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Welcome back all you premeditated parents. Today is a momentous occasion because today is our 100th episode. That’s cool, right? I think so. Perhaps one day 100 will seem like a small number, but for now I’m praising the Lord for letting us get this far, and I pray He’ll allow us to continue serving your family.
And if you’re interested in becoming more intentional in your parenting, you should definitely subscribe to this show in iTunes and also sign up for our Truth.Love.Parenting Course called “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent.” I’ll include a link in the description so you can learn more about that free resource.
If you’re just joining us or you haven’t heard every part of this series in order, I’m going to suggest you stop and make sure you’ve heard all the other before listening today.
Now, last time we discussed that belief is not the same as knowledge. In fact, misunderstandings in three key areas have caused much confusion when it comes to the subject of faith in Christianity.
One of those key areas is the fact that some things in life just require knowledge, some require knowledge and faith, and some only require faith. Not understanding the unique mix and distinctions can get us into trouble.
The second key area concerning belief is that it requires an object about which we know something, and yet it is dissimilar from knowledge.
And the third key are is that there are three kinds of faith. There’s Dead Faith, Saving Faith, and Sanctifying Faith.
Understanding all of these concepts will equip us to parent our children in Truth and love.
So, today I want to address one objection to Faith being The Merest Christianity, and I want to discuss the importance of knowledge as it applies to our faith. That may sound contradictory considering what I just said, but it is not. So here we go.
Here’s an objection I’ve heard from time to time. After unfolding faith/belief/trust as the most seminal component of our relationship with God, some people have argued that love is actually the most basic of the Christian virtues.
They say this because I Corinthians 13:13 reads, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Let’s talk about what this passage means.
Paul has just finished unfolding the most beautiful and detailed picture of biblical love, and he ends by telling us that faith, hope, and love are the three most important parts of the Christian life. But then he tells us that love is the greatest of the three. So, that kinda sounds like it might undo everything I’ve claimed over the past two episodes. Here’s what’s going on.
First, it’s important to note that all three of those character traits are dependent on the others. You cannot possess one of them without the other two being present. You won’t trust God if you don’t love Him, you won’t hope in something you don’t believe will happen, you won’t love God if you don’t believe in Him, and our hope partially motivates our love. So, we need to see that faith is required to have genuine love and hope.
Second, the nature of faith and hope demand that they will cease to exist. In the future (when Christ returns) we’ll no longer have any need for hope or faith. Both of them will be done away with when we see God face-to-face. I will have received that for which I hoped, and my faith will become sight. I will experientially know it all to be true and faith will become obsolete. But love for my great God will last for the rest of eternity.
So, love is a choice (which is an action) that’s motivated by desire that grows out of our faith in God. As I already mentioned, we won’t love God if we don’t believe He exists. So, the reason love is the “greatest” is that it will last forever even when faith is no longer necessary. But for now . . . faith is EXTREMELY important and foundational to everything we say and do, including love.
Alright, now let’s move on to our discussion about truths our kids need to believe by discussing the importance of knowledge.
Knowledge is to belief what dirt is to tree roots. They’re not the same thing, but the roots won’t be able to soak up the nutrients or water without being in contact with the dirt.
In our tree metaphor we said that the roots of our kids’ trees are their belief, but the soil around those roots represents knowledge about God, His Word, and themselves.
Now, unlike the roots of a real tree which are programed by God to soak up the available nutrients and water, we choose how to respond to the Truth we encounter. Our roots can reject the nutrients of God’s Truth. We can call Him a liar, believe we know best, and subsequently desire our own way and therefore act accordingly. It’s a choice that’s not dependent upon anything but the grace of God and our will.
But, what if our roots were not in contact with the soil at all. We wouldn’t be able to soak up the nutrients even if we wanted.
So, picture this. Romans 1 tells us that, “ [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [we] are without excuse” when it comes to believing that there is a higher power. And Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
God has worked into His creation something we call general revelation. Back in Romans 1 we’re told a man has to fight his natural understanding in order to claim that God doesn’t exist. But men do just that, and they receive the consequences of it.
So, in a sense all of us are born with our roots dipped into a certain amount of Truth about God. We have everything we need to believe that God exists. However, there’s not enough information within creation for man to have Saving Faith. That takes what we call Special Revelation and that revelation comes through God’s Word. In the Bible we learn about the specifics of God, sin, Christ’s substitutionary atonement, salvation, sanctification, body life, and so on.
So, the more of God’s Truth we know — it’s like our roots are coming into contact with more nutrient-rich and water-filled soil.
Hopefully we can see that even though knowledge isn’t the same as belief or the thing that creates belief, it is a prerequisite to belief.
This is even true for false religions. Muhammed had to dream up Allah before he could believe he existed. The same goes for the false god of the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, and even the Christians.
Anytime we believe something about God that’s not true, we’re creating a false God in our mind. Let me give you an example, I won’t believe that God is okay with homosexuals if they “truly love” each other unless I thought it up or had someone else tell me about it. I had to have the knowledge before I could believe it.
Now, imagine your child and picture the tips of their roots dipped into the General Revelation of creation. You can also imagine that there’s a little more soil thrown down there: they have a solid layer of Gospel, they have the basic seven flannel graph Bible stories that get recirculated every year, they have some token verses they memorized in kid’s club, and they have the things you’ve told them about how the world works.
If your kids believed all of that perfectly, what would they have? Well, based off an adequate understanding of the Gospel, if they believed it . . . they’d be saved. And — of course — they’d believe in some key truths about man and God in the accounts of Daniel and the lions den, Noah, the Christmas story, Easter, Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego, Joseph, and some important events in Moses’ life. Belief in these would substantiate some basic trust in God’s power, love, and sovereignty. And if they believed everything you told them about how the world worked and everything you told them was biblical, then they’d have a good handle on the value of work, respect, obedience, relationships, and the like.
And that’s not too shabby, right? I’d agree that’s a good start. But, my friends, there’s so much more.
Based of that little bit of dirt scattered amongst your child’s roots, he won’t be able to believe what God says about human sexuality . . . because it wasn’t included.
What about evangelism? What about the reality that true obedience must be grounded in God’s glory? How are your kids to navigate being sinned against, managing their money to the glory of God, or fear of the unknown? They won’t be able to believe the stunning intricacies of Heaven or vibrant relationships within the church because they don’t know they exist. What about the importance of progressive sanctification — you know, the reality that anything that’s not growing is dead? How will your kids be able to believe what God has to say about Satan and his continual effort to eat them alive?
You see where I’m going? If we want our children to believe God, we need to teach them about God. Knowing His Truth won’t guarantee their belief, but they won’t be able to believe it if they don’t know it’s true.
So, let’s us the remainder of our time discussing the key categories of Truth we need to teach our children. And, let’s be honest, we need to know and believe this stuff first.
Now, before we dive in, I just want you to know that today’s episode notes will be very robust. I’m not only going to talk about the various categories of information in the Bible you should teach your kids, I’m going to provide a bunch of verses for the first seven of those categories.
Listen, I can’t be doing all the work!
But I’ll also give you some awesome resources that should help you out with the remaining categories.
And one last thing before I unveil theses categories. We need to understand that the Bible wasn’t written just for adults. There’s not kids’ version of the Bible. Like we discussed in episode 91, “Christian Parenting 101” the entire Bible is not only free-game, but an absolutely necessary part of your family talk.
So, with that said, I’m going to share a couple resources that make the info we’re talking about a little more accessible to kids, but honestly, I prefer to shoot pretty straight with my kiddos and call them up to a higher plane of maturity. I definitely spend a ton of my time defining terms and giving a minivan full of illustrations, but I don’t shelter them from the big concepts in Scripture.
And now — without any further ado — here are the things your kids need to know so they can believe.
When you study the Bible, you’ll find that it’s not set up like a textbook with chapters dedicated to certain themes. And though some of us may have liked that format, God — in His infinite wisdom — knew that wasn’t best. However, many many many wise and godly men have taken the opportunity to collect the truths of Scripture into study aids designed to assist us in the study of certain commands, principles, and the like.
These books are no substitute for the Bible, but they help us out by showing us all the verses that deal with a specific subject. This is beneficial because it would take a looooong time for us to scour the whole of the Scriptures to come to a cohesive understanding of even one concept of Scripture. And though the practice would be awesomely valuable, there are a lot of other things in a day to which God has tasked the average parent.
The study aids to which I’m referring are called Systematic Theologies. Theology is the study of God, and whether you believe it or not, everyone is a theologian. We all believe something about God. The term systematic is exactly what it sounds like, these book categorize the biblical teachings on various subjects into chapters for ease of study.
The subjects you find in your average systematic theology are called doctrines. They’re the foundation stones of God’s revealed Truth.
Now, again, please understand that it’s extremely important for us to study and understand the grand unfolding of the Scriptures as it progresses from book to book. However, when our children have questions, we need to be able to teach them broader truth instead of the simple Sunday School lessons.
Generally speaking most systematic theology books contain ten major doctrines. What I want to do is give you a big picture of the types of things we can learn from the Bible with the help of a systematic theology and explain why this information is so important to your kids.
As you might have guessed, the Bible is a great place to learn about God. Theologians refer to the study of God the Father as Theology Proper.
Consider this: The Bible does not attempt to prove God exists. It assumes that He exists (Gen 1:1). Acts 17:25-28 teaches us that God is knowable. The Father also has these things called incommunicable attributes like Self-existence (Ex 3:14), Infinity (1 Kings 8:27; Gen 21:33), Perfection (Matt 5:48), Omnipotence (Gen 17:1), Omniscience (Ps 139:1-4), Omnipresence (Ps 139:7-12), Immutability (Mal 3:6), and Incomprehensibility (Rom 11:33). But He also has communicable attributes which include: Holiness (Lev 11:44-45; Ps 99:4-9), Truth (Ps 31:5; 1 Thess 1:9), Love (1 John 4:8), Righteousness (Deut 32:4; Ps 145:17), Faithfulness (Ps 36:5), Mercy (2 Cor 1:3; Eph 2:4), and Grace (Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 5:10). And the Bible also teaches us that God’s holiness governs His attributes.
Our children need to believe that God is self-existent. He’s the only being in the entire universe that doesn’t need anything. It’s actually really important for your children to understand that God doesn’t need them. Instead, it’s because of His communicable attribute of love that He created us, sustains us, and desires to have a relationship with us.
We can’t take the time to discuss even one of these elements in any kind of depth. As Frederick Lehman wrote, “Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.” But, please note three things about every Truth we’re going to discuss. 1. You and your children need to know about it. 2. We all need to believe it. and 3. Ignorance of and disbelief in these truths is at the foundation of every sin, heresy, and act of rebellion.
Let’s move on to Christology, which you can guess is about Jesus. There are numerous scriptures that teach us He is fully God (Col 2:9; John 1:18; 20:28; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:8). But He’s also fully human (I Tim 2:5). That may seem to be a hard concept to communicate to a child . . . it’s hard for us! But the Bible teaches it, so if we are to be faithful stewards of God’s Word and our children, we need to explain it to them. The Bible also teaches us that Christ appeased God’s wrath against sinners who believe on Him by dying on the cross (1 John 2:2; Rom 1:32; Heb 2:2), and that He rose from the dead and conquered death and hell (Luke 24:36-43; 1 Cor 15:3-4).
As I mentioned before, today’s episode notes are going to have a ton of passages referenced. I’ll provide at least one passage for each truth about God that I mention today.
Moving on, your children need to have a right understanding about The Holy Spirit. The study of the Holy Spirit is called Pneumatology. First, it’s vital to acknowledge that He’s fully God (Heb 10:14-16; cf. Jer 31:33; Acts 28:25; cf. Isa 6:1-13; Isa 63:10; 2 Sam 23:2-3; 1 Cor 3:16). And since the Holy Spirit is Himself God (Acts 5:3-4), He possesses all the essential characteristics of personality such as life (Rom 8:2), intelligence (1 Cor 2:10-11), freedom (2 Cor 3:7), emotion (Eph 4:30), self-consciousness (1 Cor 2;11), and purpose (1 Cor 12:11), He must be a person (John 16:7-14) and not a force, energy, or abstract power (Zech 4:6). It’s also vital for your kids to know and believe that He operates in the world today by restraining sin and enabling the positive accomplishment of civic righteousness and good among all men which we call common grace (Gen 6:3; 2 Thess 2:6-8; Luke 6:33), convicting men of sin, judgment, and righteousness by the Word of God (John 16:8-11; John 3:20), and regenerating those who believe (Deut 5:29; Eph 4:18 cf. Psa 116:10; Tit 3:5; John 3:3, 5-8).
Too often I believe the ministry of the Holy Spirit is either completely ignored or overemphasized to the detriment of a balanced view of God. If your children are saved, they are indwellt by the Holy Spirit Himself. Do they understand what that means for their life and godliness?
Now, as we move past the ologies which teach about God, we encounter another infinitely important study called Bibliology. Do you children know that every word of Scripture is perfectly inspired (1 Cor 2:13, Matt 5:18)? Do they believe that inspiration is the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit by which the writers were divinely supervised in their production of Scripture, and were restrained from error, guided in their choice of words, and given Divine trustworthiness while remaining consistent with the different personalities and styles? Do they know the Bible is a clear, finished, and complete revelation entirely sufficient for Its divinely intended purpose to instruct (Psa 119:105, 130) the believer in all matters regarding the faith, godliness, and spiritual welfare (2Tim 2:15)? Ignorance or disbelief in the doctrine of Bible will completely undermine your children’s ability to believe anything else about God. In fact, if your children believe that even one word in the Bible is inaccurate or imperfect, there’s absolutely no reason to trust any of it.
And then there are three doctrines that apply to mankind specifically. Anthropology teaches us about ourselves. Man's composition consists of a unity of both a material and an immaterial part (Matt 10:28; James 2:26). This is important to know and believe when it comes to death and eternity. Adam’s disobedience in the garden brought spiritual, physical, and subsequently eternal death upon himself and the entire human race (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12-19; Rev 20:15). Because of that, all men are sinners by state, disposition, and choice (Ps 51:5; Jer 17:9; 1 John 1:8; Eph 2:1-3). Therefore, men are alienated from God, spiritually dead, and under the penalty of eternal condemnation (John 3:18; Rev 20:15; and Rom 5:18).
We call the study of sin Hamartiology. And as we study it with our children — and we must study it with them — we learn that sin is any lack of conformity to the moral law and character of God, either in act, disposition or state (Rom 5:13-14; 7:22; James 4:11-12). Sin is any being, action, or disposition that is unlike God, and the commission of sin deserves eternal death in Hell (Romans 6:23).
Let me pause here to say that children can understand this and they must understand it. If they do not know about sin and hell and judgement, they won’t be able to believe God’s Truth about it.
Of course, a study of man and sin must inexorably lead to the study of Soteriology, which is the doctrine of salvation. Do you children understand that salvation is wholly of grace, a gift of God (Eph 2:8-9), and cannot be merited by any virtue or work of man? They must believe that the gift of salvation must be personally accepted through repentant faith, which is also a gift from God (Eph 2:8; Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25), and that it’s the only way a human can have a relationship with God (both temporal and eternal).
And though time as already failed us, I must mention the glorious truths of Ecclesiology (the study of the church), Eschatology (the doctrine of the future events), and Angelology (the study of angelic beings).
To be able to believe these truths your children must start by knowing them. And to know them, your children must study God’s Word. Every word we read in the Bible tells us something new about our God. From the historical account of Creation, through the genealogies, into the church letters, and all the way to the new Heaven and Earth, the entire Scriptures is the revelation of God.
If you want your children to know and believe Him better . . . you need to guide them in reading and understanding the Bible. No one can believe what they do not know.
To this point, Romans 10:14 asks these probing questions, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” This is not an admonition for you to task your pastor with the sole responsibility of instructing your children in spiritual things. This is call for us all to preach the Truth of God’s beautiful Word to our families.
Now, before I finish, I’d like to point you to some resources that will help you in the task of exposing your children to the study of God.
Yes, you can pick up a systematic theology textbook and start there. It may be a little heady for your kids, but it’d be awesome for you. In episode 17, one of the most important things I could say to any parent is that we need to be constant students of the Word of God. So, to that end, I recommend the theology books written by John MacArthur, Louis Berkhoff, John Frame, Millard Erickson, Charles Ryrie, and Paul Enns. I’ll include this list in today’s episode notes.
But I also want to make you aware of some amazing resources designed to teach the deep truths of God to little minds.
If you haven’t gotten Natasha Crain’s, “Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 conversations to help them build a lasting faith,” I’d suggest you start there. There’s so much fodder for amazing conversations with your kids just in that one book. You can hear more about that book in episode 77. Of course, it’s not exhaustive on any one topic, which is why she wrote “Talking with Your Kids about God,” which is set to release this month. She and I will be chatting about that book soon, and I plan for that episode to be number 105.
There’s also this great book called “The Ology.” My kids and I are currently working through it.
Now, I’ve taken a lot of your time, and I need to wrap up, so let me direct you to a link in the description. It’s called “Apologetic Parenting,” and it will take you to TruthLoveParent.com’s parenting books resource page. There you’ll be able to see all of the children’s systematic theology books that we endorse.
And please know that TLP receives absolutely nothing if you were to buy any of the books we promote on this show. We promote them because they’re valuable resources for you, and no other reason.
As always, our episodes notes are also available at TruthLoveParent.com on our blog, Taking Back the Family. These will be the longest and most comprehensive notes we’ve published to date. I pray they help you.
Please join us next time for our bonus episode entitled “Applying The Merest Christianity to Your Parenting.”
The study of God is an infinite study. Your kids can’t start too early. And, remember, they can’t believe what they don’t know.
See you next time.
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