How Faith Dies in a Generation (and how to avoid that)

So often a generation of Christians weakly passes on the faith to the next.

In Joshua 2:10-11 we see one such generation “knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” The saving acts of God were no longer central to them. They had not learned to rejoice in what God had done.

As a result of forgetting the gospel, they “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals” (2:11). What does God say is evil? Turning to love and serve idols, mini-gods, non-gods.

The word “Baal” is the Canaanite word for “Lord.” This new generation forgot about the Lord and instead served other gods.

It is striking that this happens within a generation. Their parents, though flawed and half-hearted, had faith. They served the Lord. Their children “served the mini-lords.” Who is responsible?

Did the first generation fail to parent properly? Or did the second generation just harden their hearts. Mistakes in one generation are often magnified in the next, nominal one. Commitment is replaced by complacency and then by compromise.

So what needs to be done to pass on faith on to the next generation?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25 tells us what needs to be done.

  1. We ourselves must love God whole-heartedly. Vs. 6, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” That means we are not hypocritical or inconsistent in our behaviors.
  2. We apply the gospel practically. Vs. 7 refers to routine, daily life. Instruction in God’s truth is not the same as a lecture. Rather we “impress” truths about God by showing how God relates to daily life.
  3. Vs. 20-25 tells us that we are to link the truths of the faith to God’s actions in our living. We are to give personal testimony to the difference God made to us. We are not to speak of beliefs and behavior but of our personal experience with God. We are to be open about our own struggles to grow. We are to be transparent about how repentance works in our lives.

We must be consistent in behavior, wise about reality, and warmly personal in our faith.

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