Teaching Children that the Bible is God’s Word

This lesson, based on II Timothy chapter 3, helps a child understand the origin and the purpose of Scripture.  I have heard so many adults say that they wished they knew more about the Bible.  Helping children to understand the importance of studying the Scriptures, of memorizing them, of praying for the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to them through what they read, will guide them into a lifetime of learning Spiritual truth.  Everyone is capable of it; not everyone is confident of their ability to do it.  Helping a child form the habit of study, memorization, and prayer will give them the confidence and the tools they need to continue to pore over the Scriptures as adults.
Paul wrote this second letter to his dear friend Timothy just before he was martyred.  What do you think you would tell your friends if you knew you were about to die?  What if your friends had come to know Christ through you and depended on you to teach them about the things of God?  What last words would you write down for them to help them keep strong in the faith after you had gone? One of the things Paul felt was important say to Timothy was to assure his young friend that the Scriptures really contained all that he needed to know about God and about Jesus the Messiah.  I suppose if you were used to having a man like Paul around to answer your questions personally, you might think it would be hard to learn  more about God after your great teacher was gone.  But all that Paul knew about God and about Messiah he got from the Scriptures and from the words of Jesus Himself.  Timothy had access to those same Scriptures, and by this time Matthew and Mark had probably already written their Gospels so Timothy might also have had access to Jesus’ words and the story of His life as well.  The fact is, everyone has the same chance to learn as much as Paul had learned about God.  We have the same Scriptures Paul had, and we have all four Gospels and Paul’s own letters, as well. In addition, we have Luke’s account of the early church in the book of Acts and some of letters of James, Peter, John and Jude.   Even more important than that, we have the Holy Spirit in us to help us understand what we read and to help us to remember it. We have all we need to be as knowledgeable about God and about Jesus as any great scholar.
Here’s what Paul says about it: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Let’s take that apart and see what it all means.  “All Scripture is God-breathed.”  We know that Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, but since what Paul is writing is also Scripture, we know that he is not writing his own ideas.  He is writing down whatever the Spirit of God is telling him to write.  If I were to tell you to write down every word I say, it would be you doing the writing, but the words would be mine, wouldn’t they?  I could tell you to write down what I say in your own words, so that the words would be yours, but the ideas are still mine.  The wording may change a bit to match the personality of the person speaking, but the meaning is still mine.  Now, if you said something that did not mean the same as what I said, I would stop you and correct you, right?  If I have the power to do that, you know God does, too!  He makes certain His meaning is clear, even when He allows the men doing the writing to use their own words.
Paul is not the only one who explains how Scripture came about.  Paul says Scripture is “God-breathed”, which means that God spoke his Word to whomever was writing it.  Here is what Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples and close friends, says about Scripture: “But know this first of all, that no  prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (II Peter 1:20-21) This makes it clear that God’s Word is GOD’s Word, not the words of mere men.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching.”  All Scripture is useful for teaching, even the boring parts that are hard to understand!  The genealogies in Matthew and Luke were boring, weren’t they?  It might be harder to find useful things in a list of names, but someone who really wants to hear God speak and who is praying for the Holy Spirit’s help can dig in and find some great stuff!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for rebuking.”  What is “rebuking?”  That’s a word we don’t use much nowadays, isn’t it?  It means to tell or show someone what they are doing wrong.  It’s easy to criticize people, but that’s not very useful if you can’t explain to them why GOD says that what they are doing is wrong.  In order to use Scripture to rebuke someone, you must be very familiar with it and be able to find the right passages for what you need to tell that person.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for correcting.”  It’s not enough to tell someone they are doing something wrong.  You need to be able to tell them the right thing to do.  Paul gave an example of this in an earlier letter when he told the church not to steal.  “It’s wrong to steal, so stop it!” is a rebuke.  “Instead of stealing, work to earn money for what you need.” is a correction.  Rebuking and correcting should always work in pairs!  It’s more helpful to give someone something positive to do instead of just telling them what NOT to do!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Everything we need to know to be useful in the work of God is there for us in Scripture.  We just need to be faithful in reading and studying God’s Word so that we can know all that He wants us to know.  This work of learning the Scriptures never, ever ends!  The more you study, the more you learn.  It’s like a well of water with no bottom.  You can get as much out of it as you wish.  Or, you can get very little out of it.  It all depends on the effort you put into it.  God will not open your brain and stuff His Word into it.  You must put it there yourself!  He is not going to speak to you through His Word if you don’t want to listen to Him. You must ask Him to speak to you and let Him help you understand His Word.


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4 responses to “Teaching Children that the Bible is God’s Word

  1. Jayme

    Good post, MariLynn.

    This is a timely piece for me. My youngest has such a desire to “hear” God speak to him. He’s been praying about it off and on for about a year now. I’ve had a hard time helping him understand that God speaks to people in so many different ways – through prayer, dreams, visions, songs, scriptures and even, on occasion, an audible voice. Somewhere he heard someone say that God spoke to them in their heart and he’s just been stuck on that idea – and not really understanding what it means. But, seriously, how can you explain to a young child exactly what that means? And with my youngest, it must be exact. 😀

    The subject came up again today while we were working on his CBS lesson – and I read this verse with him and talked about the times we’ve used scripture ourselves for encouragement or courage or correction. I also asked him if he’s heard people talk about the Bible as “God’s word” and explained – again – people call it that because it’s God’s word to us. And we can hear it anytime, anywhere – especially if we have memorized it. It helped that I had been writing down his lesson answers for him, so I could point out how he had been dictating to me and telling me what to say.

    I think it really connected this time.


  2. Your youngest is such a smart kid. He tracked me down yesterday to say his memory work to me, and I believe he would have even if he didn’t know I would give him a treat for it. Then he went out and dragged his friends in to say their memory work, too. If they had a memory lapse, he’s couch them with the next phrase. He is very aware the importance of putting God’s Word into his heart, bless him!


  3. Jayme

    Thanks for sharing that, MariLynn. What a sweet picture.

    I’m glad he likes learning the Word, though, ’cause he’s getting three different assignments every week right now. Your class, CBS and soccer. He’s rattling them off. I must admit I’m rather impressed.

    I meant to mention before, I especially liked your last paragraph. How many times have I heard kids – both mine and others – moan at the retelling of a story that they ‘already know!’ If I were to be completely honest, I must admit to some small amount of reluctance to my Genesis CBS study – because those stories are so familiar, right? God very quickly showed me that He has more for me to learn.

    I also liked your statement, “God will not open your brain and stuff His Word into it.” Oh, how often do we -adults and children alike – complain about not ‘hearing from the Lord’ on something? When, if we really examined ourselves, we would see that we were not really seeking to know what He has to say – but waiting for Him open our brains and stuff His word into it. I’m going to have to remember that one. 😀


  4. Lesa

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I too was struck by the sentence, “God will not open your brain and stuff His Word into it.” I just got a picture of God doing that literally and found it very funny. Kinda in the same category as the verses about “Haven’t you seen? Haven’t you heard?” Those kinds of statements that should be obvious, but aren’t always. Thanks for the reminder to study God’s word so that I can have eyes to see and ears to hear.”
    Do you think that Paul had any idea how many generations would read his letters? I get so caught up in reading Scripture that I forget that many books of the New Testament were actually letters to real people. We get to read them too!


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