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Grace through Every Generation

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Text:  Exodus 20:4-6

Title:  Grace through Every Generation

Sermon Theme, Goal, Need:

Theme:  The Jealous God shows his loving kindness to thousands of generations who follow his commandments. 

Goal: to encourage God’s people live faithful lives since God will show his covenant kindness to thousands of generations of his followers.

Need:  Many Christians have fallen into the belief that God’s loving kindness has nothing to do with generations.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Introduction about life without consequences.
  2. God’s jealousy.
  3. God’s hatred.
  4. God’s kindness
  5. Conclusion: Encouragement that God’s kindness will go for thousands of generations.

Sermon in Oral Style:

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

What difference does it make?  We are worshipping in a Christian Reformed Church.  In today’s world, we don’t notice a big difference between the worship of different denominations.  The difference in the doctrines of the church are quite similar.  After all, we might all go to church at the CRC, but we read books from Pentecostals, we listen to Baptist radio preachers and teachers.  We’ve all been inspired by the faith of Mother Theresa and the conviction of Billy Graham.  We are influenced by Christians around us of all different denominations.  There is lots of good  and godly material out there. 

We are in the faith together.  We are running the race together.  We encourage each other together. 


Denomination doesn’t make a difference to your salvation.  But denomination does change the way we experience God.  Songs, what is preached about, how God is taught about.  It makes a difference in the way we relate to our God.  And that is important.

          Today we talk about faith as a relationship.  In order to have true faith we need to have personal . . . relationship with Jesus Christ.  Our salvation depends on our relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What we do hear in the worship service is all about strengthening our relationship with God.  Its talking to God.  Its hearing from him.  Its enjoying sitting in the presence of our creator.  Its getting goosebumps knowing that our God did some much for our relationship with him.

          The Christian Reformed Church teaches something incredible about relationship.  We have experienced that teaching about relationship in a real concrete way today.  Infant baptism is a real experience of the generational love of God.  Putting the water on Aiden’s head this morning is a concrete picture  and reminder.   God passes his love on through the generations of the people who belong him.  He always has.  He always will.

          We talk so much about our personal lord and savior, and having a personal relationship that we miss out on noticing this generational love of God.  We focus so much on our own battle against sin.  And we focus so much on our own expression of faith that we might not stop to just say, “Wow God thank you” for the way he passes his grace down from your parents, to you.  And even before you children were able to comprehend how big God was, you could see how big his love for them was.

          The passage that we read this morning is probably one of the most familiar places that we hear about this love that God gives from generation to generation.  It comes in the second of the ten commandments.  4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. [1]


          It starts with the command.  We know the command:  Worship only the creator, never his creation.  Next comes a description of God.  Then we hear a warning.  And last we hear a blessing. 

So, after the command comes the description of God.  Our God is a jealous God.  That is good information for our theology books, right?  God is a jealous God.  Actually, this word jealous isn’t just about who God is.  It is all about God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God.  God is a jealous God.


          This word jealous is a word that comes right from the relationship between a husband and a wife, one of the closest relationships ever created.  When God says he is a jealous God, he is saying he is like a loving husband.  He is totally into his people.  He has an undying devotion to them.  Nothing anyone can do can make God love his people any less.

          That is an awesome picture of God.  God loves us so much that he isn’t going to put up with anyone breaking in on his turf.  We belong to God.  We have a relationship with him.  He is going to shower us with grace like we could never even imagine.  All because God is a jealous God, a God that is totally into us.

          God doesn’t take it too lightly when we do let someone else onto his turf.  He doesn’t takes it very seriously when we start giving ourselves away to other things, other idols we make for ourselves.  In verse 5 we have the next part, the warning. God will punish the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations who hate me.  An Israelite proverb that is quoted in Jeremiah says it so well.  “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”   Such a vibrant picture of how God in the Old Covenant gave curses down through the generations of those who were unfaithful to God. 

          But the punishment is not what this section of Exodus is really all about.  It’s about the blessings.  Exodus 20:6.  It says, “ but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. [2]

          God will punish, but he isn’t into punishing his people.  He is totally into loving them.  Showing them how much he loves them.

          That’s where the Reformed denomination has a lot to offer other denominations.  Our view of the way God loves his people is absolutely humongous.

          The last part of our passage says that God will show love to a thousand generations that love him and keep his commandments.  God still shows his love in generations.  When we love God and follow his will, he will continue to pour out his blessings on us. 

          That’s what we can celebrate as a Christian Reformed denomination.  In 2005 we celebrate the CRC’s 100th year of being in Canada.  This year we celebrate 150 years of the CRC in all of North America.  Just looking at the denomination, we can see that it has had its struggles, and it has had its joys.  But we see that God’s grace has brought some meager Dutch Immigrants in the 1850’s to be a tremendous blessing throughout North America.  Our denominations has battled through hard times, but through it all we can see God’s grace stretching through every generations.

           We celebrate God’s grace through the generations with baptism as well.  Its in infant baptism that we can offer other denominations a powerful way to picture our relationship with God. 


          Baptism is a sign and a seal of God’s relationship with us.  It is God welcoming a child into a relationship with him.  It is God symbolizing the washing away of sin.  It is God showing his overwhelming, unimaginable love for a lowly human being.

          Eric and Marcia, you brought Aiden to be baptized today.  When the water was placed on his forehead, he wasn’t just dedicated to God.  It wasn’t just a promise by the two of you to try and raise him to become a Christian.  You brought him up here for baptism, I placed the water on his forehead.  But baptism is about belonging to God.  It is first of all about Aiden being God’s child.  He is apart of the community of believers.  We recognize that is already pouring out his love on that little boy.

          God gives his grace through generations.  He passes it down through the people that belong to him.  Aiden was his before he was baptized.  Because he was born to Christian parents, Aiden is already receiving the blessings of a relationship with God.  It may not be a personal relationship for Aiden, but its already personal for God.  God loves Aiden.  God has already been shown that loving kindness from God.

          How many of you actually let your infant children benefit from the Canadian health care system?  Why would you do something crazy like that?  You don’t even know if they like Canada or the Canadian health care?  What if they grow up and move to Uzbekistan?  What then?

          Here I have a Health Card.  It says Haley Kuperus on it.  Its from our 1 year old little daughter.  She has no clue about Canada.  We do.  She has no idea what the health care system is like.  We do.  She couldn’t care less about being a Canadian, but we do.  It isn’t by her choice that she receives these blessings.  Its all about the community she was born into.

          It is exactly the same with God’s covenant.  God never intended the wait and see attitude about belonging to God and being blessed by him.  He has a relationship with the smallest child, not because they are young and innocent.  He blesses the children of believers, not because they might some day choose God.  We baptize because God blesses the generations of the faithful.

          God blesses the generations of the faithful.  A thousand generations of the faithful.

          People of God, as you leave today remember you belong to the body of Christ because of the calling of God.  And remember the words of Acts 2, the words exploded out of Peter as he was first filled with the Holy Spirit.  “38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” [3]

          The promise is for you and your children.  Eric and Marcia the promise is for you and for Aiden.  The blessings are for a thousand eternal generations of those who have been called by God and surrender their lives to him.


This is God’s will from his word.  And all God’s people say, AMEN.


[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ex 20:4-6

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ex 20:6

[3] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ac 2:38-39

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