Proclaiming the Gospel

Some day our children will stand before King Jesus. Will they hear Him welcome them into everlasting joy or be condemned to eternal destruction? What will determine whether they inherit heaven or hell? Surely, there is no greater privilege or responsibility placed upon parents and teachers than to diligently and faithfully pass on the gospel to our children. Therefore, we must ask: What biblical truths are essential in order to understand the gospel? How and when should these be presented? How can we guide and implore children to respond in genuine belief?

The gospel is simple yet amazingly profound, freely offered yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such. While the gospel can be simply conveyed to children, our approach should not be simplistic. We are to lay a solid, deep foundation by clearly and patiently presenting the key essential truths of the gospel found throughout the Bible. Through repeating and explaining these with increasing depth, we hope to help children see the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God, the enormity of their sin problem, and the immeasurable love and grace of God in Christ, resulting in true repentance and genuine belief.

EXCERPT FROM ZEALOUS: 7 COMMITMENTS FOR THE DISCIPLESHIP OF THE NEXT GENERATION’s important to understand that the gospel is shaped and defined by essential doctrines found throughout Scripture. For example, all of God’s attributes including His triune nature are reflected in the gospel message. Man’s nature, the fall, God’s covenants with His people, the law and other essential truths, progressively revealed in the Old Testament are also key to understanding the gospel.

Therefore, we must be careful that our priority to communicate the gospel does not compromise our commitment to teach the breadth and depth of the whole counsel of God.

Yes, it is important that the Old Testament be understood and taught with the gospel in view. However, in recent years there has been an overemphasis on explicitly linking every Bible lesson to Jesus and the gospel. This topic came up in a recorded interview I had with John Piper, who raised an important concern about turning this perspective into a type of simplistic interpretative formula. He said:
The danger in making a beeline to the cross too quickly and too methodically and regularly is, number one, it’ll start to sound artificial. It’ll start to sound monotonous. It’ll start to be fanciful, because you’ll come up with really clever ways of doing things that aren’t really there and it’ll keep you from seeing important things that are there.
There is a time and place for presenting children and youth with a step-by-step summation of the gospel. But our greater goal is to lay a solid gospel foundation for our children by acquainting them “with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). As we faithfully instruct our children in the truth, may God make them wise for salvation and alive in the hope of the gospel.

You see, little did I know that what God was doing was equipping me, teaching me and revealing His counsel to me so that firstly, I would know Him more and love Him more. Because what He wants is that out of a heart of love for Him we would pass His testimonies to the next generation. Deuteronomy 6:5 and 7 says, "you shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” And then it says “you shall teach them diligently to your children." It is when we begin to see God, when we are full of God and His might, when we truly delight in Him, that we can communicate this truth to others.

One of my greatest joys has been getting to see glimpses of how the children connect with the truth of scripture. Sometimes I see that when their attention is held by the story being taught and they follow with their curious eyes. Other times, I see children connecting with truth through the questions they ask. The first generation of children that I started teaching is already 18 years old. I have witnessed the baptism of several of them who have put their trust in the Lord; how sweet and special it has been to know that I had a small role in proclaiming this powerful word. And the Lord has also been gracious and kind to me in saving my three children who are now 17, 14 and 11. I am beginning to see more and more the reality that we are but dust. We are but a moment; we quickly pass. But what matters is that we live for His purposes and that we proclaim this message that has been entrusted for thousands of years to our fathers. 

As the Lord Himself has allowed me to see wonders in His word, it is a privilege to make known the truths that I have seen to the children that the Lord has brought to my life. I find that as years pass, I begin to have a clearer perspective of what it means that these young children are going to become adults. They are not going to stay children forever. And the seeds that are being planted one week at a time are seeds that someone else might water. Seeds that the Lord can grow. It is a responsibility and an urgency, and it is a joy to be invited to come alongside the Lord in the short period of my life to serve His purposes.

Many generations ago, God said to Moses "gather the people to me that I may let them hear my words so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth and that they may teach their children." So, my prayer is that as we gather our children in Sunday schools and at home, the Lord lets them hear His words so that they may learn to fear Him all the days they live on earth and that they may teach their children.

  • Lead fathers through a seminar explaining to them how to prepare their children for baptism. (See Established in the Faith by David Michael.) 
  • Lead families through the Ten Essential Truths from Helping Children to Understand the Gospel
  • Teach Jesus, What a Savior to your kindergarten/first grade class and To Be Like Jesus to your upper elementary class. 
  • Encourage children to be present when you are baptizing new believers. Articulate the gospel at this time or encourage those being baptized to give a robust profession of faith and an explanation of the gospel.
  • Preach a series carefully and comprehensively explaining the gospel.
  • Listen to the following Truth 78 conference plenary talks: 
    • God is the Gospel by John Piper
    • Teaching the Richness of Entire Gospel, Parts 1 and 2 by Wayne Grudem
  • Read Helping Children to Understand the Gospel explaining each of the Ten Essential Truths and/or using the devotional section.
  • Read God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson with your children.
  • Read The World Created, Fallen, Redeemed, Restored by Sally Michael with your children
  • Share your testimony with your children or invite someone else to share his/her testimony.
  • Read a missionary/Christian biography together as a family.
  • Go through Established in the Faith by David Michael with your child.
  • Use Glorious God, Glorious Gospel as a family devotional.

Listen to the podcast "Proclaiming the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ"