By Mike Willis
Sometimes young folks reach the mistaken conclusion that religion is for little kids and old folks, not for maturing young adults. Among the young folks, some are venturing into the pastures of Satan to “sow their wild oats.” Some are testing their own newly discovered independence, pushing against the fences of established norms and standards of righteousness. Some will reject the Lord, never to obey his word.
Jesus calls every person to his service, including young people. Even as he called the rich, young ruler to be his disciple, so also he calls every other young person (Matt. 19:16.22). The Lord has commanded young people, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1). Let us consider the Lord’s call for young people
The Call to Become a Christian
When a child is born into the world, he is born sinlessly pure. He has not inherited either the guilt of the sins or a morally depraved nature from his ancestors (Ezek. 18:20; Matt. 18:3). The doctrine of inherited depravity, which led to infant sprinkling, is not taught in the Bible. Solomon wrote long ago, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29).
When a child reaches the “age of accountability,” he chooses to transgress God’s commandments of his own will and volition (Rom. 3:23; 2 Cor. 5:14). Through this act of his own will, he rebels against God and enters the kingdom of Satan by sin. Becoming guilty of sin, the young person is separated from God, dead in his sins, and lost (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1).
As a sinner, young people have the same needs as do the rest of us. They need a Savior and salvation. So soon as a young person is lost, he is old enough to be saved.
Some Christians insult our young folks by saying the gospel will not convert their hearts and keep them close to the Lord. Instead, they urge that we reach our children with baseball, hot dogs and Coke, and keep them with church camps, trips to amusement parks, and hay rides. Our young people’s hearts are not so hardened by sin that the message of the gospel will not penetrate their consciences. Many of them have a love for the Lord which has outgrown that of many older folks.
The young people of our age are just like the young people of every other age. They will respond to the Lord’s love when they have it taught to and lived before them (2 Tim. 3:14-15). We exhort our young folks to become Christians. Recognizing your lost condition outside of Christ, believe on the Lord Jesus, repent of your sins, confess your faith in Christ, and be immersed in water for the remission of your sins (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:37; 22:16).
The Call to Righteous Living
When Paul wrote the young preacher Timothy, he said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). In every idea of his call to righteous living, Paul exhorted that Timothy be a model of what a Christian should be.
1. In word. A Christian young person should manifest purity of speech, avoiding the corrupt speech and filthy jesting of the ungodly (Eph. 4:29; 5:4). He should avoid lying (Eph. 4:25). Some commentaries make “word” refer to Timothy’s preaching and teaching. If so, a young person should be an example of sound teaching as well.
2. In conversation. This refers to the young person’s manner of life. He should put away the works of the flesh and put on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23).
3. In charity. The young person should manifest the active traits of love (1 Cor. 13:4-8) toward his fellow man.
4. In spirit. He should be “full of the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), manifesting a zeal for obedience to the word of God.
5. In faith. This may refer to his personal faith in God or his faithfulness. In a listing of character traits, the latter is probably meant. The young person should be one on whom you can count on attending the worship services, keeping his word, and every other matter.
6. In purity. The young person should keep his heart pure (Prov. 4:23) in order that he can keep his body from sin.
In Titus 2:4-8, Paul again exhorted young people to be a model Christian. Paul instructed the aged women to teach the younger women, to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine, shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned.
Young people need to be reminded that God will bring every deed they do, even in their youth, to judgment (Eccl. 11:9).
Reasons for Obedience While Young
There are several good reasons why young people need to obey the gospel. Here are some of them:
1. The young die too. James said that a person’s life is a vapor “that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (4:14). That is true of every man’s life, regardless of how old he may live to be. However, we sometimes are reminded of the fraility of life by the tragic death of a young person. I helped conduct a memorial service recently for a fourteen-year-old girl who died in an automobile accident.
Indeed, the young die too! Young people need to obey the gospel while they are young for the same reason that middle aged people need to obey the gospel when first they hear it: we have no guarantee of a tomorrow.
2. To wander into sin leaves scars on one’s life. The temptation to wander into sin for a few years before becoming a Christian is full of danger. First of a, there is no guarantee that you will ever come out of sin. Sometimes the devil so ensnares a person in sin that it is impossible to renew him to repentance (Heb. 6:4-6). Secondly, the person who wanders in sin will be scarred by sin. Even when the scars are minor they are painful. A young person will develop a taste for the things which God forbids, while wandering in sin. Even when he turns away from sin, the temptation to turn back into sin will be greater by the remembrance of the pleasant taste of the forbidden fruit. Sometimes the scars are much worse: the auilty conscience of having aborted a baby, the body destroyed by disease (venereal disease, AIDS, etc.), the mutilated body of a traffic accident while drunk, and similar scars.
3. A person can bring an enthusiasm, zeal and strength to the service of God. As we grow older, the enthusiasm and strength fade away. Some older folks can only bring the leftovers of their life to God, but that it not true of young folks. Young folks can bring a whole lifetime as a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1-2).
The Scriptures furnish us with some inspiring examples of young folks who devoted themselves to God. Joseph resisted the sensual advances of his master’s wife to maintain his sexual purity (Gen. 38) and served the Lord in some difficult circumstances as a slave and prisoner. Ruth devoted herself to the service of her mother-in-law in her youth. Her inspiring words still are quoted at many weddings:
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me (1:16-17).
Samuel manifested the attitude which every man should have toward the word of God, “Speak Lord, thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:9). David courageously stood against Goliath, the Lord’s enemy, trusting in God for the victory and deliverance (1 Sam. 17). Daniel refused to eat the unclean foods and wines which were part of the king’s dainties, putting himself at great personal risk (Dan. 1:8-21). Everyone of these young men and women were inspiring examples of faith.
Some of our contemporaries also inspire us by their devotion to the Lord. My daughter Jennifer refused a leading role in her high school play because it required dancing. A young lady in Canada refused to go to her high school prom because of the sinful dancing and the impact of her example on her younger brother and sister. There are many untold stories of the victories of faith of these our younger brothers and sisters.
The moral purity of some young folks glows in their faces. They are “examples of believers.” These young folks absolutely inspire me to greater service. They remind me that we can rear godly children in an ungodly world, because some are doing it. While we sometimes fret over those who are lost to the world, let us pause to remember the faith of those. who have devoted themselves to God’s service.
We rejoice that there are churches full of young folks who have devoted themselves to the Lord. They are a joy and delight to be around, being full of joviality, life, high ideals, energy, and love. May their number increase!
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 14, pp. 418, 438-439
July 19, 1990