We often think of “inheritance” in terms of money, valuable possessions, or property. But we leave our children and grandchildren so much more than that. When God takes us home, we leave behind a “spiritual inheritance,” a legacy that will long outlive us. This legacy can be either positive or negative. What legacy are you leaving behind?
A Tale of Four Legacies
I want to highlight the legacies of four very different people. The first is Martin Luther, the great reformer who is credited with sparking the Protestant Reformation. While certainly not a perfect man (no one is), he loved God’s Word and encouraged those of his day to start their thinking with God’s Word, pointing them toward the saving gospel. His legacy lives on even today, many hundreds of years later.
The second person is Charles Darwin, the man credited with popularizing the idea of evolution. His legacy lives on today as his naturalistic ideas have permeated not only Western culture, but much of the rest of the world. But his legacy is not a good one. He popularized a philosophy that attacked (and was intended to destroy—but that can never happen of course) the authority of the Word of God. Sadly, many churches adopted his ideas and reinterpreted the book of Genesis. This led to an undermining of the authority of God’s Word and generations doubting its truth and walking away from the Christian faith. Darwin’s legacy is a destructive, evil legacy, and it lives on not only in the secular culture and teaching, but sadly, also in many churches.
Standing Unashamedly on God’s Word
The last two people are my own parents, Mervyn and Norma Ham. My father is now at home with the Lord and my mother is 90 years old. I can say that Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum are really a result of their legacy.
You see, my parents taught their children to stand unashamedly and uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God. They loved God’s Word, and in many places we lived they started Sunday schools and brought in evangelists to make sure children and their families were able to hear the message of the gospel.
When I was a child, I watched my dad read the Scriptures and passionately declare, “Thus saith the Lord!” He was always researching what the liberal critics of the day were saying so that he could find answers and equip us to defend our faith. If he came across an argument he couldn’t answer, he would emphasize that our knowledge is nothing compared to God’s. He taught us to always go back to God’s Word to make sure that we were correctly understanding the passage in its context and literary genre and that our interpretation was indeed correct, because God’s Word is true—not the argument. Eventually, God’s Word would be vindicated, he said, and he was right! It always is!
Since we moved frequently for my father’s work, we attended many different churches. If my parents ever heard a pastor teaching something that went against what God’s Word clearly teaches, they would take all of us kids, along with a Bible, up to the front after the service and graciously challenge the pastor with God’s Word. They emphasized the authority of God’s Word and never knowingly compromised on its truth.
An Ongoing Legacy
The work of AiG, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum is the legacy of this teaching. My parents never had much in the way of material things, but they left a rich spiritual legacy for their children and our children—and our children’s children!
And their legacy isn’t just impacting our immediate family. It has affected the family of Christ through our VBS, Answers Bible Curriculum, thousands of books, DVDs, and other apologetics material that have been distributed through the AiG conferences and website, the gospel-centered teaching and answers at the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, and more. These resources have impacted literally millions of people (including many non-Christians), encouraging them to stand on the authority of God’s Word—something many have taught their children, who are now teaching their children!
What Will Your Legacy Be?
So I challenge you: What legacy are you leaving behind? Are you leaving a legacy that will long outlive you and be felt in subsequent generations? Will your legacy impact your immediate family, local believers, unbelievers, or even the body of Christ around the world?
A strong spiritual legacy doesn’t just happen by accident. Be intentional about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. Let how you spend your time and money speak clearly to what that legacy will be. If you have children and grandchildren, pour into them. Spend time with them. Engage in meaningful, spiritual conversations. Encourage them; share your story; offer wisdom; always point them to Christ and God’s Word.
Too many grandparents waste the precious years they have with their grandchildren. Instead of recognizing that their race is not yet finished, they leave the spiritual instruction of their grandchildren completely up to the child’s parents or church and instead focus solely on building memories or retirement. But God doesn’t say age 65 is when our race is run! We have a calling to declare God’s works to our children and their children (Deuteronomy 4:9). You have a unique perspective and wisdom you can pass along to encourage the next generation. Don’t waste your latter years!
What will your legacy be?
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children. (Proverbs 13:22)