Imagine your children twenty years from now. Will you be able to answer a hearty “yes” to these questions?
- Have they been thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures?
- Have they been given the necessary tools to properly study the Bible?
- Do they have a deep understanding of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith?
- Can they articulate the essence, means, and goal of the gospel?
- Do they know what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus?
The third of the seven commitments featured in the book Zealous: 7 Commitments for the Discipleship of the Next Generation focuses on teaching the whole counsel of God.
In this 7-part series, we're spotlighting each commitment with a summary, an excerpt from the book, examples of applications of the commitment, and recommended resources.
Commitment 3: Teach the breadth and depth of the whole counsel of God.
This generation is to teach the next generation the whole counsel of God—a core knowledge of the breadth and depth of Scripture that is essential for coming to salvation in Christ and living a life of faith. Teaching the whole counsel includes five elements that each address specific and essential questions: Bible Survey and Book Studies (What's in the Bible? Who is the Bible about?), Biblical Theology (What's the main message of the Bible?), Systematic Theology (What are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith?), Gospel Proclamation (What do we need to be saved? How are we saved?), and Moral and Ethical Instruction (How are we to live?)
In discerning what is an intentional and faithful effort to teach the whole counsel of God to our children, it can be helpful to think in terms of the following five categories:
1. Bible Survey and Book Studies—Begin in the preschool years by giving children a chronological, story-based presentation of the truth. This will introduce them to the key people, places, events, and themes of the Bible. Along the way, it is important to emphasize God as the author and main character in each of those stories and certainly of the Bible as a whole. This will provide children a fundamental Bible foundation upon which the other truth will stand. Once children can see the breadth of God’s Word as it has been revealed, then it is helpful to look more deeply into the individual books of the Bible as the children grow.
2. Biblical Theology deals with the overarching storyline of Scripture, whereby God progressively reveals His redemptive purposes, which come to their complete fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The aim is for the student to discover how the Bible’s many diverse stories, written over time, all serve to communicate one, main unified message. Children need to see how the various themes in Scripture all connect to Christ and His work of salvation.
3. Systematic Theology is a topical approach to teaching the founda- tional doctrines of the Christian faith. Systematic theology presents the Bible’s teaching on various subjects, one at a time, and summarizes each topic based on the entirety of Scripture.
4. Gospel Proclamation is an explicit and comprehensive presentation of the essential truths of the gospel, leading to a clear understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ and what it means to respond in true repentance and faith.
5. Moral and Ethical Instruction acquaints students with the nature, role, and importance of God’s laws and commands, the wisdom lit- erature, and the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus and the apostles. This instruction is necessary for understanding God’s character and standards and our need for the gospel, along with guiding believers in righteous and godly conduct.
- Seriously examine the materials you are using in Sunday School and midweek programs—Do they teach the full counsel of God?
- Decide where each element best fits within your church program. Make a chart that shows where each element is taught and at what grade level.
- Examine the materials used in your church programming to determine if they contain depth (teaching materials, books in the classroom or library, retreat or camp materials, etc.).
- Determine the theological themes or essential doctrines your children should be taught and figure out how and when each will be taught (in Sunday school, midweek, on retreats, weekend seminar for teens, etc.)
- Memorize scripture together as a church (individual verses/passages or a book of the Bible). [See FighterVerses.com and Foundation Verses].
- Listen to the Truth 78 seminar Teaching the Whole Counsel of God.
- Listen to the following conference plenary talks:
- Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation by Mark Vroegop
- Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God by Bruce Ware
- Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform by Albert Mohler
- Believing the Whole Counsel of God: How Our Children Can Know the Bible is True by John Piper
- Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God by David Michael
- Encourage your child to use an appropriate Bible reading program that will expose him or her to the scope of the Bible.
- Read through the Bible as a family (Your “read through” may be determined by the age of your children).
- Expose your child to a wide variety of solid biblical materials.
- Teach your child the inductive Bible study method (see The Inductive Bible Study Handbook).
- Read a comprehensive Bible story book with your children (Genesis to Revelation).
- Teach the catechism to your children (see Discipleship through Doctrinal Teaching and Catechism for rationale, ideas and resources).
- Read through the Making HIM Known book series.
- Determine which verses you want your child to memorize and then memorize those verses together as a family. [See FighterVerses.com and Foundation Verses]
Listen to the podcast "Teaching the whole counsel of God"