It’s so important that we pass our faith on down to our children, but it’s not always easy to know how to do that. I commend you for the time and thought you’ve put into sharing Jesus with your own children, and perhaps with other children you know as well.
Here are three things I’ve learned through Scripture and experience that I hope will help you as you seek to share with your children the wonderful news of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Teach Your Children the Stories of Scripture
We should all learn the stories of Scripture. If we only learn theological abstractions, we don’t get the point of Scripture.
For one thing, stories are compelling. They’re memorable. The story of the God of Israel carries the weight of its own meaning when we tell it and reflect upon it. Teach your children the Biblical story so that when they become adults they will have a foundational story and structure, a history to come back to if they stray.
If you want your children to know that God is good and faithful, tell them the story of Joseph. Joseph forgave his brothers in spite of his own arrogance and brashness, even though they had thrown him in a pit and sold him into slavery. Years later, when Joseph had been elevated to one of the highest positions of power in Egypt, he was reunited with his brothers. They were afraid when they realized who he was, but he told them, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)
Tell the story of Esther when you want your children to learn about courage. Esther was the Jewish queen of a foreign king. When the Jews were under an edict of annihilation her relative Mordecai urged her to petition the king on behalf of her countrymen: “who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Esther summoned up her courage and approached the king uninvited. He could have had her killed for her boldness, but in the providence of God, he listened to her pleas and Israel was preserved.
Tell your children the story of the cross when you want to teach them about God’s love. Almost every time the Apostle Paul uses the word love he talks about the cross of Jesus. Look at Romans 5:8, for example: “For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Or look at Galatians 2:20, when he refers to Jesus, the one who “loved me and gave Himself up for me.” And recall what Paul meant when he told husbands to love their wives “…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) The love of Jesus involves voluntary, innocent, sacrificial giving for the sake of others.
Teach Your Children to be Worshippers
We must teach our children to be worshippers. It’s not enough to simply bring children to church; to be a worshipper means, first and foremost, to submit the heart. We all have to have practice in submitting the heart. We can’t trust if we can’t submit. Children who do not learn worship will also fail to learn constraint, loyalty, respect, devotion, and submission.
Recall the oracle of sin from Psalm 36—this voice continually entices us like the serpent in the garden who persuaded Eve to disobey. This oracle of sin tempts us constantly to rebel against everything that we know is right. This is Paul’s point in Romans 7 when he said that “The good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Romans 7:19)
The beginning of rebellion is when we refuse to give thanks, to acknowledge God as God. Worship puts us in the presence of God, and in the presence of God we are transformed because we become like the thing we worship.
Teach Your Children Accountability
Children must learn that there is an accountability built into the fabric of the character of God, into the fabric of the universe that He has made, and into the history that He will bring to a conclusion.
The Psalmist prayed that the Lord would vindicate him. There is, in the character of God, a sense of accountability. God has submitted Himself to a covenant and He is loyal to that covenant. He’s righteous, He’s faithful, He keeps His word and He demands of us our covenant loyalty.
Judgment comes even here and now when we reap the consequences of our ill-doing, and Scripture clearly teaches that at the end of the age there will be a final reckoning. There is a time when we live with forever the consequences of the decisions that we have made. Those who want to be free from God will, in the end, be given what they want.
Teach your children the stories of Scripture, teach them to be worshippers, and teach them about this accountability so that they will be prepared to live in the glorious age to come.
- Psalm 84: What You Need To Know
- Philippians: Parenting Like Paul
- Parenting Through Scripture: The Shema
The previous was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered on June 2, 2013, at Kingsland Baptist Church. A video of his original remarks may be viewed here.