God instructs grandparents to teach grandchildren the truths of Scripture. Deuteronomy 4:9 states, “Teach these things to your children and children’s children.” In Psalm 78:5 God commands grandparents to teach multiple generations to obey God’s commands.
Throughout church history the primary method to teach and disciple young people has been called family worship. Family worship is the means of introducing children to the truths of Scripture and preparing children for the Christian life. The practice consists of reading the Bible as a family, prayer, and praising God through music. If you have not developed the habit of regularly reading and discussing the Bible with your grandchildren, then this is a high impact priority for you to implement.
Consider a few practical thoughts:
- Read the Bible, not someone’s thoughts about the Bible. The best devotionals make the Bible the primary source and keep the gospel central to each section of Scripture. Marty Machowski has written The Long Story Short and Old Story New, which is a Bible reading plan with discussion questions and prayer. My book, Preparing Children for Marriage contains fifteen Bible studies that you can use with grandchildren on marriage, dating, purity and sex.
- Read the entire Bible to children. The pattern of Scripture is to teach children the deep truths of Scripture. For example, children were not excused when theologically weighty topics were covered in the Colossian or Ephesian church. Children were present to be told to obey parents; and therefore, were taught everything contained in these two books.
- Read briefly. Remember, they are children. The younger a grandchild is, the shorter their attention span will be. Don’t expect your grandchild to study the Bible like an adult. Try to keep your family reading concise and to the point, but meaningful. Ten minutes is a good amount of time to begin.
Your goal is to explain the Bible passage clearly and biblically, engage grandchildren in the process, and help them apply God’s truth to life.
Teach grandchildren the core truths of Christianity
Grandparents should teach grandchildren of all ages the core truths of the Christian faith with a zeal and consistency that follows the pattern of the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:15 we read of Timothy, “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writing, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” Psalm 71:17 says, “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.”
The pattern of Scripture is for children of all ages to be taught the core truths of the Bible so that they will be firmly rooted in Christ and established in their faith (Col 2:7). The following topics should be taught to children of all ages:
Big Picture of the Bible
The Bible is not a random collection of people or events. It is a unified whole with one main storyline pointing to, revolving around, and fulfilled in Jesus. There are four major parts of the Bible: creation (Gen. 1-2), rebellion (Gen. 3), salvation (Gen. 4 – Rev. 20), and re-creation (Rev. 21-22). As you read through the Old Testament, help grandchildren see how it points to Jesus and his covenant of salvation. Jesus himself did this, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:27).
The primary aim of the Bible is to glorify God and this happens in salvation and judgment found on every page of the Bible. Read and reread the stories of the Bible to your grandchildren with this in mind. Familiarize them with the main stories, people, and events of the Bible, but not in a way that detaches them from the overall storyline of Scripture. We should call our grandchildren to obey Jesus Christ and can use the heroes of the faith as models to imitate, but let our teaching not dissolve into moralistic instruction separated from the gospel of Jesus or the glory of God.
Teaching the big picture of the Bible accomplishes two things. First, it answers the big questions of life that every young person will ask such as, Where did I come from? What is the purpose of life? Who am I? What went wrong in the world? Why is there pain and suffering? What is the answer to all the problems? What happens after I die?
Second, it trains young people with a biblical view of life so they have the ability to detect and reject the world’s big lies. When you teach creation it will help to refute evolution and atheism; rebellion contradicts relativism (God determines right and wrong); salvation in Christ counters all other world religions; and re-creation addresses the problem of evil (we have hope).
Core truths of the Christian Faith
The Bible’s word for core truths is the word doctrine. Doctrine is simply a word to describe what the Bible teaches. Paul challenges young Timothy to “watch your life and your doctrine closely” (1 Tim 4:16). Every grandchild needs to understand the core truths of the Christian faith to grow into a man or woman with convictions to follow God.
The two most critical doctrines for grandchildren to learn center on the Word of God and the Son of God. It is a mark of successful grandparenting to teach grandchildren the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of the Bible. It should be a high priority for all grandparents to train grandchildren to embrace the supremacy, exclusivity, deity, and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In addition, we must repeatedly, with greater depth as grandchildren age, teach topics such as the character and existence of God, God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman, biblical manhood and womanhood, Christ-honoring sexuality, stewardship of time, talents, and treasures, and wise choices based on godly character.
One grandparent, who is worthy of closer examination, is Lois. Lois was the grandmother to Timothy and played an important role in his spiritual life (2 Tim. 1:5). The apostle Paul suggests that Lois taught Timothy the Scriptures from an early age, which became foundational in his following Christ (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Lois is a godly grandparent worthy of imitation. Grandparents might consider three principles for teaching grandchildren:
- Early instruction (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Research reveals that upwards of 80 percent of individuals become Christians before age twelve. The early years are important years because children are most moldable at this stage of life.
- Frequent instruction (2 Tim. 3:14). Paul tells Timothy to continue in his firm belief in Christ. Firm belief results from a lot of little conversations over a long period of time that are reinforced at different ages and stages of life.
- Biblical instruction (2 Tim. 3:15). Notice that Timothy is taught the Bible from a young age. There is no substitute for Scripture-based teaching as it is the means God uses for salvation of the young.
Donald Whitney has written a concise and practical book called Family Worship. I like this book because it can be read in under an hour and provides a quick overview of family worship in the Bible, in church history, and covers the three primary components of family worship. If you would like to develop the habit of regular, consistent family devotions, then this is the book to get.
The Bible’s Big Story and The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses will help you teach your grandchildren the big picture of the Bible centered on Jesus Christ. The Bible’s Big Story can be read in one sitting with grade school aged children and touches on the main people and themes of the Bible. The Whole Story of the Bible is perfect for teens and would make a great gift or could be read and discussed over a period of time.
There are many good resources to teach children and youth the core truths of the Christian faith. For children I recommend The Gospel for Children and What Does the Bible Say About That? For teens I recommend Bitesize Theology and Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. These books will help you teach the basics of faith in an age appropriate way.