Last week we looked at the theme ‘Passing on the Baton’ in the family service, and this Sunday evening, we continued the theme by looking at the question ‘What are we passing on?’ In Psalm 78, Asaph writes about hearing truths from his ancestors and goes on to say, ’We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.’ (Ps 78:4 TNIV) We have a duty to pass on all we know of God to the next generation ‘so that they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.’ (Ps 78:7 TNIV) Faith is not just about knowing interesting facts about God which have no relevance to how we live. Faith comes alive when we take the facts and apply them to our own individual lives and when we actually decide to live by these facts.
We looked at three things that we need to be passing on to others:
Absolute truth is not fashionable these days. Marcus Aurelius, a Roman philosopher, said ‘Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.’ But as Gandhi pointed out, ‘An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.’ The Bible teaches revelation about God that it claims is absolute truth. Jesus Himself said ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6 TNIV) and ‘Your Word is truth’ (John 17:17 TNIV) If we are to pass on truth, therefore, we need to study the Bible and find out what it teaches about God, about people, about the devil, about salvation, about how to live. It’s the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Ps 119: 105 TNIV). We need to develop a love and respect for this Word that reflects the psalmist’s: ‘Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long.’ (Ps 119:97 TNIV), ‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’ (Ps 119:103 TNIV), ‘How I long for your precepts!’ (Ps 119:40 TNIV)
Sometimes we may find the Bible difficult to understand or dry or boring. It’s good to develop a reading plan (using Bible study notes can be helpful here) and to seek to understand the Bible fully. God’s truth is flexible enough to be relevant to every age and has principles for every time, yet it is also rigid enough to remain true to itself when everything else is changing. God’s Word is eternal (Ps 119:89 TNIV). His truths are eternal, but we have to be careful as we study God’s word to do so with integrity and to be careful not to strain at gnats and swallow camels (Matt 23:24 TNIV).
We can be orthodox in our beliefs and still fail to pass on truth to other people because our lives don’t seem to match up to our words. We can be hypocrites, like the Pharisees. Their beliefs were perfectly orthodox and yet they were condemned in the strongest possible terms by Jesus. Orthodoxy without passion quickly becomes pharisaical. The Pharisees allowed outward rules to replace relationship. They followed the letter of the law without understanding the spirit of the law. If we are going to pass on truth properly, we have to be people who are full of love and passion for God. There has to be a holy fire within us which burns. People can very easily spot a fake. British people don’t find it easy to talk about passion, especially passion for God, but God’s Word clearly talks about this (see Song of Songs and Hosea). Truth without love can be cold and forbidding; passion without truth can be mere emotion. We need both truth and passion.
Truth and passion combine to give us a personal experience of God. We need too to experience His miraculous power. The Israelites constantly sang of their miraculous deliverance from Egypt (see Ex 15:1, Deut 11:1-7 TNIV). We need to know the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives (see Acts 1:8 TNIV, Acts 2:43 TNIV, Acts 14:3 TNIV). We need to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives because it is that power which will enable us to be witnesses (Acts 1:8 TNIV) and because we need God to confirm His word and His presence to validate what we say about Him.
So… what are we passing on?!
We pass on the truth of God’s Word which shows us all we need for life and which definitely shapes our understanding of who God is and what He is like. We do so with passion, not with sterile orthodoxy, but with love and fire in our hearts. And we do so in the power of the Holy Spirit, experiencing God not only in history but in our everyday lives. We have a testimony to share: ’Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!’ (Ps 66:5 TNIV) “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” (Is 25:1 TNIV)