This may seem like a sensationalized question, but I would ask you to read on before simply dismissing the question out-of-hand. This came to mind after reading the 9Marks answer to the question: “What are the most dangerous threats to the gospel today?” What is interesting about the answers is how there is often a subtle version of these dangers lurking in children’s Sunday school classrooms—even in many solid, Gospel-exalting churches.
Here are five dangerous threats to the Gospel noted by 9Marks that I believe are especially relevant to our classrooms. My observations, as they specifically relate to children’s and youth ministries, are in bullet points below each point.
1. The prosperity “gospel.”The belief that the gospel is about God making us rich is a lie. Jesus came to save us from sin and reconcile us to God (Rom. 5:10-11; 1 Pet. 3:18), giving us every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and promising us suffering in this life and glory in the next (Acts 14:22, Rom. 8:18).
2. The attack on penal, substitutionary atonement. Many people reject the idea that on the cross God punished Jesus for the sins of his people. But to reject this is to reject the heart of the gospel itself (Rom. 3:21-26).
3. The rejection of the wrath of God. People today are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a holy God who will punish sin. But if we reject the wrath of God we lie to ourselves about the fundamental problem the gospel saves us from (John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 1 Thess. 1:10).
4. The rejection of sin. Some argue that sin is just an idea that people in power use to make others behave the way they want them to. But the Bible presents sin—and especially God’s wrath against sin—as humanity’s fundamental problem. Reject sin and you’ve rejected our only Savior who “died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3).
5. A man-centered view of the universe. We like to think that we run things around here. We like to think that no one can tell us what to do or believe—after all, we have rights! But the Bible presents exactly the opposite picture: we live in God’s universe (Rom. 11:36). He made us (Ps. 100:3). He rules over us (Dan. 4:34-35; 1 Tim. 6:15-16). We either worship him or hate him—and face the consequences (Rom. 1:18, 25; 8:5-8)…
We would never want our children to go into a classroom with faulty electric wiring, dangerous wild animals on the loose, or poison-tainted juice for snack time. As parents and teachers, let’s be extremely diligent to not expose children to faulty and unbiblical teaching concerning the most important truths of all—the essential truths of the Gospel. As a teacher, I want to be faithful to the Gospel. But I also know that I must be wise, discerning, and on guard every time I teach so that these types of subtleties do not creep into my teaching, however inadvertently.
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