Dear Young People,

I want to share with you exactly how God views the younger generations in this world. Cain and Abel were young men. Cain was responsible for his sin and Abel was recognized for giving God the best of what he had. Isaac, Abraham’s son, was a young man when God provided a ram as a substitute for him as a sign that He would provide a final atoning sacrifice for all of His people through Abraham’s descendants. Samuel was a child when he became God’s prophet. David was a teenager when God used him to defeat Goliath. Ruth was a young woman whom God used to tell the story of redemption. Josiah was a child who became king and restored God’s Law to Israel. The twelve disciples and Timothy were young men being used by God in amazing ways.

There is something I notice in the Scriptures in every instance God refers to a young person or young people. He does not keep younger generations at arms-length. He does not plan activities to simply occupy children, teenagers, and young adults with movies, field-trips, games, or music. He does not water-down or dumb-down the Gospel for them. In fact, God used children, youth, and young adults to accomplish His own purpose and will. He gives them the full Gospel, He uses them to restore His Law, and He condemns anyone who would share less than what Christ has for all His people (Matthew 19:13-15). I hate that so many teachers and churches are giving you so much less than what Christ has for you for the sake of keeping you occupied until you are old enough. According to God’s word and His example, you need everything that Christ has for you in His word and you do not need any piece of it to be hidden. This is what we all need.

In Paul’s letter to the saints, he writes about God’s work in the generations.

Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Why we praise God alone (v. 14-15)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 

As Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, he gives a reason for His praise to God the Father and for his humble submission to the Father. In verses 11 and 12, Paul wrote that, according to God’s eternal purpose which He carried out in Jesus Christ our Lord, we have boldness and confident access to the manifold wisdom of God (v. 10) through faith in Jesus Christ.

What I notice, here, is that praise and submission to God is the result of God working out His own eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (v. 11). It is God who does God’s own work in producing praise, submission, prayer (v. 14), and perseverance (v. 13) in His chosen people (1:4). This is why Paul claims to bow his knees before the Father, which is a reference to prayer- particularly intercession for the saints (those chosen by God, 1:4).

from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…

After mentioning the Father, Paul identifies Him as the one from whom every family both in heaven and on earth derives its name. We have already seen that God the Father is the one who is working out His own eternal purpose in Christ Jesus and the only one who is producing praise, submission, prayer, and perseverance in His chosen people. The indication, here, is that God’s foreordination and His working together of all things even applies to the names of every family in heaven and on the earth. God is so intently and intimately involved with His creation that we are not even born into the families we are born into by accident. We are not born into the generations we are born into by accident. We do not live in our geographical areas by accident. We do not attend the schools that we attend by accident. We are not part of a particular socio-economic class by accident. God is not whimsically involved, nor is the world left to its own devices in any way.

The source and purpose of real faith (v. 16-19)

…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; 

When Paul bows his knees in praise, submission, and prayer, he is asking God the Father, who works all things together according to His own eternal purpose, to grant the saints (1:1) strength with power. Paul is praying that God will do this according to the riches of His own glory. He is praying that this strength and power would be received through the indwelling of God’s Spirit and so that Christ may dwell in the hearts of the saints through faith.

The source of real faith has nothing to do with the ministries or programs of a church. You will not receive real faith because you participate in church or because you do something spiritual. I care about you enough to tell you the truth of Scripture. You will not really benefit by participating in a church or ministry that does not believe in and live like God is truly and wholly sufficient and providential.

The source of real faith is God alone. He grants real faith according to the riches of His own glory and according to His own purpose. I beg you not to settle for anything less in life. I will not use anything less than Christ to try to attract you, because anything less than Christ used to attract you to a building is not profitable for you. Instead, like Paul, I pray that God grants you real faith in Christ. Nothing less will do. Nothing else will really profit you.

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

The result that Paul prays for is that those who are grounded in love, being granted faith by God alone, may know the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love, which surpasses knowledge. The fullness of Christ’s love is not something that we can learn or study. It must be revealed. Only when we know the fullness of Christ love may we be filled up to all the fullness of God. Cute games and a creative object lesson cannot do this. A concert and free pizza cannot do this. This is only accomplished if God grants real faith in Christ Jesus.

The sufficiency of God in every generation (v. 20-21)

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Paul recognizes that it is God who is the able one. God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. He is able to do much more than what Paul is praying for according to the power that works within us- that’s God’s Holy Spirit (v. 16). Because this is the way that God works, He is the one who receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.

When the organized church uses any method of attractional ministry to get young people into a building, it proves that it does not trust God or believe what God’s word claims about the way that God does His own work. So, our prayer is that God would grant faith in the generations according to His own eternal purpose, according to the riches of His own glory, and for His own glory.

At our local church, we are starting to do youth ministry and evangelism to youth and their families. Our goal is not to occupy youth or keep them entertained. Our goal cannot be to attract one generation or another to a building. Our goal cannot be to have a large youth group. Our goal is to give youth everything that Christ has given for His people in His word.

Young person, my dream for you is that you would get bored with mediocre faith and being occupied by things that are of no real benefit to you. I pray that you will come to love Christ by God’s grace and sit under the accurate and powerful preaching and teaching of God’s word in a genuine local church.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply