What is Your Legacy?
Video played before sermon
Our passage this morning comes from Deuteronomy 6, could you work your way there as I introduce the passage to you. I come into the pulpit this morning with a heavy heart. This is because the passage that we will be looking at is one of the reasons that I have gone into ministry. This passage combined Matthew 28 are the two verses that map out everything that Kaley and I do in our ministry. You can see it on my business card, you can see it on our brochure, and most importantly, I pray that you can see it manifested in every aspect of our ministry and our everyday lives. In fact, this chapter is so important that we see Jesus directly quoting from it four times during his ministry.
So our question today is, “What is your legacy” or “What are you living for?” By show of hands who in here knows the names of all four of their grandparents? How many know the names of all eight of their great-grandparents? How many know the names of all 16 of their great-great-grandparents? So it is clear, that living a life for yourself is vanity. For if your own family will not even remember your name a couple generations removed from your death, why would anyone else?
So my goal this morning is to call you to live for something greater than yourself. To take a smaller role in a victorious story that lasts for eternity, rather than playing a major role in a story that might last 70-80, maybe even 100 years, if you are lucky, that will end in tragedy.
You see too many times we complain as we look around at this world and see that it is decaying and we act like victims as the secular world continues to reject Biblical Christianity. But I believe that the problem started with us. You see there is a huge biblical illiteracy problem in the church. You see, I believe that the country did not start out rejecting the Bible, look around America, it is written on everything, the 10 commandments used to be everywhere.
However, I believe that it was our failure as a church to pass our faith on to the next generation. So when the world came asking hard questions, so many Christians across America came up looking stupid because they lacked Biblical knowledge to give an account on why they believe what they believe. Keeping traditions for traditions sake, will cause the next generation to part from it. If you need proof of that look around this room.
But, it is not just a Flemingsburg Baptist problem, it is not just a Fleming County problem, this is a problem across our nation. You see the problem is that Americans revere the Bible- but, largely, they do not read it. And because we do not read it, we have become a nation of Biblical illiterates.
So you might be thinking surely I am exaggerating, how bad can it be? Well, this is how bad it can be… Fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. 60 percent of Americans cannot name even 5 of the 10 commandments. Americans may demand that the 10 commandments be posted in the courthouse, but they seem unable to remember what exactly they are.
What is scarier is that 82 percent of Americans think that “God helps those who help themselves”, is a Bible verse. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’ family.
Another survey of graduating high school seniors reveals that more than 50 percent thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. Yet another survey revealed that a considerable number of respondents thought that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
In summary, we are in big trouble. And we might need to quit looking at the outside and complain about what is happening and start considering if this might be our fault. We may just discover that the reason our nation is in such bad shape is because our churches are so unhealthy. And I think that it is foolish to think that God is going to cause a revival to happen unless the church rises up and stop looking so much like the world.
So what do we do? Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of Biblical teaching and preaching. Biblical illiteracy is our problem and recovery starts at home. Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, teaching them the Word of God. Parents cannot franchise out their responsibility to the congregation, no matter how faithful it may be. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to Biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of Biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches. (Mohler, 2005)
And that leads us to our passage today, I believe we get the instructions on how we can fix this problem. Today I want to specifically talk to the men, the fathers of our congregation because I believe specifically that is who this text is speaking too, and because I believe that the church as a whole this is where we are the weakest in America.
So the question can be asked, “what about daughters and wives?” Are they excluded by these instructions to fathers and Sons? Absolutely not, by not mentioning them directly they are more included-not less-and more protected-not less-by these commands.
Wives whose husbands obey these commands will constantly hear God’s Word repeated and discussed. Daughters of fathers who heed these commands will scarcely be able to avoid the repetition and discussion of the Word of God. And when fathers obey these commands and repeat and discuss the words to their sons, they ensure that other wives and daughters will be led by husbands and fathers who will do the same. The father is the key to the family, and a son is a future father. (Hamiliton, 2011)
If I was to tell you that I knew of a way that we could decrease suicide, rape, dropouts, and people in prison, you would want me to tell everyone, in fact, you would probably join me in telling everyone. Well, that is what I am telling you today, that we have a man-sized problem. For proof that America is suffering from a man problem, all you have to do is look at the stats. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, 90% of all runaways grew up in fatherless homes, 85% of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes, 80% of rapists were raised in fatherless homes, 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes, and 85% of all youth sitting in prisons grew up in fatherless homes. You see we have men around, but they are not really around. (Wright, 2008)
But you might say, “Well, that is the world, surely we are doing better in the church.” However, sadly that is not true, just like in the world, men are around, but they are not really around. Look at these startling stats of what the church in America looks like.
The typical US church congregation draws an adult crowd that is 61% female and 39% male. So you might say what is the big deal over 21%? Well that 21% means that on any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in church. Making men one of the largest unreached demographics in America.
This Sunday over 25% of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands. Over 70% of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return. More than 90% of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only 2 out of 6 will attend church on any given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church. (Murrow, 2005)
So needless to say, we have man sized problem in our country and in our churches. So what will we do about it. Well, luckily, God does not leave us in the dark and that is what I hope to display from our text this morning.
However, before we get started in the text today, let us answer the question, why would you eliminate over half the congregation and speak directly to men? Would it not be better to do this sermon during a men’s bible study? This is because we all need to be able to recognize a Godly man or be able to instill these characteristics into younger men.
For example, young men need to hear this message because they need to know what God expects of them. They may have learned how to be a man from their father, but are wondering how it works out Biblically or they may have an absence of a father in their life and have questions on what it really looks like to be a Man of God.
Likewise, Young women need to hear this message because they need to be able to have a standard of what kind of man they will or will not date. They need to hear that they need to let God make a man out of him, before they try to make a boyfriend or husband out of him. That being single is better than being in the wrong relationship.
More mature men need to hear this message because maybe they are doing well in some of the areas, but need to improve in that area that they have over looked and to be able to cultivate these characteristics into their own children or younger men that they are discipling. The disciple making process never stops, if you no longer have children at home find someone else you can invest your life into.
And mature women need to hear this message because maybe God is calling you to be like Eunice and Lois, the mother and grandmother of Timothy, who had carefully taught Timothy the Scriptures so that when he was still young God was able to use him to help aid Paul in his ministry. Or, to come up behind your husband and support him in his God given role as leader, provider, and protector of the home.
So now, let us look at our passage today, because it is very clear that it speaks to us today.
V. 1-3: You see in chapter 5 Moses had just given the nation of Israel the 10 commandments and reminds them now in chapter 6 that while they are entering into the Promised Land that they need to remember to do these important things to make sure that God will continue to bless them. Moses says to his people, if you want to make sure that your legacy lasts forever, make sure you do this. Here we look today to see what God would have us to do to make sure that our legacy of glorifying God is passed down from one generation to the next, so that maybe the next generations might be spared from what we are going through now.
And all starts with the fear of the Lord. This fear is not a terror of God, rather it is a response of reverent awe and trust to the redemptive revelation of God. It is the Old Testament equivalent of trusting Christ or believing the Gospel. The fear of the Lord is the response of faith to all that God has done to redeem his people, as he himself interprets what he has done by his Word. (Goldsworthy, 1991)
Now let us look at the heart of the passage, starting in verse 4.
V. 4: It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the monotheistic declaration of verse 4. Israel is summoned to hear and take notice. YAHWEH is their God. YAHWEH is one. Moses says to his people if you want things to go good for you in the Promised Land, do this. This is greatly significant. Therefore, verse four is then explained in verses 5-9. Starting with verse 5.
V.5: Since YAHWEH is the sole deity means that, he is to be loved. Jesus himself quotes this passage in Matthew 22 verse 38 as the first and greatest commandment. We are not just to kind of love God, we are not to just love God, my wife, my family, baseball, and my dog, along with other things. It is our love; it is what we desire more than anything. Our love for God should be so great that it looks like we hate everything else.
But, how can this be so? How can God command us to love Him? This is so counter-cultural, that many cannot fathom how someone can be commanded to love. People today often think love is like the wind. It blows where it wills. You cannot control it, you cannot do anything about it. If you are in love with your spouse, great. But if you wake up one morning and “fall out of love”, go ahead and get a divorce.
Or, if you love your next-door neighbors, that’s good. But if they and their annoying kids annoy you to no end, well, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot force yourself to love them, right?
In short, too many of us think of love as the wind. If the wind strikes us, we are inspired. If not, we are indifferent. However, love in the Bible is very different thing. For one, love can be commanded. The Bible commands us over and over again to love God, our neighbor, our fellow Christians, and even our enemies. Certainly love can grow cold, and can lose the love we had at first. But, scripture commands us to love each other genuinely, affectionately, and earnestly, and to love God with all we got. Love is not the wind that cannot be grasped, but something that can be commanded and striven for, something we can even stir up in others. (Jamieson, 2013)
Therefore, love God with all you have, if you do not feel like it that particular day, start by reflecting on what he did for you. While you were still in sin, while you were still an enemy, he went to the cross for you so that you can spend eternity with him, because he loves you.
Verse 6 shows us that we are to obey our one and only God. Here in this verse we get some very good news. Here Moses is answering the question, how are we going to keep these commandments? You see Christianity is not a works based religion, you are not going to be able to work your way to heaven. So You cannot keep the commandments faithfully enough to get there either. So if you leave here today burdened, thinking that I told you to do more and try harder, you missed the point.
So follow the train of thought that is going on so far. Moses is telling us that if you fear and love your one and only God, you should expect an internal transformation. God gives you a new heart. This echoes the words of Jesus when he says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” You see, we keep the commandments because God through the Holy Spirit changes our hearts, not because of our own willpower or because it is a checklist of things to do to make sure God still loves you.
So in this passage we are not called to pull ourselves up by our own boot straps, to do more, to try harder. No, in fact it is a test, a measuring stick for how we are doing. Moses is answering the question, how can I know that I am loving and fearing God enough? The answer is if you have received a new heart and on that new heart is written God’s commandments. We obey not out of our own willpower, but because of the heart change that has occurred in us.
We should pause here and take stock of the enormous significance of what Moses announces in chapter 6 verses 4 through 6: YAHWEH alone is God; Israel is to love YAHWEH; his commands are to be on their hearts. What Moses says next will undoubtedly be of great significance.
What will he say next? Something about kings or armies or economics? Or is there something more fundamental than those things? Perhaps something that will produce righteous kings? Something that will teach soldiers that there are things worth more than peace and more than life? Something that will ensure economic stability? And what might accomplish all that?
The high and beautiful truths that YAHWEH is the only true and living God who is to be loved and obeyed will be followed by something of equal significance: a specified approach to passing on the knowledge of this one true God to the generations that will follow.
And who will be responsible for passing this valuable information to the next generation? Will it be the king, maybe the prophets, or what about the priests? No, the main responsibility for education falls to the parents.
You see this concept has become counter-cultural to us. We hire math teachers to teach us math, we hire science teachers to teach us science, football coaches to teach us football, baseball coaches to teach baseball. Parents today can delegate out almost everything that there child needs to learn. However, let us take the example of baseball.
When you go to the community park and you watch kids that get equal time with coaches, equal time on the playing field, equal time at practice, but it becomes evident that not all players are equal. Why is that? You could say, that it is because of different levels of athletic ability, but I believe that has little to do with it.
Baseball is a game of repetition, a game of skill, just being athletic is not going to help you hit an 80MPH fastball and definitely not a curve ball. No, when you go to the ballpark, it will soon become clear which kids practice at home, which ones find ways to play it every chance they get, the ones that even think about it the most compared to those that only come out for the scheduled times their teams play or practice. You see, your child is never going to be good at the game of baseball if they are only doing the least amount as possible.
I say all this to say, how many of us do this with our discipling of our own children and grandchildren, or maybe others that God has placed in our lives to disciple? How many of us rely solely rely on the hour on Sunday, to have God’s Word spoken into our lives? I can guarantee you this, you if you are only spending one-two hours with God a week, it doesn’t matter if it was Billy Graham preaching to you, your life and your family’s life will never be changed if you allow the world to speak into your family’s life the other 165-166 hours of the week.
If we know that a baseball player needs to be making 200 cuts a day, how much more important to the growth of a disciple of Christ to be in his Word, reading it, praying it, discussing it, and applying it.
However, before we look at the details of verse 7, we must observe that only those who believe that YAHWEH alone is God (4) will do this; only those who live to love YAHWEH in everything they are and do (5) will do this; and only those on whose laws are written on their hearts (6) will obey what verse 7 commands.
So it is important for us not to ask the question, “how can I be a better father, grandfather, or disciple-maker?” And skip right here to verse 7. In order to be effective here you have to be committed to verses 4 through 6.
V.7: This one and only God is to be remembered verbally in the household. What follows verses 4-6 is an explanation of the means for passing on the knowledge of this one God to generations yet to come. If YAHWEH alone is God, he deserves to be worshipped, loved, and obeyed even after the current generation dies. Here Moses is answering the question, “Since our God deserves to be glorified in the next generations, how & when is the best time to be making disciples? We learn the how in the first word of this verse. Repeat, repetition aids learning. We are not to just tell our children about God, but are to repeatedly tell our children about God.
Moses responds to when we disciple our children by saying, when you are getting up, when you are laying down, when you are walking, when you are sitting. Discipling your children is not in a hit-or-miss manner. You must be intentional. In other words, anytime is a good time to talk about the things of God. (Hamilition, 2011)
It is like if you asked me what do they sell at Steve’s Ace Hardware. I would reply they have everything from A-Z. What I do not mean is that they literally have everything, but what I am communicating is that if you need something for your home, Ace is the place. And that is what Moses is doing. We do not literally have to talk about God every second of the day.
However, if we love God and his commandments are written on our hearts then we should naturally and intentionally find ourselves driven to want to talk about it.
However, I fear that we miss so many opportunities because we fail to see that the Christian faith is all inclusive. If we were inside a building looking out through a clear glass window, I might ask you, “well, tell me what you see when you look outside?”
You might begin by describing the grass and the tree and the vehicles on the street. Now would not you find it odd or strange if I asked, “well, did you see the window?” One does not talk about the window. Instead, one sees the world through it.
And yet, in the end it is the window that is passed on and transferred to the child. They will see the world through the window that we give them. And this window is important, because how we see the world is greatly affected by the window we are looking out. So we want to be able to give our children a clearest window as possible to look out. We must make sure that our minds are so filled and saturated with the scripture that our world-and-life view is completely shaped by the biblical teaching. (Gentry, 2013)
And that is exactly what we see in the life of Jesus. Jesus used all waking moments and activities, He used the opportunities at hand to speak of the creator God, of all aspects of his creation and also of the God who is in covenant relationship with his people.
For example, Jesus trained his disciples through formal teaching such as the Sermon on the Mount. However, Jesus also taught as he walked, as he talked, and the disciples learned from him on a day-by-day, moment by moment basis. As a result, many of the episodes in the Gospels reveal how Jesus used different opportunities as teaching moments. For example, the parable of the fig tree.
The good news for fathers in this passage is that there is nothing complicated here. There is not a 10 step plan that you need to stick strictly too. There is not instructions on that you must make soteriology perfectly clear, that you must explain the difference between “infa” and “supra” lapsarinisms, or to be able to clearly explain the book of Revelations. There are no strict rules, such as you must read your Bible to them all the way through in a year, have them memorize the Bible by the time they are 15, or go through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology nightly.
No, God keeps it simple. As you are loving God, as you are living out your commandments, as you are rising, walking, and resting make sure that you are intentional about sharing the Gospel with your children.
Now the word intentional is the key word in that sentence. Discipleship is not going to happen by accident. Satan will do everything in his power to make sure of that, so make sure that you are intentional in your teaching and always looking for ways to communicate the glory of your one and only God to your children. The main point of verse 7 is that at the beginning and end of the day, and at every opportunity in-between, God’s word is to be repeated, pondered, explored, explained, and celebrated.
V.8: In verse 8, this one and only God is the window in which we interpret life. Now it is probably obvious that I do not take these verses to be literal since I am not wearing scripture bound to my forehead and hands. But, before we are too hard on Jews that do take this to be literal, calling them a bit radical, let us ask ourselves, “what are we doing to keep scripture always on our mind, and is it working better than if we were to bind them in-between our eyes and on our hands?”
The main point of verse 8 is not to bring about some mechanical activity of attaching the law to one’s forehead or hand, but to display to us that this is our power and this is the window that we should be judging every decision. It is our measuring stick for truth. In the Old Testament, the “hand” is often a figurative reference to physical power or might, and the “eye” is the organ of perception. I believe that verse 8 is calling us to bind God’s Word on our power and to make God’s Word the filter for our perception. And when we do so, it will change everything in our lives, not only our actions, but even our attitudes.
V.9: And finally, this one and only God is to be memorialized on doorposts and gates in verse 9. The doorposts and gates were the two primary points of access in their lives. They will pass through their doorposts whenever they enter or leave their homes. And they would see them at the gate because the gate of a city was the center of public activity. Buying and selling took place at the gate. Legal decisions were rendered in the area of the city gate.
However, it is clear that the writing of the words on doorposts and gates will accomplish nothing if Israel does not recognize that YAHWEH alone is God (4), love him (5), obey his commands (6), and remember Him by the teaching God’s word to their sons (7). The house and gates are to be marked by the word of god as a reflection of the inward reality that Israel is devoted to YAHWEH. Verses 4 & 5 make it clear that these items in verses 6-9 are not simply about the laws but about the one who gives the laws.
Moses did not summon Israel to obey because he was teaching a law-based religion. Moses is not giving us a stepladder into heaven, nor is he giving us a 6-step plan on parenting, or how to have your best life now. As we see in the New Testament, love for God is demonstrated by obedience. Whole-life love for YAHWEH will result in his commandments being on the heart.
You see this is a result of a change on the inside, God changes your heart therefore, you do these things. You see we will greatly miss the point of this passage if we think that we can do this on our own. That kind of devotion to the commandments divorced from love for YAHWEH also breaks the first commandment, leading only to a condemning sense of burdensome duty.
These laws can only be fulfilled by those who are dominated by the reality that YAHWEH alone is God, consumed with a love for him that finds expression in desire to please him, commitment to obeying him, and the constant occupation of mind, heart, and imagination with the wonder of who he is.
In short, only those who live to worship YAHWEH as an expression of love for him-those who trust him more than what they see with their eyes, will have the law on their hearts, teach it to their children, bind it on their hands, frontlet it to their eyes, and write it on doorposts and gates.
That is a high standard, we are going to make mistakes, and we are going to fall short. However, we serve a God, that is worth passing on to the next generation, that is worth our love, our obedience, and our remembrance. And I pray this morning that you do not hear me say, try harder, work harder, but that you hear me say that if Christ is your Lord, Savior, and Treasure.
If he is valuable to you, then you should be desiring that to be passed on to the next generation and that you naturally should be doing some of these things already. What I am calling you to is to reverse the cultural norms of our nation and to become more intentional with your own children, grandchildren, spouse, and those that God has put in your life to disciple.
So where do you start? This might all seem overwhelming to you. I encourage you to start small and to be faithful to it and see how God blesses it and grows it. Start with maybe a prayer before going to work and school. Maybe reading a passage before dinner or before going to bed.
Start small, be intentional, and be consistent. No longer assume that it is the church’s responsibility to teach your children the Bible. It is, in fact, the responsibility of every parent. And if you are a parent and you do not know the Bible, you should immediately begin reading and studying it, because at final judgment, God will hold you as parents, not the leaders of your church responsible, for the teaching of your children the Christian faith.
I pray that when we get serious about passages like Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 28 that God will do something in our community that could be epic. It is not going to be tent revivals or the mega churches. It is going to happen around the family table. The family table is central to worship. I am not saying it is going to be easy, but if we become a church known for our commitment to Deuteronomy 6 and the Great Commission, then things around here could get risky.
We would be running the risk of having an extremely biblical church and God will bless that. When we build the bridge between those two passages, church does not become perfect, but it will become extremely biblical. You get yourself into biblical community. You get yourself into partnership and accountability.
My heart is that in our community will come a day when people use a biblical worldview as their filter for everything. That this culture that has gotten so far from the Lord will come running back.
At this church, we have started talking about legacy. Some have started to walk down this road a little bit. There is nothing more precious than passing down Christ to the next generation in the context of the home. When you empower people to do that, you are giving them a gift.
So here is my dream: My prayer is that one day I will walk around and see people living out the discipleship of parents to their children. Teaching them as they rise, as they sit, and as they lie down at night. That the Gospel is their strength, it is the way they view all things in this life. And it is all rooted because of their love for Christ and that they then go into to the community to share this good news with others.
That our families will stand out, that they will become attractive, that people will see that there is something different about us, that they will just have to ask us and seek us out to see what the difference is. And then we will be able to point them to the Gospel, and that we also go out making disciples that make disciples. That is how the community is going to be redesigned. (Coobs, 2011)
Coobs, Jason. (2011, March 21). What Are You Getting Yourself Into? Message July 19, 2013, posted to Family Ministry Today: http://www.sbts.edu/family
Gentry, Peter. (2013, November 12). Raising Children, the Christian Way. Message July 20, 2013, posted to Family Ministry Today: http://www.sbts.edu/family/
Goldsworthy, Graeme. (1991). According to Plan. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
Hamilition, J. M. (2011). That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord: Family Discipleship in the Old Testament. In R. Stinson & T. P. Jones (Eds.), Trained in the Fear of God (pp. 34-38). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional.
Hamiliton, J. M. (2011, January 3). That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord. Message July 20, 2013, posted to Family Ministry Today: http://www.sbts.edu/family
Jamieson, Bobby. (2013). Sound Doctrine. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Mohler, Albert. (2005, October 14). The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem. Message July 19, 2013, posted to AlbertMohler.com: http://www.albertmoher.com/2005/10/14/the-scandal-of-bibilical-illiteracy-its-our-problem/
Murrow, David. (2005). Why Men Hate Going to Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Wright, Steve. (2008). A Parent Privilege. Wake Forest, NC: InQuest Ministries.