Read Part 1: Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet
Here is a really important insight from J. Gresham Machen:
…when men say that we know God only as He is revealed in Jesus, they are denying all real knowledge of God whatever. For unless there be some idea of God independent of Jesus, the ascription of deity to Jesus has no meaning. To say, “Jesus is God,” is meaningless unless the word “God” has an antecedent meaning attached to it…Jesus revealed, in a wonderfully intimate way, the character of God, but such revelation obtained its true significance only on the basis both of the Old Testament heritage and of Jesus’ own teaching.
(Christianity and Liberalism, copyright©2009, pages 48-49)For children to rightly grasp the biblical truth that “Jesus is God,” and also the meaning of His saving work accomplished through the Gospel, we must teach them some crucial “antecedents.” By way of illustrating this in relation to teaching children, let’s imagine these antecedents to be the alphabet. (See Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet) Each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet has its own distinct look and pronunciation. This alphabet gives children the foundation on which all their later language skills will be built. In a similar manner, children need a type of biblical alphabet—a foundation—to properly understand the person and work of Jesus—the Gospel. For example, children will need answers to these important Gospel questions:
- What is the Bible?
- Who is God, and what is He like?
- Who am I, and how am I to act toward God?
- What is sin?
- How does God feel about sin, and how does He respond to sin?
- What are God’s commands, and why are they important?
- Why did God choose a special people for Himself?
- How and why does God save His people from their sin?
Shouldn’t all teaching be Christ-centered and Gospel-focused—even when teaching from the Old Testament? Shouldn’t we clearly and explicitly connect every Old Testament story to Christ and the Gospel?
I will attempt to address that important concern in Part 3.