A thought to Ponder by D.A Carson
"The first generation has the gospel
The second generation assumes the gospel
The third generation LOSES the gospel"
I am a great grand mother and I had to stop and think, am I continuing to pass the gospel on to the generations, in my family and to other young people ?
Today, like never before, this is a serious question. I was raised by a 'watered down gospel'. There was no repentance, blood of Jesus, death or resurrection. To be a Christian meant that you joined a church and tried to be like Jesus. I was the 112th member of my parent's church and that was a 'big deal'. I heard many sermons about how good Jesus was. He loved everyone and when we died we ALL went to heaven. When I was 31, I heard the gospel for the first time and I was shocked. I never knew that I was a sinner and that Jesus had died for my sins and was raised for my justification. When that revelation hit me, I knew that there was NO way I was going to Heaven and that I had been deceived ( not intentionally) growing up. I never heard the REAL gospel and it was obvious that that I needed to start over and by the grace of God through faith, I was born again and justified before God in the blood of Jesus, 'just-as-if-' I had never sinned. It was a glorious, liberating revelation to my soul.
Both my husband and I were first generation Christians in our families Fortunately, when we shared our new found faith with our parents, they also received the gospel and became believers. It was encouraging to have their support as we struggled to grow in Christ and start over to believe the Lord.
By the time the girls were teenagers, all three had accepted the gospel for themselves. But still there was something missing that we were NOT passing on to their generation. They knew that Jesus died,was buried and raised to newness of life, but I have to admit we fell short on helping them to know how to walk in the Spirit to overcome their sin nature. We didn't know how to either! It was a struggle to hold on to our faith.
Our faith was turning into legalism, a striving to perform to be righteous and condemned if we didn't pray or read our bibles every day. What was missing? We had to know. We knew all the formulas, doctrines and knowledge about Jesus Christ. We wanted to learn more, but it was very difficult. Where was the LIFE and the JOY of the LORD? Where was a relationship with the living God? What were we really passing on to our girls, grandchildren and great grand children? Was it the TRUE GOSPEL? Was it the WHOLE gospel?
(Hebrew 12:2) was our word of hope:' Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith'. We knew than that that the good work He had started, He ALONE would finish. He began to show us that our struggling was trying to prefect our flesh, (old Adam). We were falling into legalism. It was a death trap! We strove so hard to prefect the flesh by keeping the law and thought we were good Christians. We always felt that we were failures. We never prayed right, read our bible enough or prayed properly. Condemnation was a constant companion in so many areas of our lives and marriage. If this was Christianity, who needed it!
To make a long story short, all I have to say is THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES and to our walk with God. Without accepting the Holy Spirit as our teacher, interrupter and resurrection life in us, we are dry, dull, and struggling. The Devil knows where the power lies and he will do everything to deceive us from acknowledging our NEED for the the Holy Spirit.
The early church knew this and acknowledged the PERSON of the HOLY SPIRIT. He was the promise sent to replace Jesus on earth and to lead the church into ALL truth. (John 14 and 16) After we read Peter's sermon at Pentecost,(Acts 2:14) we couldn't help but wonder, if we had REALLY heard the whole gospel and really repented?
The early Christian responded to the gospel quite differently than we did. "Now when the they heard this they were CUT to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ' Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, REPENT,and BE BAPTIZED everyone of you IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the FORGIVENESS of sins, and you will receive THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. For the promise, ( Holy Spirit) is for YOU and your CHILDREN and for all who are far off:( the future generations) whom the Lord our God calls to Himself. " Acts 2:38-39
When we were born again the Holy Spirit wasn't taught to us as someone whom we needed to know. In fact He wasn't mentioned. But it became obvious to us, that if we were going to pass our faith to our children and future generations, it had to be through the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We are so grateful today, for the Holy Spirit as He continues to interpret Scripture, convicting us of our righteousness in Christ Jesus, and that there is NO CONDEMNATION in Christ Jesus and that our sin in Adam has COMPLETELY and totally been forgiven.We are new creations in Christ and all things have become new. NOW THIS GOSPEL OF GRACE WE CAN PASS ON TO THE NEXT GENERATIONS and encourage them that Jesus is alive and His love for them will never change. As it was for the early church nothing has changed , REPENT, BE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST AND RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT. We need the Holy Spirit who opens up the WHOLE gospel to us, as He releases God's love, forgiveness and grace to the next generation.