Transmitting Faith; November 8, 2017


Psalm 78:7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.

This Psalm says it’s “a maskil of Asaph,” and nobody is positive what that means, but my impression is that a maskil could be a teaching poem, perhaps part of a catechism to be taught to children. Whether that’s the meaning of the term or not, this verse expresses the purpose of this particular Psalm. Transmission of information about God for purposes of faith is an issue for every generation. Back then, long before the printing press, oral transmission was the primary method, and that required skills of memorization that seem awesome to us today. When skills aren’t so needed, they are lost. After all, how many people today can start a fire with just a couple of sticks? When things are supplanted by better technology that’s not a problem, but there is no substitute for a personal knowledge of and relationship with God. Knowledge by itself isn’t enough, but you aren’t likely to have the relationship without knowledge. I’ve known parents who didn’t want to teach their children about Jesus because they wanted them to “make an independent decision” about faith and religion. However, as Paul pointed out, how can anyone have faith without knowledge? (Romans 10:14) From Moses on, the Bible tells us again and again to transmit the knowledge of God to the next generation. What they do with that knowledge is their responsibility, but giving them the knowledge is ours.

My life is dedicated to transmitting knowledge of God to others, and I consider that a high privilege. At this point everyone in this church, besides Cathy and me, is a first generation Christian, so they were never taught about Christ by their parents. I need to help them experience the joy of birthing spiritual children, transmitting knowledge of God by word and by example, so that we may have many spiritual generations in this church. I read that it’s true in America too, but the average Japanese Christian has never led anyone else to Christ. Japanese society is very professionally oriented, and people hesitate to attempt things for which they do not feel qualified. In contrast, I don’t think my parents ever told me something was too difficult to attempt. I’m grateful for that, but I am faced with a flock that was raised to leave things to the professionals. Recently we have been waking up more to the reality of the priesthood of the believer and the dangers of dependence on the pastor, and that’s a good thing. I need not only to transmit my knowledge of God to them, but help them understand they can and should transmit their knowledge of God to others.

Father, thank You for how You are growing this church spiritually. Thank You for the recent assurance that You’re going to grow us numerically as well. Help us all take our eyes off of ourselves, so that we will stop feeling the task is too big, and fix them on You, so that we will know, to the depths of our being, that no task is too big for You. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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