Second Generation Christians

The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of
the elders that outlived Joshua.....and there arose another generation
after them which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done
for Israel  (Judges 2:7,10).

Joshua was a man that lived in the holy presence of God. He was a man
whose soul was completely taken possession of for God, and therefore it
was a simple thing for him to take possession of what was his. Let God
capture my soul and I will want to capture everything for Him.

Joshua represents not only the energy of the Spirit of God making
Christ our leader, but the man of faith, too, who takes hold for God in
living faith. The elders and Joshua who knew God, who followed Him,
held the whole nation together as long as they lived. It is a mercy
when God has such persons to hold fast His saints in allegiance. But we
have no Joshuas now. We see that Joshua had no successors. I believe he
represented the apostolic spirit in the Church. Look at the time of the
apostles; Paul and the other apostles held the saints together, and the
Church was prevented from open and public failure by the apostolic
power that was in their midst.

But the apostles all died and left no successors. The second generation
of any movement is a time of failure.  Israel under Joshua and the
elders was faithful, outwardly at least, and living in the fear of God.
But a second generation came in - people who had not seen the works of
the Lord, who had got the truths from the elders at second-hand. They
had not come right down to them from God, but they had learned them in
an indirect way, and I might add, in an intellectual way, rather than
in their hearts.

How easy it is for the second generation of any movement to have truth
in the head, but not in the heart.  You have all these truths on
your bookshelves. You can buy them for a few dollars, but it is one
thing to pay for a thing out of your pocket, and another thing to pay
for it out of your soul. It is one thing to get it into your head, and
another to get it into your heart And it was one thing for Joshua, and
the elders, men of living personal faith, to take hold of things, and
quite another for the generation that followed them to do the same
thing. Ah, brethren, there was a time when the Spirit of God sounded
the midnight cry, “Behold the bridegroom cometh.” With what power it
took hold of souls and brought them out to meet the bridegroom. How
near was the glory! how dear the Lord! and how small the world!

Think what blessings the Spirit of God has revealed. A glorious Christ
at God’s right hand, a heavenly Church, and all the precious truths
that flow from and are connected with it. It is one thing for us to
talk about these precious truths, but it is quite a different thing to
have them brought home, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.  The
elders have gone; the first generation of this movement has passed
away, and we are risen in the room of our fathers, and I ask you, and I
ask myself: Has it been merely something handed down to us from
faithful men, or have we had to do with God about these things? Is it
between us and God? Have we been alone with Him about them? Or have we
learned them because this or that one has held and taught them? Beloved
brethren, leaders are God-given. We can bless God for them. But we
cannot follow leaders save as they follow Christ. We must follow a
living Christ in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.