They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Shoulders on Which We Stand

The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer
If you do a study on what happened to the New Testament disciples and their followers, you quickly realize what a sacrifice has been made for us to be able to exercise our Christian faith in the 21st century. The early years of the Christian movement were perilous and deadly times. How the gospel survived those early years can only be attributed to the fact that God ordained it and the hard choices and perseverance of the saints that were charged with carrying the torch to the the next generation. Over the ages, thousands have paid the ultimate price so that the gospel could be brought vibrant and intact to us in the twenty first century.

Most modern day believers don’t give much thought to the past and how and why we are able to freely worship today as Christians. Our study of the faith is focused inward and centers around obtaining inner peace and personal satisfaction in life, with little thought given to the history of those who selflessly brought the faith to us. Whether we realize it or not, we are standing on the broad shoulders of those who have come before us. We have a heritage that we must acknowledge and actively be aware of. If we forget where we are from, we will definitely lose sight of where we are going. We also have a responsibility to keep the torch lit and pass our faith along to those who come behind us. Let’s take a brief look at the shoulders we are now standing on.

First of all, where we come from matters to God and He put us in a natural family as well as a spiritual family as part of His master plan. Heritage was God’s idea and it is evidently very important to Him. The Book of Genesis carefully lays out the beginnings of the Jewish nation and covenants that God made with his chosen people. From Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, the lineage of each is carefully recorded. Later, when God calls Moses in the Exodus story, He tells him in Exodus 3:4-6, “I am the God of your father, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Isaiah 51:1-2 tells us that we are to look to the rock from which we were cut, to look to our Jewish roots (Abraham and Sarah) if we want to seek Him. In the Book of Numbers, chapter 1, God list all the families and their households to preserve their lineages and heritage for all the generations to come. Moving to the New Testament, the first seventeen verses of the first book, Matthew, list the genealogy and lineage of our Messiah, Jesus. Hebrews 11 lists all the Old Testament saints and martyrs who have gone before us and paved the way for those that would come later. Hebrews 11:33-40 details the difficult circumstances that believers faced because of their unwavering belief in the God of their fathers. The fulfillment of their faithfulness and perseverance was realized in the person of the the Messiah, Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate example in suffering and endurance (Hebrews 12:1-3) and His discipled followed his example to the point of death. They carried the gospel message forward for 2,000 years to each succeeding generation. Though persecuted and pursued, they were faithful to pass the torch on to us.

We are standing then on some very broad shoulders. A tremendous price has been paid by our forefathers that have gone before us. Have you ever given any thought to whose shoulders you are standing on? Who in your lineage (family or spiritual) has been responsible for showing you the way to the Messiah? Also, what are you doing to ensure that the legacy is being passed on to those in your family? God has given us the responsibility to pass the legacy on to the family that He has so carefully placed us in. We must be the shoulders that the next generation stands upon. Where will the next generation of leaders come from if we don’t carry our our responsibility? Who will be standing on your shoulders?

P.S. Consider these verses as you ponder your thoughts:

  • Psalm 145:4
  • 2 Timothy 2:2
  • Hebrews 13:7