimony, so that they may choose to follow Jesus. The faithful witness of parents and other Christians, of both the Gospel and personal testimony, will go a long way in helping a child choose Christ.

Passing the Baton

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

Turning away from following the Lord was as sudden as one generation in Israel’s early history. We see this pattern repeated throughout the book of Judges and we can see it in our generations now. Why did Israel suffer such sudden changes and reversals in their faithfulness to the Lord? It was because Israel had not driven out all the inhabitants of the land as the Lord had commanded and those inhabitants turned Israel’s hearts to idolatry. “So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and Asherahs” (3:7).

Like Israel, we live amidst people who serve false gods. They may not all realise it but they do. One thing for sure is that most people do not worship the One true God in Christ Jesus the Lord. The hearts of people in western countries have turned to worshipping man just as Satan lied to Eve. People no longer look to the Lord for deliverance; they look to the religion of man worship through politics and science. Strangely, each generation gets sucked into this lie even though history and our present world condition reveal this to be a futile hope. Their faith is misplaced in man and not in God.

The Bible teaches us that each generation is born into this world as sinners with the basic need of being born of God. Left to find out for ourselves we will always choose a false god. That is the nature of sin. We must be taught the truth by someone who knows the truth. Those who are ignorant of the truth can only pass on what they believe to be true but that will prove to be futile. We ought not to be surprised that so many people choose to end their lives when they see only pain with no hope of relief in the future. Jesus said that it is the knowledge of that which is true that will set us free from this kind of despair as we live in a fallen world (John 8:36).

In my lifetime I have observed a turning away from the Lord within the churches that has become more and more entrenched. With each passing generation many who call themselves Christian have sidelined the Word of God more and more. The very word of hope that has delivered many and is still able to deliver us from hopelessness and despair is dismissed as unimportant or even irrelevant (Romans 1:16-17). People put their own wisdom over the wisdom of God.

Many people have a veneer of Christianity but have not Christ. In some cases they are in positions of authority in the church. They want the benefits that Jesus brings with Him but they do not want Him. They are most effective in turning people away from the true Gospel. When tested by the world they reveal their departure from the Word of God by caving into the philosophies of sinful men and dismissing or rejecting the Word of God.

When sexual immorality threatened the church at Corinth Paul wrote in very strong words, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 5:5). When we allow anything contrary to God’s Word to continue unaddressed among God’s people we are sowing the seed for destruction of the next generation. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we must resist the vain philosophies of men and cling to the Word of God and teach them the truth.