Continuity

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
We have often heard that any religious movement, political system, or other human endeavor is “only one generation away from failure.” One of the great frustrations of the human experience is the feeling of impermanence. This troubled the Preacher in Ecclesiastes. “For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 6:12). Our mortality ensures that no human can ever begin anything in certainty that it will remain forever. We must pass on all our material accomplishments to others who may or may not preserve them.
It was with full knowledge of human frailty and impermanence that Paul gave instructions to Timothy as to how to preserve faithfulness in the church. First, be strong and steadfast yourself. Any who care for the continuance of genuine, Biblical faith must display it personally. No relay runner can pass on a baton that he does not hold. No one can provide for the continuance of religious convictions who is not himself convicted. If Christian service was to pass from Paul through Timothy on to other generations, each link in the chain must be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus.
Second, Timothy was to teach others “to teach others.” These teachers must be “faithful” — i.e., both dependable and full of faith in Jesus. It is significant that Paul did not anticipate that faith would replicate itself unceasingly without effort. The carrying on of the work requires training and work. Paul had first taught Timothy. Timothy was to train the next generation by committing to them those things taught him by Paul. They, in turn, were to teach others still, and so the process continued. Almost two thousand years later we continue to be the beneficiaries of, and participants in, this process.
This past March I was in Darjeeling district in India, conducting Gospel meetings and seminars. One day we baptized 15 people in a local river. While the baptisms were taking place I took a picture of a very cute baby boy, sitting in the gravel by the river playing with the rocks. Later I saw him in the arms of his mother, one of the new Christians from that day. Next to her was a girl in her mid-teens, also baptized on the same occasion. I learned that the teenage girl is the daughter of a lady that was baptized about eight years ago in East Nepal, during a campaign that I was conducting then. I could not help but reflect on the continuity of our work as demonstrated by these events, and then offer prayer that in another fifteen years or so someone would be baptizing the young son of this other mother who is now a Christian.
The most significant aspect of this whole process is the enormous weight it gives to personal responsibility. No one is likely to be more influential in the faith (or lack of faith) of that little boy than his mother. I am certain that the teenager who became a Christian did so largely because her mother has been faithful these last eight years and has taught her to believe in Jesus. The ongoing faithfulness of the church in the future is not primarily dependant upon schools, lectureships, or brotherhood journals. It is much more likely to be determined by how each Christian parent influences their children, and by how older Christians in every congregation teach in their Bible classes and give an example of mature Christianity in their daily lives. Let us each follow God?s plan for continuity. Be strong and teach others!

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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