Intergenerational Faith

God introduces Himself as the multigenerational God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – but men often ineffectively pass on their intimacy with God and the associated power. 

There was a generation that saw and experienced the move of God – Abraham. Then a generation that saw the move of God but didn’t experience it – Isaac.  Then a generation that neither saw nor experienced the move of God – Jacob.

Judges 2:7 So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

The first generation knew the Lord of the work. The second generation knew the work of the Lord. The third generation knew neither the Lord of the work or the work of the Lord.

The Azusa Street revival was a hallmark for the Pentecostal church. Its greatest distinction was powerful encounters with God – manifest without restrictions. Converts found their purpose in knowing God in His power and in fellowship with Him.

They wanted God to be an active participant, not a mute observer.  They introduced the world to a real God but fell short in one crucial obligation- transitioning generations.

Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

We must transfer our God-experience to the next generations. Consider Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the generational decline in relationship with God: 1900-1940; 1940-1980; and 1980-2020.

I. First Generation: Abraham

When Abraham received the Covenant, God changed his name = characteristic of 1st generation who need complete change.

In Abraham, we see characteristics shared universally by 1st generation believers.

  1. Abraham was an altar builder = prayer. He built to worship and sacrifice.

Prayer was the catalyst that caused the remarkable manifestations of Holy Spirit at Azusa Street.  Without it, none of the Pentecostal distinctions would have happened.

It is very important for us to realize why first generation Christians prayed if we are ever to understand why most Christians today do not pray.

1st generation Christians had a ravenous hunger to experience their God. They also knew that a power encounter with God was subsequent to prayer, so they prayed hard!

2nd generation were at a disadvantage in the area of prayer because they grew up in the midst of revival.  They didn’t have the motivation to pray that their parents did.

They grew up in a Christian home under Biblical morality surrounded by godly influence and encouragement to serve God. 1st generation had required that power to change their lives but their offspring were already living morally and were not mindful to change.

Because they prayed infrequently, they did not witness remarkable signs and wonders with the frequency or intensity that their parents did.

  1. Abraham dug wells with a great deal of hard work and self-denial.

1st generation Pentecostals were a people of hard work. Their places of worship had little comfort… but they had the anointing and power of God in their services. They worked hard to bless their children with the things they had not had.

They were a people of self-denial. God had delivered them from a life of hard sin so they cut off the world and any connection to it! Luxury was not a necessity if it meant sacrifice of the power of God.

The prayer and self-sacrifice Abraham practiced with such fervor are musts. 1st generation had no assets so the only thing they could offer God was self. As God blessed, they began to dig wells of blessings for their children.  Their churches became more organized and better equipped… but the second, blessed generation is where the trouble starts.

II. Second Generation: Isaac

Abraham diligently sought God.  Isaac was the recipient of that. His father had invested his life establishing something for Isaac to move into, free of the weighty burden of starting from scratch. 

The difficulty is that the 2nd generation doesn’t prioritize altar building and well digging as the 1st did.  Ideas of sacrifice and self-denial are not observed as a must.  Prayer is not held in the same high esteem that it was before. There’s no struggling to build a church.  Thus, prayerless Isaac ran into trouble:

Isaac could not open new wells. Whenever he dug, he received only envy and strife.  He came to realize that his father’s ways were the successful ones.

Genesis 26:18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them.

Genesis 26:22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

Only after regaining what Abraham had worked for was Isaac able to succeed.

Points to ponder:

2nd generation doesn’t relate to having nothing but God because blessings were inherited. 

The problem with the 1st generation is, they assume their descendants will automatically feel as strongly as they do but, they don’t.     

It is interesting to note that Isaac’s name was never changed. This is a characteristic of the 2nd generation believer because they feel no real need to change – thus, no encounter…

III. Third Generation: Jacob

As 3rd generation arrives they have no idea what the roots of their fellowship are.  What was a must for the 1st becomes a convenience for the 2nd and inconsequential to the third.

The average 3rd generation believer claims that new days require new ways because they are dealing with cultural issues – but prayer is never a cultural issue. It transcends all cultures, societies, and ages. It should be basic to every generation everywhere.

Also 3rd generation becomes a group of schemers…They program to cover a lack of holiness under the guise of cultural differences and personal tastes. Like Jacob, they become supplanters, always scouting out new ways, while ignoring the old way, the way of prayer.

This is how we came to building the seeker sensitive mindset.

In Genesis 32, Jacob was about to come face to face with his brother and feared for his life. As was natural for him, he tried to buy his brother off. He sent his family and possessions on ahead of him. Then an angel dislocated his strength and said,

“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.”  The 3rd generation believers need the same kind of encounter with God that the 1st had if there is to be a changed life.

Recap: Abraham needed a drastic change in his life to become the earthly head of God’s plan for mankind. He needed to be a man of power and strength – needed a power encounter with God to bring this about. Then, God changed his name. 

Isaac felt no real need to change. He grew up in the midst of all the blessings handed down to him.  He needed to sustain them through prayer, but he failed to do this.

Because Isaac failed, Jacob, was in need of a power encounter. The third generation becomes most crucial because these people will usher in the next generation which, only if they have a power encounter, will bring in Joseph, to bring salvation to the world. .

2 Timothy 1:5 …when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice…

O, God, may it be true for us, the third geeration from Azusa St.  It’s time for encounter!