The 37th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church began yesterday (6/21/17) at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Fair Oaks, Calif., with worship and a sermon by the church’s pastor.
“One generation shall praise Your works to another,” said Bottomly, highlighting the words from Psalm 145. “Declare, meditate, speak, celebrate and sing, that is how the Gospel gets passed on from generation to generation. … The church is a multi-generational program. We contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, and we do it again, and again.”
Back to the beginning of Presbyterianism, back to the Apostles, the Gospel is a multi-generational project, he said.
In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Moses said “these words that I command you today shall be on your year, you shall teach them diligently to your children.”
“You should do this in your house,” said Bottomly. “You relate God’s word to every activity in your life. … reinforce these lessons again and again, so that the faith takes in the next generation, so the generational hand-off takes place.”
Bottomly said that Psalm 145 speaks to the worship setting, while Deut. 6 speaks to the family setting.
“We do not live by bread alone, but on every one of these holy words that comes from God,” he said, These words that shape children into committed, thinking, spiritually mature, world changing believers.
God works through the parents, to teach a Biblical-centered worldview to the children, he said.
“Who is working in your family, in your church? Are the parents and grandparents in your church Biblically-literate enough to pull this off?”
Or, Bottomly asked, are they expecting the church to do this, “one hour a week during Sunday school? This is a tough assignment. We have families in our pews suffering from a famine of the Word. This is not a problem the greatest Sunday school in the world can fix.”
The other venue for the generational hand-off is the church. Quoting from Psalm 145, “One generation shall praise your works to one another.”
“The story of God, the truth about God and faith in God – they get passed to the next generation through praise, through worship,” said Bottomly. “The kids that are learning these things … they see Mom and Dad and grandparents worship God in genuine thanks and praise.
“The parents have the primary responsibility,” he said, “and the church has the secondary responsibility to equip the parents.”
“We not only need great preaching, we need great worship. Dry unemotional orthodoxy is a half-truth. It doesn’t touch the heart.”
Bottomly continued by defining the terms mentioned in the verse:
- “Psalmoi” or Pslam: the psalter, any song accompanied by a plucked instrument.
- “Humnoi” or hymn: the new songs composed by the church phil 2; 1 Tim 3; Eph 4 1 Cor 15
- Odai pneumatikai: the spiritual songs.
“That is how you celebrate the faith and how you transfer faith,” he said. “It captures the heard and the mind and can be passed on from one generation to another.”
Bottomly asked if the church was willing to make the changes needed to pass on the faith to the next generation? “Is your church aging out or will it pass the baton to the next generations. It’s such a fragile transfer,” he said. “I don’t know how it happened for 2,000 years, except for the One who sits in the command center, who said ‘I will build my church.’”
“The question for us, the evangelical church, is will we be a part of that?”