Second-generation Christian. We use that term a lot when talking about the youth attending God’s Church—the children of those few previously called out of this world now. Technically, in many cases, we have third-generation and fourth-generation Christians attending—grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those previously called out of this world.
As a youth attending the Church of God, you know that this is not God’s world and that it has been cut off from God at this time. How extremely special it is for someone to be called by God at this time! Is this calling just as special for a second-, third- and fourth-generation Christian? It might be all too easy to think: God personally selected my parents out of the world, but I just happened to come along later. So how important could I be to His firstfruits plan?
In a Special Category
1 Corinthians 7:14 reveals that the children of those “firstfruits” are in a special category—they are “sanctified.” Herbert W. Armstrong explained that this means they have access to God in a world otherwise cut off. He explained this understanding to the parents in God’s Church in an article titled, “Your Children—Future Gods?”
He quoted 1 Corinthians 7:14 in the Moffatt translation: “Otherwise, of course, your children would be unholy instead of being consecrated to God.” He explained: “This does not mean the children of a believer are converted or ‘saved’—but rather, that they are consecrated—that is set apart as in a different category. … It does not mean they may be converted while still too young. It does mean they are not, like children of unconverted parents, cut off from God” (Good News, October-November 1980).
Whether the children were born into that home, or adopted at a young age into a home where they could grow up learning about the true God, or whether their parents were called while they were still in their custody—“they may be taught about God by the believing parent.” Mr. Armstrong explained: “Their chances of being converted when sufficiently mature are multiplied! … And when sufficiently adult they will be called.”
A child in this category (that is, in a converted home) is already set apart and will be called. In their case, it is only a matter of being fully mature. Then God intends to call them to conversion. And though the details may be somewhat different from those of their parents or grandparents, they still must “come out of”—i.e., overcome—this world.
But you still might think you are an afterthought. Does God call Dad and Mom, or Grandpa and Grandma, after a lot of scrutiny and then simply make room for the children? Those thoughts could easily lead to thoughts like: Could God do without us? Are we that vital to the firstfruits calling? Does God really need us? And did He even plan for us in the first place?
Every Part of the Body Serves a Function
To show the importance of everyone in God’s Church, we commonly read 1 Corinthians 12—which likens every facet of God’s Church to different parts of a singular body. “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (verses 14-17).
Perhaps it’s easy to feel that where you are in the Body of Christ is not important. Verse 18, however, shows that God sets every member in the Body. So even if one is born into the Church, that doesn’t just slip by God. He plans for that too!
Notice Acts 2:38-39: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit]. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” God knew that those He called would have children. That doesn’t catch Him by surprise. He doesn’t say, I personally invited them to be in my Family, but then they had these kids; I didn’t invite them—but I guess they can tag along!
When God calls someone out of the world, He will invite their future children as well.
Each Child a Gift from God
Notice this vital truth as revealed in Psalm 127:3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
In many cases, those who are called claim this promise in their prayers and ask God specifically for children who can be useful to the Work. Often, those converted are praying specifically for each child they conceive.
This principle is evident throughout the Bible. In Genesis 4:25, we read of the account where Seth was appointed to replace the genealogical line of his brother Abel. The name Seth means appointed. His birth—to the unconverted Adam and Eve—appears to be appointed for that purpose. (A number of scriptural examples show that God was still involved in the childbearing of parents who were not necessarily converted or 100 percent on track spiritually.)
Later in Genesis, Abram (not yet Abraham) thought that those promises would have to be passed on through a servant in his house since his wife was too old to conceive. When God said, No, I plan for someone to come from your loins, Abram took matters into his own hands and had Ishmael through Hagar. Ishmael was not the one whom God was talking about in terms of those birthright promises, but God still had a plan for Ishmael!
In Genesis 17:20, God says, “Behold, I have blessed him.” Notice the wording in Genesis 21:13: “[T]he son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.” You can continue reading in this chapter and see how God provided special protection for Ishmael. If Abraham—who would become the father of many nations—had kept God’s law perfectly, Ishmael wouldn’t even have existed! It is also very important to note that those involved suffered in many specific ways because of breaking God’s law. Nevertheless, God had plans for Ishmael for Abraham’s sake.
You might think, If my parents had kept God’s law, I would not have been born. You can read the account in Genesis 38 where Judah (old enough to be a grandfather) had twins through his daughter-in-law, Tamar. This was fornication. One of those twins, Pharez, was in the genealogical line that led to David and eventually to Jesus. That doesn’t excuse the sin, and again, there was real suffering that all involved had to endure because of breaking God’s law. When there is sin, there is suffering, and there must be deep repentance. But, in spite of the sin and suffering involved, it shows that God can still use those children in a powerful way. Even with couples who are not sinning in this way—who are lawfully married—God can prevent them from conceiving for other reasons. He knows whether we will learn more from being barren or from having children.
Remember Hannah? Once she deeply realized how involved God has to be in the childbearing process, God gave her Samuel—whom she had promised to donate to the tabernacle service. Notice this verse—and this is after she gave Samuel over to God’s Work: “And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:21).
It doesn’t say God gave her Samuel, and then she had five more children. It says God gave her those children.
In Joshua 24:4, God says, “I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau.” In Ruth 4:13, it shows that God gave Ruth conception to have Obed. David said in 1 Chronicles 28:5: “[T]he Lord has given me many sons.” David himself was born into a family that had a history with God (Ruth was his great-grandmother). Notice this psalm of his: “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:13-14). In several translations, the second half of verse 13 reads: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Verses 15-16 show that although the gestation process seemingly happens in secret, God was involved even at the womb level!
Well, that’s David, you might say. God obviously would be really involved in his birth and in who his children were because of that dynasty. You could wonder the same about Esau, Jacob, Obed, etc. What about Job 31:13-15? Job is talking about his servants, who likely were not converted: “If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” God fashioned both Job and his servants in the womb!
The same was the case for the Prophet Isaiah’s children. God sent them for a prophetic purpose and gave them special names (Isaiah 8:18). God formed Jeremiah in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). So God gives His people their children today.
Think of how God knit David together in the womb and even helped in his delivery. Think of how God fashioned Job and even his servants in the womb. As editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the Jude booklet: “You didn’t just stumble into God’s Church! You were invited by God! There are no accidental sons in God’s Family—like an accidental pregnancy. God calculates it to the most minute detail!” God is forming His firstfruits Family! Even if you feel like a minute detail, God calculated for you! But does He need you?
Your Value to God’s Plan
Notice what Matthew 3:9 states: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
Maybe we think less of ourselves because of our heredity. Here was a case where some were thinking too much of their value to God—just because of their heredity as descendants of Abraham. But John the Baptist told them that God could raise up stones to serve in their places if need be.
But if God could use stones, or do it without us, why doesn’t He? Because He is a sharing Being who wants a Family. So He extends the opportunity to us. He could do it without us, but He wants us to be involved. Then it’s up to us to prove ourselves useful.
The previous verse reads: “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (verse 8). Don’t just rely on heredity; bring forth the fruits of a changed life! We have to have something to show for our place here. God specially created you to serve a special function in this life. So you must make the most of it!
Luke 19:13 begins a parable where a master “… called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” In other words, Be productive while I’m gone.
Later he came back to see “how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (verses 15-17).
Your existence—precisely calculated by God—is a “pound,” in a sense. God has given you something to work with—access to Him! But just proving that to yourself isn’t enough. It’s not just about realizing that you were specially designed. It is about what you do with that knowledge.
God looks at the bottom line: What was the profit? What value did you add to God’s Work? What can you add to what you’ve already been given? Can you make the most of this special category in which you find yourself? Can we have a real impact on God’s Work? The whole reason grandparents, parents and children are called out of season—ahead of time—is to support the Work! This Work is about helping others. It is not just about us getting into God’s Family first because we are “special.” How many lives can you impact today? How many lives will you impact in the future? Who might you give birth to who will make an impact?
As you can read in verses 24-26, one servant thought he was useless—that he had no value. With an inferiority complex, he undervalued his potential contribution, saying: What good am I? He doesn’t really need me! And the master said: With that attitude, I don’t need him! God wants to see what we make of this opportunity! He gave that unused pound to the one who was most productive with what he was originally given. That is an important point that all Christians must consider: Our value to God is somewhat contingent upon us realizing our value to God.
Knowing that God really did plan for you—that He has a purpose for you—might be just what inspires you to make the most of it.
The seed, or offspring, of those in God’s Church will inherit the Gentiles (Isaiah 54:3)! This is what God wants you to be preparing for! He wants you to be young people who can help bring entire nations into His Family!
God knows who the offspring of His called-out ones are. They don’t sneak in. God plans for them; He planned for you to have the most impact on others from your life. And that special, treasured group is given entire nations!
What opportunities God gives you to make yourself indispensable! God planned for you, and He wants you to make a lasting contribution to this Work and to the history of the world!