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 (Manna 68: Succession: Generation Next)
Passing and Receiving the Baton of Faith
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Passing and Receiving the Baton of Faith

Vuthy Nol-Mantia—Dallas, Texas, USA

In a 4x400 meter relay, there are usually four runners. By default, the first runner is the second fastest, the second and third runners the third and fourth fastest respectively, and the last runner is the fastest. He is also called the anchor person.

When I was in high school, I often ran the 4x400 m relay. I didn’t really like it because I was usually the second or third runner who had to receive and pass on the baton, which meant more work. As such, I had to study exactly how fast the first person was running because he had to pass the baton within a certain zone or we would get disqualified. When I saw the first person running toward me, I would start running, without worrying where the baton would come from. However, with the baton in hand, I had to think how to pass it to the next person. For this reason, a relay is quite a demanding race.

Today, the church is running a challenging spiritual relay to pass on the baton of faith. But how can we run this race successfully? How did the people in the Bible pass their faith to their descendants?

Abraham successfully passed down his faith to Isaac. Although the Bible does not explicitly say how Abraham instructed Isaac in the faith, we can learn much from Abraham’s actions and his relationship with God.

BUILD A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’
And he said, ‘Here I am.’” (Gen 22:1)

 

God knew Abraham by name because Abraham had a good relationship with Him—Abraham heared the voice of the LORD and was called the friend of God (Isa 41:8; cf. Jas 2:23). Genesis 22 tells us that Abraham quietly listened to God when He spoke, responded to Him and obeyed the LORD’s command.


What about us? Do we have a good relationship with God? Do we listen to God’s voice? Do we respond to Him, practice and obey His teachings?

Abraham not only listened to God, he also had an open ear for his son Isaac. When Isaac addressed him, “My father!” he answered him in the same way he answered God (Gen 22:7, cf. Gen 22:1).

Sometimes the young and old in church may not get along very well. That is because we do not have a good relationship with God and often find ourselves weak in faith and lacking in personal experiences with Him.

Whether young or old, we need to cultivate ourselves to draw closer to God. Once we have a good relationship with God, we will also have good relationships with one another.

SET THE EXAMPLE OF LOVE

"Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love …” (Gen 22:2)

Just as Abraham loved his son Isaac, we too need to show love towards our younger generation. Just as Isaac was precious to Abraham because he was born of promise, our next generation should be precious to us because they are the ones who will receive the baton of faith. So, we need to show our love and care for them.

Our youths need our love so that they can grow in faith and glorify God’s name. Some youths do not receive love at home. Their hearts are empty and they pursue after the things of the world. If they come to church and do not receive love either, they will easily drift farther away from God and may even become lost. However, when we love and care for them, they can personally experience the love of Christ and be strengthened in their faith.

Sometimes we may find it difficult to show love towards the younger generation. Yet consider Abraham: although he loved Isaac, he loved God even more. With the love of God in him, Abraham knew how to love his son, for God Himself is love. When we love God, we will know how to love others because His love will overflow to everyone around us.

Ever since I stepped into the True Jesus Church, I have received much love from brothers and sisters, especially from the older brethren. This love has touched me deeply and sustained me whenever I felt discouraged.

When I was still a trainee preacher, I spent some time at Pacifica church in the United States. I often felt lonely at that time because I was by myself and there was nobody to talk to. Members there generally live quite far away from church, so seldom would anyone stop by outside of worship services. After service, brethren usually leave early because they have to drive far to get home.

But sometimes, after service, I would find a bag of cookies in front of my door. I knew that the brethren had put it there. Although they did not have much time to talk to me, this seemingly small gesture showed their love towards me.

When I served in Hawaii, there was an elderly sister who knew that I love fish head soup. When I visited her, she cooked the biggest fish head I have ever seen (bigger than my head)—that’s how big her heart is!

SET THE EXAMPLE OF DILIGENT SERVICE TO GOD

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

(Gen 22:3)

Although Abraham loved Isaac, he loved God even more. He arose early to do the will of God and sacrifice Isaac.

Today, we too must be diligent in serving God. We need to set a good example because our actions speak louder than a thousand words.

While I was in theological training, I attended a ministers’ workshop. There was an elder who was in his nineties, yet he would take notes during every sermon, even when theological students were speaking. Moreover, he would kneel down with us to pray for one hour every morning, although his knees would stiffen and we would have to help him get up after the prayers.

Just like Abraham, we must be diligent to do the will of God. In this way, the younger generation will see our diligence and follow our example.  

SET THE EXAMPLE OF FAITH

And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

(Gen 22:5)

After a three-day journey, during which Abraham had time to think things through, they finally arrived at Mount Moriah. Abraham had probably thought much about God’s will and, by faith, had finally concluded that God would be able to raise Isaac from the dead (Heb 11:19).
So Abraham told his servants, “the lad and I will go yonder to worship, and we will come back to you,” showing his great faith in God.

Today, as the older generation, we need to have Abraham’s great faith. How else can we expect the younger ones to have faith?

Once I went to Ghana with a senior minister. During the first three days after our arrival, we didn’t have any water because the whole city’s water supply had been cut off. In the middle of the first night, a fire suddenly broke out, and we could not escape through the front door because there was too much smoke. The only way of escape was through the window.

However, instead of breaking the window, the senior minister started to disassemble it piece by piece, because he did not want the brethren to incur additional expenses. In the midst of life-threatening circumstances, he was still thinking of others!

By God’s grace, the water in the city was suddenly turned on for about thirty minutes that night—just enough time for our brethren to extinguish the fire and to bring a ladder, so that we could climb out of the window. Through this incident, I learned a great lesson of faith from the older minister.

Just like Abraham, we too need to set an example of faith to show our younger generation that the God we worship is a true and living God.

Abraham and Isaac walked together

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.

(Gen 22:6-8)

Abraham not only passed down his faith to Isaac, he also involved him in his work for God. As Abraham and Isaac went up the mountain, they each carried some of the materials and utensils. The Bible records that they “went together.” In other words, they worked together in unity. So how did Abraham and Isaac walk together?

Abraham Laid the Wood on Isaac

Just as Abraham asked Isaac to carry the wood, we should give the younger generation a chance to serve in church. Although Isaac did not know exactly what was happening, Abraham was able to involve him in the work, which was to offer him according to God’s command.

Today our youths may be inexperienced, but we still have to involve them in the holy work. We should not be afraid to let the young ones work with us; rather we should train and guide them, as eventually we will pass the baton on to them.

Abraham Carried the Fire and a Knife

When Abraham went up to Mount Moriah, he prepared everything that he needed to sacrifice Isaac. Apart from wood, he also brought fire and a knife. Today, we too need to equip ourselves with the spiritual fire and knife. We need to be prayerful and ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit. We also need to sharpen our spiritual eyesight through God's word. Only then can we fearlessly face the challenge of passing on the baton.

Isaac—Obedient, but Not Passive

Isaac was quiet along the way to Mount Moriah, yet he was not inactive. He carried the wood that his father gave to him and obediently followed Abraham. Along the journey, Isaac did not say anything other than asking one question, "Where is the lamb?" This shows his attentiveness. When his father told him that God would provide the lamb, Isaac simply accepted the answer.

Later, Isaac did not resist or try to run away. Instead, he allowed his father to bind him and place him on the altar (Gen 22:9). Sometimes we say too much, do very little, and are not obedient enough to the older generation. However, have we ever considered that the older generation has to give an account to God? Have we considered that they must have thought things through? For this reason, we should be obedient to them in the Lord (cf. Eph 6:1).

Joshua too was obedient when Moses sent him to fight against the Amalekites. He went to fight without bargaining with Moses because he knew that Moses would be praying for him. So just like Joshua and Isaac, let us do our part.

Being the younger generation, we are the “anchor” of this spiritual relay as the end-time draws nearer. This means that we need to do greater things. We must prepare ourselves: be humble, open-minded and teachable. Let us equip ourselves with the fire of the Holy Spirit and the sword of God’s word, just as the older generation has set the example for us. Then we will finish the race of faith, save more souls and pass the baton of faith to our next generation.

 

In the end-time, the church must continue to be glorified. This will only be possible if we continue passing down the baton of faith and the baton of God’s work. Therefore, young and old alike must strive for a better relationship with God and work together in unity, walking side by side to fulfill the will of God. Only then will this mountain become the highest mountain and this church the most glorious church.

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Author: Vuthy Nol-Mantia
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