Coasting Along

by Jefferson David Tant

Recently, someone asked me “What is your biggest concern for the next generation as it relates to the kingdom?” That’s a good question, as each generation has its own challenges, some of which are the same in every generation, for our world is challenged daily by Satan. Yet there are new challenges, as youth today face challenges that were unknown in my youth. But I suppose every generation has faced things that were unknown to their forefathers.

Has it not been so from the earliest times? Consider the generation that entered the promised land under Joshua’s leadership, a generation that made a solemn vow. “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" The people answered and said, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed” (Joshua 24:15-17).

The Israelites had witnessed some of the greatest miracles of history, had received manifold blessings from God, and solemnly vowed to serve him faithfully. But just two chapters later, we have these words recorded: “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

I have just read Traces of the Kingdom, a fascinating look at the persecutions Christians endured in Europe, mainly England, hundreds of years before our “Restoration Movement” in the United States. I marvel at the strong faith of these saints who often had to meet in secret, who had their lands and possessions confiscated. Multiplied thousands were tortured, burned at the stake, or starved to death in prison. And yet they persevered. They were militant in their proclamation of the gospel, fearlessly debating their religious foes, and not flinching from pointing out the error in the false religions around them.

Have we become complacent in the midst of our comfort and freedom? Do we have such a desire to blend in and not cause any disagreements that we go out of our way not to offend? Obviously, it should never be our intent to offend, but truth does sometimes offend, even when spoken in the kindest way. Christ offended people (Matthew 13:57; 15:12). Paul offended people (Acts 16:22-23, etc.). John the Baptist offended Herod and got his head cut off (Mark 6:22-28).

Would the prophet Amos proclaim to us as he did so many years ago to Israel: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1)? Where is our militant spirit? Oh, we may be militant about not missing our favorite TV show or football game, but are we militant about the gospel? In the past, we have seen as many as 15 or 18 baptized into Christ here in one year. Question: What is the origin of these converts? In the first five years of the congregation, 41 were baptized, 66% of those were the result of evangelism, i.e., they were not our family members or those who sought us out. In the past five years, 47 have been baptized, and about 47% were the result of evangelism. Consider also that 30+ years ago we started with 12 members, and may have reached 50 or 60 in the first five years. In the past five years, we have had 120 or more members. So what’s the point in all these figures? It would seem we have become less militant and more at ease in Zion. Just four were baptized in 2012. Two were from evangelism!

So, what is my concern for the next generation? I will state it in a positive manner.

  1. We must be grounded in sound doctrine. Lessons to edify and encourage are needed, but we also need teaching on doctrine, that our roots may be firmly planted in truth.
  2. We must be a committed people — faithful in our assembling together, and committed to living a godly life every day of the week.
  3. We must be committed to congregational and personal evangelism. We cannot wait for the lost to seek us. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus didn’t wait for the lost to seek him.
  4. We must be diligent in instilling The Faith in our children, for the world and our educational systems are determined to destroy their faith.

My grandfather often said, “Brethren, we are drifting.” Let it not be said of us.

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