In the past, children’s Bible resources were often marked by “moralism,” whereby the end goal was to produce outwardly “good little boys and girls.” But what these resources often inadvertently encouraged was faithless little boys and girls, working hard in a futile effort to earn a right standing before God by keeping His rules. Hopefully, the church and parents have done away with using these kinds of resources. However, let’s be careful not to swing the pendulum to the other extreme: Bible resources that minimize God’s rules or see them in a negative manner. Pastor Burk Parsons offers a great call to a biblical balance in this regard:
I have heard people say that the Bible is just a list of do’s and don’ts. People who say that have not read the Bible. In order to combat this sort of thinking, some Christians will quickly respond by arguing that the Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts at all. But when they do that, they throw out the baby with the bath water. Those who have read the Bible will know that it is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, nor simply a how-to manual, nor a mere guide for moral living.
Nevertheless, the Bible does in fact tell us what to do and what not to do. It tells us how to live moral lives that please God, and it provides us with God’s rules for all of life. The Bible is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s far more than that—it is God’s grand story of His reign and redemption. Nevertheless, it does indeed contain God’s lists of do’s and don’ts that we might know how to love, obey, glorify, and enjoy God.
Christianity is not a religion of moralism, it is a gospel religion of grace. It is a religion established on a relationship. It’s not either/or, it’s both—a relationship and a religion. They are not mutually exclusive, and we do well not to pit one against the other.
(from “Gospel Religion” at www.ligonier.org )
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