Robert Jeffress - A Legacy of Faith - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. As a Christian parent, you're responsible for more than just your child's physical and emotional well-being, you're responsible for your child's spiritual development. If parents don't teach and model biblical principles in the home, where else can we expect children to learn them? Well, today I'm going to explain how you can teach your children and grandchildren, to love and obey Jesus Christ. My message is titled, "A Legacy of Faith", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
You may find this hard to accept, but it nevertheless is true. The greatest impact you will ever have on this world, will not occur while you are alive, but it's going to be after you die. Tim LaHaye, the late Tim LaHaye in his book you and your family, illustrates that truth by printing the family trees of two men who lived in the 18th century. One man was Jonathan Edwards, the great puritan preacher who shook new England for the Lord Jesus Christ. The other man was a man named Max Jukes, who was a contemporary of Jonathan Edwards. He was a Godless man who married a Godless woman. And just listened to what happened to his descendants. Of Max Jukes 1026 descendants, 300 died prematurely, 100 were sent to prison, 190 were prostitutes, and 100 were known drunks. Compare that to the descendants of Jonathan Edwards. Of his 729 descendants, 300 were preachers, 65 were college professors, 13 were authors, three were congressmen, and one was vice president of the United States.
For better or for worse, your faith or lack of faith, will be multiplied and amplified through the generations that follow you. Let me ask you this morning, what kind of legacy are you building right now that is going to be left for your children, your grandchildren and the great-grandchildren that you have? Are you teaching them by your example, that the most important thing in life is to know love and serve Jesus Christ with all of your heart. Today we're going to talk about building that legacy of faith. And I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Deuteronomy chapter six. You thought I was going to say Hebrews, we'll get there in a moment.
Deuteronomy 6, this chapter is known to every devout Jew. It's called the great Shema of Israel. Shema is Hebrew for "hear". And look at verse four, this is where you find that word. Hear, o Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one! This is Moses words to the Israelites as they prepared to enter into the Promised Land. Hear o, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one! Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts, and impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads, write them on the door frames of your houses, and on your gates.
Notice what Moses is saying. Parents, you have to love God with all of your heart and mind and soul and strength, and only then can you impress that upon your children and your grandchildren. How do you teach that love and obedience to God? Certainly by what we say, by what we teach them, words are important. You have to tell them the truth. But you have to do more than tell them the truth, you have to live out that truth in your own life. Let's first of all look at the laboratory of faith, and that is the home. Look at verse 17 of Hebrews 11, by faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son, for it was he to whom it was said, in Isaac, your descendants shall be called. He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead. From which he I also received him back as a type. Look at Genesis 22 beginning with verse one. Now it came about after these things.
Now you have to stop there and ask the question after what things? Think about all that had happened to Abraham up to this point in his life. When he was 60 God told him to leave everything familiar to him and to go to a land that he would show him. So he uproots his family and heads toward the Promised Land, even though he didn't know much about it. At 75 God comes back to Abraham and reiterates that command and promise, telling him to leave heron for the Promised Land. He said, by the way, Abraham I'm going to make you the father of a great nation. Abraham 75, Sarah 65 didn't have one child yet. And so they waited and they waited and they waited on God to give them a child. They heard nothing from God, so they figured they would take matters into their own hands. And Abraham had that relationship with the Hagar, Sarah's handmaid and produced a son named Ishmael, who is the father of the Arab people today. God said, no, that's not the way I planned to do it. But God blessed Ishmael and his descendants, gave them all that land with all that oil underneath it.
God fulfilled his promise to the Arab people. But God said it is not through Ishmael, whom the promise is coming, it is through Isaac. All of God's promises, the Abrahamic covenant are through the Jewish people, not the Arab people. It is through the descendants of Abraham and Isaac. No, no it wasn't Ishmael, God said, I'm going to send you and Sarah a son. Finally, when Sarah was 90 Abraham was a hundred. Finally, came the son of promise, Isaac. And I'm sure they just breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, God did what he promised to do. We can spend our golden years enjoying our new son Isaac. But when Isaac was a teenager, now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham. And he said to him, Abraham, and he said, "Here I am". God said, "Take now your son, your only son, the son you love Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering, on one of the mountains which I will tell you".
Why would God do such a thing? Why would God test a servant like Abraham? There are two reasons that God tests us. Sometimes God tests us to reveal the quality of our faith. Secondly, sometimes God tests us to increase the strength of our faith, to increase the strength of our faith. Remember this, God's tests are to strengthen our faith. Satan's temptations are to destroy our faith. God never tempts us. He never tries to destroy our faith. He only wants to strengthen our faith. On the other hand, Satan never wants to strengthen our faith, he is always using a difficult situation to destroy our faith. Well, who determines whether or not a difficult situation, is a test or a temptation? You do, by how you respond. If you allow that difficult situation to strengthen your faith, it's a test from God. If you allow that difficult situation to destroy your faith, and drive you away from God, it is become a temptation.
In Genesis 22:1 it says, God was testing Abraham. He tested Abraham, and he tested him and the area that was most important to him, his son, the son of promise. Remember this, when God tests us it is never in something that is trivial to us, but something that represents treasure to us. God's tests are never with the trivial, they were always with the treasure. And there's nothing more important to a parent, than his own child. That's what makes this story so remarkable, that Abraham would willingly sacrifice his own son. Every time I read this Genesis 22 story, I have to ask myself the question. If God told me to do the same thing, to take one of my children and take a knife and plunge it through their heart and burn them on an altar as a sacrifice to God, would I do that? If God told me to do that, would I do it? And if I'm honest, I would have to say, I don't think I could. I don't think I would do it. That's to my shame that I wouldn't. But I don't think I could do it. Could you, would you do that thing?
It's interesting when they get to mount Moriah, three days later in Genesis 22:5, God took his son Isaac and he said to his servants, stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there and we will worship, and we will return to you. He believed Isaac was going to come back. Whenever we talk about this story, we talk about the remarkable faith of Abraham. But look at this story from Isaac's perspective. At this point Isaac was a young teenager, perhaps 18 or even 19 years of age. He was stronger than his father. He could have resisted his father. He could have crawled off that altar if he wanted to, but he willingly submitted to his father's will. The Bible says he was a type of Jesus Christ, who was equal with God the Father, but he willingly offered himself as a sacrifice, for your sins and my sins. Why did the Isaac, submit to Abraham's command? Because Abraham had passed on his faith to his son, Isaac.
If God had said it, that settled it for Isaac. He willingly submitted to Abraham, because Abraham had passed on his faith to Isaac. And that's what we talk about in these verses, the laboratory of faith is the home, but the legacy of our faith is our children and our grandchildren. Abraham had told Isaac the miraculous stories of how God called him out of Ur, how God had protected his mother from Abimelech even after Abraham had sinned, about how God had brought them to the Promised Land. And hearing all of those stories of faith from his dad, made Isaac are assured that he could trust in God too to fulfill his promises. But the faith message didn't stop with Isaac. Isaac passed on that message as well. Look at verse 20, by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau even regarding things to come. The story of Isaac passing on the blessing to Jacob, it's a weird story. It shrouded in deception and dishonesty, but the point is Isaac before his death said to Jacob, God hadn't fulfilled all of his promise yet, but you can trust him.
As Isaac prepared the die he said, Jacob, follow God. He can be trusted to do what he's promised to do. And then Isaac passed on that faith to his son Jacob. Look at verse 21, by faith Jacob as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped leaning on the top of his staff. When Jacob was about to die he called in his son Joseph, and Joseph sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and he said to his son and to his grandsons, I'm about to die, God hasn't fulfilled his promise yet but he'll do it one day trust him, follow him. But it doesn't stop there. And the son Jacob passed on the blessing to Joseph. Look at verse 22, by faith Joseph when he was dying made mention of the Exodus of the sons of Israel and gave orders concerning his bones. Think about it! Joseph had spent from age 17 to age 110 in Egypt, away from the Promised Land, and he was going to die in Egypt. But before he died, he wanted his children to remember the promise that one day, God would lead an Exodus out of Egypt. And when he did, he wanted whoever was responsible to carry Joseph's own bones out of Egypt into to the Promised Land.
In fact, in Genesis 50 verses 24 and 25, we find that command Joseph said to his brothers, "I'm about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which he promised as an oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". And then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear saying, "God will surely take care of you. You shall carry my bones up from here". Whenever it's time to go, have somebody dig me up and take my bones with them because I want to go to the Promised Land. You know how long it took for that to happen, 400 years. 400 years later, God chose a man named Moses to lead the Exodus. And look at Exodus 13, 19, and Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear saying, "God will surely take care of you. You shall carry my bones from here with you".
Now, how did Moses know about that? He had never met Joseph. He never met Jacob or Abraham or Isaac. Those were just names to him. How did he know about a command that had been given 400 years earlier, there was no Bible yet? It's because every parent had passed on to his children and grandchildren, that truth that you can trust in God, and carry the bones of Joseph whenever it's time to go. They had passed on their faith from generation to generation. What are those lessons we need to teach our children? Let me mention two, the two most important spiritual lessons you can communicate to your children and your grandchildren.
First of all, the sovereignty of God, nothing happens by accident. That is every joy in life and every sorrow, every victory and every failure, every thing that happens is under God's control. There are no accidents for a child of God. And included in that list of all things, are the hurts and disappointments we have in life. One thing you can know for sure that your children and grandchildren are going to experience at some point in their life, is a deep hurt from somebody else. Your child or grandchild at some point in their life is going to be hurt and hurt deeply. The best thing you can teach them is to how to handle that disappointment. They can either be consumed with bitterness and allow it to destroy their life, or they can learn the lesson of forgiveness. A forgiveness that is based on the sovereignty of God.
I think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, one thing they all had in common is they were hurt, they were wronged by other people. Abraham wrong by his nephew lot. Isaac his wells were filled up by the Philistines. Jacob cheated by his uncle Laban, and Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers. But remember God used that wrong of his brothers to place Joseph ultimately as Pharaoh's right-hand man in Egypt. And when Joseph was finally reunited with his brothers, they thought Joseph would surely kill them for what they had done. He said, no, you meant it for evil, but God used it for good. Folks the greatest thing you can teach your children and grandchildren is God can use the worst things that happened to them, the worst offensives by other people, and God is so powerful, he can take those horrible things that happen to them and use them for your children's good, and for God's ultimate glory. Teach them about the sovereignty of God. Nothing or no one is going to thwart God's purpose for their life. Secondly, we need to teach our children the sufficiency of God, that is God can be trusted. God can be trusted to do what he's promised to do to provide for our needs.
Listen to this true story. After only four hours of the illness, Becky Fremont died, leaving her husband Adam, and their young daughter Carrie, crushed with grief when the funeral was over. Kind friends advised Adam, you can't go home now. Bring Carrie and stay with us for a few days until you can face going home again. Adam Fremont refused. I've gotta fight it out in the same place, in the same room where I lost Becky. I've gotta go back to where I lost her and win the battle if I can win it at all.
So Adam went back to his hollow house, with his little flaxen haired daughter. He moved Carrie's bed next to his, and they settled down to sleep. It was a moonless starless night, with a blackness as cold and black as the grief, that smothered him crushing his breath. His daughter Carrie sobs, brought him back from the abyss that threatened him. Pathetic heartbreaking cries such as only can come from a little girl, who knows her mother will never come back. Adam reached across with his big hand patting her, speaking softly trying to comfort her. I'm trying to stop daddy, I really am, I really am, but I can't stop.
He lifted her into his bed and put her damp face against his chest. She lay there several minutes, her sobs subsided. And then her small voice came quietly. Dad it's so dark, I can't see you. Do you love me daddy even though I can't see you, even though I don't know where you are? Yes, sweetheart, you know I love you. But daddy it's so dark. He spoke softly and gently until she fell asleep.
Sleep alluded Adam Fremont that night. His burning eyes searched through the blackness for a hint of light and he found none. Alone, so an utterly empty and alone, so he took the cry from his daughter's lips, took it as his own and passed it up to God. It's so dark Lord, so dark. I've never known it to be so dark before. Or do you still love me? His voice trembled as he spoke, I need your help, Lord, I can't make it alone. The wonder of God's reply still clung to his voice, as he told the story to concerned friends the next day. There came a light into the room, an illumination. No, I didn't see anything, but I felt a loving presence right there. And I turned my grief over to the Lord. He took my burden and Carrie and I went free. Carrie Fremont learned about faith, in her home, and so do we.