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Wednesday: Toward a First-Generation Faith — 12 Comments

  1. I am going to suggest that today’s lesson is the most important topic of this whole series of lessons and it is unfortunate that it is likely to be passed over with the blink of an eye. How do we pass on the really important stuff to our children? History shows us that our retention rate for our young people is a huge embarrassment. We lose our young people in spite of Sabbath School, Church, a whole education system and a bunch of special programs.

    There are two aspects to belief; What we believe, and how we come to that belief. Most of the time we concentrate on what we believe. If you go back over our Sabbath School lessons since they began, you will see lessons on the Second Coming, the Sabbath, the Investigative Judgement, and virtually any Seventh-day Adventist doctrine you care to name. But if you look for lessons on how we come to those beliefs, you will find the lessons woefully inadequate. I submit that most of our church programs are aimed at telling us “what” to believe and we spend little time in the riskier business of proving direction on the “how” and "why" of belief.

    If we look at the early Adventist Church, we find our pioneers involved in a wide range of activities, searching scripture, reading history, discussing issues with others, trying to come to an understanding of belief. Their faith was a hard-fought faith and not handed to them as a set of fundamentals. If you believe that once you assent to the fundamentals you have arrived, then you are not seeking salvation, all you have achieved is membership in “Club Adventist”.

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church, to a large extent has taken away personal study and replaced it with statements from the General Conference aimed at showing we are united. Our Sabbath School lessons are often bite-sized answers, rather than challenges to grow and nurture our faith. We have focused on the “What” of our belief and have forgotten about the “How”. We need to take back the “How” and develop a more experimental approach, otherwise, we are no different to those churches that provide a catechism of belief that we can assent to.

    In the study of mathematics, there is often a rush by students to find the answers to problems. But, the answer is often not the most important goal. The real goal is understanding the journey to get to the answer. One of the best features of good maths teaching books at a higher level is that they do not provide the answers. Given a problem, you have to work out the answer, and then prove to your own satisfaction that your answer is the correct one.

    In passing on spiritual values to our children we should consider teaching them the joy of challenge and discovery in spiritual life and not just serve them the 27 or 28 fundamentals and tell them that is what we believe.

    The Psalmist knew the value of experimental and experiential spirituality:

    O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Ps 34:8

    • Bro Maurice, you answered one part of the question I had, what causes the Loss? But I sure would like to know what to do to get them stirred up to truly follow God. All my children are adults and have chosen the wrong way, I feel like such a failure. I have a small grandchild now living with me, and I don't want to fail Him. Sometimes I am so stuck and so disheartened

      • I wish I knew the answer Faye, but it is worth remembering a couple of things.

        a) In the end, we cannot force our children to make those decisions. It is something they need to decide for themselves. Like us, they too have free choice.

        b) Persistence pays. My grandmother lived a life of loving Christianity without every preaching to my grandfather. At 80 years of age, my grandfather gave his heart to Jesus.

        I cannot claim success with all my children either. I have a son who does not attend church, mainly because he is a shy introvert. However, we love him and will never give up on him. Jesus does not give up on us!

    • I am in total agreement! This is why we are so lacking because we are riding on dead men's experiences. We do not know why we believe what we believe(sounds confusing maybe). For this cause I/we am devoid of the HolySpirit because I/we are not researching and finding our own footing in the Word. The "how & why" does not in no way negates faith but I am struggling with passing on info to my children; when I am deficient myself. I believe because we don't know the how & why My daily prayer is for their personal conversion and to have an encounter with God. Please help me pray! God please help me!

    • I can't agree enough with your assessment, Maurice. Thank you for sharing it. Most of us are deficient in our knowledge of our history as a denomination. The years between 1844 and say 1850 when the basics of our faith were being worked out (no easy task) on into the denominational forming years between 1850 to 1863 (when we became legally the Seventh-day Adventist Church). It is unfortunate in some ways that we have Fundamentals of Belief, because I think it has stymied the spirit of continual inquiry into the things of God and has creedalized our faith in many ways.

      It is vital that we pass on the history of this church and how it came about. We didn't pop out of 1844 complete with clarity and doctrine. It is sorely lacking and it can lead to disillusionment with some.

  2. It is the Biblical duty of every generation of Christians to see to it that the next generation hears about the mighty acts of God. God does not drop a new Bible from heaven on every generation. He intends that the older generation will teach the newer generation to read and think and trust and obey and rejoice. It's true that God draws near personally to every new generation of believers, but he does so through the Biblical truth that they learn from the preceding generations. The Spirit comes down vertically (you might say) where the truth of God is imparted horizontally.

    But there is another reason that Psalm 145:4 is so relevant to our theme this morning. Not only does it speak of the imparting of truth from one generation to another, it speaks of a certain kind of imparting. It is an imparting with exultation and for exultation. Notice the words. It does not say, "One generation shall merely teach Your works to another." It says, "One generation shall praise Your works to another." Praise is exultation in God. The education of the next generation must not only aim at exultation, it must involve exultation.

    Teachers and parents who do not exult over God in their teaching will not bring about exultation in God. Dry, unemotional, indifferent teaching about God - whether at home or at church - is a half-truth, at best. It says one thing about God and portrays another thing. It is inconsistent. It says that God is great, but teaches as if God is not great.

    Psalm 145:4 shows us another way: "One generation shall praise Your works to another." Let praises carry the truth to the next generation, because the aim of truth is praise. The aim of education is exultation. So let education model exultation in the way it is done.

  3. As in the passage in Judg. 2:7-13, as long as Joshua and the elderly men lived, they witnessed the all truth to the generations, but once they were gone it seems no one was interested in seeking the truths that were taught before. so comes a generation that doesn't know anything about their deliverance from Egypt and the result was loss of the faith and they embraced the worship of the Baals.
    The church and specifically parents must work towards retaining the truth as it was from the beginning.

  4. I agree with Maurice & Josiah and I would like to add we need to share the "true Why".
    When we 'fall in love' with someone, do we really know why?
    Is it because they are good looking, or rich, or intelligent, or kind, or funny or powerful or is it chemistry, do they inspire me to something greater? Why am I attracted to this one person above all others, so much so that I want to spend the rest of my life with them?
    This is what we need to pass on to the next generation - the reason "why" Jesus is the most important being in my life and my desire is to be like Him in every thought and action.

  5. Per today's last question (in purple), it's nice to want our children to have those nice "powerful conversion experiences", but!---it may be the very thing that removes them from the incremental experiences that would have brought them to faith in this life, but was So "powerful" in itself-as an experience-that it guarranteed them an eternity of uncertainty, and everlasting darkness forever and always.

    So I dunno.
    Gotta watch our prayers eh?


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