It Takes About Three Generations

I was struck by a statement in an article about the recently tsunami-ravaged towns. In "Residents of tsunami-ravaged towns forgot wisdom left by ancestors" (4/6/11, AP), the author, Jay Alabaster, wrote about hundreds of stone markers that dot the Japanese coastline warning of the dangers of tsunamis. Some of the markers are said to be more than 600 years old.

Some are high water markers from previous tsunamis; others warn that if an earthquake comes, a tsunami might be close behind. Some give brief advice from the past, such as "Choose life over your possessions and valuables."

A stone in Aneyoshi reads, "High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point."

Those who headed the warning ~ like the residents in Aneyoshi ~ were spared in the recent tsunami. Other towns did not. Yuto Kimura (12) from Aneyoshi said they studied about the markers in school, and when the tsunami came, his mother got him from school and the entire village climbed to higher ground.

Years ago, I joined a revival team, Life Action Ministries, but as I progressed through summer training, I came under intense conviction. The team evangelist, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., preached a message titled "Phoney Baloney Christians." He spoke about the "fruit" that should be apparent in the life of a Christ-follower, and emphasized the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21 ~ "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven...." I recognized that I had trusted in my goodness and Christian "works" for salvation, not in Christ's work on the cross.

Still under conviction a few days later ~ during a high school assembly program on September 7, 1971, singing "Do You Know My Jesus?" ~ I finally heeded Del's warning and responded to the Spirit of God. I broke down, left the microphone, and turned my life over to the Lord Jesus in the prayer room.

Though I was still a sinner, because of God's grace there was a radical change in my life. A transformation process began, and I didn't desire to go back to my old habits. I struggled with sin, but I was changed at the core. Because of my experience, I believe with all my heart that there is a massive number of "believers" today in our churches who may have said all the right words, but they had no heart change. They have no personal relationship with God.

This is a generation abounding with false teachers and false prophets, ready to give alternatives to the powerful, transforming message of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-5; Romans 3:10-12; 10:9-10; 1 Peter 3:18; John 3:16-18, 36). They call into question the truth of scripture, and everything is "relative" and subjective. This is a generation that disregards the warnings of past generations about moral issues, and how lack of moral absolutes can destroy lives, families, and nations.

Some time ago, I wrote a pamphlet, "Learn to Discern,"* available at Revive our Hearts ministries and packed with helpful scriptures. It describes how to recognize and respond to error in the culture. My basic points were:

  • We need to be discerning and learn how to discern between truth and error (James 1:5).
  • We need to be alert and notice the corrupting pull of the culture, and how it usually runs counter to the will of God (Ephesians 5:17b)
  • We need to be biblical ~ to know and teach the truth, and show it in our lives (Hebrews 5:14b).
  • We need to be courageous in identifying and exposing the works of darkness (1 Peter 5:8).
  • We need to be prayerful in interceding for those who are caught in Satan's snare (Ephesians 6:18).
  • And we need to be proactive, and protect ourselves against the poison of error with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:12-17).
The Bible, which warns that many will fall away from the faith and truth in the Last Days (Matthew 24:10; 1 Timothy 4:1), also gives us many warning signs to protect us from the "isms" of our day. But we have to know our Bibles. We have to read them. We have to heed them.

Yotaru Hatamura, a scholar who studied the Japanese marker stones, said, "People had this crucial knowledge, but they were busy with their lives and jobs, and many forgot." Fumihiko Imamura, a professor in disaster planning, said, "It takes about three generations for people to forget. Those that experience the disaster themselves pass it to their children and their grandchildren, but then the memory fades."

Part of the tragedy of America is that the memory of God's truth is fading through the generations. The media, educational institutions, entertainment world, and other cultural influences push ungodly philosophies and agendas, and the past two generations have basically accepted them without much of a fight. Many in this generation do not have a clue what "traditional values" and biblical standards are.

Parents are failing to point their children back to the wisdom of the Word of God ~ if they ever knew the truth from their own parents. The Japanese professor's warning is haunting ... "It takes about three generations to forget." We see this throughout the scriptures, and sometimes it takes less than one generation! One of the saddest statements in the Bible is, "...another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done..." (Judges 2:10b).

Parents and Grandparents, let's be sure we are pointing this generation to the truth! We must listen to and obey God, our Mighty Rock, or we'll be seduced by unbiblical philosophies and swept away (Ephesians 4:14) by every wind of doctrine.

* A CD by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "Learn to Discern: A Truth-filled Response to Spiritual Deception," is also available, as well as a CD by Janet Parshall, "Finding Truth in the Marketplace of Ideas."

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