Charles Stanley - How to Pass on Our Faith
People are very, very careful and oftentimes go to a great deal of expense in order to be sure that they leave their wealth or the things that they treasure and value to their children, their family, their friends, great expense oftentimes. And often the Christian will fall into the same kind of trap, and that is to make very sure that their wealth, their material possessions that they pass on to their children, their grandchildren, or their friends, all of it's well taken care of, no question whatsoever. The fallacy of all of that is this: that the most valuable thing you and I own as believers, the most valuable things we possess are not those things that we can touch with our hands. It is not wealth and stocks and bonds and property and all the rest. The most valuable thing we have to pass on is our faith.
Now, someone says, "Well, but now wait a minute. You can't pass on your faith. That is a personal relationship that you have with God. And how can you pass on your faith"? Well, you can pass it on. And that's what I want to talk about in this message, and that is "How to Pass on Our Faith". Our children, our grandchildren, or even those about us. And so I want you to turn, if you will, to Second Timothy, and the first chapter of Second Timothy, Paul is writing to young Timothy, who is pastoring a church, going through some difficulty and hardship. And certainly he knew how to pass his faith on to young Timothy. And I want to turn, if you will, to that passage, and let's begin reading in verse three of Second Timothy chapter one. Paul said to him, "I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day".
Don't you know that was a comforting thing for young Timothy to realize that the apostle Paul was praying for him night and day? He says, "Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears," going through a difficult time, "so that I may be filled with joy". And then he says to him, "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity," or fear, "but of power and of love and of discipline".
Paul is writing from a prison, encouraging young Timothy, attempting to strengthen him in his faith. And it's interesting what he says to him. He says, "Now remember," he says, "I know the source of your faith". He says first of all, your grandmother Lois, she had strong faith. Then your mother, Eunice, she had strong faith. And now he says, I am sure it is in you as well. Where do you think Timothy got that kind of faith? Well, it was the influence of his grandmother. She passed it down to her daughter, and she passed it down to her son. And then of course, likewise, the Apostle Paul certainly loved Timothy and he said that he was his son in the ministry.
What do you think he was doing with his son in the ministry? Passing down to him, transferring to him, enabling him to be able to understand the truths that God had taught him. He was passing on his faith to young Timothy, knowing that probably before long he was going to lose his life. Now, here's the big question. The question is this: Do you have a faith that is worth passing on? Do you have a faith that will make a difference in someone else's life? Well, you say, "Well, what would that faith be like"? It's like this. That is, a faith worth passing on is a faith that is based on the truthfulness of the Word of God, God's eternal Word. Your faith is based on that.
Secondly, it is a confident conviction that the God of the Bible is who He says He is and He will do everything He says He will do. It is a faith that you have tested and tried in the circumstances of your life and have allowed God to prove Himself faithful to you. It is a faith, not that you've heard about or simply read about, but your faith is a faith that you've tested and tried and God has proven to be faithful over and over and over again. It is a faith that has this characteristic for sure. It is a faith that you not only can live by, but it is a faith that you are willing to die by.
That is, on those last hours of your life or last moments of your life, and oftentimes people know that they're going. The issue is: is the faith that I've lived by a faith that I can die by? Can I face the living God at the end of this life and know without any doubt, there is a certainty in my life, I am eternally secure in the living God whose Son died at Calvary in order that my sins may be forgiven and I can live in oneness with Him? Do you and I have that kind of faith? A faith worth living by that works. A faith worth dying by that I can trust my whole future into what God promises in His Word.
Well, I want to encourage you to jot down several things, and if you're a father, since you're the head of the home, head of the family, you certainly ought to jot these down. And Mom, you should jot them down also because I know that there are many parents, many families that have single parents. There's the father, no mother. There's the mother and no father. And so, I want to encourage you because, you see, if you've trusted Christ as your Savior, you should have something far more valuable to pass on to your children, your grandchildren than simply material things which oftentimes are spent rather quickly and foolishly.
Well, you say, "Well, how do we pass this on"? Well, here's the first way, you pass it in this way: by sharing, listen, by sharing with your children or your grandchildren those principles that you have learned in life. For example, the four basic principles that have governed my life all of these years, my grandfather passed on to me in one single week. Taking the time. Now, He could have said, you know, "I'm too busy to talk to this high school kid. I don't have time for that". But for one solid week, he sat and listened and talked and shared.
What was He doing? He was sharing with me the things that God had done in His life. He was passing on to me, without even realizing, principles by which he had lived, things that he had learned in the difficulties and the hardships of life. When I walked away on my way home, I recognized God had done something in my own life. That is, my own faith had suddenly catapulted. It became strong immediately because I began to think, "Well, God, if You will do that with my grandfather, what will You do in my own life"? And so, as I look back over the years, He gave me four basic principles that absolutely governed my life all of these years.
What did he do? He passed on to me, listen, he didn't get out the Bible and try to prove anything to me. He didn't give me a whole bunch of scriptures. He passed on, listen, he passed on critical situations and circumstances in his life in which God was faithful to come through every single solitary time, written in my mind, etched in my soul, burned in my heart. God loves my granddad enough to do it for him. Will He do it for me? Yes, He will! Somehow I knew He would. He passed on to me his faith. Now, this is why I say to you write down the points of the message. Listen, keep a diary. That is, record what God is doing in your life because you have something to pass on to your children and your grandchildren that would be far more valuable than any kind of material gain, no matter what it is.
Now, kids, they want lots of money or this and that and the other and so forth, and oftentimes that's the worst thing you can pass on to them. But your faith, that is, these are the principles that God has taught me. What are you doing? You're passing it on to them. And if you don't think they'll be interested when you say, "Well, let me tell you about a difficult time I was going through," or, "Here was a great need in my life. I had no answer. I didn't know what to do. I got on my face before God, I cried out to God, and let me show you how God answered this," I'm here to tell you, God will etch that into their minds because they're gonna find situations and circumstances and difficulties and hardships and troubles and trials and temptations and tribulations.
And you know what they need? They don't need more money. They don't need a bigger car and a bigger house and more clothes. They need, listen, they need an unwavering, unshakable faith that has been tested and tried by father or their mother, tested and tried and they can say, "Here's what I know God will do in your life. Here's what He's done in my life". That's the kind of faith this generation of children need to hear, and they're hearing almost none of it whatsoever. The second way we pass on our faith is this: we pass it on by the lifestyle that we live. And so we either pass on doubt, frustration, fear, unbelief, or we pass on our faith.
So how do we do that? It's just this simple. Every day, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, what are we doing? We're making decisions in front of our families, front of our children, or in front of other people, our friends, or neighbors, whoever. We're making decisions. Those decisions are expressions of faith or doubt, faith or doubt, fear or faith, doubt, whatever it might be. Because what happens? They see us facing situations and circumstances and they watch how we're gonna respond.
Now listen, you can tell your children anything you want to tell 'em, but I'm here to tell you, they are watching. They not only are listening, but they are looking for your response. You can tell them all you want to, "You need to trust God," but if you're not trusting God, it's not gonna work. You need to be honest, but if you're not honest, it's not gonna work. What they're gonna, listen, listen, they pick up far more by sight than by sound. They are watching our lifestyle. And let me tell you something, friend, if they see inconsistency in what we say, with what we do, here's what they do. Scratch it! Doesn't work. If it worked, my father, my mother would have done something else. Doesn't work.
And so, what this whole generation needs, they need living examples of men and women, godly men and women, fathers and mothers who have faith, who say, "I'm trusting God no matter what". And I think about the second person who probably influenced my life the most is my own mom. And I can remember how many times she and I would get down by the bed and pray. Wouldn't have anything, and would have some need, and I'd say, "Well," and being a kid, I was a little frightened about it and said, "Well, Mom, what are we gonna do"? Here's what she'd say, "We're gonna trust God. We're just gonna trust God".
And I, of course, I didn't have any idea exactly oftentimes what that meant or how that would happen. And listen, over and over and over and over again, I saw God meet need after need after need. And you know what my mom was doing down by the bed? She could have been too busy. She could have said, "Well, you know, go to bed, son. Cut the lights, get in the bed". My mom knelt by the bed and we talked about God. And she talked about trusting God, and every time something would come along we didn't know how to handle, she would talk about trusting God. You know what, in my ear still rings, "We're just gonna trust God. We're just gonna trust God. We're just gonna trust God".
You know what she was doing? She was passing on to me by her lifestyle, by her difficulty, by her hardship, her trials and the way she responded to them, she was passing on to me this message: you trust God no matter what. You trust God when you can't see your way clear. You trust God when things look impossible. You trust Him when it's hard. You trust Him when it's difficult. You trust Him when everything looks dark. You trust Him! I'm here to tell you it sank into my heart. She, by her lifestyle, said to me God is reliable. God is trustworthy. You can bet on Him in every circumstance, no matter what you face in life, you can trust Him.
Well, how do we pass it on? We pass it on, first of all, by passing on the principles that we've learned. We pass it on, likewise, as a result of our own lifestyle. But we also pass it on by our participation in their life and participation in other people's lives. That is, you see, when you and I are open and transparent and we say, "Well, let me tell you how God worked in my life". And one of the wonderful things to be able to do as a dad or a mother is to kneel down by the bedside at night with your children when they're small and say, for example, you know, I always read them different kinds of stories, but I loved to tell 'em what was going on in my life. Said, "Let me tell you what God did in my life".
You know what? Listen, if you want something to soak into your child's mind, the last thing you do before you cut the lights out and you tell 'em good night, you tell them something that God has done in your life. You explain to them how God has worked in your life. You know what happens? Gets into their mind all night during their sleep. The Spirit of God is doing what? He's just building that into their very thought patterns. And so what happens? If you will go to sleep, whatever you go to sleep with, the last thing you think about, I'm here to tell you the Spirit of God will take your conscious and your subconscious mind and He will work that into your being.
And listen, if you're thinking evil things, dirty things, nasty things, or holy things, it's true all the way. The Spirit, listen, the Spirit of God will use those good things. The devil will use those things that are not good. And so it's good to go to bed thinking about our Lord or talking about Him, and saying to your children, "Let me tell you what God is doing". And to do that, you've gotta be transparent and say, "You know what, let me tell you how I blew it. I really messed it up this time. I should have trusted God about this, but I didn't do it. And I've asked God to forgive me, and I hope you'll forgive me, but you know what? I just blew it"!
One thing a kid can't stand is a perfect father and a perfect mother who never makes a mistake and who are never wrong. You want to ruin your kids? You give them that kind of image and it's over. How do I know that? I know it for lots of reasons, but I can tell you one. Took a survey in our college department several years ago and asked them lots of questions, and one of the things, what was the thing that they most disliked about their parents? Top of the list: they are never wrong. We're all wrong about some things. We all have to be open and transparent. And you see, if I'm gonna pass on my faith, listen, if I'm gonna pass on my faith and it's gonna stick, I've gotta pass on my failures. Well, you know, it wasn't that God didn't do His thing. It's just that I didn't trust Him. I took the easy way.
You know what happens? You say, "Well, won't that undermine their faith"? No, it says: my dad's real. My dad's genuine. He's not perfect. He fails, so I'm sure it's gonna be times when I fail, but what does he do when he fails? He acknowledges it. He repents of it if it's something to repent of, and he gets up and keeps going and trusts God and God works it out when he puts his faith in God. What are you doing? You're still building faith in the life of that child. Well, it takes more than participation. When I think about what it takes, I think about a simple word that oftentimes we forget, and that's praise. To pass on my faith it's very important that when my children or my grandchildren, or when my friends, when we have talked about something that they're going through and they trust God and God comes through for them as He does and works it out, it's time to, listen, to thank God, but to also heap praise on them.
You trust Him. Praise God! You trust Him, look what God did in your life. You see, there's something awesomely motivating about praise, and especially in the life of a child. Rules, regulations, and legalism does not help build a child's faith. But what helps build a child's faith is praise. You see, it's a motivation. Well, you trusted Him and look what He did. You did a fantastic job! I knew He was gonna do it for you! God loves you! You know what happens? What are you doing? You're motivating that child to trust Him again. Because there are gonna be disappointments. There are gonna be things that they want to trust God for that's not the will of God. And so they're gonna come up and think, "Well, God didn't do it".
Well, let's see, did God answer your prayer? And, though you didn't get what you expected and you didn't win this contest and you didn't win the game and you prayed that you would, let's see what happened here. And then that's the time you have to get involved. And that's the time you praise them for their efforts and you laud them for their faith. And then you help them understand why God maybe allowed it to happen a different way. And you helped them to understand what Romans eight twenty-eight says, and that is, He's engineering all of our circumstances in a way that's for our good.
And so, it isn't a matter of saying to your kids, "Well, you just trust the Lord". No, it is a matter of helping them to interpret those times when they are naturally going to feel disappointed. Or God, now, why didn't You do this? And all of us have been there. Not just children, but all of us have been in those places we've had to say, "Well, now Lord, here's what I was trusting You for, what happened"? And I do believe this, that most of the time, God is certainly willing to explain and to help us understand why certain things happen and why they don't happen. Not always. Some things, He says, He's gonna reserve till the other side of life. But He's so willing to oftentimes tell us so much if we'll take the time to listen and ask why and search out the reason. God, what were you up to? What are you doing?
And most of the time we're gonna find out, "Well, Lord, here's what You did. You withheld that so You could give me something much better. Thank You, God, for not answering my prayer". Then your faith's growing. Passing on your faith. There's nothing to match that. So I want to ask you a question. What are you passing on to your children, to your grandchildren? What are you passing on to your friends? Doubt, fear, frustration, anxiety, or an unshakable faith in the living God in whom you have trusted your whole future, your whole eternal destiny. Well, when you begin to praise them and laud them for the good things that they do, what happens is, they just, God begins to give them more tests, and what happens? They begin to grow.
Well, let me give you one other thing. There are lots of things I could say but, if I'm gonna pass on my faith to someone, then I certainly must pray for them. What I will need to pray is this. I need to pray, "God, open their eyes to help them see the evidence of Your Hand in this". And then I want to pray, "God, send them enough needs, send them enough difficulty, send them enough hardship so that they will have to trust You", because how did all of us learn to trust God? Not because somebody told us something. We've all learned to trust God by what? By getting thrown into situations where He was all we had to go on. He's all we had left. Now, here's the one key I want you to think about. If you're listening, say "amen". If you're gonna pass on your faith to your children, you've got to be willing to back off and refuse to bail them out of the messes they get into.
Now, every father and every grandfather wants to say, "Oh, you sweet wonderful thing. Well, you know, old Dad'll fix this," no. You know what, let me tell you something. God doesn't fix the messes I get into until I get right with Him. Until I learn the lesson that He wants me to learn, until I turn to Him for whatever it might be. If you bail your children out when they make a mistake, you bail them out of the difficulties and the hardships because you don't want to see them hurt, you know what you're doing? You're cheating them out of the lesson. You know what, all of us have hurt, all of us face situations and circumstances we can't bail ourselves out of, nobody can get us out of. So what do we do? We learn to trust God. We hang in there, we trust Him no matter what. What happens? God rewards that.
Now, what we want to do is we want to come along, give them this and give them that and want to be sure, well, oh, we don't want you to hurt. We don't want you to have needs. And all of us are probably guilty to some degree to wanting to make it easier on our children. That's a natural, normal thing. But when it comes to training them up and training them to trust God, that's not the way to do it. You have to let 'em hurt. Have to let 'em cry, have to let 'em weep. And you see, now here's another issue. If you're listening to this one, say "amen".
Here's the decision you have to make. Is it more important that my son or my daughter or my children learn to trust God? Is that more important? Or is it more important that I have their acceptance? Their acceptance of me is not nearly as important as their learning to trust the living God. And I think about how many children get cheated. Listen, I think about children who grow up in homes where there's wealth on top of wealth on top of wealth. They've got the finest automobiles there are in life. They wear all the clothes with the patches on the back. And they go to the finest schools. They've got credit cards, they got everything. You know what, poor kids, poor kids, poor, poor, poor children. You know why? They don't have to trust God, they've got Dad. They don't have to be in need, they've got a credit card. They don't have to worry and fret about things because somebody'll bail 'em out. And parents want to bail 'em out because they don't want to be embarrassed. Poor kids.
You know who the richest kids are? The richest kids are those, the richest people are those who don't have it all. They don't have it all together, in fact, they don't have a lot of things in life. But here's what they do have. They have an unwavering, unshakable trust in the living God. And they walk through difficulties and hardships and burdens and trials in life. And God provides their needs one at a time. He strengthens them, deepens their faith, builds the relationship, builds intimacy with Him. Those are the fortunate, most blessed people.
Listen, the truth is those of us who've learned to trust Him, we are the rich people. We are the wealthy people. We might not have much money in the bank, but you know where we've got it? We've got it right here. This is what you can live and die by. You can't live and die by money. You could, listen, when a person dies, how many of you ever seen a casket loaded with hundred dollar bills? There's no stocks, no bonds, no diamond rings and no precious jewels in there at all. You know what's in there? Nothing but dust that's still together. Can't take it with you, brother. Then what do you do? Here's what you do. You pass it on!
So when you're gone, what happens? It keeps passing on and passing on and passing on and passing on and passing on. And you think about children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren whose faith has been impacted because you learned to trust the living God. Don't cheat your children by giving them everything. Hurt, pain, suffering, sickness, sorrow, heartache, tribulation, trials, temptations, yes! Because that's what builds godly strong faith. You can pass it on if you have it.
Where does it begin? Here's where it begins. It begins by placing your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, acknowledging your failure and your separation from Him because of your sin, believing that when Jesus went to the cross, He died and paid your sin-debt in full. And saying to Him, "I am confessing my sin to You. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin on the basis, not of how good I'll be, but on the basis of the death of your Son, I receive You as my personal Savior and accept it to be done".
That's the beginning of your faith. Then what happens? God builds upon that and you have something awesome to give. Now, I'll ask you one last question. Do you have a faith that's worth giving away? Listen to this. Can your children or your grandchildren or your friends around you look at you and say, "You know, it works. I see it working in her life. I see it working in his life. That's what I want, that's the kind of faith I want because I've seen it work". That's what God wants of all of us. He wants a life, a life of faith that others can look at and say, "God, it works, and that's what I want".