One of the best ways to learn scripture as a family is simply to do it together! At a couch, dinner table, floor or even out in the backyard around a plate of food. If the whole family’s there (even if it’s 3 people at the moment) then you have a mini-congregation to share the gospel with! Our devotional times are after tea reading Daily Light on the Daily Path to everyone, then explaining, briefly, the message behind the cross referenced verses. This has sparked some amazing conversations and questions from our children, and just yesterday night our oldest son asked us, “what does someone have to do to become a Christian?” This brought tears to my cold face (it’s winter here… 16oC in the day… 5oC at night).
Family worship and devotions don’t just “happen.” Much of our parenting could fail due to waiting for something to “happen” on its own. Make a quick, simple time to read scripture together. Short passages, or short doctrinal kids material is extremely important. Our children soak up entire verses in around 3 readings, so pay attention to the theme of the verse and explain it simply to them. For example, we’ve learnt Phillipians 4:6 by memory recently, and did this by repeating the verse together 3 times at each teaching.
Philippians 4:6 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
The children remember the numbers, and theme easily! Explain that it means that we should not worry about clothing, food or where we will end up living, because as we pray and trust God for every need – He takes care of us regardless of any situation we’re in. Explain that praying to God with prayer and supplication means with thanks – a thankful heart to God for all He gives us, and that we can request things we would like to happen.
Use a good coloured printout that conveys the themes well such as this from here:
A simple verse, with a gospel truth, that can point a young person to Christ!
This may sound weird to some of my readers – but the Bible is not about us! Every old testament figure and story in scripture is about Jesus. Jesus Himself said in John 5:39,40:
The Witness of Scripture
39You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.
What is the Old Testament pointing our kids to? Good character? Behaviour modification? How to be a brave warrior? No, it’s a redemptive story about how God miraculously preserved a people so that Jesus could come to earth to die on a cross for our sins & rise again to return to heaven in glory! It’s totally, sufficiently and beautifully about God’s dealings with a stubborn people who can only rely on the mercy of God for salvation and preservation – the Israelites. If anything, the only people that we can read ourselves into are the Israelites!We are completely void of any merit before God – except for bringing Him our guilt, sin and unbelief. We need a Saviour, and the Bible points to Jesus in every way.
2 Timothy 3:16,17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Every major Bible character has a gospel-pointing nature: that they are a type and shadow, in one way or another, that points us to the finished work of our Saviour. This is not what is taught in most homes and churches around the globe regarding the Bible. We have turned it into a life-improvement manual on how to avoid this-and-that mistake by this-and-that person. If we perform steps d,e,f then we will achieve results g,h,i in time. This is a completely twisted and wrong way to view scripture in light of what God and Christ say about the Bible. It’s a book that testifies of the goodness and mercy of God to a sinful, rebellious and stubborn people – US! So our kids need to hear this message in those stories. Not that they are a super-champion like David or Joshua or a great visionary like Nehemiah. Those characters are not types and shadows of us – they point us to Jesus Christ!
Deception can begin early on by teaching kids silly things like soaking in the spirit by meditating on a phrase whilst listening to music, practising mystical experiences instead of filling their minds with scripture, and allegorising passages when they’re historical events with a purpose. Each passage of the Bible that contains a blessing/cursing phrase is actually about the old covenant. The Mosaic covenant! Yet we as Christians use Deuteronomy 28:1-6 for all kinds of ridiculous claims of bliss and wonderment. We forget that the very next few verses are about the curses that God will inflict on the Israelites if they disobey any of God’s commands! Why do we do these things with scripture? Because we’re taught wrongly from a young age that every single verse we read has an implication now or a principle to learn from that literally applies for all time – such as the Old Covenant blessing and cursing system spoken of here. How wrong we can be!
So point your children to their need for a saviour by exposing their sin using the law of God – the 10 commandments – in an engaging, textural, fun, informative way that grabs their attention, but do it accurately so that the simple message that we are all in dire need of a saviour gets through.
This is the only way we can reach our children with the truth early on. Be persistent and realise that there’s no greater thing you could be teaching your kids than their need for Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. You’ll be eternally grateful you did.