The Impact of the Holiness of God in Our Children’s and Youth Ministries

Thoughtfully consider these words from Dr. Bruce Ware:

First, because of God’s transcendent otherness, his independence from all things created, his self-sufficient existence in the joyous and blessed fellowship of the Triune Persons, his fullness of perfections and infinite completeness within himself alone—because of this, he simply does not need these people whom he has created, to whom he has pledged his undying and faithful commitment to their everlasting well-being. 

We move, then, from mere astonishment to a perspective that is nearly unbelievable, were it not shown to be true by the revelation of God himself.  Why should he care?  What leads him to commit himself to those he does not need, to those who have mocked his rightful ownership of them? Answer: he chose to create them, to love them, and to make them his own. For no benefit he derives, but for the benefit they derive, he made them the objects of his perfect and faithful electing, restoring, transforming love… 

How does this help us in ministry to children? Here is one key idea: we need to work hard to teach our children that the love of God is not an entitlement. We have to work hard to show them that they don’t deserve this—which is exactly contrary to everything the culture is telling us. The only thing we deserve is everlasting condemnation. We need to help our children revel in the love of God—the God who gives, who wants us to experience the fullness of joy. Children need to know the love of God, not as entitlement, but as sovereign grace. 

But there’s more…

Secondly, because of God’s infinite and eternal purity, his deep and abiding holy disdain for evil and his unflinching commitment to what is good, he can only truly love his people on one condition: they must be as he is—holy and blameless. Anything less or other would be a denial of his very character as God, and anything less or other would be a denial of their actual and real good. Holiness is the substance of goodness and joy, while unholiness is the makings of all misery and ruin. For God’s own sake, and for the sake of his people, they must be as he is—holy and blameless.

How does this translate to children’s ministry? We start them on a path where they grow in the knowledge of how undeserving they are, how sinful they are, how prone they are to resist authority. This is one reason that parental authority has to be seen in the home—their sinful hearts have to be confronted. And this isn’t for just actions, but also attitudes! They must be holy to be in God’s presence. This is the whole point of God giving his law to his people, but his people won’t do his law. So God writes the law on the hearts, so that we are the law-keeping, holy people that we must be if we are to be with him forever. This is what our kids must see. 1 John 4:10, Romans 5:8—God loves us while we are still sinners! Help your children learn the incredible nature of the God who saves them out of their sin, makes them holy, and brings them to himself.

(You can read the whole message “The Lord, Our God, is Holy: the Revelation of the Holiness of God” here.)

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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