God has chosen to reveal himself to human beings by Word and Spirit. He has called us to share his self-revelation in his Word with others, without putting a minimum age limit on our audience. In his wonderful grace, God sends his Holy Spirit to give enough understanding to draw his people to repentance and faith in him. We acknowledge that our explanations and our children’s understanding will not be perfect; but we explain anyway, trusting our gracious God to give understanding as he sees fit.
When you look at a young child and especially your children or grandchildren don’t you just ache with the longing for them to have what’s best and to be protected from all that might harm them? So, of course, you long for your children to understand the gospel and to respond to it in faith. While your children’s response to the gospel is completely in the Lord’s hands, he has chosen to use your teaching as faithful parents (as well as the teaching of others) to bring to them the knowledge of the gospel.
So waste no time. You have eighteen years but you have only eighteen years, and they go by much more quickly than young parents can begin to imagine. Start young! There’s a lot to teach, and we need all the time we can get. Spiritual conversations are intimate conversations and therefore can feel awkward. If we’ve established a habit of talking about these things together when our children are young, it will feel much more natural’to them and to us as they grow. But how? How do you explain the gospel, with all its complex, interwoven doctrines, to young children? Here are a few “do’s” and “don’ts” to keep in mind.
1. Don’t aim for simple and end with distorted.
“God loves you so much that Jesus died on the cross for you. He wants you to love him too and to ask Jesus into your heart.” The child should wonder: What does someone dying on a cross have to do with God loving him? Is the appropriate response to the gospel the prayer that Jesus would come into one’s heart? What does that even mean? Such a “gospel presentation” only muddles things. In your attempt to help children understand it, don’t explain the gospel in such a way that it is no longer the gospel the New Testament teaches.