Get the Word in Your Home (and in Kids’ Hearts) This Easter

When I was asked to lead the Children’s Division at Bible Study Fellowship, I knew it was a great privilege. But how naïve and prideful I was to think my experience qualified me for the job. Teaching the Bible to women was good preparation, for sure, but I was unaware of the potential pitfalls in teaching the Bible to children.

Sadly, I was not clear about the difference between moralistic behaviorism and gospel-centered application. It seemed easy to say, “Stop sinning and start obeying.” Discipline issues were equally simplistic: “Stop acting like that and start behaving.” Kids need to learn obedience, right? And we need kids to obey for our own sanity. So like many teachers, I was inclined to twist the beauty of the gospel of grace into a subtle deception called moralism. Here’s what I needed to learn:

1. Moralism cannot reach a child’s heart.

It is not hard to use Bible characters to teach a moral lesson. With the Bible character as the subject of the lesson, we can teach kids that they need to be righteous like Noah, faithful like Moses, and obedient like Abraham. Kids figure that if they live like these heroes of the faith they will earn God’s love.

But when we try to make kids into good rule-keepers, they decide one of two things. Either, with pride in their hearts, they believe they have earned God’s favor, or, they see they will never be able to keep the rules and conclude there is no use trying. 

Truth is: moralism can only produce pride and fear in the heart of a child. 

2. The gospel is the way to reach a child’s heart for Christ.

The gospel is the most important Truth for us to teach a child. Paul emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (emphasis added).

Gospel-centered teaching says our behavior can never be good enough to make us right with God. Before we deserve it, God reaches out to us in grace and mercy. He forgives those who turn from sin and trust in Jesus. We receive His mercy instead of punishment for sin because God’s justice was met through the death of His dearly-loved Son on the cross. Jesus lived for us. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised for us. Jesus’ resurrection power gives us a new heart, new mind, and new desires to live for God.

Gospel-centered teaching says that God uses people who are weak and broken. Bible characters are imperfect. Though the Bible does tell us these men were righteous, God did not choose Noah, Moses, and Abraham just because of their character. God knows who we are. His love for us doesn’t change when we fail. His plan and His promises prevail in spite of our imperfections.

Truth is: God reaches a child’s heart with the Truth of the gospel.

The gospel is God’s message of love and grace to transform the heart of a child. It’s the privilege of parents, grandparents, and others to teach the Truths of God and the gospel to children. Are you ready? Or are you like most parents and grandparents who feel ill-equipped to help their family engage regularly with the Bible? 

Take the Word into Your Home 

Would you like some help with gospel-centered materials to lead your family to the cross this Easter season? Come back here to the Revive Our Hearts True Woman blog every Friday until Easter to pick up my weekly family devotion called Word in the Home—Easter. 

These devotions are about trusting Jesus, not our own goodness—that’s faith. They are about living for Jesus, not ourselves—that’s repentance. They are for kids who already believe and for those who do not yet believe in Jesus. And because we need to continually preach the gospel to ourselves, that means parents, grandparents, caregivers, these are for you, too.

Each week’s content is divided into four “days” or lessons. Use all or part of each lesson to best meet the needs of your family, no matter what ages it includes. Brief and consistent beats long and irregular at every age. These simple and clear lessons give parents and caregivers the framework to teach eternal Truths. Pray and ask your Father to keep your eyes on the goal and for the power of God’s Word to override your inadequacies. 

Download the printable “Before You Begin: Tips for Getting Started” resource to get a preview of what each week’s family devotional will include. 

A Message for Us All

Gospel-centered teaching wasn’t just for the Bible Study Fellowship children’s program. Something happened in my own heart as I became more amazed with the Truth of God’s love and grace. 

Joy and freedom are found in the discovery that God uses our weakness for His glory. He uses our brokenness to reveal His grace. This is a message of hope, not only for our children but for us all. As messed up as your life may be, there is hope. The gospel tells us this is true. To teach the Truth of the gospel is to reach a child’s heart for Christ. 

Note: Don’t forget! Meet us back here at the True Woman blog this Friday (and each Friday through Easter) to preview the lesson and download your free printable pdf! 

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Barbara Reaoch

Barbara Reaoch

Barbara Reaoch is the author of A Better Than Anything Christmas (2020). She served as director of the Children’s Division of Bible Study Fellowship International and currently enjoys writing from her home in Minneapolis, MN. Barbara worships with her family at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

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