Martin Luther famously said,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
I believe that is true. And I believe one of the key battlefields of our day is the battlefield of raising the children of the church in faithfulness to God’s Word. I’m not sure that many Christians see this as the battlefield of the day. The church is bleeding – and not just trickling but gushing – her children to the enemy.
George Barna conducted research in 2006 that examined the spiritual lives of young adults whom he calls twentysomethings. He was looking to see how many people in their mid and late 20s were spiritually connected – that is, going to church, reading the Bible and praying (a pretty minimal standard) – after having contact with the church earlier in life. He found that 20% of people in their mid and late 20s who had had no contact with a church in their teen years had remained spiritually unconnected. Another 20% of these young people had significant involvement in a church in their teen years and remained spiritually connected in their 20s.
But 60% – 3 out of 5 – of people in their mid and late 20s had had significant involvement in a church as a teenager, but once they reached adulthood they had left the church and had abandoned any spiritual devotion that they displayed earlier in life. That is just one statistical indication, but it makes the point. If Barna is right, the church is losing the vast majority of her children. Who knows how many of those children will ever return to the church of their parents?
This is where the battle is raging.
Alongside evangelism and missions, God’s plan for the success of the gospel in the world, reaching all the way back to Adam and Eve, is for man to fill and take dominion over the earth through bearing a godly seed. That seed will walk in the way of his father, be loyal to the God of his father, disciple the nations for Christ through the bearing of more godly seeds in more godly homes who for generations live under the banner of Jesus Christ. This is covenant succession.
And if there will be light after darkness in our day, there will be a recovery of covenant succession.