Here is a book I highly recommend for every parent and teacher: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. As I read it, I gave up putting Post-it® Notes on pages to mark memorable quotes—too many! Pastor Gilbert carefully explains the essence and “essentials” of the Gospel. In doing so, he also reveals some important “blind-spots” in how the Gospel is sometimes understood and communicated. In my experience, many of these blind-spots are often found in children’s resources. For example, he highlights the necessity of communicating the truth of God’s Creator rights from the beginning:
None of us is autonomous, and understanding that fact is key to understanding the gospel. Despite our constant talk of rights and liberty, we are not really as free as we would like to think. We are created. We are made. And therefore we are owned.
Because he created us, God has the right to tell us how to live…
Some understanding of this is absolutely necessary if a person wants to understand the good news of Christianity. The gospel is God’s response to the bad news of sin, and sin is a person’s rejection of God’s Creator-rights over him. Thus the fundamental truth of human existence, the well from which all else flows, is that God created us, and therefore God owns us.
(copyright©2010, page 42)
How are we doing in conveying this important truth to children? Yes, we are to rightly emphasize that we are made by God and, as such, are His unique, special, and beloved image bearers, but…
- Are we also giving children a proper and humbling view of God as our sovereign Ruler?
- Are we teaching them what it means to be under God’s absolute authority in every aspect of life?
- In our explanation of sin, do we point out the grave offense of our rebellion against God’s sovereign, good, and loving rule? For example, do we point out that sin is much more than simply doubting God’s love and goodness? At its depth, sin is something like shaking your fist at your Creator and telling Him, “I will not obey! You cannot tell me what to do!”
- Do we portray Jesus in all His divine authority? Do we use titles such as “Lord” and “Master,” as well as Savior?
- When we present the good news of the gospel, are we giving the children the proper sense of Jesus’ authority when He commands: “Repent and believe in the gospel”? In other words, it is not simply an invitation to respond in a certain way but also a command from your sovereign Creator.
One way we can begin helping our children in understanding God’s Creator rights is to give children a robust understanding of the attributes of God. When children are taught that God is almighty, eternal, holy, righteous, omniscient, sovereign, etc., they can better understand the great divide between God and creature, showing His absolute good and loving authority and our utter dependence on Him. As they recognize the incomparable greatness and worth of God, submission to His authority is more likely to be seen as a delight, and not simply a duty.