Lately, in both children’s and youth ministries, there has been a renewed emphasis on the necessity for having a genuine, heart-felt relationship with Jesus. This is well and good—a hearty “Amen!” But sometimes there may be a subtle (or not so subtle) message also communicated with this emphasis on relationship: Doctrine doesn’t matter that much. Or, doctrine “stifles” relationship. So what should we emphasize to children and youth? Here is a helpful note from John Piper:
Sometimes it is necessary to stress that Christianity is primarily a relationship with Jesus rather than a set of ideas about Jesus. The reason we do this is because no one is saved by believing a set of ideas. The devil believes most of the truths of Christianity. We need to stress that unless a person has a living trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, all the orthodoxy in the world will not get him into heaven.
But if our stress on the personal relationship with Jesus leads us to deny that there is a set of truths essential to Christianity, we make a grave mistake. There are truths about God and Christ and man and the church and the world which are essential to the life of Christianity. If they are lost or distorted, the result will not be merely wrong ideas but misplaced trust. The inner life of faith is not independent from the doctrinal statement of faith. When doctrine goes bad, so do hearts. There is a body of doctrine which must be preserved.
(From sermon, “Contend for the Faith,” copyright ©2015 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.)
(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)