Today, we’re concluding our message series called Biblical Parenting. If you’ve missed any of the messages, you can watch them online and download the message notes on our website at www.lifechurchstouis.org.
Today, our message is entitled “Building a Spiritual Legacy.” What is a legacy? A legacy is something handed down from the past. So a spiritual legacy is faith being handed down from one generation to the next, from parents to children. Paul writes to Timothy in …
2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV) I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
So, here we see a spiritual legacy being handed down over three generations. Faith in Jesus Christ began with Timothy’s grandmother Lois, continued with his mother Eunice and now was dwelling in Timothy. As only the mothers are listed here by Paul, we can infer that the fathers were probably not believers or passed away at an early age. Yet Timothy turned out very well, following in the spiritual legacy of his mother and grandmother. So, there is great hope to raise children of faith for single mothers or mothers whose husbands are not believers.
Now, I must be careful to point out that Timothy was not automatically a believer because his mother and grandmother were believers. His mother and grandmother taught their children God’s Word by example and instruction, but Timothy had to embrace that faith as his own and make his own commitment to Jesus Christ. Every parent leaves a legacy to their children, either positive or negative. Today, we want to speak of leaving a positive spiritual legacy, rather than a negative one.
Deuteronomy 5:9a-10 (ESV) … I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands [to the thousandth generation] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Here we see the negative legacy of sin and iniquity begin passed down to the third and fourth generation of those who hate God. Yet the spiritual legacy of those who love and obey God can be passed down to the thousandth generation. So, the whole concept of biblical parenting is important not just for your children, but for your grandchildren and succeeding generations.
God wants us as believing parents to leave a spiritual legacy that will be passed on to future generations until Jesus returns. So, today, we’re going to give an overview of how parents can build a spiritual legacy and pass the torch of faith to the next generation and future generations beyond. A great way to begin building a spiritual legacy is to …
1 Samuel 1:11 (ESV) And [Hannah] she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life …”
In this verse, Hannah makes a vow to dedicate her son Samuel to the Lord for his entire life. In Hannah’s case, Samuel was actually given to the priest Eli to raise in the temple and Samuel became a great prophet in Israel. Now, all children are really God’s children, a blessing from God to parents to raise. It is important for parents to dedicate their children to the Lord at an early age. Dedicating your children to the Lord is acknowledging that the children are God’s, not yours. You realize that God has a plan for your children and you will help them walk in that plan. As you dedicate your children to the Lord …
Luke 2:27-28 (ESV) And he [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
In this entire passage, Mary and Joseph had taken Jesus to dedicate Him at the temple. While they were there a prophet Simeon came, picked up Jesus and began to prophesy over Him. Simeon’s prophecy indicated how God would use Jesus to be a blessing and bring salvation to both Jew and Gentile. As parents, we need God’s blessing on our children, so that they will grow in His way, under His protection. Yet, as parents we also need to make a commitment early on …
Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
When we dedicate our children to the Lord, we are also making a commitment to raise them in both the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Instruction, which we’ll talk more about in the next point, must be of the Lord. Instruction is raising our children by teaching them what God tells us to teach them.
While no education system is perfect, we are committing to do our best to make sure the education our children get is teaching them God’s truth. Along with instruction, the discipline of the Lord is also required. Wrong actions must be disciplined, so that the child grows in maturity of character and conduct. These are all involved in dedicating your children to the Lord.
The Assemblies of God does not practice infant baptism as it is nowhere even mentioned in Scripture. On the contrary, in the Bible, water baptism is reserved for those who have already believed and put their faith in Jesus Christ. We do practice child dedication. Although a public dedication ceremony to dedicate children to the Lord is not commanded in Scripture, the concept of dedicating children is certainly promoted by example and by teaching. Although dedication is normally and preferably done with infants, if you children have not been dedicated to the Lord, this can be done at any age.
If you would like to schedule a Sunday to dedicate your child or children to the Lord, please check the box on your Connect Card to sign up for child dedication. In the dedication ceremony, you are committing yourself to …
Deuteronomy 6:20 (ESV) “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’
When our children ask questions, we as parents, need to be prepared to answer their questions according to God’s Word. In this verse, a son is asking his parents what was the meaning of God’s commands? Obviously, the parents had taught their son many of God’s commands, but he wanted to know the meaning. Why had God given all these commands, what was their purpose. That’s an important question. Both from the Old Testament and the New, it should be apparent to anyone, that it is simply impossible to keep every commandment of God perfectly. God’s commands are intended first of all to …
Deuteronomy 6:21 (ESV) then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt was salvation for them. God brought them out through His own miraculous power. They did not fight or deliver themselves. The deliverance from Egypt of Israel is a type of our deliverance from sin and the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God as we are saved. So, as you instruct your children about God’s Word, your primary objective is to lead them into salvation. Teaching and praying for your children to repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Then, because of their salvation, you can …
Deuteronomy 6:24 (ESV) And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.
God give us commands to obey, for our own good. We need to teach our children to fear the Lord, to fear sinning against Him, for that will not work out well for us. In the New Testament Jesus instructed His disciples to teach new disciples to obey everything that He had commanded. God’s commands are to keep His children from danger and to guide them on a path for maximum impact for God’s kingdom.
To build a spiritual legacy, children should be dedicated to the Lord and then led into salvation. As your children grow in their personal relationship with the Lord, they will grow in their obedience to you and the Lord. Once your child has been saved, they need to be water baptized and Spirit baptized. Both of these events will be spiritual milestones in their lives to look back on for the rest of their lives.
When you are confident of your child’s relationship with Jesus and their understanding, usually by age 8 or so, encourage them to be water baptized. Water baptism does not save you, it is an act of obedience by those who are already saved. Encourage your children to pray to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Now, we have spoken of four distinct spiritual experiences that should be part of every child’s spiritual legacy. Child dedication, salvation, water baptism and Spirit baptism. Yet, there are other aspects of their spiritual legacy that only you, as a parent can provide.
Joshua 3:17 (ESV) Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
As the children stood on the edge of the Promised Land, they had to cross the river Jordan, which was in flood stage. As the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stepped into the river, God did a miracle. The flowing water was cut off, so that a dry path across the river bed opened up. So, the whole nation of Israel was able to cross the Jordan on dry ground. Joshua then gave a command to …
Joshua 4:5 (ESV) And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel,
One man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel was to go into the dry ground in the middle of the Jordan river and carry out a stone. When all the people had passed through the Jordan and the priests set foot on the far bank, the water of the river Jordan began flowing again. The twelve stones were then set up as a monument in Gilgal in the promised land as a memorial of what God had done. In the future, the people were to …
Joshua 4:6-7 (ESV) that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
The stone monument was to be a memorial to help future generations remember God’s miracle of power. When children asked what the stones meant, the parents were to tell them the story of how the waters of the Jordan were stopped, so that the people could cross over on dry ground. The parents were to remind their children of God’s power.
As parents, we also have a responsibility to establish memorials of God’s past power. It’s not enough to just teach our children the stories of God’s miracles in the Bible. We need to tell them true stories of miracles in our lives, in our day, or in our parents lives.
Sometimes, God has done miracles in children’s lives as infants or young children that they do not even remember. We need to tell our children how God healed them or protected them in the past. How has God worked in your lives as parents over the years? You should have stories to tell your children of God’s faithfulness and power in answered prayers.
As parents, we also need to be helping our children develop godly habits. Habits such as daily time reading God’s Word and prayer. Habits of being part of worship at church and small group Bible studies. Habits of tithing and being a witness for Jesus. Habits of serving and discipling others. For every habit or memorial that you teach your children, they need to know the meaning of it. Why they should carry it on and teach it to their children. Remind your children of God’s power.
God wants each of us, as parents to build a spiritual legacy that will last for generations. When each of us has passed on, no one will be interested in our earthly accomplishments. What will be most important is what we have passed on to our children. When I was a boy, my parents put a plaque on my bedroom wall which read “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” We can build a spiritual legacy for Christ, by dedicating our children to the Lord early in life.
Teach them God’s Word and leading them in the spiritual milestones of salvation, water baptism and Spirit baptism. Remind your children of God’s power in your own life and in our day. Establish memorials in their lives that they will remember. Teach godly habits that honor God and bless others. As you do, you will be building a spiritual legacy that God will bless through the thousandth generation.