The Three Chairs


I.         There is a tendency for groups of people to drift away from the truth as years go by

            A.        Not necessarily one person leaving the faith, but as generation succeeds generation there is a tendency for children to not do as well as their parents.

                        1.         It shows up as a gradual change, not a sudden departure from the truth.

                        2.         Though it does happen sometimes.

            B.        There are exceptions, but I would like to address this general trend.

            C.        Few churches remain faithful to the teachings of God’s Word for more than 100 years.

                        1.         Most drift away within 50 years.

                        2.         There are some which last longer. There is one, I am told, which has remained sound for over 200 years.

            D.        The three chairs in front represent this drift

                        1.         The first generation is fired up, enthusiastic, and dedicated to God.

                        2.         The second generation goes to services. They go through the motions, but the fire and zeal are missing.

                        3.         The third generation doesn’t care. They give themselves completely over to sin.

II.        Hard to imagine? Examine these examples from the Scriptures.

            A.        Abraham, Isaac, Esau

                        1.         Abraham

                                    a.         Known as the father of faith

                                    b.         As he traveled, he frequently built altars to God - Genesis 12:7, 13:4,18, 22:9

                        2.         His son, Isaac

                                    a.         Worshiped God, but his faith was not in the same class as Abraham’s

                                    b.         Instead of altars, he is noted for the wells that he built

                                                (1)       The one time it is mentioned that he built an altar, he puts a well next to it - Genesis 26:25

                                    c.         To illustrate this drift towards worldly considerations, Isaac favored one of his sons because of the food he brought to the table - Genesis 25:28

                        3.         That son, Esau, was very worldly

                                    a.         He married local women who did not worship God.

                                    b.         He despised his inheritance - Genesis 25:29-34

            B.        David, Solomon, Rehoboam

                        1.         David is described as a man after God’s own heart

                                    a.         However, he was not a successful father

                                    b.         His son Ammon raped his half-sister, Tamar.

                                    c.         Another son, Absalom, attempted to overthrow David and laid in public with some of his father’s concubines.

                                    d.         Another son, Adonijah also attempted to overthrow David - I Kings 1:5-6

                        2.         David’s son Solomon was better than his brothers

                                    a.         I Kings 11:1-6 - He allowed his wives to worship false gods and even joined them.

                                    b.         He spent 7 years building the temple - I Kings 6:37-38

                                    c.         But he then spent 13 years building his own palace - I Kings 7:1

                                    d.         Where do you think Solomon’s priorities where placed?

                        3.         Solomon’s son, Rehoboam split the kingdom

                                    a.         Under his rule, Judah went after idols - I Kings 14:22-24

                                    b.         Are you surprised?

            C.        Israel - Judges 2:7-12

                        1.         Joshua and the people served God during all of Joshua’s life and during the lives of the elders who served Joshua.

                        2.         The second generation then dies.

                        3.         The following generation did not know God!

III.       How is it that first generation raises a weaker second generation?

            A.        A difference in their view of time

                        1.         First chair folk tend to dwell in today

                                    a.         They see work that needs to be done and it is done then.

                                    b.         There are fields white to harvest - Luke 10:2

                                    c.         They are eager to serve - Isaiah 6:8

                        2.         Second chair people tend to dwell in the past

                                    a.         They are proud, even arrogant, about the things that happened in the past.

                                    b.         “Why, we used to . . .”

                                    c.         You can see this attitude in the Jews - John 8:33, 39-40

            B.        A difference in their view of authority

                        1.         First chair people base everything on what God says.

                                    a.         For example, look at Abraham’s move from Haran to Canaan.

                                                (1)       God said and Abraham went.

                                                (2)       No questions asked.

                                    b.         They are always looking towards God.

                                                (1)       They always demanding proof.

                                                (2)       They won’t take any man’s word

                        2.         Second chair people obey, but their obedience is often prefaced with “Yes, but . . .”

                                    a.         They think they follow God, but when asked for their opinion they will say “I think . . .” instead of “God says . . .”

                                    b.         Jeremiah 3:10 - Not a whole-hearted service

                                    c.         II Timothy 3:5,7 - They have only a form of godliness

                                                (1)       It looks good, but it doesn’t have substance.

                                                (2)       They deny the power of the Gospel

                                                            (a)       “It won’t work”

                                                            (b)       “You can’t get people to study any more”

                                                            (c)       “The Bible must be tailored to today’s society”

                                    d.         Romans 10:1-3 - They have a zeal, but the wrong kind of zeal.

                                    e.         Matthew 15:8-9 - They claim to honor God, but they teach the words of man.

                                    f.         Often, they don’t see the need to bother with Bible teaching.

            C.        There is a difference in their focus in life

                        1.         First chair people put their emphasis on serving God

                                    a.         Hebrews 11:8-10 - This world is too temporary

                        2.         Second chair people begin a blurring of godliness and worldliness

                                    a.         Isaac with his wells and his food.

                                    b.         Matthew 15:8-9 - Their service is only lip service.

                                    c.         Having succeeded in this world, there is a tendency to drift

                                                (1)       Deut. 6:10-12 - When full, beware!

                                                (2)       Deut. 32:15 - Growing fat and complacent, they only esteemed God lightly.

                                                (3)       Riches cannot save a soul - Psalm 49:6-8

                                    d.         Remember Solomon and his many wives - I Kings 11:1-6

IV.      Once the drifting begins, it is hard to stop.

            A.        It is hard enough for dedicated people to raise faithful children

            B.        When one is only loosely committed, their children will push farther and faster.

            C.        The drift starts with a desire for this world

                        1.         Galatians 4:9

                        2.         Sin causes love to grow cold - Matthew 24:12

            D.        But primarily, the drift is caused by incomplete teaching

                        1.         Teaching is a father’s responsibility - Ephesians 6:4

                        2.         God warned the Israelites to diligently teach, less they forget - Deut. 6:7

                                    a.         Effort must be given. It doesn’t happen by osmosis

                                    b.         Too often, we hope that our example will be enough

                                                (1)       But often our example leaves much to be desired.

                                                (2)       What example did Solomon give his children?

                                                (3)       What example did Isaac give his sons?

                        3.         Remember the problem with Adonijah’s upbringing? - I Kings 1:6

                                    a.         There was no discipline.

                        4.         Eli’s sons strayed because there was no restraint - I Samuel 3:13

                        5.         Samuel’s sons strayed because Samuel wasn’t home - I Samuel 7:15-17, 8:1-3

            E.        All of this results in unfaithful children

                        1.         People who don’t like to think about God - Romans 1:28

                        2.         They are willfully ignorant - II Peter 3:5

V.        How do we stop the drift?

            A.        If you are a third chair person, you need to get right with God. You are lost without him.

            B.        If you are a second chair person, look at what God told the Laodiceans - Rev. 3:14-19

                        1.         They were lukewarm, like second chair people

                                    a.         They are bad tasting water.

                                    b.         They keep those who are cold from seeing what being hot is like.

                                    c.         They keep throwing cold water on the hot.

                        2.         The solution -

                                    a.         Vs. 18 - Turn to God

                                    b.         Vs. 19 - Be zealous

                                    c.         Vs. 19 - Repent

                                    d.         Vs. 20 - Rededicate your life to serve God. Get to work!

            C.        If you are a first chair person

                        1.         Hang onto your faith. Now is not the time to give up.

                        2.         Teach your children. If possible, teach them more than you currently know!

Based on lesson presented by Ralph Walker