Summary: You can have an impact upon others that outlasts your lifespan on this earth. Following certain biblical principles, you can leave a legacy, a spiritual inheritance, that will affect the lives of others for all eternity.
Presidents speak of leaving a “legacy” when their term is done. You hear expressions like: “President Clinton’s legacy is...” or “What will President Bush’s legacy be? ... or President Obama's?” These expressions are referring to the impact that their presidency will have upon future generations. How about you? What do you want your legacy to be, not in man's eyes, but in God's? What spiritual blessings do you want to leave in the lives of your heirs?
I wish to speak today about leaving a spiritual legacy, a spiritual inheritance, for those who come after us. Passing on to the next generations a legacy with eternal value is far more important than a temporal inheritance of money and property. And there are no estate taxes on these legacies!
Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children...
•• Your children and grandchildren should be target #1 for your legacy.
• A wise pastor once said, “My two highest priorities are serving the Lord and serving my family.”
• I recall reading various illustrated children’s bibles through a total of eight times with my firstborn child. Today he and his family are actively serving God and deeply involved with a local church in Portland, Oregon.
•• I remember a Sunday church service in Eugene, Oregon. During the time of worship I looked down the row to my left and saw my other three adult children all devotedly worshiping the Lord. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.
• This doesn’t happen accidentally! It required my wife and me to love them enough to train them in good character, to discipline them when needed, to instruct them in God’s Word, to teach them to love the church, and to live for God before them 24/7.
• Parents, the seemingly never-ending effort pays off. The single most important legacy you can leave is your children serving the Lord and thereby affecting their generation and thereafter. And the quality of your life in Christ will be one of the major influences upon them.
1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
•• Godly living has eternal value, it has impact on the “life to come”.
•• I was an air traffic controller in the early 1970s. I determined to live uprightly before a crowd of mostly unsaved coworkers. Gradually, hearts began to open, and in those few years some of the men were willing to listen to the “Good News” about the Lord. Three of them eventually accepted Jesus Christ and were saved.
•• Pastors, your godly life style can profoundly influence the conduct of those whom you are pastoring. And the opposite is also true. Ungodliness exposed in pastors’ lives has caused great damage to other Christians’ walks with the Lord.
• For example, my wife and I ran into a backslidden girl in a store in our city. I asked why she had left serving the Lord, and she pointed to the horrible influence of a minister she knew who had terribly backslidden into adultery.
•• Godliness, or the lack of it, has impact beyond this life, even into “the life to come”. Determine to leave a legacy of godly living.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.
•• God’s Word endures forever.
•• Grass and flowers wither and fade. Cultural patterns come and go. Today’s hip styles and buzzwords may be passé next year. Self-created moral codes change from one person to the next.
• My wife and I are so proud of our youngest child, who is in Bible College, intensively studying the word of the Lord. It will give her a firm foundation and an unshakable legacy of faith that can one day have a beneficial influence even on her children’s children.
Matthew 5:15-16 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
•• Beyond our families and those closest to us, there is a way that we can leave a legacy to “everyone” [vs. 15]. We do this by letting the light of our Christian faith shine forth before men in the good deeds we perform.
• A Christian friend of mine was raised in Judaism. He told me that he was led to Jesus Christ by watching for six months how his Christian college roommate lived his life. He saw his roommate’s consistent goodness, honorable conduct, and faith, and those things turned him to faith in Jesus Christ.
• Think about your own neighborhood. Just recently my wife said, “I’m going to bring cookies and Christmas goodies to each house this year.” There is no telling how effective a door opener that “good deed” might be to a neighbor who may have zero contact with Christians or Christianity.
•• Leave a legacy of good deeds, of acts of kindness, of loving service wherever you go. Some of those who see your light may turn to God and begin to “praise [our] Father in heaven”.
Proverbs 11:30 ...he who wins souls is wise.
Daniel 12:3 ...those who lead many to righteousness, [will shine] like the stars for ever and ever.
•• Win souls! Your influence in leading someone to saving faith in Jesus Christ creates an immediate and eternal legacy for them. The moment you got saved, you received an inheritance of eternal life. Offer that legacy to others.
•• Win souls. My wife-to-be (now my wife of 36 years) led me to the Lord over the course of six months in 1968-69. So she participates in whatever legacy I am able to impart into the lives of others in my ministry activities.
• Over the years when various people have thanked me for having had some beneficial impact on their lives, I have often pointed out that it was my wife (then wife-to-be) who led me to the Lord and made that possible.
2 John 1:1The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth.
Titus 2:3-5 ...the older women ...  can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
•• Touch the lives of those younger, even much younger, than you are.
• In this conference, my wife will be speaking to some of the young mothers. She hopes from her experience to impart biblical wisdom in the wife-and-mother realm that will enable these young ladies to establish an eternal heritage for their families.
• After 15 months of relative quiet in Alaska, a door is opening for me to minister to a highly committed group of about 40 young Christian adults. I am greatly stirred by this new development. It presents an opportunity to share with these dedicated young people things that hopefully will have eternal consequences in their lives. I am thrilled with the potential to offer some legacy-building input to those who are two generations younger than I am.
• You experienced “elder” Christians, look for God-given opportunities to impart eternal truths into the lives of the younger generations around you.
Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
•• Local churches built on God’s pattern, as revealed in God’s word, not on the whims and fancies of today’s society, are a city-shaking force.
•• These things, which are found in the churches, are capable of dramatically affecting the world for Jesus:
•• Each person at this conference today is either part of a local church or is the leader of a local church. Determine with unshakable resolve to give yourself fully to that church and its ministry. Build it on the biblical pattern, not on cultural whims.
•• Do this, and even years after your death that local church can be a beacon of truth and light — a powerful legacy — to those who come after you.
As we said earlier, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children... (Proverbs 13:22). You can leave an enduring legacy in many ways:
• Influencing your children and grandchildren to know and serve the Lord
• Living a godly life every waking hour
• Building your life and those whom you influence upon the eternal word of God
• Letting your good deeds and the light-giving effect of living your Christian faith shine forth so as to touch the lives of those around you
• Winning souls to the Lord
• Touching the lives of those younger, even much younger, than you with the wisdom the years have given you. Target some young people.
• Love your local church, and do everything in your power to make it a beacon of truth and blessing to your community.