These days it has become very commonplace to describe the Bible as a “story.” God’s own story. One great interconnected story from beginning to end. An absolutely true story. The story of how God sent His Son into the world to rescue sinners like us. The Gospel story. The most important story ever told…All these statements are true. So yes, let’s be diligent to teach children the story of the Bible. But let’s also be very intentional to teach our children that…
The Bible is much more than a story—it is God’s authoritative Word.
Why is this distinction important? Here are a few reasons:
- The Bible describes itself in terms that go beyond its story-like nature. For example:
Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89 ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. (Psalm 119:4 ESV)
- Children will encounter thousands of stories in their lifetime. To simply describe the Bible as a story (albeit the most important story) does not give the Bible the respect and diligence due God’s holy Word. The Bible must “stand apart” in our minds and hearts, not only as a unique story, but also as the authoritative Word of the Living God. There are many stories, but there is no other authoritative Word of God.
- Recognizing the Bible as God’s authoritative Word makes a proper response to it more imperative. Good stories tend to draw children in by appealing to their emotions and feelings. The story of the Bible—especially the Gospel—serves to do this, too. But the power of the Word goes beyond appealing to our emotions. For example, the Bible does not simply ask, “Do you love Jesus? Would you like to follow Him?” Rather, it communicates an authoritative life and death command from our sovereign Creator to “Repent and believe the Gospel.”
- The true, authoritative Word of God declares the unchanging character of God, His wisdom and commands to help us live fulfilling and victorious lives, and the reality of man’s feelings poured out to God in the Psalms as man struggles to trust God. Though these truths can be seen in the stories of the Bible, they are somewhat opaque and left to our discerning. But set in the declarative statements of the Word, they are clear, sure, convicting, and powerful.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a beautiful, seamless, grand story. But it is also much more than a story. It is the authoritative Word of God—absolute, objective, universal, and unchanging truth. So, as parents and teachers, let’s be careful to give our children the weight of the Word of God as God’s clear declaration of His character, His dealings with man, His work in the world and faithfulness to His people, His expectations of man, and His sure promises.
(Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)