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Intellectual Faithfulness in Christian Education

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As preparation for my seminar “Engaging Active Minds in the Learning Process,” I’ve been reading some really inspiring and challenging books and articles, which have led me to believe that the problems of our day are greater than I first assumed. For example, in the introduction to his excellent book, “Essentials of the Christian Faith,” R. C. Sproul makes the following observation:

I believe we are living in the most anti-intellectual era of Christian history ever known…I mean against the mind.

We live in a period that is allergic to rationality…We have become a sensuous nation. Even our language reveals it. My seminary students repeatedly write like this on their exam pages: “I feel it is wrong that…” or “I feel it is true that…” I invariably cross out their word feel and substitute the word think. There is a difference between feeling and thinking.

There is a primacy of the mind in the Christian faith. There is also a primacy of the heart…

With respect to the primacy of importance, the heart is first…

However, for my heart to be right, there is the primacy of the intellect in terms of order. Nothing can be in my heart that is not first in my head. How can I love a God or a Jesus about whom I understand nothing? Indeed, the more I come to understand the character of God, the greater is my capacity to love Him.

(copyright©1992, page xix.)

Taking these thoughts a step further, Dr. Al Mohler lays out the great challenge before us:

Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.

(from, “The Glory of God in the Life of the Mind,” at www.albertmohler.com)

Those of us who teach children and youth are especially susceptible to this “feelings” focus. Why? Here are just a few things I have observed (and have sometimes been guilty of in some measure):

  • It is much easier to illicit positive feelings from children than it is to actively engage and challenge their minds. Fun music, activities, puppets, skits, etc. make the children “happy” during the class time.
  • This kind of rigorous training is hard work for both teacher and students, requires a greater time commitment from the teacher, and may even require some guided training.
  • We don’t want Sunday school to feel like school.
  • We fear that teaching and challenging the mind will necessarily lead to spiritually heartless intellectualism.
  • It may bring to the forefront innate inequalities in the students’ intellectual abilities, posing a possible threat to a child’s self-esteem. (I am not referring to children with specific learning disabilities here.)

Yes, these are all challenges to overcome, but they must be overcome. As Dr. Mohler asserts, “this is no easy task.” But an increasing amount of evidence demands that we take this lack of Christian intellectual faithfulness seriously.

Consider these statistics that author and parent Natasha Crain notes in her article, “What Your Kids Need for a Confident Faith”:

61% of kids who were involved in church as recently as their teenage years become spiritually disengaged by their 20s—not actively praying, reading the Bible or attending church.

This finding, based on the extensive surveys of researcher George Barna, is the alarm that has sent pastors, youth leaders, and young adult ministries desperately searching for answers. Multiple independent groups have since conducted their own studies and have identified the same trend—with some estimates of those turning away from Christianity as high as 88 percent.

Why is this happening? Having studied the various survey results in depth, I think it’s fair to summarize the collective problem in one sentence: A lack of robust spiritual training has resulted in a featherweight faith for many of today’s young adults, and that faith is being blown away by attacks from our secular culture.

Young people are turning away from faith because they’ve accepted the popular claims that Christianity is irrational, antiscience, intolerant, and based on an irrelevant ancient book. These claims have compelling answers from a Christian worldview, but young people aren’t leaving home equipped with those answers…Most kids growing up in Christian homes aren’t receiving anything remotely resembling the spiritual training they need to have a lasting faith.

(found at www.christianmomthoughts.com)

(Image courtesy of potowizard at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

Helping Children Understand What Happened at the Cross + Free Giveaway

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I am fully convinced that children can understand big theological concepts. And I believe that we, as adults, should introduce and explain big theological concepts to our children and students. One of these concepts that is of greatest importance is what really happened when Jesus died on the cross. Why was His death on the cross able and sufficient to save His sinful people? Here is an example of how you could explain the meaning of Jesus’ death by focusing on the meaning of two short verses.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness… (1 Peter 2:24a, ESV)

He is the propitiation for our sins, (1 John 2:2a, ESV)

Here is what these verses mean: Because Jesus always obeyed God and was sinless (righteous), He was able to be the perfect substitute for sinners. How? While Jesus hung on the cross, God took the sins of all the people whom He specially loved and placed them on Jesus. (Think of taking a bunch of icky garbage and placing it in a clean plastic bag.) So there was Jesus, now carrying many, many sins. What does God feel toward sin? Wrath. (Remember that wrath is fierce anger.) [Romans 1:18.] What is the right punishment? Death. [Romans 6:23a.] So even though no one could see it with their eyes, while Jesus hung on the cross, God poured out all His fierce anger at sin on Jesus. God punished His own Son to death.

Feeling God’s wrath and experiencing death was millions of times worse than all the mocking, whipping, beating, and nails that Jesus had suffered (the things people saw). But Jesus received God’s punishment willingly so that His people would never, ever, ever have to receive it. That way, God’s people would receive God’s smile, instead of His wrathful frown. That’s what the word propitiation means. Jesus received God’s wrath so that we could receive His smile. That is the most wonderful news in the whole world!

Unseen to anyone, Jesus took away the sin of His people and was punished by God in their place. Now God’s people could be completely forgiven, forever… [But when Jesus] died on the cross, He didn’t just take away something from His people (their sin). He also gave them something. What is it? His perfect righteousness (perfect obedience). Now God’s people would be able to live with God forever! From the very beginning, that is what God had wanted and planned all along!

This example is taken from my book, God’s Gospel (Making Him Known series, pages 103-104). The book walks children through the essential truths of the Gospel—beginning in the book of Genesis—by introducing key events and theological concepts, all explained in a child-friendly manner. (And yes, there is an entire chapter explaining the importance of Jesus’ resurrection, too!) Each of the 26 chapters also includes a “Learning to Trust God” section that offers parents additional discussion questions and/or activities to further spiritual conversation between parent and child. You can learn more about the book here.

Another helpful resource for families is Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. This booklet explores the following topics: preparing the hearts of children to hear the Gospel; discerning stages of spiritual growth; communicating the essential truths of the Gospel; and presenting the Gospel in an accurate and child-friendly manner. It also includes a 10-week family devotional to help parents explain the Gospel to their children.

Free Giveaway!

We have 2 copies of God’s Gospel that we would love to give away. Simply post a comment below by Friday, March 11, and your name will be entered in the contest. We will draw 2 names at random and will announce the winners on Monday, March 14.

Children Need a Robust Doctrine of God

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Imagine a preschool Sunday school curriculum that presents 64 chronological Bible stories from the Old Testament…all of them focusing on the character of God. Is there something wrong with this? Something missing? Doesn’t the whole Bible point to Jesus? Shouldn’t we make clear that every story points to Jesus?

Before you respond to these important and valid questions, I would ask you to carefully read and ponder this quote 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…We are not forgetting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” But these words do not mean that if a man had never known what the word “God” means, he could come to attach an idea to that word merely by his knowledge of Jesus’ character. On the contrary, the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking had already a very definite conception of God: a knowledge of the one supreme Person was presupposed in all that Jesus said. But the disciples desired not only a knowledge of God but also intimate, personal contact. And that came through their intercourse with Jesus. 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. Rational theism, the knowledge of one Supreme Person, Maker and active Ruler of the world, is at the very root of Christianity.

(“Christianity and Liberalism,” copyright©2009, pages 48-49)

Could it be that, especially for preschoolers, it is crucial that we first focus on giving them a concept of God as revealed in the Old Testament? By introducing them to key truths regarding who God is and what He is like, are we not preparing young children to better understand the significance of what it means that “Jesus is God”?

As much as it is truthful to say that the whole Bible points to Jesus and the Gospel, we must not dismiss or minimize Dr. Machen’s point. Our children need to be taught a robust doctrine of God. They need to see “God” as He has revealed Himself throughout the Old Testament—His power, love, mercy, sovereign rule, holiness, goodness, faithfulness, etc. These are the antecedents that give meaning to the New Testament’s assertion that “Jesus is God,” and they provide the necessary foundation for understanding the message of the Gospel.

A Timely Message

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For years, while the Children Desiring God leadership team pondered and prayed about future conference themes and speakers, I harbored the hope that someday we would be able to have Dr. Albert Mohler speak. It seemed a long shot. After all, he is not only president of one of the world’s largest and most influential seminaries, he is also a much requested speaker at numerous “first-tier” theological conferences. So, what a shock and a joy—and a testament to God’s gracious providence—that Dr. Mohler will be one of our plenary speakers in Indianapolis. And I believe that his message to us on Friday April 15, Holding Fast the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform” will be especially timely in this day and age. Please consider joining us as we hope to be challenged and encouraged by Dr. Mohler.

Here is a little of what we have to look forward to:

 

Children Desiring God Blog // Albert MohlerDr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, one of the largest seminaries in the world. On his website, AlbertMohler.com, Al writes commentaries on moral, cultural, and theological issues. He also hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. Viewed as a leader among American evangelicals, Al is widely sought as a columnist and commentator by the nation’s leading newspapers and news programs and has authored several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth. Al and his wife Mary have two children, Katie and Christopher and one grandson.

 

 

Resist the Smorgasbord!

Resist the Smorgasbord: Strategies for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

I once read a book in which the Christian author likened the method often used in the church for discipleship to a smorgasbord—various classes and small groups are offered for people to pick and choose from, mainly based on personal preferences, perceived needs, and “hot topics” of the day. His point was to urge the church to resist this tendency and strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy. Such a strategy takes into account and incorporates the whole counsel of God and builds in stages—precept-by-precept.

I wonder if we sometimes have a similar “smorgasbord tendency” when it comes to planning for and choosing curriculum for our various children’s and youth ministry classes: What seems good this year? What will the children like? What will peak their (or the teacher’s) interest?…I think we can, and must strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy—one that seeks to incorporate the whole counsel of God from nursery to high school.

What does this actually look like? To begin with, we believe that there are six basic elements or disciplines that should be included in this long-term strategy:

Elements of Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

  1. A story-based chronological overview of the Bible, which introduces children to the main character of the Bible—God—and acquaints them with key people, places, and events.
  2. A biblical theology that focuses on the main storyline of the Bible, where God progressively reveals His redemptive purposes, which come to their complete fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
  3. Systematic theology that teaches foundational doctrines, which summarize the Bible’s teaching on various subjects.
  4. Moral instruction—the commands of Scripture, which communicate ethical instruction, guiding us in the righteous ways of God.
  5. An explicit presentation of the essential truths of the Gospel, leading to a clear understanding of saving faith.
  6. Bible study methods to provide the necessary tools for rightly reading and interpreting Scripture.

A strategic, long-term plan makes curriculum choices at the various grade levels with these basic elements or disciplines in mind. It asks questions such as: Over the span of nursery to high school, are our students receiving the whole counsel of God? Are we introducing these elements at age-appropriate levels? Does our overall strategy reflect a proper biblical balance?

2016 National ConferenceIf you long to explore this topic further and want practical help in structuring a plan for the children’s and youth ministries of your church, I would love to have you come to my seminar at our National Conference in April…

Making a Strategic Plan for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

This seminar will present an overview for planning and implementing a scope and sequence in your children’s and youth ministry that serves to thoroughly acquaint your students with the whole counsel of God. Starting in the nursery years and moving through high school, we will explore options and strategic goals for various age groups.

Piper Answers: What is the Whole Counsel of God?

Children Desiring God Blog // What is the Whole Counsel of God?

As children’s ministry and youth pastors, teachers and parents, it is critical for us to not only teach children the Gospel, but to not shrink back from teaching them the whole counsel of God. John Piper helps us understand what this means:

 

 

Join us at the Children Desiring God National Conference where we will have the opportunity to spend three days together exploring this meaning further, discovering the glorious truths found with in the whole counsel of God, understanding the ramifications if our children do not understand the whole counsel of God and equipping each other to teach the whole counsel of God to children and youth. We look forward to welcoming back John Piper as one of our five keynote speakers to discuss Understanding the Whole Counsel of God: How Our Children Can Know the Bible is True.

 

Children Desiring God Blog // What Is the Whole Counsel of God?John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminar. For over 30 years, John served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He’s the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available for free at desiringGod.org). John and his wife, Noël, have five children, Barnabas, Karsten, Benjamin, Abraham and Talitha, and twelve grandchildren.

 

We hope to see you April 14-16 in Indianapolis! Learn more and register now!

 

 

Don’t Toss Aside the Hull and Mast

ID-100210207One of the things I’ve noticed about children’s and youth ministry in the past few years is a renewed and increased evangelistic impulse—an urgency to teach children about Jesus and the Gospel so that they might be saved. This is a wonderful change from the all-too-common emphasis on Gospel-less moralism of the past. My concern, however, is that sometimes for the sake of urgency—wanting our children to get saved as soon as possible (a really good desire)—we may be minimizing the very foundation on which that salvation depends. I found this illustration, from an article over at 9Marks, to be really helpful:

Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that you are on a ship sailing to a faraway town to warn the people of impending doom. If you don’t get there in time, everyone dies. Needless to say, you want your ship to sail as fast as possible. You avoid any excess cargo that might slow your progress. You don’t waste time worrying about clean decks or polished brass. The urgency of the task requires you to operate with efficiency and leanness.

People…argue that the urgency of the Christian mission requires us to trim our theological sails and jettison the heavy freight of doctrinal precision.

…Doctrine is not freight on the ship. It’s the hull and mast.

A church’s doctrine determines the character and quality of its witness. Its theology shapes its goals and the way it tries to achieve those goals.

So the question is this: does disciple-making require churches to know and teach doctrine?

Critics of doctrinal necessity sometimes snidely remark that surely God is not going to open up people’s heads on the last day to ensure the right doctrinal formulas are inside. No, probably not. But he will ask them something like, “Were you trusting me? The real and true me, and not a made-up version of me?” In other words, God is very much interested in whether we are trusting in certain truths, because with God doctrinal truth is personal truth.

To experience Christ’s salvation, a person must believe and trust real truths about the real God. If someone has not turned with his or her whole heart to God and trusted him, he or she cannot be saved (Rom. 10:13–17). Doctrine is required for salvation!

(Mike McKinley, “In Poor Communities Does Doctrine Matter?,” www.9marks.org )

So, along with a renewed evangelistic impulse in our ministry to children and youth, let us also have a renewed discipleship impulse that must concern itself with a slow, progressive, precept-by-precept teaching of doctrinal truth. These essential truths are the hull and mast of the ship!

(Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

On Not Shrinking, but Upholding, Embracing and Declaring

On Not Shrinking, but Upholding, Embracing and Declaring

Paul’s declaration in Acts 20:27, “. . . for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God,” are richly inspiring, yet deeply sobering words.  Why inspiring?  Why sobering?  Let’s take the latter first.

These are deeply sobering words because they imply that, due to what is contained in “the whole counsel of God,” there may be sources of temptation to shrink from declaring to others the very content of these words.  More specifically, to declare the whole counsel of God requires that we overcome both the fears of external resistance, and the deep discomfort of internal inclinations, that lead us to seek to avoid disapproval by others.  In a word, we see that faithfulness to the whole counsel of God is an issue, at bottom, of the fear of God vs. the fear of man.  Whose approval do we most long to receive?  Whose opinion do we most value?  Whose assessment weighs in heaviest in our own hearts and souls.  (BTW, “most” and “heaviest” are important terms in these questions since it is simply impossible to care not at all—nor should we—about the opinions or assessments of others.  So, the question is not whether we care about what others think, but whose opinion and assessment matters to us the very most!  Here is a test of faithfulness to and worship of the true God vs. idolatry in the very ways we assess what others think about us).

But, why should this be?  What is it about “the whole counsel of God” that would elicit such fears and deep discomforts?  The answer is obvious once one considers the content of “the whole counsel of God” in contrast with the values, commitments, and moral sensibilities of the culture in which we live.  That word of God in its fullness contains many teachings and truths that are at one and the same time, glorious, beautiful, humbling, strengthening, and awe- and hope-inspiring, to those who have the eyes of faith, and also deeply offensive, seemingly foolish, and fully at odds with the zeitgeist and wisdom of our culture as it divines what is good and right and fulfilling.  Paul is conveying this notion when he speaks of the word of the cross as foolishness to those perishing but to us who are saved, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:18-25).  Again, he speaks of the gospel as emitting one aroma which to some is the fragrance of life, whereas to another it is the stench of death (2 Cor 2:14-17).

Children Desiring God Blog // Bruce Ware QuoteBecause we live in a culture where what is truly (as God knows these to be) right, good, and wise is considered wrong, bad, and foolish, while what is truly (as God knows these to be) wrong, bad, and foolish is considered right, good, and wise – due to this sinful and Satanic (recall he excels in deception above all else) inversion of truth, faithfulness to proclaim the actual content of the Word of God is to invite scorn, ridicule, and rejection from the cultured despisers—Schleiermacher surely was correct here—of biblical religion.  Hence, there will inevitably arise within our hearts, as with the heart of the Apostle Paul, a temptation, even a stubborn inclination, to “shrink from declaring” what that word actually says and teaches—a betrayal of the truth that Schleiermacher and a host of subsequent liberals have done right down to the Brian McClarens and Rob Bells of our day.  So we are faced with one of the ultimate and most central questions of our lives as Christians and particularly as Christian ministers – will we fear man and so shrink, or will we fear God and so not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God?  Choose this day whom you will serve.  We cannot not serve both the Word of God and the wisdom of men.

But Paul’s words, “. . . for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God,” are also deeply inspiring words, for they call to mind the story of a remarkably faithful while violently opposed life lived for the cause of Christ and his gospel.  Often when I read Paul’s description of the suffering he endured in his ministry of the gospel (see especially his record of affliction and opposition in 2 Cor 11:23-29) I call to mind also these words in Acts 20:27.  There is a connection between the two that should be obvious to all.  His was not the kind of affliction due to foolishness and sinfulness that Peter warns against (1 Pet 3:17b) but rather of the affliction that comes from the offense of the truth and doing what is right that Peter commends (1 Pet 3:13-17a).  It was his very not shrinking from declaring the whole counsel of God that resulted in the massive opposition, suffering, hardship, and agony that Paul endured.  Yet, because he knew with all of his heart that the truths which he taught and for which he suffered were life-giving and hope-building, he could suffer even with joy—recall this theme in his letter to the Philippians which he wrote from prison.  Indeed, because of the inestimable glory of this truth, he could even consider the fullness of his own suffering as merely “momentary, light affliction” (2 Cor 4:17) in contrast with the eternal weight of glory awaiting all who knew and embraced the wonders of the truths he faithfully taught from the whole counsel of God. Incredible. Almost unbelievable.  Yet, this indeed makes perfect sense because (but only because) Paul knew the words of truth he embraced as his own, the words of truth he proclaimed without compromise, the words of truth for which he suffered, were the very words of life.

Do you know the whole counsel of God as the very words of life?  Do you uphold and embrace every aspect of the whole counsel of God as God’s own word and words, and therefore as true and right and glorious and good?  Do you accept the inevitable opposition which comes with faithful proclamation of those words?  May God grant us hearts like the Apostle Paul’s, to proclaim with joy what may bring us opposition, knowing that, in the end, we await the words “well done” from the One who embraced and proclaimed the truth most faithfully, and who, as a result, suffered most fully.

Bruce A. Ware
Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

2016 National ConferenceWe are excited to welcome Bruce Ware back for a third time as one of our keynote speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference. He will expound on these issues and help us answer these questions as he teaches on Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God. We hope you will join us April 14-16 in Indianapolis! Learn more and register now!

When Life is Hard God is…  

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It has been a difficult week for my extended family. Hard news from doctors. Difficult decisions. Pain and suffering. Tears and heartbreak. But there is something more. Underneath the life-shaking events is something unshakeable, something that changes everything. Christina Fox explains it so beautifully:

When the storms of life wreak havoc on all you know and love, what theological truths anchor your soul? What doctrines do you turn to when the world around you seems to give way under your feet? What truths about God bring you the most comfort when life is uncertain and nothing makes any sense?

Though all of God’s word is essential for us to read, learn, memorize, and study, and though all of God’s word teaches us all that we need to know to weather the storms of life, there is one theological truth that stands out in times of trial and suffering. There is one doctrine that brings everything into perspective and provides comfort and rest for our weary souls.

The sovereignty of God.

…This truth calms our hearts because we know that there are no accidents or random circumstances. God ordains and orchestrates all things. And because God is our good, loving, and faithful Father, we can rest in his holy purposes for us. Even when we don’t understand what is happening, we can trust that God’s plan is good because he is good. He is making us holy and will use every circumstance to that end. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, “He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.”

(You can read the entire article here: “Theology That Comforts the Weary Soulwww.desiringGod.org)

Will our children have this anchor for the soul when the storms blow? Will they have a solid knowledge and grasp of God’s sovereignty in ALL of life? If you haven’t already done so, I would urge you to acquaint your children with this important theological truth and keep bringing it to mind throughout their lives—showing how it applies to the many and varied circumstances of their lives. Go deep into the providence of God. Don’t wait until the storms come—it’s hard to teach someone to sail for the first time with gale-force winds blowing!

One way you can prepare your children is by reading together God’s Providence by Sally Michael. Each of the 26 short chapters provides insights into the sovereignty of God, as well as follow-up discussion questions for the whole family.

A second way to prepare your children is to consider a more in-depth study for your church or family. My Purpose Will Stand: A Study for Children on the Providence of God is a 40-lesson curriculum. Here is a brief description of this study:

God is present and active in the world, orchestrating all things to serve His eternal purposes. All His purposes are good and right, and are accomplished with perfection. As the Sovereign Creator of the world (and everything in it!) God has the right, power, wisdom, and righteousness to rule the universe.

The goal of My Purpose Will Stand is to so reveal God and His glorious work of providence that through the Holy Spirit’s work in the teaching of His Word, students would respond to God in faith as they look for God’s providence in all things—meditating on His works, seeing the big picture of God’s work in the world, and seeing the hand and heart of Jesus in all circumstances of their lives.

(Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Free Fighter Verse Devotional for Your Family

The Fighter Verses Study

In yesterday’s post, I quoted Albert Mohler, who made a passionate plea for Christians to pursue serious Bible knowledge. Parents, here is crucial portion from Dr. Mohler’s words:

Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God. [See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.] Parents cannot franchise their responsibility to the congregation, no matter how faithful and biblical it may be. God assigned parents this non-negotiable responsibility, and children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God’s Word.

There are many good resources available to help parents “mine” the Word of God with their children. The new Fighter Verses Study Guide is one of these resources. How does it help in the mining process? Here is an example from Fighter Verse 4:

Part 1: In Awe of God

God’s Wisdom and Knowledge

Think about an incident or situation in which you or another person responded with amazement or awe, perhaps a time when you saw someone doing an amazing stunt. What caused that feeling of, “Wow, that is incredible!”? The apostle Paul had the same sense of awe, but for a totally different reason. This is how he expressed his awe:

Romans 11:33-36—Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

  1. What is Paul in awe of? 

 

  1. What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? 

 

Here is one illustration that shows the difference between knowledge and wisdom:

  • Knowledge is knowing that motorcycles can be dangerous. Wisdom is having the good sense to wear a helmet and to drive carefully.

Complete the “wisdom part” of the next few examples. 

  1. Knowledge is knowing that icy roads can be slippery. Wisdom is… 

 

  1. Knowledge is understanding that if you disobey your parents you will be punished. Wisdom is… 

 

  1. Knowledge is understanding that paint can stain a wooden table. Wisdom is…

 

Wisdom is taking your knowledge and making good decisions and right actions because of what you know. It is taking the information you have and making a good choice in what you do.

Paul understands that God has more than just knowledge. God uses the knowledge He has to make good decisions. That is why he says:

Romans 11:33b—How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

  1. What does unsearchable mean?

 

  • God’s judgments—or His decisions and plans—are so wise that we can’t even understand the goodness and rightness of them. They are “inscrutable” or mysterious to us.
  • We cannot clearly understand the ways of God. His understanding is so great that we wouldn’t understand an explanation of why God does what He does. We just wouldn’t “get it.”

 

  1. When we say, “Oh, my!” what does that mean? 

 

  1. What does Paul mean by the expression, “Oh, the depth…”?

 

  • “The depth” shows Paul’s amazement at the extent or the amount. He is in awe of how much wisdom and knowledge God has.

 

As you can see, the directed questions and comments slowly walk you through the text to discover the meaning.  But it doesn’t stop with this short example…Enjoy this passage further by downloading the entire week’s study material here. It’s filled with other helpful questions, explanations, illustrations, application, prayer points, etc. By God’s grace, you and your family will have a deeper and richer understanding of the passage, leading to a greater love and awe of God and desire to walk in His ways.

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