Generational Christianity

Generational Christianity

“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them…that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God” (Ps. 78:5-7).

One of the marks of God’s people throughout covenant history has been the desire to pass the faith on to their children. That desire is not only commendable, it is biblical and godly. But often there is a disconnect between parents’ goal for their children to follow in their spiritual footsteps and the practical application of the God-given means toward that end. This is not to say that anything is automatic in the Christian life. God is a sovereign God, He does what He pleases in the heavens, and there is nothing that can thwart His holy will. But God is also a covenant making and covenant keeping God. This means He binds Himself to us and to our children by way of the promises revealed to us in His Word.

But if God’s promises aren’t mechanical or automatic, how do godly parents take hold of them? The answer, of course, is by a true and living faith. It is by faith–believing all that God has revealed of Himself in His Word and resting on Jesus Christ alone as He is offered to us in the Gospel–that we take hold of the promises of God. This is what it means to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12, 18-19).

One often neglected means God has given us for exercising our faith and laying hold on eternal life is the privilege of evening worship. For various reasons, not every church comes together for worship a second time on the Lord’s Day. But those that do have ample reason for thanksgiving and praise. Churches that have evening worship are following the ancient pattern of worship revealed in the morning and evening sacrifices of the Old Testament (Ps. 92). Evening worship was also the historic practice of the Christian church until the 20th century. This was a practice so universal that it transcended all denominational barriers until very recently in the history of the church. But much more importantly, evening worship literally doubles our opportunities to be in the special presence of God with the people of God to delight in God through His Son Jesus Christ (Isa. 58:13-14). It doubles our opportunities to hear the voice of Christ in the faithful preaching of His Word. It doubles our opportunities to experience the grace of Christ in worship. It doubles our opportunities to be with God’s people and to know that we are one in the Spirit.

So, the question is, “Why do so many parents deprive their children of the privilege of being in God’s presence twice on the Lord’s Day?” If we really believe that God will show up to meet with and bless His people–even the very youngest of them–why is it that the evening worship service is often so poorly attended? We would do well to remember the words of J. C. Ryle as we consider how we respond to God when He graciously calls us into His presence: “Your feelings about the Sabbath will always be a test and criterion of your fitness for heaven. Sabbaths are a foretaste and a fragment of heaven. The man who finds them a burden, not a privilege, may be sure that his heart stands in need of a mighty change.”

Do you want to pass your faith along to your children? You will never do so if you teach them by your own example to neglect the means of grace. It is by faith that we take hold of the promises of God. Faith responds to God eagerly and enthusiastically when He calls–as often as He calls. Your children are learning from you every day, but especially every Sabbath Day. What are you teaching them? It is quite likely that what you are teaching your children, they will teach their children after them.