I love the way the stories in the Bible reveal so much about God and His relationship with us, His relationship to the world and His power. Sometimes, especially with children, we simply show them the moral lesson from the Bible story. This is not bad, but the Bible is so much more than teaching us how to be “good” people.
The Bible is not simply a moralistic book that shows us how to live a good life. So many worldly books are available that teach us how to be good people, so why don’t we just read them? And quite honestly, it might be easier to follow those books than the Bible.
What does the Bible aim to do, and how should that translate into how we lead Bible study for children or any age group? The Bible points to Jesus from the beginning to the end, and all of it is for God’s glory. When teaching children we should do the same thing.
This brings us to the question for the day: What is the No. 1 subject with which you should always end a Bible study? The answer is short: the cross. You should always end at Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
God’s initial intent
This has been said and said again, but it is important to reiterate: God’s initial intent was for people to live and worship Him alone. Sadly, sin took over and now people put sin above God. Sin separates God from man, and without God stepping in, man would be destined to eternal death without Him. Fortunately, God sent His one and only Son to take the penalty for all who have sinned (John 3:16–19). God’s relationship with His children is that He loves them and wants them to spend eternity with Him. For this to happen, God the Father sent God the Son to take the place of sin.
For this to work, Jesus Christ could not sin. Jesus, being fully divine and fully human, was the only One who could fulfill the prophecy.
When Jesus came to Earth and died for everyone’s sin, a new covenant was made, changing the relationship between man and God so those who believed in God would be the temple rather than going to the temple to ask forgiveness. Before Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, the Israelites would go to the temple and offer a sacrifice for their sins.
This sounds miserable and tiring; there were many rules; for certain sins they gave certain sacrifices. God blessed believers because when Jesus died on the cross, the veil at the temple was torn, showing that all who believed in Him would be the temple themselves.
After Jesus died and rose, a new covenant was made with followers of Christ, which came with many promises. One was God’s forgiveness of sin (Matt. 26:28; Acts 13:38). God’s forgiveness is complete because of the blood Jesus shed on the cross.
A second promise: God remembers our sin no more (Heb. 8:12; 10:17; Jer. 31:34). Because of justification it is as if we never sinned — Jesus took on all sin so Christians would be sinless in God’s eyes.
God has made a covenant of love and peace with those who follow Him daily. This is a covenant He has made with those who follow Him daily. God promises to never let go of us (Phil. 3:12; Jude 24).
He has proven this over and over again in the Bible through His prophets, His followers and especially the Israelites. God wants to be with them for eternity.
The cross should always be where you end your Bible study lesson because you never know when a child will understand the gospel. I am not saying you have to provide a long, drawn-out doctrinal treatise, but explain the gospel in a way they can understand. Children need to understand that without the cross we have no hope, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, our sins are forgiven if we have repented and believe in Him as God’s Son.
Everything points to Jesus
Some of you may be saying, “I don’t know how to connect my Bible study to the cross.” Everything in the Bible points to Jesus (please check the resources below).
There are also fun object lessons that can help children understand the gospel. Some learn by touching or seeing rather than listening. The resources will be helpful for children who learn in different ways.
Always aim for Jesus and focus on His sacrifice on the cross. You never want to miss an opportunity of seeing what the Holy Spirit can do in your classroom.
- “Show Them Jesus”
- “The Jesus Bible”
EDITOR’S NOTE – My name is Julie Redmond Donavan, and I have worked in children’s ministry for 12 years. Children’s ministry is the call God set on my life when I was 9 years old. God prepared me as I worked at church camps and taught preschoolers. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State University and a master of divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I most recently served as children’s and preschool minister at North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham. My husband, Connor, serves as pastor of Hollinger’s Island Baptist Church in Mobile. We have two young children.
First published in The Baptist Paper.