Building a Legacy of Faith (Mother’s Day)

Building a Legacy of Faith (Mother’s Day)

“Building a Legacy of Faith”

(2 Tim.1:3-5; 3:14-15)

Mother’s Day

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

 Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson


  • Take your Bibles and join me in 2 Timothy, chapter 1 (Page 800; YouVersion)


We are hitting the pause button on our study in Luke’s Gospel in the interest of Mother’s Day and looking at a passage that speaks directly to the influence of mothers and grandmothers upon their children.  Listen for that as I read two passages, the first from 2 Timothy chapter 1.


  • Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.


3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,

4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,

5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.


Now turn to chapter 3 which, if you’re using the church Bible is on the right hand side of the page.  In chapter 3 Paul is warning Timothy about difficult times he would face in the future, persecution, false teachers and false teachings.  It is in this context that he says:


14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.


  • Pray.




It is nearly impossible to talk about Mother’s Day without talking about the matter of influence.  Abraham Lincoln is noted for saying, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  It seems impossible Lincoln’s mother could have imagined just how influential she was in raising this future president.


George Washington spoke in a similar way of his mother.  He said, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my Mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”


Conversely, mothers and fathers may also influence their children in negative ways.  In my daily Bible readings this past week I was reading through 2 Chronicles 21 and 22.  You know how the writer or Chronicles tells us about the rise and fall of each King in the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  King Jehoram was one of those kings who did evil and whose reign was marked by wickedness.  As an example, the writer says Jehoram walked in the ways of Ahab (2 Chronicles 21:6); Ahab was a wicked king.  And so, when Jehoram died, the writer spoke of his death this way: “He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed (2 Chronicles 21:20).”  That’s how he sums up his life and death: To no one’s sorrow, he departed.  To no one’s regret, he died.  Imagine dying “to no one’s sorrow,” but that people might even say, “I’m glad he’s gone.”


What is perhaps even more tragic is what is said of Jehoram’s own son who succeeded him as king.  The writer says, “He also walked in the ways of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly (2 Chronicles 22:3).”  Can you imagine a mother advising her son to do wickedly?  Here’s a son whose father dies “to no one’s sorrow” and whose mother advises him to do wickedly.  That’s quite a legacy.


I want to talk to you this morning about “Building a Legacy of Faith.”  We have two passages and two action points of application.  Number one:


I.  Never Underestimate the Power of Your Influence (1:3-5)


Emerson said, “Who shall set a limit to the influence of a human being?”  When it comes to parenting, influence is nearly everything.


The Apostle Paul had been influenced by his parents and grandparents before him.  See that in verse 3 where Paul says, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as,”–(listen!)– “as my forefathers did.”  Paul had been spiritually influenced by a generation before him: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did.”  The power of influence!


Now Paul reflects on young Timothy and the way he was influenced by his forefathers.  He says in verse 3, “Without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,–verse 4–greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,–verse 5–(listen!) when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”


Mothers and grandmothers, note again the power of influence there in verse 5.  Paul says, “I am reminded of the genuine faith that is in you [Timothy], which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice…”


Timothy’s mother and grandmother were among the very first Christians in history.  So important to them was their faith that they took care to pass along its teachings to young Timothy.   And the only problem with this otherwise beautiful family picture is the one who is missing from it.  We’re told in Acts 16 that, apparently, Timothy’s father was not a believer.  Paul puts it this way in Acts 16:1, it says that Timothy was, “the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.”  In other words, his father was not into biblical things, but his mother was.  His mother was a believer, his father was not.


Statistics show survey after survey that children are far more likely to become committed Christ-followers and regular church-attenders when Dad is a committed Christ-follower and regular church-attender.  Moms can bring their children to church, but so long as the kiddos watch dad stay at home, they are less likely to remain faithful to the things of God.  Now, don’t despair, single moms!  Keep doing what is right.  You may not have a lot of money or other things to offer your child, but you can give your child the greatest gift he or she will ever have: a legacy faith.  God will honor your faithfulness.  And dads, let’s rise to the occasion and be the spiritual leaders of our homes as God intended. Never underestimate the power of your influence.


Good parenting is not easy work.  Can I get an “Amen,” to that?!  You may feel like the parent who said, “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”  Someone said, “The joy of motherhood is what a woman experiences when all the children are finally in bed.”


Good parenting is not always easy, especially when one lives in a culture driven by unhealthy views of self-esteem and self-worth, a culture that wrongly rewards children by inflating their egos and praising their faults.


Listen to parenting expert John Rosemond as he relates the following scenario:


I was about to speak in an elementary school in Alabama when nature called. Upon walking into the boys rest-room, I couldn’t help but notice a computer-generated banner above the mirror on which was printed in large letters: “You are now looking at one of the most special people in the whole wide world!”


I knew the special person in question wasn’t me, so I assumed this is what the school’s principal and teachers wanted each and every child in the school to believe. No one can fault the intention behind such a banner. The fault lies in the fact that it simply isn’t true. The truth is — no one is special. By virtue of being human, one is fraught with fault. It is supremely easy to give in to [a child’s] self-centered nature, to justify outbursts of hurtful anger, selfishness, jealousy and so on. Keeping [those] demons under control requires effort. Good parenting — a balance of unconditional love and firm discipline — equips a child with the ability to make and maintain…that effort.


…Good parenting endows a child with a sense of social obligation (respect for others) strong enough to successfully suppress…his or her self-centered impulses. The child develops self-respect due to the efforts of parents who guide him toward respecting others, not because he’s told he’s special. You think your child is special? That’s fine. The difference between feeling that your child is special to you and leading him to believe he is special in the universal sense is apples and coconuts. There’s something dreadfully wrong, in fact, with a parent who is devoid of the feeling that his or her [own] children are special. But, “You’re very special to me” is a far cry from “You’re special!”


Should a child be told he is capable of great things, that he can overcome adversity, rise to a challenge and so on? Of course! But none of that is synonymous with leading a child to believe, however well-intentioned the leading, that he is a cut above. A child who thinks he’s special in that sense is likely to think he’s also deserving of special things, special privileges, being first in line, having the best bicycle and so on.


…The notion reflected on that bathroom banner is, moreover, contrary to a child’s best interests. Every parent should want to produce children who are socially charming. I ask you to consider: Is an adult who thinks he or she is one of the most special people in the whole wide world charming? Of course not! A person who believes that about himself is well, obnoxious…


…The world would be a better place if adults concentrated on teaching children to be responsible — to have compassion and respect for others (social responsibility), to do their best (task responsibility) and to do the right thing even when no one else is watching (personal responsibility).


Parents can produce children who [live this way] by applying the following fairly old-fashioned set of child-rearing principles (excerpted from article: “Feeling Good, Acting Bad,” adapted from his, Raising a Nonviolent Child).


1. Praise the act, not the child. …To say to a child, “You’re a wonderful little boy!” is as hurtful to the child’s self-image as saying, “You’re a little brat!” What the pleased parent or teacher really means and should really say is, “You did a great job on this, and you should be proud.”


2. Praise conservatively. [Excessive] praise can create a powerful dependency. The child who asks for praise constantly, who always seems to need to be reassured that he’s doing a good job, is usually a child who’s been on the receiving end of praise that has not only been excessive in amount but also unwarranted…


3. Help your children learn they are capable of standing on their own two feet by not letting them stand on yours. Do for your children only what they can’t do for themselves, and remember that children usually underestimate their ability. Their cries for help are often no more than knee-jerk responses to frustration. It is a parent’s job to bring out the best in his kids. Often, the best way of doing so is simply to say, “No.”…


4. Teach your children that choices result in consequences. When your children misbehave, punish. Show them by example, which is how children learn, that one must pay a price for misbehavior. When a child does something bad, he should be made to feel bad about it.  …[and] when your child behaves well, acknowledge the accomplishment with moderate praise. Not rewards, mind you, and not lavish praise, but something simple, like, “I’m mighty proud of what you did.”


5. Teach your children good manners. [Teach your child to] say “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry.” [Teach your child] not to interrupt conversations… [In doing these things] a child acquires sensitivity for other people’s feelings, without which respect for others is impossible. Above all else, we need to bring an emphasis on humility back into the child-rearing equation. There is, after all, no one more obnoxious than someone who thinks he’s special and no one more charming than a person who’s more interested in you than in having you know about him.  [Rosemond concludes…]


I encourage the well-intentioned principal of that Alabama elementary school to tear down the “You’re special” banners and replace them with banners that read, “Do something special for someone else today, just because you should.”


We’re talking about building a legacy of faith.  First main point: Never underestimate the power of your influence.  Second main point:


II.  Teach Your Children & Grandchildren the Bible (3:14-15)


Parents, grandparents, are you teaching your children and your grandchildren the Bible, the Holy Scriptures?  There is no greater contribution you can make to their development than teaching them the Bible.  Most parents take great care to shuttle their kids and grandkids from one event to the next, band, football, soccer, wrestling, cheerleading, but how much time is invested in teaching the Bible at home?


Look at this in the text.  Paul says in chapter 3 that Timothy is going to face times of trial, tribulation, and persecution.  He says there will be false teachers and false teachings swirling about him.  So what must he do?  Verse 14:


14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.


Timothy certainly learned about Christian doctrine from Paul.  That’s pretty clear in verse 10, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine,” and so forth.  But Timothy learned from childhood the Holy Scriptures from his mother and grandmother.  In fact the word “childhood” there in verse 15 is literally, “infancy.”  Timothy’s mother and grandmother began teaching him the Bible when he was a mere infant.


So Timothy didn’t learn the Bile because some great preacher preached powerful messages to him every Sunday or because some great traveling evangelist came to town.  Timothy learned about the Christian faith from his primary faith influencers, the people who raised him in his home.


Parents are the primary faith influencers in the home.  The church comes alongside and partners with parents.  We’re committed to that here at Henderson’s First Baptist.  One of the 5 components of our mission statement is “Strengthen the Family.”  We want to strengthen families.  In fact we recently changed Brother Rich’s job title from “Minister of Education” to “Minister of Family Equipping” because we want to be more purposeful in equipping families to be the primary faith influencers of their homes.


Parents, Grandparents, teach your children and grandchildren the Bible.  Read it to them daily when they are small.  Have a family devotion time each day.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes.  Just read a chapter of the Bible and ask for comments or something someone liked in the passage.  Then pray and sing a verse from Amazing Grace.  Teach your children the Bible.  Teach them to memorize special verses.  Put those verses up on the refrigerator and review them regularly.  Have regular talks about the faith and incorporate spiritual things into conversations like pointing out handiwork of God in a beautiful sunset.


Many of our parents are celebrating a “legacy milestone” today by dedicating their children and themselves to the Lord in the 9:30 and 11:00 services.  This complements the discipline of teaching the Bible from infancy.  This church will equip them to celebrate other legacy milestones in the future such as leading their children to faith in Christ, and preparing for adolescence.  Who better to lead a child to Christ than mom or dad?  These milestones are woven into the teaching structure of our church to equip parents to be the primary faith influencers of their children, children who will grow to weather the storms of secular culture and be strengthened to stand fast in their faith.


That’s what Paul is telling Timothy here.  Timothy, verse 14, “You must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.”  Don’t be swayed by the false teaching swirling about you.  Don’t allow false interpretations of Scripture to beguile you.  Continue in the things you have learned from infancy.  Continue in the Word.


Paul may as well be talking to us right now in America.  We have remarked on numerous occasions about how the big cities in America are disproportionately lacking in evangelical churches.  A country founded largely on a Judeo-Christian ethic is quickly devolving into moral relativism and the growing absence of virtue.  The erosion of our culture is all about us.


Just this past week, whatever you may think of his politics, or his political angle in doing this, it is not insignificant that the president of our country made history by publicly supporting gay marriage.  He is certainly entitled to have his personal opinion and we are to continue to love homosexuals as we love all people, and we must continue praying for our leaders as taught in 1 Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-2).   But as evangelicals it should give us pause that for the first time in our nation’s over 200-year history, a sitting president has publicly endorsed same-sex marriage as morally acceptable.


How do we respond?  We respond in a number of ways, but one way is given right here in the text by the Apostle Paul in verse 14, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.”  What you have learned in the Bible, the teachings of which “you must continue in” and be “assured of.”


The Bible defines marriage.  Marriage is inherently a biblical union, the first institution created by God in the opening chapters of Genesis.  God created marriage.  He defined it.  He defined it as a union between one man and one woman.  The New Testament teaches that marriage pictures the relationship of Jesus Christ and the church.  No one has the right to redefine what the Bible has defined.


These teachings fall under the category of “the things which you have learned and been assured of,” the things “you must continue in.”  See, it is tempting to capitulate to the culture, far easier to “give in,” to not offend anyone.  But Paul doesn’t say, “Look, Timothy when the difficult times come and false teachings are swirling around you, just give in to those teachings and grin and bear it.”  No, Paul says when you hear false teachings, “you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of.”


And to “continue in the things which you have learned” means not just knowing the things, but knowing how those things interrelate with one another and how “the things you have learned” are defended in the face of popular culture.  Our church is committed to the making of disciples who know not only what they believe, but why they believe it, and how they may stand for what they believe when pressured to give-in to the currents of false teaching and false interpretations of the Bible.


I watched a video on YouTube a week ago that has been viewed over 600,000 times in just two weeks.  Some of you are familiar with a man named Dan Savage who was invited last month to speak to high school students in Seattle.  Among other things, Savage, an avowed homosexual, in a profane and sustained verbal rant, encouraged high schoolers to “learn to ignore the [stuff] in the Bible about gay people (though he didn’t say, “Stuff,” I won’t use his word).”


He went on to say, “We can learn to ignore the [stuff] in the Bible about gay people — the same way we have learned to ignore the [stuff] in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming,” and so forth.  He said, “We ignore [stuff] in the Bible about all sorts of things.”  His point is, “Look, there are a lot of laws in the Old Testament that everyone ignores today; laws like certain foods you can’t eat because they’re ‘unclean,’ or laws governing the planting of certain crops, laws about stoning people for adultery, and so forth.”  So his point is, “If we ignore those Old Testament laws then we should also ignore what the Bible teaches about homosexuality.”


Now, that’s an old argument and I wasn’t concerned so much about his statements as I was concerned about those who applauded and cheered his statements.  To be sure, a few Christian high schoolers are seen walking out of the auditorium, but the majority of students remained and I wondered how many of those nearly 3,000 students who remained thought Savage was making a good point and how many of those who thought he was making a good point were churchgoing high schoolers.


And then I wondered how many of our students, or how many of our adults would be able to stand up to Dan Savage and point out the error of his reasoning.  Would you?  If you had been a student there in Seattle how would you have responded to the argument he was making?  If you’re a parent or a grandparent, how would you answer your child or grandchild who says to you, “Look, the Bible’s got a lot of stuff in the Old Testament that we just ignore, so why don’t we ignore the stuff about homosexuality?”  How would you respond to that?  How do you respond to the person who says, “Well, people used the Bible to defend slavery and now people are using the Bible and wrongly teaching that homosexuality is a sin?”  How would you respond to that?


I think Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois would have been able to answer those questions.  Are our mothers, fathers, and grandparents able to answer the questions of our children and grandchildren?


We must teach the importance of interpreting the Scriptures correctly.  We must teach, for example, that there is a major difference between ritualistic law in the Old Testament and moral law throughout Old and New Testament.  Ritualistic law, such as the classification of certain foods as “unclean” in the Old Testament applied to the Hebrews for a particular purpose and point in history and is very different from the moral law that is unchanged from Genesis to Revelation, moral law taught throughout the entire Bible and never ignored, moral law such as defining what is right and proper regarding sexual behavior.  These are two very different kinds of law.


Are we rightly teaching our children and grandchildren how to interpret the Bible?  If not, how can we ever expect them to stand true when false teachings swirl about them?  How can we ever expect them to remain faithful to Christ when they go off to college and their Philosophy 101 instructor attempts in one week to undermine everything they’ve ever learned in the church?  How can we be sure that our own children are not found among those applauding and cheering false understandings of the Bible?  How can we expect them to “continue in the things which they have learned and been assured of?”


Are we ready to teach our children and grandchildren these things, not so they may become hateful, arrogant, and prideful, but so that, as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15, they will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have?”


This is the responsibility of Christian parents and our church is here to partner with you in that work, the great work of building a legacy of faith.


  • Stand for prayer


…Paul says it is the Scriptures that “make [one] wise for salvation.”  We must embrace the Gospel as given in the Scriptures.  The Scriptures teach that there is but one way to be made wise for salvation and that way is through Jesus Christ…

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