Suppose you go to a friend’s house for dinner and find the table set with fine china, a beautiful tablecloth, a fancy centerpiece, and other elegant features. How might this exquisite setting give you a hint about what is to come? How might it serve to guide your demeanor? Would you rightly express thanks and praise to your friend who is treating you with such honor? Or, would you do the unimaginable, and reject the meal and walk out in disgust?
This illustration can serve to highlight something important about the Gospel. Communicating the Gospel is best done by properly “setting the table,” so to speak. That is exactly what Sally Michael has done in her new book, The World Created, Fallen, Redeemed, and Restored.In a recent interview, Sally states:
Unless we start with creation and the establishment of the holy, just, and merciful character of God and His authority over creation, the magnitude of rebelling against God cannot be truly grasped. Sin has no real meaning apart from God’s character and role. And, without a sense of being utterly sinful and eternally lost, the crucifixion is just another Bible story children hear, and the glory and grace of the redemption on the cross is greatly trivialized.
Our beginning point must be that God is the Creator and Owner of this world and everything in it, including each child whom He created to glorify Him. He has the right, power, wisdom, and goodness to rule this world well. He is holy and righteous, and His Word is truth. Therefore, His commands are righteous, and He is just and right to punish those who rebel against Him and break His commands.
“It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves,” D.A. Carson says, “without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is.” My former pastor of 32 years, John Piper stated, “You have to know your plight before you can recognize the rescue.”
Children need to appreciate the significance of the one true God and His work of creation. They need to contemplate the pervasive impact of the fall upon the hearts and lives of men. They need to personally and dreadfully realize that they are hopeless sinners with no hope of rescue through their own merits. Then the grace of redemption becomes a sober yet joyful reality, followed by the hope of restoration and the anticipation of a glorious eternity of indestructible joy in God. We must start at the beginning to make sense of the ending and stir the hearts and souls of those who have ears to hear.
In addition, you can watch the entire interview with Sally below where she answers the following questions:
- In your book, you explain the main message of the Bible—the Gospel message—by exploring four basic themes: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Why did you choose these themes?
- In your many years of involvement in children’s ministry, what are some concerns you have in how the Gospel is presented to children?
- What key Gospel truths did you want to make sure children understood in this book?
- Your book includes quite a bit of actual Scripture to be read. Why is this important?
- What is your hope for this book?