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Aug 13, 2023

Building Generational Faith

Passage: Deuteronomy 11:1-25

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Deuteronomy

Keywords: modeling, next-generation faith, 3 chairs


Ever wonder how to pass along a vital faith to the next generation, whether you're a parent or single? This passage is for you.


Building Generational Faith

Deuteronomy 11

August 13, 2023


Get Acquainted:  If you had a dozen children, what would be the spiritual heritage you would like to leave with them?


There is a theme running through Scripture:  God has created us to be in family that is fruitful. 

  • The very first command in the Bible: 1:28—“And God blessed them [Adam & Eve], and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over [it]”” (fish, birds, every living thing, plants, etc.). 
  • T.—sign of His blessing was many offspring…a cause for great anguish was barrenness.
  • Abraham and Sarah’s longing for children/offspring; Samuel’s mother, Hannah; Rabecca vs. her sister, Leah.
  • The multiplication of the children of Israel and promises that they would continue to grow and fill the earth if they obeyed God.
  • T.—
    • Jesus (Jn. 13:33—“my children”; Rev. 21:7—to those who are victorious God says they will be His children);
    • even among the single saints, there is constant talk of spiritual children.
      • Paul is frequently referencing his position as a spiritual father to children in the faith. (1 Cor. 4:14; 2 Cor. 6:13—the Corinthians; Galatians in Gal. 4:19; Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:2, 18; 2 Tim. 1:2, 2:1; Titus in 1:4; Philemon 1:10—Onesimus).
      • John does the same (1 Jn. 2:1; 3 Jn. 1:4)

The human drive to procreate, protect, nurture, train and make successful the next generation of people is one of the strongest, most fundamental drives of the human condition.  Only when sin and selfishness takes over does that desire become perverted and children become used, abused and deprived of life. 

This human drive is, the Bible says, a reflection of the nature of God.  God loves His family.  His creation of humanity and placing of His image in us is a reflection of His love of family.  Multiple Scriptures talk about how Israel and the church are expressions of God’s heart for “godly offspring.” 

Malachi 2:15—"Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly 

offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.”

            Given all that, can I just say that it’s a good thing for God’s people to want to have children?  God certainly knows that raising children is probably THE most demanding, long-term role any of us can enter into.  But it is also THE most rewarding and blessed undertaking too.  Even if you are single, God’s heart is to make your life abound with offspring, whether spiritual or physical.  I’ve just cited a handful of examples from the New Testament.  History is full of others.

  • Homes and orphanages built by singles around the world—Amy Carmichael in India; here at Mosaic—Lee T. in Mozambique, Sandy T. right here in Spokane; others like Winn M. who has so enfolded international students in her life that she has multiple adults around the world who call her “Mom.”
  • Spirituallysingle missionaries (often women) who go to some of the remotest and most difficult areas of the world to bring the Gospel and have “spiritual children”. (Elenore Young, Wycliffe translator to Indonesia; pilot and founder of MAF--Betty Green; Lottie Moon, S. Bapt. To China; Mary Slessor, Scottish missionary to Nigeria; plus thousands of other less-famous but no less honored by God.

One of the most challenging and gnawing questions I found rolling around in my head as a young father was, “How on earth can I guarantee that my children grow up knowing and loving God?”  Well, it quickly became evident that I can’t guarantee anything about my children’s responses to me, life or God.  So the question shifted somewhat to, “What can I do to give my children the best possibility of falling in love with God?”

            You see, there is a problem with generational faith.  We’ve all seen it. All of us are engaged in it at some level regardless of whether you are what we call a “1st-generation Christian” who is the first person in your family to come to faith in Jesus in who-knows how long OR whether you are the 2nd, 5th or 25th generation of Christians in your family.  Chances are, sadly, that there are not many 5th, 6th or 10th generation fervent followers of Jesus.  Why is that? 

ILL:  I remember hearing a message one of our Bible professors at Multnomah in chapel, Bruce Wilkerson, about The 3 Chairs.  It was essentially a message about the 3 types of Christians that tend to populate Christian families and the church.  It’s a patter that can even be seen in the Scriptures.

  1. Chair #1—Deeply Committed & Engaged Christians. These are people who have not only prayed the sinner’s prayer, been baptized and go to church.  Christ is their passion, their life.  He’s genuinely Savior and Lord of their experience and their day-to-day lifestyle.  She/he not only cares deeply about growing in Christ daily; they care that everyone around them knows and grows in Jesus.  These believers are most numerous among 1st generation Christians who have had a marked, sometimes radical conversion out of their pre-Christian life.
  2. Chair #2Compromising/church Christians. These are believers who have put their faith in Jesus, probably go to church regularly, know how to talk around their Christian family or friends but really are not surrendering every part or hour of their life to the Lord.  They believe the Christian doctrines and mostly follow the “lifestyle” but Christ is not the driving center of their soul and life.  The church is more their social group of choice rather than their dominant spiritual family.  Many 2nd generation Christians populate this chair. 
  3. Chair #3Conflicted “Christians”. The third chair stands for someone who has not responded personally to God. A third chair person may have always known he wasn’t a Christian, or may be confused about his spiritual state. Especially if he has grown up in a Christian family surrounded by God-talk, he may look, act, feel, and think like Christians – almost. But a gulf of sin lies between him and God. Until he repents of his sin and surrenders to Jesus Christ for salvation, he is at odds with his Creator and his purpose in life.

People raised in families with Chair-2 parents will tend to become “Chair-3” people.  The danger for people raised in “Chair-1” families is the drift to a life in “Chair-2”. 

            This was the same pattern observed in David’s familyDavid >> Solomon >> Rehoboam as well as Abraham >> Isaac >> Jacob.  It was the pattern Moses was deeply concerned would follow this second-generation nation of people whose children would be the third-generation responsible for taking and keeping the Promised Land.  So he is going to give us counsel and commands about what we must do and be if we care about the faith of our children and grandchildren.  So open your Bibles to Deuteronomy 11.


You’ll remember we left off last week with the call to “circumcise your hearts” (10:16).  So how did that go this week?  Did you find yourself excusing sin in your life or confronting it?  Cutting it off or coddling it? 

That command was followed immediately by the call to look at God—

  • His nature as the only true Lord and God, powerful, mighty, awesome, impartial, can’t be bought-off (10:17).
  • 18—He’s just and therefore cares deeply about how we treat the powerless and vulnerable, particularly women and immigrants/foreigners. They were to be generous with the most basic things of life like food and clothing because that’s God’s nature towards all of us. 

Vss. 20-21 again call the people to make God god of their lives by fearing, loving, serving and clinging to HIM.  How we do that could be the subject of a month of Sundays…but not today. 

            Chapter 11 begins with a continuation of this call to effectively “sit in Chair #1”!   “You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.

Moses puts on the same plain loving and obeying God.  It is possible to obey God without loving him. 

ILL:  I obey the tax laws but I don’t love them or the IRS

But love is certainly the best possible and potentially THE most powerful motivation for obedience, right? 

ILL:  If I love my country, when I’m called up in a draft to go to war and possibly die for my fellow citizen’s freedoms, I’ll gladly obey.  The last time this happened en-mass was probably WWII in our nation. 

So if I love God, my heart will want to know what He wants and then do it.  Chair #1 people are people of love for God.  The result will be that they are always seek to be people of obedience TO God.  They won’t be perfect and neither will their obedience.  But love of God will always draw them back around to seeking to do what bonds their hearts to God.  

            These first 7 verses are a direct appeal to the 2nd generation of Israelites in raising the 3rd generation.  Moses knew that the dramatic redemption experience of the first generation of this new nation posed unique challenges to their children. 

APP:  How many of us whose parents were saved in a more dramatic or decisive way have secretly wished that we had a salvation story more like theirs?  A testimony that had more before-Christ drama than ours?  Those of us in that group need to remember that it isn’t the flash of the before-Christ life that will transformation the next generation but the fervency of our present love for Jesus that will make the difference. Genuine, passionate love always leaves an impression.

            To those of us concerned about the next generation’s faith, Moses speaks here in vss. 2-7. 

Know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the Lord 

your God—His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm, and His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land; and what He did to Egypt’s army, to its horses and its chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were pursuing you, and the Lord completely destroyed them; and what He did to you in the wilderness until you came to this place; and what He did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, among all Israel—[Nu. 16] but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did.

            If we want to pass down a faith-experience to our children that is vital, we must talk with them about the God-experiences we have had in our own lives and seen in our parent’s generation.  He even singles out certain types of experiences.

  • God’s discipline of us & previous generations (vs. 2)
  • God’s saving actions on our behalf (vs. 2b)
  • God’s miracles on our behalf (vs. 3)
  • God’s defeat of what formerly enslaved us (vs. 4)
  • God’s sustaining care of us in life’s wildernesses (vs. 5)
  • God’s punishment of evildoers (vs. 6)

This list is bookended by the more difficult issues we should  talk about with the next generation—God’s discipline and His punishment. 

ILL:  Stories are powerful influencers for everyone, especially children.  I remember many a night around the dinner table when my parents would talk about something that had happened that day that showed could teach us this truth that evil has negative consequences for everyone.  Some of that came from their very own families.  They would talk about some of the mistakes their parents made in parenting or some sibling from their family made that really made life difficult for them.  [C’s self-absorption and drinking leading to mental illness; L’s laziness leading to poverty, loss of property and hardship for his children.] It wasn’t done to make themselves look good.  It was done with a sense of sadness at what it had cost their family member and how they wanted to warn us about going down that same path. 

ILL:  Sandy and I tried to do the same thing with our children.  Ministry is a gold mine full of illustrations both positive and negative about the consequences of people’s decisions.  I would come home from hearing about some pastor who had messed up his family by some sinful choice he’d made and share the story (anonymously, of course) with the family. I certainly tried not to do it in a “look how much better we are than them” sort of way but, I trust, with a real sense of sadness about the pain that sin was inflicting on their family, their church and the heart of God.

ILL:    One of the periods of my life when God was disciplining out of me my addiction to success and ministry was a period that resulted in real depression in my life.  You can ask my children, but hopefully I’ve shared that less-than-flattering period of my life with them and what God was doing with me enough that they may stop and wonder when they are super-frustrated if there isn’t something God might be trying to free them of or discipline out of their lives for their good. 

            If we really want to pass along a vital faith to the next generation, we need to get over trying to hid the times God disciplined us or the church for ungodly things.  The next generation of believers needs to know that just as loving parents discipline their children, so their loving Heavenly Father is going to discipline us in this journey.  Failure to do that presents an unrealistic and incomplete understanding of God to the next generation. 

            But the bulk of this call to tell the next generation about God’s actions in our generation has to do with the positives:  His saving actions, defeat of our sin-masters, miracles and sustaining care in the deserts of life. 

  • What deserts has God brought you through that your children need to hear about? (Me:  Spain, 9 months between pastorates)
  • What sin-masters has God freed you from that your kids need to hear about? Maybe they are the more obvious ones of drugs or alcohol or sexual addictions.  Maybe they are the less dramatic ones of worry or fear or anger or depression or perfectionism or low self-esteem
  • What miracles has God allowed you to see of healing or protection or financial provision or housing?

The next section (vss. 8-15) is a reminder to the people of God about blessings that accompany obedience to God’s word and curses that accompany disobedience. 

“You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their 

descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. 11 But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12 a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.

13 “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15 He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 

            Moses focuses upon the land that they will inhabit, the Promised Land.  He draws distinctions between it and the desert they’ve been in for 40 years as well as Egypt that many of them were born in before the deliverance.  Both places had some blessings.

  • Egypt: was meant to be a temporary place of refuge from famine (7 years or less).  Instead they turned it into a 430 year place of comfort and eventually slavery.  Their gardens there required irrigation to grow a few things.  But the Promised Land would be watered from heaven and grow crops in abundance.  ILL:  the difference between my corn patch and Nebraska.
  • Desert: had manna and quail. Promised Land had acres of grain and grass to feed their (beef?) cattle (vs. 15).  ILL:  difference between my lawn and Candice’s parent’s ranch with hundreds of head of cattle in the Pend Orielle Valley.

God prefers to motivate us to love of Him by the blessings His presence brings.  But sometimes the motivation of what we will miss out on if disobedience is our chosen route can motivate us as well.  For this, Moses uses the threats of negative consequences to the very things God promised blessing:  climate, harvests and life expectancy (vss. 16-17).

16 Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.

            I don’t want to over-extend this particular promise to the people of Israel and the Promised Land.  But biblically speaking, God’s people have always seen God as the one in-control of the weather.  Drought and severe, destructive weather, even fires, have been seen as the withholding of God’s blessing whereas timely rains and calm weather has been seen as His blessing. 

            We also know that God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 5:45).  So I don’t want to read God’s direct intervention into every firestorm, drought or hurricane.  But I find it interesting that in the current panic over “climate change”, I have never heard any of the “experts” suggest that there might be a spiritual side to climate challenges.  I think as the church, we should.  Sure, we should be responsible humans with our environment.  But even the “experts” admit that if we changed everything possible humanly speaking about our carbon emissions, the effect on the climate would be very small.  I’m personally grateful the we’re not still in a major ice-age…or all of us would be thousands of feet under ice. 

            Furthermore, God says that the nation will “perish quickly from the good land” if they start serving the wrong gods. 

APP:  While life expectancy across the world has been increasing pretty steadily

For the past 100 years, there is a sad statistic about the recent decline in life expectancy in the U.S.  Over the past 3 years, we’ve seen the largest decline in our life-expectancy in our history.  And a recent Harvard Medical bulletin gave the reasons for that decline:  “COVID-19, drug overdoses, and accidental injury [poising, auto accidents] accounted for about two-thirds of the decline in life expectancy, according to the 2022 report. Other reasons included heart and liver disease and suicides.”  [https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-life-expectancy-in-the-us-is-falling-202210202835]  What causes heart disease?  (Diet).  What causes liver disease?  (Drinking)  What causes suicides?  National article out this week says we are at THE highest rate of suicide in history now (almost 50k in 2022), suicide being the #2 cause of death in 22-45 year olds.  Suicide has been on the rise for 2 decades.  [https://www.foxnews.com/health/suicide-rates-reach-all-time-high-us-new-cdc-data]

            Moses closes this section with God’s plan for protecting future generations.  It involves 2 things:

  • Impregnating our hearts with the life-changing Word of God.
  • Imparting to our children the life-transforming Word of God.

If we will do that, there will always be more territory God wants to give us in life. 

18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 22 For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, 

and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. 25 No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.

            Notice the area God wanted to give to His chosen people?  Is that the current boundary of Israel?  Hardly.  [See MAP.]  God almost always has far more he wants to bless us with than our obedience is willing to match.  So if you think you’ve already experienced all of what God wants to bless you with, guess again! 

            What is the path to that blessing?  Vs. 18—“YOU shall therefore impress these words of mine on YOUR hearts and on YOUR soul.”

God’s plan for protecting future generations.

  • Impregnating our hearts with the life-changing Word of God.
  • Imparting to our children the life-transforming Word of God.

THE most important factor to passing on a vital faith to the next generation is an “impregnating” of God’s word in every crack and crevasse of our lives—mind, body, soul, emotions, dreams, longings, relationships, etc.  The most powerful spiritual impact on our children will be when they see the word of God impacting us powerfully.  That doesn’t guarantee every child will follow us with a passion for Christ.  But the odds that our children will catch fire spiritually is much higher when we are being consumed by the fire of God’s presence and word.  The most important thing for us to do if we care about our children and grandchildren is to tend the heart-fires of devotion to God in our own souls.  This goes directly back to what Jesse read last week out of My Heart, Christ’s Home.  The more rooms of our life Christ inhabits and controls and the more fellowship we have with Him in those rooms, the more our life will be the kind of place our children will encounter the true and living God.

            And if they choose to walk away from Him at that point, it will not be for lack of genuine exposure to the presence of God.  It will be because they deceived themselves into thinking that false gods are better than The True God and that those gods could deliver life better than God.  Sadly, their end will be as disastrous as the demise of Israel.  But we will have done what God has called us to do in modeling a love for and respect of the voice of God in His word. 


  • What chair are you living in right now? (Call to move to Chair #1.)
  • Who are the ‘children’ God has given/wants to give you to pour your life into so the next generation is rich in faith, serving the Lord? What do you need to do to make sure you follow God’s design to help them reside in that first chair?