As I wrote earlier, my desire to serve the Chinese church grew over time, leading to my dissertation on Reaching the 2nd Generation Chinese Americans for Christ. The family is crucial and church leaders have an important role in equipping families to reach the second generation. In my previous blog, I addressed basic and specific issues second-generation youth face. These include the normal “growing pains,” but also the battle of two opposing worldviews, social media, the struggle for identity, and more.
While the previous blogs have focused more on the problems the second generation faces, we will shift our focus in the next blogs. While struggles will still be mentioned, the focus will change to helping them. This blog revolves around the gospel. Because works are engrained in the minds and lives of many Chinese believers, grace can be easily eclipsed. Works have their place, and some don’t emphasize them enough, but we must understand that the gospel, stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, is based on God’s grace through faith, as in Ephesians 2:8-10. The second generation needs to understand God’s grace, and the gospel helps them to understand this. They need to hear this in the preaching and teaching of the gospel. However, they also need to see it lived out by Christian leaders and in their family. Grace changes us!
The foundational text is 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. In verses one and two, Paul says the Corinthians believed the gospel. Paul declared the gospel in Corinth during his second missionary journey in Acts 18. The Corinthians believed the gospel and Paul challenged them to make sure they truly believed. Verse 3a refers to Paul receiving the gospel directly from the Lord. In Galatians 1:11-12, Paul states the gospel belongs to God. It came from God. The most basic elements include five statements found in 1 Corinthians 3b-8:
- Jesus died for our sins. (3b)
- Jesus was buried. (4a)
- Jesus was resurrected. (4b)
- According to the Scriptures. (4c)
- Jesus was seen by many. (5-8)
We are all sinners, as Romans 3:23 states. We have all broken God’s Law, dishonored God. Our sin breaks the relationship with him. We want to be the center of life and be in control. We deserve to be judged, but Jesus died in our place. As God, only Jesus was and is perfect. As man, he died and shed his blood for the forgiveness of sin. We cannot work our way to heaven, but it is a gift from God of grace.
Jesus was buried in a borrowed rich man’s tomb, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, written some 700 years before He was born. This proved he was dead. This occurred in history. It is not a myth. Salvation is based on historical events. Jesus was in the tomb for three days, but . . .
Jesus was physically resurrected. He laid down his life and he took it up again. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). Without the resurrection of Jesus there is no Christianity. He is also alive today and will return.
All of this was according to the Scriptures. Paul states this two times, first in verse 3 and again in verse 4. The Old Testament foretold Jesus would come, where he would be born, that he would die for sinners and be raised again. Read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 to start understanding this.
Last, Jesus was seen by many. Because this took place in history, there were hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw him after his resurrection. Paul gives a summary of those eyewitnesses, including himself.
Ephesians 2:8-10 emphasize that salvation is by grace through faith, and not by works, but is God’s gift. Understanding grace is helpful in reaching the second generation. One way to help them overcome the pressures of living between two worldviews, family, education, and feeling like they are part of the church is to live a life of grace. Here are examples.
When a parent emphasizes works, children/youth feel great pressure to “measure up” to the standards, which often are unattainable. While standards are needed, a works-based home becomes a place where there is the constant awareness of failure. This leads to anger, rebellion, depression, and more. Josh McDowell wisely stated that, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” They feel they can never be good enough, get high enough grades, never be the best at a sport or musical instrument. They feel trapped like birds in a cage.
But, if a child is raised in a grace-based home, he or she knows there are rules because they are loved. They feel free to ask questions, make mistakes and be themselves and know that no matter what, they are loved. Within a grace-based church, they will feel the same. They can ask hard questions because they are in a safe place and won’t be criticized, rebuked, looked down on, or shunned. They can do their best to serve and even if they make a mistake, they learn from it and become stronger.
A father, mother, or church leader who is grace-based, knows we all fail. They will discipline as needed but be there with love and acceptance. This can be contrary to a group mindset, where their failure not only humiliates them but also the family or church. When grace is expressed, the second generation will see the power of change through the gospel. He or she will see the truth lived out in the lives of those who are most influential.
This is why the gospel and grace are crucial! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Living out the gospel is the expression of change only God can create by his grace.
Some Helpful Resources
“Michael’s Background and What Is the Gospel,” part two of Reaching the Second Generation for Christ.
What Is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert and D. A. Carson
Asian American Youth Ministry by Dj Chuang
What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
Image courtesy of the author.
Michael Weis was born in West Virginia, heard the gospel in upstate New York, and put his faith in Jesus as a young boy. Upon graduating from college with a Bachelor's degree in Technical Theatre, he moved to Florida to work in the entertainment industry and began studying Christian …View Full Bio
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