Family devotions, Sunday school classes, catechism, Bible study, corporate worship services, mission projects—all important and helpful tools and means of instructing our children and students in the Christian faith. But there is a really crucial aspect we often don’t think about as much as we should. Consider the former list in light of these words:
Discipleship is the process whereby we seek to teach others the Word of God. Notice that the Great Commission is not only to teach people God’s commands, but to teach them to “observe” or “obey” all that He commanded. There is a world of difference between teaching someone everything the Lord commanded and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. One is through words, the other through a way of life. Teaching someone to obey God’s commands requires intentionality in the context of relationship throughout the span of a lifetime.
As parents, our greatest goal and joy for our children should be that they come to faith in Christ and live as His faithful disciples, for the glory of God. Therefore, clearly presenting and explaining the essential truths of the Gospel and demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus in daily life is our greatest duty and privilege as we teach and train our children. But trying to discern whether or not a child has truly understood and grasped the meaning of the Gospel is sometimes harder to assess. Here are two pastors who offer some wise counsel for parents and teachers:
Children can memorize and repeat what they have heard their parents and teachers say, but that doesn’t mean that they understand it all. Neither does it mean that they are personally committed to those truths.
A few questions can determine where a child is spiritually.
There can be no agreement as to what salvation is unless there is agreement as to that from which salvation rescues us. The problem and the solution hang together: the one explicates the other. It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is; conversely, to augment one’s understanding of the cross is to augment one’s understanding of sin.
To put the matter another way, sin establishes the plotline of the Bible.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (ESV)
For in him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,—Colossians 1:19