In this last post in our A Well-Grounded Faith series, we’ll look at a few more items you may want to include in your children’s education in the foundations of the faith:
What were the criteria for determining which books ended up in the Bible? (And how do we know they really belong there?) This is a question many people have at some point in their Christian life.
Assure your children that God’s Word is precious to Him, and that He had a personal hand in guiding the leaders of the early church to discern which books were truly His inspired revelation. Besides that, the early church fathers used strict criteria which writings had to live up to, in order to be considered authentic. Answers in Genesis gives an easy-to-understand and thorough explanation of the process. You may wish to use other sources as well. We can be assured that the Bible we have today is indeed the inspired Word of God.
Make sure your children are thoroughly certain what the gospel message is. Our children should be very clear on what we mean by “the gospel.” Unfortunately, there are many voices out there trying to complicate this. The apostle Paul dealt with this same problem, and wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”
Here is the gospel message in a nutshell:
God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our salvation. Jesus took all our sin upon Himself, died in our place, and rose again from the dead. Every person who believes on Jesus for salvation, and acknowledges Him as Lord, is accepted by the Father and has eternal life. There is no way to God except through Jesus.
That is the simple gospel in my words — but don’t spoon-feed it to your children. Study the message of salvation in the Bible, and then ask your children to write a summary of the gospel in a short paragraph. Three to six sentences should do it. By requiring them to think it through and then write it down for themselves, you will help to solidify the message in their hearts.
Here are some Bible references to help you as you study together:
Romans 10:9, 10
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Ephesians 2:8, 9 1 John 5:11, 12
Play “The Bible Answer Mom (or Dad)” — Set aside a special time once a week to field your children’s questions about God and the Bible. This doesn’t mean that they have to hold their questions during the rest of the week. They should be able to ask you things they wonder about as they come to mind. But when you set aside a special time and encourage them to be prepared with questions they would like to ask during that time, it builds an anticipation. This can become one of the highlights of your family’s school week.
If you like, make a game of it, where the kids try to stump you. Get the children involved in searching out the answers with you. (It’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Let’s find that out together.”) This could be a great way to teach them how to find answers for themselves in a concordance and at various online Bible study sites.
Here are a few websites I like to use when I need answers:
Answers in Genesis (not only for questions about creation)
A couple of final thoughts:
Remind them often that knowing God is about being led by His Spirit, moment-by-moment, rather than merely presenting an outward appearance of obeying a set of expectations or rules. It is about a living, breathing relationship with Him, anchored in His Word.
The most effective way to teach the foundations of our faith to our children is through repetition. Once is not enough. They need to hear these truths again and again, through frequent review. Make talking about the things of God a priority. As our children grow, we can increase the depth of what we teach, according to how their understanding has increased.
Deuteronomy 11:16-22 gives us a pattern to follow:
Take heed to yourselves, so that your heart is not deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them…. Therefore, you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul….
And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shalt write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates, so that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth…. Diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him.
Establishing our children as solid Christians, who can withstand the temptations and deceptions of the world around us, is not for wimps. We must be steadfast and persevering in the task. However, we can be confident that the Lord Himself will help us, as we depend upon Him. He is more interested in seeing our children develop into strong believers than we are. All of heaven’s aid is at our disposal.