Second Generation Christians

The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua.....and there arose another generation after them which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel  (Judges 2:7,10).

Joshua was a man that lived in the holy presence of God. He was a man whose soul was completely taken possession of for God, and therefore it was a simple thing for him to take possession of what was his. Let God capture my soul and I will want to capture everything for Him.

Joshua represents not only the energy of the Spirit of God making Christ our leader, but the man of faith, too, who takes hold for God in living faith. The elders and Joshua who knew God, who followed Him, held the whole nation together as long as they lived. It is a mercy when God has such persons to hold fast His saints in allegiance. But we have no Joshuas now. We see that Joshua had no successors. I believe he represented the apostolic spirit in the Church. Look at the time of the apostles; Paul and the other apostles held the saints together, and the Church was prevented from open and public failure by the apostolic power that was in their midst.

But the apostles all died and left no successors. The second generation of any movement is a time of failure.  Israel under Joshua and the elders was faithful, outwardly at least, and living in the fear of God. But a second generation came in - people who had not seen the works of the Lord, who had got the truths from the elders at second-hand. They had not come right down to them from God, but they had learned them in an indirect way, and I might add, in an intellectual way, rather than in their hearts.

How easy it is for the second generation of any movement to have truth in the head, but not in the heart.  You have all these truths on your bookshelves. You can buy them for a few dollars, but it is one thing to pay for a thing out of your pocket, and another thing to pay for it out of your soul. It is one thing to get it into your head, and another to get it into your heart And it was one thing for Joshua, and the elders, men of living personal faith, to take hold of things, and quite another for the generation that followed them to do the same thing. Ah, brethren, there was a time when the Spirit of God sounded the midnight cry, “Behold the bridegroom cometh.” With what power it took hold of souls and brought them out to meet the bridegroom. How near was the glory! how dear the Lord! and how small the world!

Think what blessings the Spirit of God has revealed. A glorious Christ at God’s right hand, a heavenly Church, and all the precious truths that flow from and are connected with it. It is one thing for us to talk about these precious truths, but it is quite a different thing to have them brought home, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.  The elders have gone; the first generation of this movement has passed away, and we are risen in the room of our fathers, and I ask you, and I ask myself: Has it been merely something handed down to us from faithful men, or have we had to do with God about these things? Is it between us and God? Have we been alone with Him about them? Or have we learned them because this or that one has held and taught them? Beloved brethren, leaders are God-given. We can bless God for them. But we cannot follow leaders save as they follow Christ. We must follow a living Christ in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.