Charles Stanley - Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation
The title of this message is "Touching the Hearts of the Next Generation". We have a divine obligation to teach our children the truth of God's Word so that they'll be equipped to face life and understand that they are children of God, He has a will for their life, a plan for their life, and it's the parents' responsibility to introduce them to the Lord. And every following generation has the same responsibility. We have a responsibility to teach our sons and daughters. Our sons and daughters have the responsibility to teach their sons and daughters. And they have the responsibility to teach their sons and daughters. And no place in the Bible does it say we can have a generation gap when it comes to teaching the Word of God.
So, I want you to turn, if you will, to the seventy-eighth Psalm, and I want us to look at this admonition concerning just exactly what we're talking about. Psalm seventy-eight. And sometimes people will say, "Well," right in the middle of your sermon, you'll say, "Now listen, where'd you get that from"? Right here. "Listen, O my people, to my instruction," that's the way it goes, "Listen, O my people, to my instruction, incline your ears to the words of my mouth". That is, listen carefully. What he's about to say is very, very important. "I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us".
Listen to this, "We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For he established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, stubborn and rebellious". That is a clear command. And remember this, when the writer of this Psalm was writing this, remember they didn't have a Bible like you and I have. And so, telling each other, sharing with each other is the way God used them to spread the Word.
Moses gave us an awesome amount of information inspired by Almighty God when you look at Genesis through Deuteronomy. And remember this, they were to tell their children, and the children were to tell their children, and it was to be handed down. Remember how it was handed down. They didn't give them a Bible to hand down to. What did they do? They simply told them. And they were very clear about it, and had to be very, very accurate about what they said. So, what they had was hand-me-downs of what God had said to them. And somebody says, "Well, they could have made lot of mistakes". They could have, but remember who was doing the guiding: Almighty God. God knew thousands of years ago that you and I would be here, and that we would need to know the truth and what He has for us.
And so, what do we have? We have this awesome, incredible, eternal book called the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and in it is all the instruction you and I need about anything and everything in life. No matter where you came from in life, no matter what you've been taught, the truth is found in the two covers of what we call the Holy Bible, the Word of God. And the reason the emphasis is such it is, is because they didn't have that. Parents were to tell their children, to instruct them and to guide them. And those children were to... they knew that. They knew that if the truth was to be shared, that's the way it had to be.
So, when we talk about the command to touch the hearts of the next generation, what I'm simply saying is this: to teach by instruction and example, the truth of God's Word that results in a desire to walk obediently before God in the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what we're talking about. So you need to write that down if you're not sure. Teach by instruction and example. And, watch this, you're going to teach by example whether you teach by instruction or not. It's going to happen. The truths of God's Word that results in a desire to walk obediently before God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and that's going to happen only when there is consistency between what you say and what you do. And so, we're to teach the next generation the Word of God.
In the Old Testament days, those early days, their personal testimony was all about who God was, and what He'd done in their life. Imagine being one of those who grew up in Egypt and having experienced freedom from Egyptian bondage and the death angel passing through your community that night and the awesome, horrible sound of death all over Egypt. Imagine the kind of testimony they had. And then coming to the Red Sea and watching God perform this awesome miracle of bringing them through, and then getting down to Sinai and Moses going up to the top of the mountain and coming back with these Ten Commandments and then instructing them, these are the laws by which we are to live. They were taught it and they were to live it out.
So, what they did in those days, Moses, as he wrote, as he reminded them of what God had done, he said, "You're to tell it. You're to teach it to your children. And not only to teach them, but you are to obey the Word of God and be an example as what you have seen and what you have heard". And there's not to be any generation gap; that is, there doesn't come a time from God's perspective when we say, "Well, you know, I'm not a very good teacher. I'm going to let the professors teach my children. I'm going to," no, you're not. If you do, it will be a total disaster. We are responsible to our children, for our children under a divine command of Almighty God. It doesn't mean that you're to start and give them an outline of the Word of God and try to explain everything. But if you've been saved by the grace of God, you know what salvation's about.
And as you have read the Word of God and God's worked in your life and you have watched God do some awesome things in your life. Everybody in here and everybody who's listening, multitudes of people out there, you have a testimony of how God saved you, how He's kept you, how He's provided for you, how He's lifted you up, He's kept you safe. You've been through all kind of difficulty, hardship, pain, and sorrows in life; and yet, there you stand; absolutely, eternally secure in the grace of God. You have a message. You have a testimony. Based on the truth of God's Word, you have a story to tell. And the Scripture says you're obligated by divine obligation to tell it to your children, to teach it to your children. And there's not a single person today who has been saved by the grace of God who doesn't know enough to pass on to your children the truth, so absolutely essential because we're living in a time when the civilization of which you and I are a part is full of error, full of dangers, and full of things that would trip them up and destroy their life.
Things that God has given us as inventions and whatever it might be, I think about television and iPhones and all the rest that can be used for awesome things to get the gospel out. But oftentimes, look how we choose. We have many ways to teach, but as parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, we have an obligation to teach our children, first by our own life, and then by what we've learned. And so, Moses said over and over again, "You're to teach them to your children diligently, not casually, diligently".
So, I'll ask you a question. When's the last time you sat down with your sons and daughters and said, "Let me ask you where you are in your Christian life. What do you really believe"? We think that if we just grow up children and they go to school, they'll hear the truth, and if they go to Sunday School, and on and on we go. And we've raised up a whole generation of young people who do not know God, nor do they know the Word of God, nor do they have any interest in the things of God. That does not mean it's true of everybody. There are many godly young people out there who have the courage to share their testimony. But overall, we have a generation, because we as adults have created a society that is leaning toward totally being anti-God, anti-Scripture, anti-things that are holy. They don't want to hear about it. They're not going to teach it. And as time goes on, they allow less and less of spiritual things.
And the Bible says we have a responsibility to teach our children, to train them so that wherever they go to school, they'll be able to distinguish between right and wrong. Unless God's people stand up for what is right and courageously say, "I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and I want my children to understand that, and my grandchildren to understand that," we will be covered and drowned in secularism and unbelief in the very things that have made us who we are. And that isn't something that might happen, it's already happening. It's already happening. But I'd ask you this as a grandparent, or even as a parent: when's the last time you sat down with any of your children and said, "Tell me what you're learning in school". "Ah, Mom, Dad, you wouldn't understand". "Yes, I would understand. Yes, I'd understand. Tell me, tell me, do they ever talk about God"? "Oh, they don't mention God because it doesn't fit the subject".
Let me ask you, what subject is there that doesn't have any place for God? That is, everything that is true comes from Holy God. Things that are erroneous and unbiblical do not come from Him. And so, whatever the subject may be, God is the source of everything; not error, but truth. It is your responsibility as a parent to teach them what you know about the Word of God. You don't have to sit down with some theological treatise, just start with Genesis one, one. "Son, what does that mean? 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.' What does that mean"? First of all, there is a God. Secondly, He's the Creator of all things. He's the source of all things. Now we go from there. Where does Jesus fit in, in all of that? And you tell that story. You cannot neglect and leave it to someone else.
We live in a society that's becoming more and more absolutely disinterested in the things of the Spirit of God. And so, when I look at the Scripture, I think, "Well, is there any place in the Bible that says, 'Well, this generation doesn't have to do that.'" No, it's not true. Sometimes you can call it a testimony. You say, "Well, I want to give a testimony of what Jesus has done for me". Let me ask you a question. If I asked you if you love your children, everybody in here and out there would say, "Sure I do". Well, how much do you love them? Well, you say, "Well, I love them enough to take care of them, and I buy them clothes and feed them and give them this and give them a car and go to school and all these things". Do you love them enough in the right way; true, genuine love; to deal with them in the area of their life that will affect every single solitary thing they do, and that is about spiritual things? Do you love them enough?
Well, you say, "Well, I don't think I know it well enough". Well, if you've been saved, there are several things you know. You know there is a God. You know that He created all things. You know that He has a Son, Jesus Christ. You know that He came into the world for the primary purpose of dying on the cross and shedding His blood for your sins and mine so that we could be forgiven of our sins. It isn't good works on our part. It's the fact that He died, was crucified; died, and that He rose from the dead. He ascended to the Father. He's seated at the Father's right hand. And He has sent the Holy Spirit to live within us to equip us to do anything and everything we need to do in life. You do know that. That's a lot you know.
Listen, you know enough to get anybody saved, which means you know enough to keep them from destroying their life. You might be surprised how much you know. But have you taken the time to share what you know with the most precious, should be the most precious people in your life: your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren. And the Scripture is very clear. We have a divine obligation to share the truth of God's Word with our children, our grandchildren. He said, "Fathers and mothers, pass it on to your children. And you teach them how to pass it on to their children. And you teach them how to pass it on to their children". It is a line of testimony, of witness. It is a line of truth that should not be broken.
So, I'd ask you again: how many parents today who go to church, listen to sermons, or watch the television; who take the time to question their children about what they believe; about how you're living now. You buy them an automobile, you pay for their education, watch this, you have the right and the authority to find out what they believe and how they're living because they're your children, and you have a divine obligation to oversee their life, to provide for them, but also have a report. They get a report card, but you want a report of their heart. You want a report of how they're living. Because the way they're living now is the way they're going to live.
And so, the Scripture is very, very clear. We have a divine obligation to train up our children in the way they should go, that when they're older, they will not depart from it. You can't just bring them in the world and say, "Okay, I'm going to trust the schools and trust this and trust that". No, we have a responsibility to find out what they're being taught and how they're living and what they're watching and how they're using their iPhones or whatever. We live in a society, they have all the means necessary for self-destruction, but all the means, also, to spread the truth of the gospel. And I believe that parents, by example, what is your emphasis in your home? What have you said to your children that make your children want to teach their children how to live a godly life? "Tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done".
We have a divine obligation to tell it like it is, and to tell and to share the truth of God's Word. You say, "Well, I don't know that I'll understand all that". Neither did I. But you know what? There is the promise of God of the Holy Spirit who lives within the heart of every single person who is saved, willing to speak to the unbeliever about your sins and willing to show you how to be forgiven of your sins. But now that you've become a believer, He will show you what to read and where to read. And you know, when I grew up, when I was going through something and I didn't know what to do, and I'd just flip through the Bible.
It's amazing how many times God would bring me right to the verse. It's as if God said, "Charles, here's what I'm saying to you". You don't have to have that happen but a few times, and what happens? It becomes a habit in your life. You want to read the Word of God, you want to know what He's saying. You have a decision to make, a very important decision. And I can tell you, the Word of God will answer your question no matter what, your personal life, the things that you have to deal with. And I think about, I started out with not knowing anything about the Word of God. But somehow, He would lead me to a verse that He knew how ignorant I was, but He would show me some verse of Scripture.
And I can go through a couple of old Bibles I have especially and see the dates that are down by them, and I look at it and think about, well, what happened? Sometimes I'll put a word or two, because it was God's way of showing me in my ignorance of not knowing where to read, what to read. And you see over and over and over is a word of encouragement. Listen to me carefully, if you will open the Word of God and ask Him to speak to your heart, He loves you enough to give you clear direction about anything that you need to know about. That's who He is. That is the truth for us, our children, our grandchildren, and on we go. We have a divine obligation to teach them, and that's a simple way to start.
And I look back over the years and realize, where did I learn the most? In seminary? No. I learned the most going through difficulty, hardship, pain, trouble, loss, you name it, turning to the Word of God, listening to what He had to say, watch Him bring me through that over and over and over again and do what? Solidify my faith. That no matter what, all these years of God answering prayer. At times, I doubted Him. I didn't know what to do. "God, what do I do next"? I've never faced anything that I couldn't come to the Word of God and find a word of encouragement, somehow a word of direction for the Word of God.
Now, I would be foolish and I would be extremely selfish, and to the point of being ungodly, if I didn't share with other people what He's taught me. There's a world of people around you who are hungry, thirsty, tired, weary, discouraged, want to give up, ready to give up who desperately need to hear what Almighty God is doing in your life. You need to tell them. You can't give me a single reason not to tell them, starting with your family, the people who are your friends, the people you work with, people who are strangers, whom God brings into your life, who are really searching for something, seeking something. We're under divine obligation, first with our children, our grandchildren, and all those that God places in our path to share the truth of the Word of God in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen?
Well, you may be one of those persons, maybe you've listened to all kind of broadcasts, all kind of things. Maybe you visited church at times, but the truth is, you don't know exactly what to do. Let me tell you how to start. You start the same way all of us start, and that is to acknowledge to Holy God that you have sinned against Him, that you're living in sin, you're living in disobedience. And you said, "Like what"? Just read the Ten Commandments and you'll come up with your problem, at some point. Asking Him to forgive you, not because you deserve it, you won't ever deserve it. Asking Him to forgive you because He promised to forgive you if you would confess your... watch this word, confess. "If you confess your sins, He's faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness". Confession isn't just telling somebody. Confession is opening your heart, surrendering your heart to God, and acknowledging by repent.
Listen, true confession is followed by genuine repentance. I'm willing for God to turn me around, to lead me in another direction, asking Him to forgive you of your sins, forgiving you, not on the basis that you'll do better and that you're worthy, forgiving you on the basis that He loved you enough to send Jesus, His only Begotten Son, into the world to show us the truth, to bring about change of life, went to the cross, shed His blood on the cross, paid our sin debt in full, and makes it possible for us to come straight to God to ask Him as a result of what Jesus has done: to forgive us of our sins and give us a new start in life. No matter who you are and where you are, He will forgive you of your sin. He will change your life. He will give you a sense of eternal security, forever a child of God, if you're willing to surrender your life to Him. And that's my prayer for you. Whatever it takes, get right with God while you have the opportunity.
Father, we thank You for the truth of Your Word. Lord God, we're not asking You to save us because we deserve anything, we're asking for mercy. I pray that the Holy Spirit will sink this truth so deep, and yet keep it on the surface, that we think about it, and then we apply it to our hearts and pray with all of our heart You'll help us and enable us to make a difference in this generation in which we live, and we ask this in Jesus's name, amen.