Pass it On

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Our Scripture reading this morning is take from Deuteronomy 6:1-9:
Deuteronomy 6:1–9 ESV
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 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.
May God bless this reading of His holy and infallible Word.
In my mind’s eye I can still see the sparks flying from the campfire as my youth group and I sang the song Pass It On. At that young age, it was easy for me to imagine the passing on my faith to others was a simple matter—as simple as starting a fire; but time and experience has proven otherwise. Making disciples for Christ who “love the LORD our God with all their heart, all their soul, and all their might”, has proven itself much more difficult than lighting a fire.
This morning we return to the Shema, but this time we are looking at it in a bigger context. The goal of the Shema and in fact the whole of the book of Deuteronomy is stated in vs. 2:
Deuteronomy 6:2 ESV
that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
The book of Deuteronomy was given in order that we, our children and our children’s children would love and fear the LORD all the days of their life. In other words, its goal is that we pass on the faith to the next generation. In vss. 6-9, Moses explains how we can do this. Moses loves threes—we are to love God with all our heart, soul and might; and in keeping with his pattern, passing on the faith is...
A Personal Matter
A Family Matter
A Communal Matter
He begins in vs. 6, by saying:
Deuteronomy 6:6 ESV
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

A Personal Matter

This makes sense, you cannot pass on what you do not have personally.
Before I move on, I want to repeat what I just said, because it is so self-evident that I is often neglected.
You cannot pass on what you do not have personally!”
The most important thing you can do for others is to have a living and abiding faith. There are many “rules” of good communication but the most import one is this: “Good communication begins with who you are—not what you do.” This is especially important in close interpersonal relationships such as family or friends. With skilled rhetoric you can deceive strangers, but you can never deceive your family by mere words alone. Verse 6 is about being the type of person who can effectively communicate the gospel, not only to strangers, but to those who are closest to you.
In this verse, Moses says the Word of God should be upon our hearts. What does he mean by "upon your hearts”? Last week we learned that in the Bible “the heart” is the whole inner person; that is, our intellect, emotions, and will. I listed these thing in this order, because there is an order to how God’s Word transforms our hearts. The transformation begins with receiving and understanding God’s Word in our intellect. In Romans 12:2 we read:
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Notice what Paul is saying here. He is saying we cannot have our wills transformed until we have our minds transformed. This makes sense when you think about it—we cannot know God’s will if we don’t know God’s Word.
This is why we much devote ourselves to the hearing, reading and understanding of God’s Word. Because this is topic is so important, I want to offer your some practical help on how to do this. First you need to commit yourself to the regular public teaching and preaching of God’s Word offered through the gathered church. In a moment I am being to speak about private reading and study, but I cannot stress strongly enough that we must not neglect the public preaching and teaching of God’s Word. This is God’s ordained way in He transforms our hearts. The transformation of our hearts by God’s Word is a divine, supernatural act. If we neglect His primary means, we should not expect the miracle of transformation in our lives.
As for personal study, you need to understand the content and storyline of the Bible and secondly, the doctrine of the Bible. This begins with daily reading the Bible. As a resource for this I would recommend a good study Bible and a good Bible survey. As for understanding doctrine, I have placed three recommendations at the bottom of the outline in the bulletin. I am talking about this here, because you cannot teach others until you are well grounded in God’s Word.
At this point I want to stress something—it is not enough to simply know Scripture intellectually. All the Protestant denominations in the past devoted themselves to catechizing their children. The average Protestant prior to the 20th century would put us to shame with their biblical knowledge. This being said, most fell into apostacy due to 19th and early 20th century liberalism. How could people who knew the Bible and its doctrines so well, so easily fall away from the faith? It because although they knew God’s Word, they neither loved it nor obeyed it! Knowledge of God’s Word without a delight in it and an obedience to it is spiritual poison!
This is why you need to ask yourselves three questions every time you hear or read God’s Word: Do I understand it? Do I delight in it? Do I resolve to keep? Verse 6 calls us to a whole-hearted faith. We cannot pass on what we do not have!
Now we are ready to move on to Moses’ second point: Passing on our faith is...

A Family Matter

We see this in vs. 7:
Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Most people today do not know what a family is, because they have not transformed their minds by the Word of God. The biblical family consists of three or four generations. The Bible knows nothing of the so-called “nuclear family”. The nuclear family is a purely modern invention and a very bad one at that!
The biblical family is a unit of three or four generations. The eldest male is the “head of the household”, then comes his children (the second generation), his children’s children (the third generation), and sometime his grandchildren’s children (the fourth generation). This biblical family is reflected in the Ten Commandments:
Exodus 20:5–6 ESV
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Sadly, modern culture has often scattered the family to the four winds, with family members living hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, but this has not changed how God views the family and what he expects of each of us within it. Each of us, has the responsibility to be faithful covenant members and to pass it on the next generation.
While Ex. 20:6, is still before us, I want to point out something about the promise found here. The promise is that if we are faithful to the covenant, God will bless our families “thousands” of generations into the future! This is clearly a supernatural miracle. All of us can understand how our sins can negatively impact the present members of our three or four generation family. A few weeks ago, I spoke of how the adultery of my maternal grandfather negatively impacted his whole family. This does not take a miracle; this is what naturally happens when we sin; but to have our families blessed thousands of generations into the future is beyond our comprehension! If a generation is 20 years, that means the blessing will extend a minimum of 20,000 years!
I hope this encourages you. Some of you listening look to the past and see wasted opportunities. Others of you live hundreds or thousands of miles from your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and wonder how you can have any meaningful impact on their lives. Nevertheless, God’s promise still stands—if you are a faithful covenant member, God will bless your family far into the future!
Now that I have given you this encouragement, we are ready to look at vs.7 more closely. Let us bring it before us again:
Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
The first thing we notice is that Moses says we must “diligently” teach our children. According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, to be diligent is to be “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort”. I also find it interesting that our English word “diligence” comes from a Latin word meaning “to love”. We are diligent about the things we love. That is why vs. 6 is so important, if we do not love God’s Word, we will not be diligent in teaching it.
The second thing I want you to notice is that Moses expects children to be instructed on spiritual matters is in the home. It is of critical importance that Christian families devote themselves to the public teaching and preaching of God’s Word, but this is not enough in and of itself. If it were, God would not be teaching us in vs. 7, to do it in the home as well.
Finally, we see Moses speak of informal teaching, or as some would like to call it taking advantage of “teaching opportunities”. When Moses says “when you sit in the house”, he means we should be prepared to talk about our faith at home. When he says, “when you walk by the way”, he means when we are away for the home. When he says, “when you lie down”, he means when you go to bed, and when he says, “when you rise”, he means when you get up. Taken together this is a poetic way of saying you should be talking about your faith everywhere and all the time!
This brings us to vs. 8-9:
Deuteronomy 6:8–9 ESV
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.
In these two verses, Moses is teaching us that passing on the faith is...

A Communal Matter

The point here is not to wear phylacteries and have little metal boxes on our doors with Scripture texts in it. The point is to go public with our faith.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, one of the reasons we don’t diligently teach our children at home and talk about our faith everywhere and at any time is because we do not want to appear “strange”. The fallen world is not doing these things, so we keep our faith to ourselves.
At the end of his life, Joshua gathered all of Israel together at Shechem. He knew that Israel was surrounded by unbelieving neighbors and that the temptation for spiritual compromise would be strong, so he challenged Israel with these words:
Joshua 24:14–15 ESV
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Jesus gave us the same challenge:
Matthew 10:32–33 ESV
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:38 ESV
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Do you understand the true significance of what we are doing here this morning? As we gather to worship God in Jesus Name, we are taking a stand against everything the world stands for. There can be no compromise. There is no middle ground. We are either for Jesus or we are against Him.
Under the New Covenant, as we hear the Word of God preached and taught publicly, a miracle happens—the Word of God is written and placed within our hearts. This is unlike what we see in vss.8-9, where the Word of God was written one clothing and foreheads, and placed in boxes to be hung on the door.
Brothers and sisters, if you will diligently apply yourself to the public preaching and teaching of God’s Word, you will be supernaturally blessed and transformed. You will become like a spark in God’s fire.
I began my message speaking of my naive and immature understanding of the song Pass It On. The problem was not the analogy, but my understanding of what was analogous. The love of God does spread the fire of God like a spark; however, the love of God is not produced as easily as a spark in a fire. To pass on the faith to the next generation take nothing less than divine supernatural power on God’s part and covenantal faithfulness on our part. With that said, let us turn God as ask Him for the grace to become sparks in the God’s fire!
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