“Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Older people have a love for those who are younger. God loves the young. This passage is primarily directed toward those who are young. It is a challenge to every youth. It is a plea for all young people to turn to the Lord early in life. Let us absorb each thought.
Youth is a very precious and beautiful time of life. Someone has said that youth is so precious that it is a shame it is wasted on young people. We are not of that persuasion because we know that many young people are taking advantage of their youth in the way that God is pleased. But such a comment does reflect the appreciation we all have for youth. It has a purity, spirit, enthusiasm and honesty about it that does not always characterize every period of life. It is priceless and once spent it is forever gone.
Youth Has Problems
We are not to think that being young means being free of problems. The young face many dangers, threats, the need of making decisions and other frustrations that those of us who are no longer young may have forgotten. Older people sometimes talk about what they would give to be young again. But likely they do not remember the hard parts of being young, trying to determine the direction of life and making commitments that must be made.
We sing songs of the grandeur of youth when we sing of the land where we’ll never grow old. But even though young people may tire of hearing it said, youth is a time for preparation. In one sense all of life is a time for preparation for the life that is to come. But youth is a time to prepare for a life on earth that is a life of preparation for eternity. This being true it must be used wisely and as God would have it used.
The primary appeal of the gospel is very relevant to youth. Even though people of older years may turn to the Lord and find forgiveness for misspent years, it is to the youth of every generation to which we turn with hope, with deep emotions and goals. We seek for them salvation.
One reason the gospel has such an applicable appeal to youth is because young people have a lifetime to give in service to God. There need not be one day spent in the devil’s service after we learn how to come to God. Young people have the opportunity to so live that they can look back on life with great consolation that they served God all the days of life. They need not suffer the agony of conscience and ill-spent years. The evil scars of sin, regret and neglect need not mar their life. They need not sow the “wild oats” of the flesh only to reap a painful harvest later.
Our text suggests three important questions. One, when to remember the Creator? Two, why to remember the Creator? Three, what does it mean to remember the Creator?
With this question we are talking about the age of accountability or that point in the time of one’s life when he stands responsible before God for his duty to God. At what age should a young person realize he is answerable to God for himself?
The Scriptures do not designate a certain “birthday” to answer this question. Some have mistakenly assumed that because Jesus was twelve years of age when He went to the temple that twelve is the moment of personal accountability to God. But this is not taught. We are driven to the conclusion that such a time does come, and it comes “in the days of thy youth.” We are taught that we all shall stand before God in judgment and “shall give an account.” (Second Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:12). The fact that we do become accountable shows that there is a time, at some age, when we are responsible.
We are not accountable in infancy. A little child is not sinful nor guilty of the sins of others. Christ used a little child to picture the nature of those who are in His kingdom, the church, the saved (Matthew 18:2-4; 19:14). If children were condemned and depraved, why would Jesus want anybody to become as children?
Sin is a transgression of the law (First John 3:4). Children have not violated any law of God. We are to be like children by being humble, pure, teachable, obedient and submissive. There is nothing in Scripture to substantiate the total depravity doctrine, people born in sin, being guilty of the sin of Adam or any other foreparent. This is an invention of Augustine, pursued in the heretical creeds of men, promoted by denominations, and serves as the basis for another false practice called “infant baptism.” It is a doctrine that is blasphemous of God and contradictory to His revealed will.
Nonetheless, there does come a time when that sweet innocence of youth gives way to accountability before God. It is in youth. But as we must consider how one answers to his accountability, it becomes clear that one must be able to understand his duty and respond to it. To not be able to understand, and not be able to respond, would be to assign accountability to one who could neither know it nor do anything about it. Accountability, therefore, is determined by whether one has the capacity to know and respond to duty. It is not determined by whether he does know or not, but whether he is capable of knowing and responding.
Some may live an entire lifetime and never become accountable due to some mental deficiency. Some may become accountable at a very early age, developing rapidly, even as early as eight or nine years of age. Usually this period of serious contemplation occurs around the age of twelve or the early teen years. It varies with the individuals and no man can set a universal age standard. But it is in the days of youth.
Young people who have reached such an age with normal capacity for learning and knowing but have not yet respondedto the invitation of Christ stand in great spiritual danger.
Why should the young remember their Creator? It is possible that the young never grow older. The young die, too, Opportunity may be taken from them quickly. Death is no stranger to the beautiful bloom of youth. The first funeral I ever tried to conduct was that of a ten year old boy. It impressed me so heavily that death comes to youth. Disease, accident, many things terminate life and opportunity is gone forever. One of the devil’s most subtle and vicious lies is, “You have plenty of time yet to obey the gospel.”
Delay makes obedience harder. The text tells of evil days that follow the days of youth. Evil has the power to harden the heart. Those that were once tender and moldable become set and resistant even to the gospel. Waiting can cause indifference. Many things can occur in the course of a person’s life that can turn attention away from the soul. Satan is constantly begging the youth to postpone obedience for he knows that delay gives him additional opportunities to deceive and mislead.
Charles Spurgeon was a Baptist preacher who preached to thousands every Sunday in London, England. What a pity he preached Baptist doctrine rather than the doctrine of Christ! But, as all denominational preachers, he also taught much truth. (The truth they teach often blinds people to the error they teach). He illustrated the value of remembering the Creator in youth. Without a word he took two candles, one short and one longer, then he lighted them both and watched them burn down. Both gave off the same light as they burned, but it was not long before the shorter candle burned out. The longer one continued to give light on and on. He explained that it was that way with youth coming to God. Both old and young can radiate light, but youth can do so much longer, if for no other reason than by the number of years that they will normally live.
Remembering God in youth gives young people the opportunity to offer talents to the Lord that they will not possess in years to come. They have their enthusiasm, their honesty, their teachable and they can set a good example for other young people. Is it right to withhold from God your life, living as you please until you grow old and then give Him only the “leftovers”? If “leftovers” is all one has he best hasten to offer them to God. But what of that person who would deliberately shortchange God in that fashion? The glorious treasure of zeal and vigor belong to God. Nobody ever loses anything valuable in serving God. You only come to appreciate them more, use them to the fullest, and thereby enjoy the richest, happiest and most useful life one can live on earth.
We must ever keep before us the reality of the promise of the Lord’s return. We know not when. He may come before a young person grows to maturity. Even the young ought to want to meet Him prepared.
What Does it Mean?
What does it mean to remember thy Creator? Generally speaking it means to be mindful of God and His ways. More specifically it means to realize that we all live before God under the authority of Christ. Christ is the approach to the Father (John 14:6). There is no other (Acts 4:12). To honor God means to honor the Father and the Son (First John 2:23). To deny the Son is not to have the Father (First John 2:23). To remember God means to honor the Son (John 5:23). To deny the Son is to not have the Father (First John 2:23). To remember God means to be a Christian.
It means that one must believe in Christ as God’s Son (John 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:3), confess faith in Christ (Luke 12:8,9), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Galatians 3:27; Acts 2:38). It means to belong to His body, the church (Acts 2:47). Being in Christ is the same as being in His body which is the church (Ephesians 1:22,23).
It means living a faithful life as a Christian, imitating the Lord Jesus, asking, “What would Christ have me do?” This demands a life of service, worship, unselfishness, humility, truthfulness, purity, submission to His will, thankfulness, patience, kindness, goodness and all the other Christlike qualities that Christians are to add to their life.
An oft asked question regarding these matters is, “Is there not a danger of encouraging young people to respond to the invitation of Christ while they are too young?’’ The answer is obviously, “Yes.” That danger does exist. But we must also remember the danger of discouraging them too long. It is not an easy matter to face either way, but if we err, let us err on the side of safety.
Actually, one cannot obey if “too young.” They might go through outward motions, but obedience must be from the heart (Romans 6:16-18) and that demands understanding. If one has gone through outward motions, being baptized, but without knowledge and understanding of that which was done, he or she has simply been made wet. This can be distracting and deceitful and therein is the danger. It may lead some youth to postpone genuine obedience because they think all is well simply because they went through some ritual years ago even though they did not comprehend it. We must do our best to make sure that the young are taught and that they know and understand what they are doing.
Whenever this question is raised I think of a friend with whom I was reared. He and I wanted to obey the gospel at the same time. We agreed to talk with our parents first since we both respected our parents. We valued their guidance. My parents encouraged me while his discouraged him. He was crushed, but would not go against their decision. While I went ahead and obeyed, to this day, over forty years later, he has never obeyed the gospel and likely never shall. This shows the danger on the other side.
When one who is very young responds to be baptized it places a great obligation on parents and the church to see that this young babe in Christ is properly nurtured, fed, strengthened and led aright. But accountability is a matter of understanding and the capacity to understand. If a mistake is made and response is made before proper understanding is achieved, likely, with the right kind of guidance from older ones, correction of that mistake will take place later. But what happens if one is turned away forever?
To delay can well mean eternal condemnation. Better to heed the inspired teaching of Solomon and remember the Creator in youth, leaving room for growth and making sure that growth follows. Souls are too precious to deal with them otherwise.
1. To whom are the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1 addressed?
2. Why does the gospel have a special appeal to youth?
3. When should one remember the Creator?
4. Why should one remember the Creator?
5. What does it mean to remember the Creator?
6. Discuss the question, “Is it possible to obey the gospel too young?”
7. What is required to be obedient?
8. How can mistakes that are made in this matter be corrected?
9. Whose duty is it to guide the youth in this matter?