Psalm 78:1-8 (ESV)

A Maskil OF Asaph.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

[2] I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old,

[3] things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

[4] We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,

and the wonders that he has done.

[5] He established a testimony in Jacob

and appointed a law in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers

to teach to their children,

[6] that the next generation might know them,

the children yet unborn,

and arise and tell them to their children,

[7] so that they should set their hope in God

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments;

[8] and that they should not be like their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Salvation is not hereditary. There is no spiritual DNA that is inevitably passed on from one generation to the next. Every true conversion to Christ begins as an act of pure grace. God has no grandchildren. He has children.

That said, it needs to be pointed out that while faith is not hereditary it often travels in family lines. The reason is obvious. God honours the faithfulness of his people. He keeps his promise to give the desire of the heart to those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). God has answered countless prayers of countless Christian parents regarding the conversion of their children.

Those who have a passion for God will demonstrate that passion everywhere and are not going to keep quiet about it in the home. Those passions that are such an integral part of one’s life are going to be caught by the children of those who have them. Passions are like that. We see this all the time in pastors with sons in the ministry, athletes with children who excel at sports, doctors begetting doctors. It is not just the sins of the fathers that get passed on to the next generation. The commandment that promises the passing on of sins to the third and fourth generations also promises steadfast love to thousands of generations of those who keep His commandments.

In the piece of Scripture before us today we see this principle at work. There is no indication that conversion of the children taught is guaranteed but there is no doubt that where there is a great passion for God in the home it will get passed on to the next generation.

We see it most strongly in verse 4. “We will not hide … the glorious deeds of the Lord … and the wonders that he has done”. A Christian parent should never see himself as under a duty to evangelize his children. He should, rather, see that he has the inestimable privilege to talk to those he loves the most about the wonders that have captured his heart. Verse 4 does not say “we will tell our children about God.” It says “we will not hide… the glorious deeds … and the wonders…” . Who considers the deeds glorious? Who sees the work of God as glorious wonders? The father who walks with God, who knows God. No one ever has to be told to speak about what he finds glorious and full of wonder. It would pain him not to tell of such things.

The key to being a good father and growing children who will believe is to have a very large “wow” factor when it comes to God and His works. The smaller our God is to us the smaller He will appear to be to the children we are trying to influence for Him.

Fathers – is there anything that prevents you from getting to know God better and to be enraptured with all that He is? Have you become enamoured with lesser things at God’s expense? This is idolatry and you can be sure that such attitudes will be passed on to your children. Do not let anything take God out of the supreme place of receiving heart felt worship from you. It is why you are made. It is the formula for passing on to the next generation the truth about a glorious God.

Pray in a greater knowledge and love for God (See Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21). Repent of the sin of relegating God to less than first place. It is the sin of idolatry. Thank God that he will use you to pass on His great wonders to your children and go at it in the strength that God gives to all His children who are serious about their obedience to Him.