Like the Israelites, we too have been entrusted with the responsibility to teach by instruction and example the truth of God’s Word, which results in a desire to walk obediently before the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. Since both instruction and example are necessary, we must have consistency between what we say and what we do if we hope to pass down God’s truths to the next generation. Consider these points about leading those who come behind us:
Our instruction should include the principles of God’s Word that we have read, learned, and lived out in our own lives—in other words, our personal testimony. And like the Old Testament saints, we must also teach our children who God is, what He has done, and how He expects us to live. But instruction alone is not enough; we must also teach them by example how to obey the Lord.
Although we may feel as if we don’t know enough to pass on scriptural truths, we all have a story to tell. First of all, everyone who’s been saved by the grace of God understands what’s required for salvation. And as we read the Bible, we should share what we are learning. Furthermore, we can explain how the Lord has worked in our lives by protecting, providing, encouraging, and helping us through life’s hardships and pain.
Christian parents cannot entrust this divine obligation to someone else. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We don’t have to be well-educated or seminary-trained to fulfill this assignment. Simply reading the Bible to our children and assuring them that God’s Word is true will be effective.
The state of our culture makes this divine obligation even more critical. The world our children inhabit is full of errors, dangers, and distractions that could lead them away from Christ. Today’s technology can be used to promote the gospel, but it also distracts young people from what’s truly important.
We have many ways to teach the next generation. We should begin with our own beliefs and life experiences, but there’s also value in passing down what we’ve learned about the Lord from our parents and grandparents. The key is diligence. We can’t afford to let teaching opportunities pass by just because we feel inadequate. Although Sunday schools or other religious schooling are important, they should never be a substitute for parental responsibility.
Grounding our children in scriptural truth is especially important as they head off to school. Because we live in an anti-God environment today, we cannot rely on teachers and professors to teach truth. Although there are many teachers who love the Lord, secular education systems hinder them from talking about spiritual things. God has given us the responsibility to teach our children to discern between truth and error so they’ll be prepared to go out into the world. If we don’t courageously stand up for the truth of Scripture, our children and grandchildren may drown in secularism and unbelief.
We must talk to our children about spiritual matters. Since our society is disinterested in the things of God, the most loving thing we can do for our children is to discuss spiritual truths with them. We should ask them what they are learning in school and what they believe about spiritual matters. It’s our responsibility to teach them that God is the Creator, and His Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way of salvation (John 14:6).
We are living in spiritually dangerous times and must take a stand for truth to protect our children. In the 1960s, immorality and the pursuit of success and wealth were promoted, and by the 1970s many parents had lost their children to rebellion against God. Ever since then law and order, and love and respect for one another have degenerated. If God’s people do not take a stand, the culture will continue this downward trend. The line of testimony from faithful witnesses for Christ cannot be taken for granted, nor should it be ignored. Providing for our children doesn’t merely include physical needs, material possessions, and education. The most important thing we can do for them is to train them in the way they should go so they can live godly lives (Prov. 22:6).
The task of leading the next generation is not too big for us because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. He will guide our steps, help us understand God’s Word, and show us how to reach the next generation. As we open the Bible, we will become more familiar with it, our faith in the Lord will increase, we’ll learn His truths, and our lives will be changed. There are many searching, unsettled, and dissatisfied people who desperately need to hear what almighty God can do in a life, and we have a testimony to share with them. Will you help lead the way?
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation” which airs this weekend on TV.