πας ο μισων τον αδελφον αυτου ανθρωποκτονος εστιν και οιδατε οτι πας ανθρωποκτονος ουκ εχει ζωην αιωνιον εν εαυτω μενουσαν εν – τουτω εγνωκαμεν την αγαπην οτι εκεινος υπερ υμων την ψυχην αυτου εθηκεν και ημεις οφειλομεν υπερ των αδελφων τας ψυχας θειναι 1 John 3:15-16
“And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”
It is perhaps a good thing that in writing about Our Youth, we begin with the first verse found in the bible where the term youth is used. When I see our young people and think of them in the Spirit, I find more hope than I have for all other areas of ministry. I find that I am moved with a conviction that it is in the youth of today that God is going to settle the meaning of Genesis 8:21, in our time, and our youth are going to be used by God in ways we can hardly fathom. If we can receive that this verse from Genesis represents Noah responding to the outcome of the Flood, then we must also see that his response cannot have been a flippant one.
His experience represented over one hundred and twenty years of his life, wherein he was a preacher of righteousness, and knowing that his words were rejected utterly so that every man, women and child lost their lives in the Flood. You can only imagine how he must have felt in this moment of sober reflection. His reaction seems to defy reason when he offers a sacrifice of every clean beast and every clean fowl unto God. It is the word clean that makes the separation in wisdom.
It is essential to see that the words, “the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” are not spoken to Noah, but they are expressed in the heart of God.
What this means is very simple to understand. God knows the hearts of men, even from their youth, and seeing that condition, He shows compassion and gives us a way of seeing as God sees, and knowing as God knows. We also need to grasp that this compassion is directed at the ground from which Adam was taken. Yet if in understanding this compassion, we believe that God is concerned for the land, we would miss that the Arc speaks of the Cross of Christ, and in particular to His death. If we cannot see that in Christ the old man is crucified, as He is crucified, then neither will we understand why our youth need to know as God knows, and see as God sees. And whilst this means to know the actual condition of the heart, such seeing and knowing produces obedience to God, and fills up hope in His goodness through Christ.
To refuse this wisdom of God is the same as denying the Cross itself. For what youth will see their need for the Cross when they believe their hearts are pure? That we have filled our youth with the nonsense that has robbed them of knowing their real condition, is undoubted. By that means, we have defrauded them of knowing just how precious the youth are to God. When they are self-reliant and boastful, they are of no use to God at all – any more than we are? So why then do we lie to our children? There is just one reason – we lie to ourselves.
When we speak of youth, of what are we speaking? We are talking about young adults. Biblically this time represents seven years between the start of the thirteenth year and the start of the twenty-first year. One is the beginning of preparing for accountability to God, and the other is accountability to God. We are not speaking of little children.
There is no need to cause little children to become burdened over wisdom that is not intended for their minds. It is one thing to teach a small child sound things that give outcomes of good behaviour and willingness – it is another thing to burden children with burdens that they cannot carry – nor need they carry. Our conduct as adults will do more harm to little children than any amount of supposed wisdom will do in seeking to make them godly adults, before they have even enjoyed their childhoods.
Why then have I placed the subject of our youth under a principle of ministry? Why is it a principle of the ministry of God’s Word that our youth are given a place equal to our own, and held in respect of adulthood when they are to many – mere children?
God uses the youth. We cannot avoid that fact; else we may as well throw King David, Samuel the prophet, and any number of others into the bin, and begin to instruct God. It is the youth who will most benefit from knowing that their hearts are not pure, but that God is full of mercy. Our youth necessarily must understand that this mercy of God is not only seen in His willingness to bless them with a real and effectual part in the churches but that the Cross is their full and purposeful way of walking in the Spirit. In short, there is only one Lord, one baptism, one faith, one cup, one bread, one body and one Father of all. There is no such God as the God of the youth and the God of the elder. God is God, and His remedy is entirely the same for all of us. Of all people, our youth will embrace that reality, so long as our existence is indeed the Father, by Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. If not, then we are wasting our time – and God may use them anyway – though not until they have exhausted their natural inclinations and harmed themselves. Perhaps then they will see Christ as He is for themselves.
What parent would desire such a thing as to press their children into travail to have them know Christ? It is a far better thing to minister Christ as He is to all of our children, through the only deliverance we have from our own imagination of the heart, and thereby allow God to make our youth beacons of light and a blessing to all – even the greatest among us. Our little children will take Christ in His goodness when He spoke, saying, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Our youth, seeing their real condition will lay hold of Christ crucified for sin, and their part in Him. There is only one Cross – we cannot preach another. We live in a day wherein children are being driven to utter reckless destruction of themselves by those who are callous, false, and utterly appalling, who boast that they have become peacemakers, yet who are devouring our children alive. And whilst the prophetic ministry will deal with these unreasoning beasts when that hour comes, the churches and the preaching of the Word must address all else.