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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
Family: Passing Down the Faith
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Derren Liang—Irvine, California, USA


As the proverb goes, It takes a village to raise a child. This expresses the received wisdom that parents will struggle to raise a child by themselves. But, beyond parental limitations, the proverb also implies that the whole community bears a responsibility towards a child. A child raised within a community to uphold its values will grow up to become a member of that community, thus ensuring the continuation of the community and its identity. But if a child is not nurtured as part of the community, he may go astray, or worse still, become a nuisance to that community. Similarly, within our spiritual community of the church, we have the responsibility to inculcate spiritual values in our childrenXto preserve and pass on our faith.

The family is the foundation of the church, and the strength of the church depends on the bonds within every family. Therefore, building the church starts with building each family. This is not just about cultivating a happy family, but, rather, a blessed Christian family. In secular society, each family follows the culture to which it belongs, but in the church, we follow the teachings of the Bible. However, we sometimes confuse the culture of the church with that of society. For example, in the United States, the state provides a childs education, funded by taxes. Citizens can rest assured that paying their taxes will guarantee their childrens right to education. Regrettably, some brethren apply this concept to the church setting, thinking that their sole responsibility is to offer tithes so that the church can provide religious education and foster their childrens faith. This perspective, founded on societal norms, goes against what we learn from the Bible.

As the proverb we started with tells us, many resources are required to raise a child. Couples spend so much time and energy parenting that their lives revolve around their children. When it comes to instilling faith in our children, the church also puts in much effort. However, if religious education does not begin at home, then the church will struggle in this task. Indeed, parents cannot separate themselves from the village and its responsibility. They are the most important part of a childs community, playing the pivotal role in a childs upbringing and faith. If parents fulfill their duty, then the church can bridge the gaps. The church cannot replace the family in instituting religious education. Both parties share the responsibility of raising the children in the faith.


            Unless the Lord builds the house,

            They labor in vain who build it;

            Unless the Lord guards the city,

            The watchman stays awake in vain. (Ps 127:1)

The psalmist focuses on building and guarding, which can be likened to establishing a persons faith. In the context of a Christian family, to build a house is to build the faith of our next generation, and to guard the city is to watch over their faith. The psalmist also speaks of two types of strength: that of the builder and the watchman, and that of God. Gods strength is needed even while man discharges his duty. When man has worked to the best of his ability, God will fill in the gaps, to complete what man cannot do on his own.

In addition, regardless of the effort invested into raising our children, we need Gods mercy. We may plant and water, but God gives the increase. We must bring up our children in the faithXthis is our dutyXbut the development of our childrens faith rests with God. Only the all-powerful God can change peoples hearts. As we rely on Him, we need to pray that He increases the faith of the next generation. We should intercede on their behalf, just as Job regularly offered burnt offerings for his children, in case they had sinned and cursed God in their hearts (Job 1:5b).

We also have the Bible as a guide to leading a godly life. God establishes all things, including family units. The Bible reveals the principles God has determined for His creation, but problems arise when men rebel against these principles. This is why we see families breaking down. On the other hand, if we align ourselves to Gods principles, He will bless our family and shower His mercy on us.


            Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4V9)

As part of tradition, devout Jews would memorize and recite these verses. Verse 4 starts with Hear, O IsraelXIsrael, meaning Prince of God, was the name God gave Jacob. Being a prince is glorious; what more a prince of God? We, as princes of God, have freely received this noble status and we must pass it on to the next generation. Today, many esteem their cultural heritage, and invest time and effort in passing it on to their children. Those residing outside their country of birth will teach their children their mother tongue and cultural practices. Likewise, we who hold the noble status of princes of God must esteem our spiritual identity. Our earthly cultural roots may be important to us, but the culture of our heavenly Father is even more precious.

The Bible describes three kinds of inheritance: children, material possessions, and God Himself. Most of us desire to pass on to our children material security. We focus on their education and academic achievements, hoping they will have good careers and a high income. Understandably, most parents wish the best for their children: abundant material possessions, and comfortable lives without financial burdens. However, such possessions are not eternal. Only the unseen things of God are eternal. To receive God as an inheritance is to receive blessings on earth and eternal life, far exceeding the value material possessions could bring.

It is imperative we recalibrate our value system towards the things of God above. We may wish to give our children what people of this world deem as valuable; but more importantly, we must give them the best spiritual inheritance, that is, God Himself. At times, we may view this heavenly value system as beyond us, and irrelevant to our lives. But, actually, every decision we make reflects and reveals our values for all to see, especially our children. For instance, should we enroll our children in extracurricular enrichment classes on the Sabbath? The Sabbath day is a day of rest and blessing from the Lord, a critical fact emphasized in religious education. But if we choose to enroll our children in such classes, our action advocates a value system that conflicts with biblical teaching. We have to align ourselves to the values of God, even in simple decisions, so we can demonstrate our beliefs and pass on the right values to our children.


There may come a time when our children no longer heed our words, leading us to conclude that our only recourse is to pray for them. However, Deuteronomy 6 tells us that the first step in educating our children is not with words, but with a lifestyle that demonstrates our love for God (Deut 6:5). This love we have for God must be manifested in action and become our way of life. In their formative years, children often imitate their parents. If we lead a lifestyle of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength, our children will most likely imitate us to do likewise. Therefore, we must live a life of faith, and show our children the practical aspects of our faith, daily. By demonstrating our faith to our children and testifying to them the wonderful blessings we receive from God, we will be setting a good example for them.

In Deuteronomy 6:7, we learn that we need to teach our children in our house, when we walk, when we lie down and when we rise up. This suggests spending time with them in order to have teaching opportunities. A child is blessed if he can have his mother or father by his side throughout the day. Although the family will have less income, the stay-at-home parent can channel his or her love and wisdom into raising the child. The Bible tells us that the hireling does not care for the sheep as the shepherd does. Likewise, a nanny is not an adequate substitute for a parent.

A critical and indispensable platform in every Christian family is family service. This service is a regular session where parents guide their children in Bible reading and lead them in home worship. In Pauls letters to Timothy, he refers to the younger mans early introduction to the faith:

            [I thank God] when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Tim 1:5)

            and how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 3:15)

Timothy was a third-generation believer, and his mother taught him the Scriptures from an early age, establishing his life of faith. Similarly, if we set up a family service and take every opportunity to share our faith with our children, we can nurture their belief from a young age. Establishing a family service requires having a daily schedule of Bible reading and praying together as a family. By doing so, our children will develop a habit of cultivating themselves spiritually, so they can remain rooted in the faith as they become more independent. If the next generation recognizes the importance of reading the Bible, they will have Gods word as a lamp to their feet and a light to their path. If they know how to pray on their own, God will strengthen and move them.


Finally, in Deuteronomy 6:8V9, God says, You shall bind [these words] as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. We can interpret these verses as instructions to establish a good Christian environment for our children. Children are highly impressionable and the surroundings in which they grow up will influence their character. The environment should remain an important consideration even when they are choosing a university. Should they enroll in a liberal college that will challenge their religious values? Should they select a college that is far away from the nearest church? Consenting to these choices is like sending our children into the wilderness. Indeed, many seemingly strong youths have lost their faith because of their decision to study at such colleges. As Christian parents, we must understand that the best university may not be the one that is highest ranked or the most prestigious, but the one where our childs faith can be strengthened.

In conclusion, we have to guide our children towards God, to plant the seed of faith in them, and to nurture that faith so that our God will become their God. As parents, we have received this inheritance, our children, from God. Hence, we have a responsibility towards our children and to God to ensure that we preserve them in the faith. It can be an uphill task for us to be like Christ, so that our children can imitate us. It may not be easy for them to see the goodness that our life of faith brings, and for us to pass on our faith to our children. However, let us remember that all things are possible through our Lord who strengthens us. May Gods mercy continue to rain upon us so that we can instill this faith in our future generations.

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Author: Derren Liang
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017