THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FIRST AND
SECOND GENERATION CHRISTIANS
In the church we have two rather distinctive groups of members which we call first
and second generation christians.
By definition, first generation christians are those of us who were called out
from the world into the church. Second generation christians, on the other hand,
are those who were raised up in the church by parents who themselves came into
the church from the world.
There are several variations to this grouping of members in the church. Some of
those variations include -:
What are some of the differences between first and second generation christians?
- Third and even fourth generation members
- Those whose parents came into the church when they were in their teenage
years or even older and they spent little of their childhood being raised
in the church. (Most of those who fall into this category, from my experience,
tend to have a calling and an enthusiasm much like that of first generation
- Those who were raised in the church but left around the time they were teenagers
only to come back to the church much later after they saw the world for what
it really was. (We have had many prodigal sons and daughters return to the
church over the years)
- Those who were raised up in the church but had their own first love experience,
like those of first generation christians, when they had to prove all the
doctrines of the church for themselves during the apostasy of our former association.
- First generation christians tend to have a dramatic calling and they see
the teachings of the church as new, shocking and exciting. Often God has softened
them up first in the leadup to their calling with certain trials and then
opened their eyes to the many teachings of the Bible in a dramatic way.
- For those raised in the church there is no shock and those of us who came
out of the world should understand why there's no shock. It's impossible to
find it shocking when you've known it all your life and therefore it is much
easier for second generation members to take the truth for granted and not
value it for what it really is.
- First generation christians see the opportunity as a pearl of great price.
They see a stark black and white contrast between what the world offers and
the church teaches and they jump at it. If you've grown up in the church take
pride in your parents for having the courage to come out of the world's ways.
- First generation christians tend to see good and bad in a lot more black
and white terms than those who've been brought up in the church. Since they
are so used to hearing God's truth and have lived to some degree a sheltered
life, the line between right and wrong can seem hazy at times for those brought
up in the church.
- First generation christians have a new love. To second generation christians
it's not a new love but it should, in time, be a first love. To give up work
and sport on Saturdays and all the other things is easier for first generation
christians because they're usually older and on a spiritual high whereas second
generation christians are not on a high and are usually younger and parents
need to help them through those kind of sacrifices in a positive way.
In Revelation 17:14 we read the following: "These shall make war with
the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King
of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
We know what faithful means in this passage to be faithful to God's ways
to the end or when Christ returns but what do we mean by someone being called
- Because they have it so good in the church with the opportunities that they
have it's hard sometimes for those who have grown up in the church to have
much of an urgency in wanting God's kingdom to come. It's good for those who
have grown up in the church to watch and read up on how badly people have
it in the third world as well as how tragic life is for so many people in
our nation today so they can feel deeply and see how badly this world needs
God's kingdom and have more of urgency for the kingdom.
Does being called mean the same thing as being chosen by God? We can find the
answer to that question in Matthew 20:16 where we read, "So the last
shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen."
It says the many are called not the few and only a few are chosen. So we see that
being called by God is something completely different from being chosen.
My own personal view on this is that the calling is a general invitation to all
our young people in the church from God where God gives them a partial understanding
of His truth. It's a partial opening up of their minds with an invitation to become
a converted member. It's then up to those who are called to respond to that calling
at their own pace and if they respond enough then God chooses them and gives them
a much fuller understanding of His truth.
If you have been raised up in the church what things can you do to deepen your
conversion and know that you're ready to be baptized?
First of all, you need to prove the doctrines of the church and not just assume
they are correct. Cultivate a love for all the areas of God's truth and not just
some here and there. Have a love for all of the doctrines and prophecy as well
as God's way of life. Second generation christians need to believe the doctrines
and keep God's laws because they've proven them right and not just accept them
because their parents believe them.
How can you tell whether you are merely accepting the doctrines of the church
and God's way of life because your parents believe them or because you believe
in them? Well, I would ask you a simple question, "Is what you believe a
conviction or is it merely a preference?" A conviction is a belief or a standard
of behaviour that you will hold to no matter what. A preference is merely something
you prefer to do that you might change under different circumstances.
You can ask yourself if all your family and best friends left the church would
you stay and hold onto the doctrines of the church and still live by God's way
of life? Many young people of my generation got baptized because it was the thing
to do or because it was expected of them. When the trials of life came later on
and when the church changed its teachings they gave up the truth and God's way
of life simply because it was a preference and not a conviction. How about you?
Would you do the same thing under those circumstances or are you truly convicted
of God's way no matter what happens?
If God's way of life and the teachings of the truth are something that you are
committed to, no matter what, then you do have the repentance required for baptism
no matter how you feel. Attitudes of the heart and the Holy Spirit are spiritual
and not something that you can feel so don't get hung up on waiting for a dramatic
calling accompanied by great feelings. Only when you receive God's spirit at baptism
are you officially eligible for the first resurrection by having God's spirit
in you and not just working with you.
If you want to deepen your feelings and appreciation for God's truth then remember
contrast is a big key. For those of us who were called into the church many of
us know deeply what it's like to live without the hope of God's kingdom and many
of us have had first-hand experience at how awful life can be not knowing or living
by God's way. Our appreciation comes from the great contrast of knowing what life
is like without it.
There is no need if you've grown up in the church to leave the church for a while
to prove God's way is right. In Proverbs 1:20 we read that "Wisdom
calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares." It says that
wisdom cries aloud in the streets. There's enough evidence in the messed up lives
of people in the world, including unconverted friends and family, to prove God's
way is right and the world's way only brings pain. If you do leave the church
and come back later you will still have to wear the consequences of living by
the world's ways. If you speak to those who have done it you'll realize that it's
just not worth it.
It's far better to learn second-hand from friends and family in the world as well
as people you read about in magazines and see on TV just how bad life can be without
living by God's way than to experience it first-hand. You'll spare yourself quite
a lot of scars and regrets if you do. If you want to deepen your feelings and
appreciation for the truth and God's way of life spend some time seeing the deep
contrast of life without it through the lives of others. You'll soon see what
a pearl of great price that you have in your hands to know God's truth and be
invited to be in the first resurrection if you do your part.
Another point to deepen your conversion if you are a second generation christian
is to get to know people older than you, from those in their 20's and 30's right
up to our senior members. In Proverbs 13:20 it says, "He that walks
with wise men shall be wise." My own observation over the years is that the
maturity of young people is often directly proportional to the time they spend
getting to know people older than them. Those who spend virtually all their time
with their peers tend to be more shallow and less mature.
I would encourage parents to regularly encourage their kids to get to know people
of all ages in the church, not just their immediate peers but also those in their
20's, 30's and older and young people, if you spend time getting to know those
older than you, little by little, you'll be quite surprised just how enjoyable
and helpful those friendships can be.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, the Apostle Paul wrote the following to the evangelist
Timothy, "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee,
which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded
that in thee also." We see here that Timothy was himself not a second but
a third generation christian having both a mother and a grandmother in the church.
The calling for those who have grown up in the church is totally expected and
not so dramatic but it can and should be just as profound. Those of us who came
out of the world should appreciate the calling of second generation christians
just as those brought up in the church should appreciate the calling of those
of us who were called from out of the world.