Practical Application of the Word of God
Another saint in the ekklesia finished his race early yesterday morning. Perhaps several saints finished their race yesterday as well, but the saint I’m referring to is one I knew personally.
He and my dad were good friends and spent many hours together – I didn’t know this until a couple of years ago when he told me – talking about livestock and the deep things of God.
Our families have been intertwined as long as I can remember and one of his sons and his family in particular and I have grown to be close family – spiritually and physically – as adults.
We are 2nd-generation members of the ekklesia. While we grew up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, being taught day-in-and-day-out the word of God and having living examples of what concretized christianity looks like in practice right in front of us, our parents did not. Our parents were, instead, the 1st generation of the modern line of the ekklesia.
Death should always make us stop and think and take stock of our own lives. Whenever someone I know dies, many tracks of thought take off in my own mind.
But one track usually predominates.
As I watch this 1st generation aging and dying off rapidly now (both of my parents have died in the faith), I realize that we as their children, the 2nd generation, are left to carry the mantle of faithfulness to God and Jesus Christ and to have Matthew 6:33 as the mission statement we live by continually.
God’s word is full of descriptions of 2nd generations. As our 1st-generation parents die, I think it is incumbent upon us 2nd-generation children to deeply consider the 2nd-generation examples we see in God’s word and learn from them.
2nd generations, in general, in God’s word are characterized by two states when the 1st generation dies.
The first state is that they gradually drift away, mainly through compromise and substituting human commandments for God’s commandments, from spiritual integrity and the word of God.
The second state is immediate and complete apostasy as though the word of God never existed.
As the 2nd generation of the ekklesia, we need to be aware that both of these states are more likely for us than not and we need to be diligent to not fall into either of them, despite the fact that most of our peers will and that may mean we have to make a stand to obey God wholeheartedly essentially alone.
Already in the modern line of the ekklesia, we see the majority of the older members of the 2nd-generation in one or the other of these states. They have either substituted human ideas and writing for the word of God leading to compromise and dilution in their obedience to God (first state) or they have abandoned the word of God altogether (second state).
As I mourn the loss of a dear friend who was in my immediate group of father figures and spiritually-mature examples, my thoughts couldn’t help but think of one of the 2nd-generation examples in God’s word that I remember vividly each time there is another death in the 1st generation.
In Judges 2:7, we read (italics are mine), “So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”
So far, so good.
Let’s go to Judges 2:10 (italics are mine): “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
Now let’s look at Judges 2:11-13: “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.”
It’s important and essential to really get and understand that God doesn’t say it was Moses, Joshua, or the other 1st-generationers out of the wilderness who were forgotten and forsaken, but instead God Himself.
Sadly, while some of the older 2nd generation seem to worship “important” people (the majority of whom had none of the spiritual caliber or integrity of Moses and Joshua – the “unimportant” people I know come much closer to those standards), they have drifted into idolatry by equating these mere mortals with God and, in many cases, have substituted them for God.
When sermons are filled with peoples’ names more than God’s name (the Pharisees did this with Moses and yet rejected Jesus Christ who was the I AM of the Old Testament), it should raise red flags and be warning signs to you and me of the dangers that seem to be inherent in 2nd generations.
Unfortunately, it seems that many in the 2nd generation of the ekklesia are either on or beginning to drift toward this trajectory. The drifters don’t even seem to be aware of their drift, while those who are well-traveled on this path don’t seem to care.
Two of the themes of the book of Deuteronomy should be uppermost in our minds at all times.
One theme is “be careful,” which encompasses spiritual consciousness and awareness at all times and in every part of our lives, including thoughts, motives, attitudes, words, and actions.
Another theme is “remember.” Part of remembering is to remember the examples of our parents as they followed God and Jesus Christ. But remembering also, and more importantly, refers to God’s word.
Here’s the rub. Remembering something means we’ve already learned it and know it and are bringing it back to the forefront of our minds. But we can’t remember something we haven’t learned and we don’t know, and that includes God’s word.
Studying God’s word and praying and meditating about it to learn how to apply it must be our priority every day. We can’t know what compromise or apostasy looks like and reject it and live God’s way instead if we don’t know what truth is.
I urge each of us to go back and carefully look at all the 2nd generation examples in God’s word, prayerfully asking God to help us not to follow in the majority of their examples and asking the same things of Him that David did in Psalm 119.
Our parents are expecting to see us in the resurrection, having successfully run our spiritual races.
What we, the 2nd generation, do or don’t do spiritually for the rest of our lives will determine whether we will see them as we are changed by Jesus Christ (if we’re still alive) or we rise from our graves, by Christ’s command, together.
As for me – and I hope and pray for you as well – I must be there!