The Need for Children to be Taught
There is a great need today for our young people to be taught the word of God. As I write this, I believe it goes without saying that this is true. The need for gospel teaching is seen in the words of Christ as He commanded His disciples to, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:15-16). It is seen in Paul's words, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Peter's words also show us how important it is to be taught God's word. This is because we must, "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," and "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 2:11, 4:11). There is no way a Christian (regardless of age) may live, speak, or teach others in a way that pleases God unless he/she is taught what pleases God.
In considering our subject, why is it necessary to teach our young people? First of all, it is necessary because teaching our youth is commanded by God, as we have already shown. Teaching our young people also shows that we are following the apostolic example (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:16). Paul took time to impart his experience and knowledge to young men like Timothy and Titus. (Not unlike what Christ did for His disciples!). Paul knew he wasn't going to live forever, and that men like Timothy and Titus were going to have to rise up and fill Paul's place as a teacher and exhorter of brethren when he was gone.
What amazes me is that some of our brethren, especially our older preaching brethren, have a very poor attitude toward helping and imparting knowledge to our young Christians, especially the young Christian men who are trying to preach God's word. This is not a blanket statement of course, for I know some fine older Christians who are willing to help and give young men and young ladies the benefit of their experience. However, this is not always true. Some of our older brethren have a very selfish attitude toward teaching younger people, and treat them with a sink or swim attitude (There is no help or advice offered the young Christian, or when given, it is given grudgingly). I am thankful that Paul was not like that, and am thankful for brethren I know who are not like that.
Still, we have other older brethren who are willing to teach younger people, but their kind of help is not needed today. Frankly, I think it would be better for some brethren to be silent than to have their false doctrines and musings spread abroad as they are. Unfortunately, it is true that we have some of our brethren more than willing to take young men and ladies to one side and warn them of so-called creed makers, brotherhood watchdogs, Pharisees, and legalists who are bound to tear us apart. If my dear readers do not believe that brethren are spreading malicious gossip and lies against others in front of our youth, you do not have your eyes open. If you are guilty of such, shame on you! You are guilty of subvert(ing) whole households (Tit. 1:11) and leading our youth away from that which is most important!
Our young people need to be taught that there is an absolute standard for our life -- God's word (Jn. 17:17)!! Too many are not being taught this today. Let me tell you, that when we get away from absolutes, and from true standards of right and wrong, we will have a generation of young people with the ability to justify any form of wickedness or lewdness they please and call it right. Do you not think this is possible? If not, then explain how in the world a generation of people could become so mixed up that they called good, evil and they called darkness, light (Isa. 5:20-21)?? Our young people need to be taught the importance of living according to the Bible, with their minds on right things (Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 5:22)!
Our children need to be taught several things that we will discuss soon, but the first thing that needs to be established is the role of those who are older Christians. What is the best way to get the points we have mentioned across to our youth? It is by making sure that our older brethren (especially the parents) are living the way they should! Any time we talk about our youth living right, we must also remember the ones older than them. You see, we cannot expect the youth in the church to simply know what is right. They will generally follow the example of those who lived before them. Now, what kind of an example is being set by parents, and other older Christians? This is where it hits home, does it not? I am afraid that too many have the attitude that our young people can be taught all they need to know in the two or three hours they are at the services every week. Not so! While some would never say this, their attitude betrays them as people who think, "My child will not see what I do." Paul said it was necessary for the older Christians to teach the younger Christians what is right. In Titus 2, we see this being made abundantly clear. There, Paul writes, "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Tit. 2:1-7). In this one passage alone, we see the great responsibility that the older Christians have to the younger. Consider also, that the parents (especially the fathers) have a great responsibility to teach our young people. A father's responsibility does not end with the paycheck on Friday! While this is necessary (1 Tim. 5:8), a father's responsibility is so much greater than that. We see fathers being instructed to, "provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
Our young people cannot be told how to live right until we are living it ourselves! Parents, and other older Christians, must teach our youth through their example, through their sterling character, through Scriptural direction, and moral conviction. Until these things are seen in our lives, how in the world can we expect to see it in our young peoples' lives? Too many today have let down our youth by either not showing themselves to be the right example, or by not being motivated enough to show they care for the souls of our young people. What a tragedy!! And by the way, much of this started at home. Think about it!
What do our youth need to be taught? Put simply, our youth need to be taught the Bible! Our young people need a proper knowledge of what is right and wrong. One of the problems that is destroying the church today is a lack of knowledge. Of course, this is nothing new, but that does not make it any less tragic! In Hosea's day, God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." As a result, God said, "because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee" (Hos. 4:6). I do not want to be rejected by God, do you? I do not want to reject His word, either. You see, one day that word (that is rejected by so many) is what will judge us (Jn. 12:48). A good illustration that shows us the danger of not knowing Gods word is seen in a survey taken by Guy Woods several years ago. He found that 50% of Christians do not know why we do not use mechanical instruments in the worship, 85% of that 50% said they would not mind using the instrument, 10% of Christians believe that one church is as good as another, and 75% cannot find the plan of salvation in the Bible. Scary, huh? Just think, the people who took this survey are teaching our Bible classes, are teaching their children, and are on the job supposedly shining their light to their co-workers (Matt. 5:16).
Can you dear reader, see the connection between our children's lack of knowledge, and the lack of knowledge that is so evident among older Christians? If you can, then you understand why I began by prefacing these remarks with the fact that older Christians must be what they should be if we expect our young people to be what they need to be. The young will generally follow the example of the old.
Unfortunately, what we have coming out of the pulpit and out of the lives of many Christians is hardly what it ought to be. We find in many places preachers who are more interested in entertaining than preaching, and Christians who love to have it so (cf. Jer. 5:30-31). Sometimes, we have situations where the preacher will preach his heart out, speaking only "the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). Yet, those Christians who hear that sermon will continue to live as they please, all the while proclaiming that they love God's word and stand behind it. Friends, our young people are seeing these things, and it is not surprising that so many are discouraged! After all, we cannot have it both ways! Why should there be any urgency for Bible study when those who ought to know better act as if Bible study is nothing? Brethren, we are facing a grave problem in this country, and it is high time we awoke to the problem around us. If we do not have the proper knowledge of God's word, how in the world can we ever obey Him? How can we be Christ's friend (Jn. 15:14)? How can we show our love for Him when we do not know what He wants us to do (Jn. 14:15)? I can read of a generation that did not know God (Judg. 2:10). How is this possible when the generation before was the one to enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua? How is this possible when those who went before vowed that they would, without question, follow God's commandments (Josh. 24:16-18, 21-24)?? We do not know all the reasons, but I am certain that if we are not interested in our young people now, and are not interested in making sure they have a proper understanding of God's will, we will have a generation just like the one in Judges 2. Mark it down!!
What else do our young people need to be taught? They need to be taught that faith is not something handed down. We have many second generation or perhaps third, or fourth generation Christians today. That is, they have been brought up knowing nothing of denominationalism, or worldliness, for they have been "brought up in the church", as many say. Certainly, we ought to encourage people to follow in the right steps of their parents and grandparents who made great sacrifices for the cause of Christ. There is no question that there would be no local church established in many places if it had not been for the sacrifices and accomplishments of those just a few generations ago. However, it is important that no one think that just because Grandpa or Grandma or Daddy or Mother did what was right, that this automatically makes us right!! It is high time that our young people understood that their faith is not inherited. Friends, GOD HAS NO GRANDCHILDREN!!!
While I love my parents and grandparents dearly, my faith is my own. I (as well as all other Christians, young and old) must realize that Christ died for ME. I have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). I am the one who has gone astray (Isa. 53:6). I need forgiveness for the sins I have committed (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25). Our young people need to face reality. It is fine that they enjoy life and have fun, but they need to remember that things will not always be like this, and that one day a judgment is coming (Ecc. 11:9-10, 12:13-14). Seeing that no one knows when the Lord will return, we need to prepare while we have the opportunity (Matt. 25:1-13). The Bible teaches that all we have is now. We are not promised a later to make things right (2 Cor. 6:1-2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15; Jn. 4:35). Our faith is not inherited, (Just like our sin is not inherited! They stand or fall together.) therefore our youth must be impressed with the value of their souls, and the need for becoming a Christian while they can (Matt. 16:26; Mk. 16:16).
Connected with the above thought is the fact that our youth need to be taught what it means to be a Christian. One thing that is lacking among many Christians today is conviction. Just look around at those who can take it either way when it comes to Bible teaching. Look at those who do not see anything wrong with certain men preaching providing they don't speak on ________________ topic. This is done because some are just too spineless to take a stand anymore. Once again, this is not a blanket statement on every single Christian, but it is abundantly clear that this attitude prevails in many parts of our nation and the world.
Instead of jokes and entertainment, our young people need to hear about Christ, Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Peter, Philip, and a multitude of others who stood strong and firm for the "faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). They need to know the sacrifices that these people faced in the first Century and what that means to us. They need to know that sacrifices are still being made today, and will be continually needed if the church is going to remain pure. Our young people need to know that we are required to work in this life, and the rest comes later (Heb. 4:9). Baptism marks the beginning of our spiritual life, not the end!!
Brethren, there is a liberal attitude among us that says young people won't listen to those things anymore, we must use other methods to get them interested. As a result, many liberals among us will use doughnuts, parties, games, and other things to try to lure young people into becoming Christians. But, when the fire's turned up through controversy and standing for the truth, they are gone. Why? Because they have no conviction about what they believe! It is high time that we got back to preaching the Bible, and impressing people with the fact that the gospel, and the gospel alone is God's power to save (Rom. 1:16). The gospel is God's drawing power (Jn. 6:44-45; 2 Thess. 2:13), and if this is not good enough for some of our preachers, then they are in the wrong business and need to be sent out of the pulpits in a hurry!! They have done enough damage already. If the pure and simple gospel is not good enough for some Christians, then they are simply offering lip-service to God, and we all know what will happen to them (Matt. 15:8-13)!
Being a Christian means living and following Christ all the days of our life. Paul said we need to be "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). I cannot be always abounding in God's word until I know what He wants me to do, and then I do it! Young people need to know that simply having knowledge of God's word will not cut it!! It also requires our being obedient to Christ's word regardless of the consequences! When we read about Christ, we learn that He is "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9). Until our youth are taught so that they understand these simple concepts, we are in trouble! Unfortunately today, we have some who are old enough as Christians to know what God would have them do, and to teach it, but they simply refuse to do so for whatever reason! How sad, and how selfish on their part!
The youth in the Lord's church are never too young to learn that they can be good examples to others. When Paul wrote the young preacher Timothy, he told him to, "keep thyself pure" (I Tim. 5:22). Earlier in that chapter, he had admonished him to, "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity" (I Tim. 5:1-2). How many young men's reputations have been ruined because they did not treat the sisters with all purity?? Our young people need to know and know well that they are never too young to show themselves to be the right example. Who knows the untold good that is done when our young Christians will allow their light to shine at school, at home, in their neighborhood, and especially among the young people they know in the Lord (Matt. 5:14-16)! It does fellow Christians untold good (regardless of their age) when they can see other Christians dealing with the same problems and struggles in this life that they face, and seeing them pulling through those problems with the help of the Lord (Phil. 4:13). Our youth need to be taught that they CAN make a difference to someone. In fact, this is one of the reasons we are to assemble together to worship God in the first place -- to "exhort one another" (Heb. 10:25).
Our young people need to be made aware of current controversies and the effect they can have on our faith. The controversies we will mention are by no means all the controversies one might face today. The author knows that other things would fit into this category as well (perhaps better than the ones we will discuss). However, the controversies we mention here are perhaps more prominent than others.
It goes without saying that brethren are teaching falsehoods concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. Christ's plain statements in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 are no longer plain enough for some. While the purpose of this article is not intended to be a detailed handling of this question, let it be made clear that our young people need to be taught the truth on this subject. They need to be taught that any argument that allows the guilty party in the divorce to remarry is a violation and contradiction of the Scriptures. Our youth need to know that sometimes, BOTH parties are in sin, and thus both have forfeited their right to remarry another.
In thinking about current controversies, our young people need to be aware of the false doctrine that tries to separate Christ and the church. Some of our brethren are saying we have focused too much on the church, baptism, etc. and need to focus more on Christ. I have an article dated June 1994, in which one man states, They (the people in Jerusalem in Acts 2, JJ) surrendered not to a plan of salvation, but to a Savior. Pray tell, how can one surrender to the Savior if they do not surrender to His plan?? This man made a distinction where there was no difference! This thread of thought is nothing new. Our denominational friends have been saying things like this for years. Our liberal brethren picked up on it, and now some of our conservative brethren are speaking the same garbage.
Our young people need to know about these problems. We cannot shelter and hide them from all of this. If we do, how will they handle these problems when they are in the leadership roles in the local church?? Our youth need to know how to answer this dilemma. They need to know that the church was in the "eternal purpose" of God (Eph. 3:10-11). The establishment of the church was not an accident or some kind of divine Band-Aid. Christ promised to build His church in Matthew 16:18 and did so. Christ is the chief corner-stone in the foundation of the church (1 Pet. 2:6). The church is also described as Christs body (Col. 1:18, 24; Eph. 1:19-23, 4:4). We also see a description of the church as the bride of Christ (Rev. 22:17; Eph. 5:23-33).
To try to separate Christ and the church is to take the foundation away from the house. Would you buy a house that had no foundation? Why not? Because it would surely fall. This is the end result of all those who build their churches upon some man or some religious practice (1 Cor. 3:10-11; Matt. 15:13). To demand that brethren speak about Christ, but not the church is to behead the body! I dont think I have to tell you what happens when a head is removed from its body. Further, to imply that proper preaching could be done by preaching about Christ and not the church is to take the groom away from his bride. How can people be married and joined together if one party is not there? Thankfully, God has joined Christ and the church together. And "what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:6).
Another popular thing conservative churches are doing is allowing men to preach for them unopposed when it is clear that they are teaching false doctrines, or upholding the hands of others who are doing so. The reasoning goes, We allow him to preach on _____________ subjects, but will not allow him to preach on ______________. Based on this logic, why not invite the local Baptist preacher to preach for you during your next meeting? Have him preach to you with your full endorsement, provided he doesnt talk about faith-only or instrumental music. Think of the community togetherness that could come from such a venture! Perhaps we could allow the local Methodist preacher to preach for us, provided he does not talk about sprinkling water on babies for their salvation, or tithing? Maybe we could bring in the local Catholic preacher to fill the pulpit the next time our preacher is out of town? Allow that priest to preach as long as he doesn't talk about the Pope, fish on Fridays (which is making a come-back), vows of celibacy for priests and nuns, etc.
What? We would not stand for such things? Then why in the world will we allow those among us to come for a week and spread their false teachings both publicly and privately? Are their words not as false as Catholicism? Will our brethrens' false teachings not send us to Hell, if followed, where the denominational preachers words will? Is the influence of our false brethren not as corrupting as the influence of the Baptist or Methodist preacher?
It should be made clear that just because we tell someone not to preach on __________ subject from the pulpit, this will not keep him from teaching it house to house when he gets the opportunity. By lending our support to false teachers and their sympathizers who are among us, we are giving our youth a mixed message. Truly, "the legs of the lame are not equal" (Prov. 26:7). What are we teaching our young people? Are our young people being taught the serious consequences of supporting men who promote such blatant heresies as have been mentioned? I hope so for the future of the church!
We must realize that the things we have mentioned are a learning process, they cannot be poured into someone automatically. Just as one grows and matures from a small child to an adult, so also one grows and matures from the babe in Christ to the mature Christian (Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). It is time that all of us recognize this, and realize that our young people will never know right from wrong unless those who are older are teaching them. This is God's plan (Tit. 2:1-7). As a result, we cannot leave our young people alone to sink or swim as they float on the sea of life! Those who are older, and especially their Christian parents, must be working with them to lead them in the right direction. This requires love (Agape love as is mentioned in the Bible), it takes discipline, and it takes the will to do all that God says do, living by the word of God and only by the word of God (Col. 3:17). Young people need our older brethren to take them by the hand and teach them all the counsel of God (Acts 20:20). We do not need back-slappers, and men who compromise "the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) to keep the young people interested. This is a detriment to spreading the borders of the kingdom, it is not an asset.
Brethren, what will you do? It is up to all of us to do our part. If we do not, we will definitely raise up a generation that does not know the Lord!!! Let us all make a concentrated effort to teach our young people right from wrong, and what it means to be a Christian, a soldier in the Lord's army.
e-mail this author at JJacobs291@aol.com
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