UH ow can we followH“Go into all the worldthe command ofGospel U-Can Evangelize Children Christ U-Can Evangelize Children U-Can Evangelize Childrento and preach the to every creature” when we work with children? What does it mean to evangelize? Is there a special Gospel for children? You will find answers to these and other questions in this important book. You will discover just how God works in the lives of the little ones as you take time to teach His Word faithfully. The guidelines given come from a careful study of the scriptures and many years experience in working among children. The evangelism of children is a serious work dependent on the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Evangelize mind, convict the heart of sin and point to the Children ~ all sufficient work of Christ. This book will help you engage in a careful biblical evangelism of children who are in urgent need of God’s great salvation. If you are involved in a training ministry what Guidelines for better book to use than this one, to help challenge minds and hearts regarding the need careful and biblical to evangelize children. evangelism of children Dr Sam Doherty Dr Sam Doherty Dr Sam Doherty Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc. Specialized Book Ministry Dr Sam Doherty Assisting Children’s Evangelists Worldwide www.cefbookministry.com
U-canEvangelizeChildrenGuidelines for careful andbiblical evangelism of childrenDr Sam Doherty, BA, EdD.
Table of ContentsIntroduction ………...........................................…..……..………....... vChapter 1: The First Step ......................................….. 1Chapter 2: Understand The Children…............... …...... 6Chapter 3: Understand Evangelism ……....……….... 15Chapter 4: Teach About God In Evangelism ….…. . 25Chapter 5: Teach About Sin In Evangelism ….….…. 35Chapter 6: Teach About The Lord Jesus Christ InEvangelism ................................................................. 40Chapter 7: Invite The Children To Come To Christ ... 51Chapter 8: The Children’s Response To TheInvitation Part I – Repentance …………...………..... 60Chapter 9: The Children’s Response To TheInvitation Part II – Faith ……………….….….…....… 68Chapter 10: Teach The Children The Results OfSaving Faith … ......................................................... 73Chapter 11: Teach That Salvation Is The BeginningOf A Life Of Obedience ............................................... 80Chapter 12: Make Yourself Available ……….……… 88Chapter 13: Use Your Whole ProgrammeTo Evangelize ……...................................................... 99Chapter 14: The Manner Of Evangelism …....……….101
U-can Evangelize Children vINTRODUCTIONBefore the Lord Jesus Christ returned to Heaven, He gave toHis disciples and to His Church down through the ages acommand. That command was – to evangelize! “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16 v15). That command is still relevant for us today. The main reasonwhy the Lord Jesus has left us, as believers, here on the earth isso that we might evangelize the lost. This is something we cannotdo in Heaven! A very large section of the world’s population consists ofchildren. In some countries almost one half of the totalpopulation is under the age of fourteen. This command,therefore, includes them, and gives to the Church of Jesus Christthe responsibility to evangelize and preach the Gospel to millionsof boys and girls. This evangelistic outreach to the children needsto be undertaken by individuals, by local churches, by missionarysocieties, and also by organisations which specialize in theevangelism of children. One organisation which makes theevangelism of children their priority and their speciality is ChildEvangelism Fellowship, the Mission with which I worked for 57years. Children need to be evangelized. Boys and girls without JesusChrist are spiritually dead, outside God’s kingdom, and lost asfar as their position is concerned. If they have reached the ageof understanding and accountability (which is much earlier thanmost people think), and are not saved, they will, if they die, belost forever. But children can be saved – through the preaching of theGospel, and as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. But howcan they be saved “without a preacher”? (Romans 10 v14). Manyof us have been given the responsibility, and the privilege, oftaking the Gospel to these children and of evangelizing them.
vi IntroductionMay we not fail to do so. Unfortunately there are many who work with children andwho even teach them the Word of God – but don’t evangelizethem: Some of these teachers are themselves not saved. So it is obvious that they cannot, and will not, evangelize the children. Some of these teachers are saved, but they do not believe that children can be saved, and so they do not evangelize them. However there are other teachers who are saved, and who do believe that children can be saved, but they don’t evangelize them because they don’t know how to do so. This book will, I trust, be a special help to this third group,although I pray it will also challenge the second group to startevangelizing the children. I have written this book, therefore, to help those who wantto evangelize children. I trust it will help those especially whoare just beginning their ministry to children; but I pray that itwill also be a means of help and guidance to those who arealready evangelizing children. I hope that it will encourage andenable each of us to examine our ministry to ensure that it iscompletely biblical. My primary goal in writing this book is that children willtrust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and I want to helpyou, dear children’s worker, to be the channel which God usesto evangelize the children and lead them to Jesus Christ. “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18 v14). “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16 v15).
U-can Evangelize Children 1Chapter 1:The First StepIn our examination of the evangelism of children we will needto study two subjects: First of all, we will need to study the MESSAGE of salvation which we should teach to unsaved children when we are evangelizing them. Then, secondly, we will need to study the METHODS which we should use when we are teaching the message of salvation. In other words there are two main questions which we willneed to consider in this book: What is the message of salvation? What are the methods we should use in our evangelism? The Bible Gives Us the Answers But before answering those questions we need to ask, andanswer, one key question, or group of questions. Where do we find our guidelines for evangelism? Where is the only place where questions such as these can be answered? Where can we find the message of salvation? Where can we discover the methods we should use? The answers to all these questions, for every true believer,can only be found in the Bible, God’s Word. God has given usHis Word to guide us in every aspect of our lives and service,and that includes our evangelism. Therefore we need to readand study the Bible to find the answers to these two key questionsconcerning the message and methods in our evangelism. Theanswers must come from the Word of God and not from thewords, or theories, of men .
2 Chapter 1 But a further question comes automatically to our mind:where in the Bible will we find the answers to these twoquestions? Which part of the Bible will be our primary sourcebook, and guidebook, as far as the preaching of the Gospel isconcerned? There are several answers to that question – but we will seelater that there is one answer which is especially important. Study the Old Testament There is much teaching in the Old Testament to help us tounderstand the message of salvation. The power of God increation, His holiness, His justice, and His power to redeem Hispeople, are clearly revealed in the Old Testament, and all ofthese factors occupy a vital part in the message of salvation.There are also many descriptive accounts of men and women inthe Old Testament, who had a desire to turn from their sin, andwho were saved by faith in God, and in His promises. The OldTestament, in addition, contains many pictures and types of theSaviour Who was to come to save from sin. Consequently, a study of the Old Testament will be avaluable and necessary task for those who want to understandthe message of salvation which they should teach the children. In addition, the teaching and “the atmosphere” of the OldTestament will help us to see the importance of carefulness, andreverence, in how we present that message, and will ensure thatthe methods we use are in accordance with the message weteach. The Old Testament (or the New Testament) has no placefor clowns, comedians or magicians! Study the New Testament But it is in the New Testament where we find the fullrevelation of the Gospel and the message of salvation. Thereforethe answers to our two main questions concerning the messageof salvation and the methods of evangelism can be primarily,and more directly, found in the twenty-seven books of the NewTestament.
U-can Evangelize Children 3 But this leads to a further question. The New Testamentconsists of four sections. While all four sections will help us inour search, which one will give us the fullest and clearestanswers, and will, indeed, provide us with a “primer onevangelism”? The New Testament, then, consists of four sections: The four Gospels describe in much detail, the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Acts of the Apostles give an account of the growth of the early Church – its ministry and its witness. The twenty-one letters, or epistles, are primarily addressed to believers, and give us instruction in doctrine and in practice. The book of Revelation is mainly a prophetical book. All four of these sections of the New Testament are importantin our search for the message and methods of evangelism, andall of them will help us to find, and understand, the answers toour two key questions concerning the message of salvation andthe methods we should use to teach it. But there is one sectionwhich will play the main part in our search and give us mosthelp for our answers. The four Gospels are very important because they describe for us the redemptive facts which provide the basis and heart of the gospel message, and they also give much help concerning how that message should be presented. The twenty-one epistles, or letters, give us many doctrinal outlines, and these include a number of important aspects of the message of salvation. The book of the Revelation also includes, and refers to, several important gospel truths. But it is the Acts of the Apostles which must be our main primer and guide book on the subject of evangelism. One of the main reasons it has been inspired by the Holy Spirit, and included in the Word of God, is to help us in our evangelism of the lost.
4 Chapter 1 THE MESSAGE AND METHODS OF EVANGELISM T HE GOSPEL S T H E A C T S O F T HE APOSTLES THE EPISTL ES Helpful Important Very Important Sources Sources Sources Study the Acts of the Apostles In the Acts of the Apostles we can see the first evangelists,and the first preachers of the Gospel, at work. We can read inthat book the actual records of what they said when they wereevangelizing, and we can clearly see the methods they usedand what they did. So they are our inspired examples, and rolemodels, as far as evangelism is concerned: We should therefore study in great detail the evangelistic messages of the apostles, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, so that we can understand what we should say when we are evangelizing. We should also study, in great detail, the methods the apostles used in their evangelism, so that we can learn what we should do when we are evangelizing. Consequently, we will refer to the Acts of the Apostlesfrequently throughout the pages which follow. This inspiredbook written by Luke, as guided by the Holy Spirit, will be ourmain primer and guidebook on the subject of the evangelism ofchildren. I trust that you yourself will take time, not just to readmy book (which I trust will be helpful), but to study in greatdetail the inspired book, the Acts of the Apostles, which Godhas provided to help and guide us in our evangelistic ministry.
U-can Evangelize Children 5 Some of you may have specific questions about the messageof salvation: Should I speak about God’s love or God’s holiness – or both? Should I make it clear to unsaved children that God is their Creator, and that they are responsible to Him? Should I include repentance in my gospel message? Should I tell children that if they trust Christ all their sins will be forgiven? Should I teach unsaved children that Jesus Christ wants to be their Lord, as well as their Saviour? What should be the centre and heart of my gospel message? Are there any other gospel truths which I should teach to prepare for that central teaching? The Acts of the Apostles answers all these questions – andmany more. Some of you may have specific questions about the methodsyou should use when evangelizing children: Should I always teach the same identical gospel message? Should I adapt my message to the children I am teaching? Which parts of my message should always be constant, and which parts can I adapt? Should I “give the invitation” when evangelizing children? What is the invitation? Should I ask children to raise their hands, or come to the front, if they want to be saved? Should I be serious or jocular in my presentation?The Acts of the Apostles answers all these questions aboutmethodology – and many more.I do trust that you will make a study of the evangelistic messagesand methods of the apostles your very first priority, and that youwill base your ministry on what they said and did.
6 Chapter 2 Chapter 2:Understand The ChildrenB efore studying the message of salvation, and the methods weshould use in teaching it, it is necessary for us to have a clearunderstanding of what the Bible teaches concerning children,their needs and their potential. There are many questions concerning children to which weneed the answers, before we can proceed any further: Are children lost? Do they need to be saved? Are babies and little children lost? Can children truly trust Jesus Christ as their Saviour? At what age can they do so? Should we speak to children about sin and God’s judgment? Are children more open to the Gospel than adults? The answers to these questions, and to many more, can befound in God’s Word, the Bible. It is essential that we understandwhat God tells us about children, and the evangelism of children,and that we base our ministry on His Word – rather than listeningto, and basing our ministry on, the viewpoints and opinions offallible men. The Bible teaches us five main truths about children: Children Need to be Saved God makes clear, in His Word, several key truths about thespiritual condition and needs of children: All children are born into the world with a sinful nature, inherited from Adam, the federal head of the human race, and the representative of all men: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one’” (Romans 3 v10).
U-can Evangelize Children 7“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceivedme” (Psalm 51 v5).“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and deaththrough sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”(Romans5 v12).This universal sinful nature shows itself in universal sinfulactions:“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3 v23).“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to hisown way” (Isaiah 53 v6a).“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as theyare born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58 v3).The result of universal sin is universal death.“For the wages of sin is death ……” (Romans 6 v23a). This includes physical death: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5 v12). It also includes spiritual death: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2 v13). “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2 v1).All children are therefore spiritually dead, and they willall die physically – as a result of sin.Because all children are spiritually dead, they are outsideGod’s kingdom, and they are all LOST as far as theirposition is concerned:“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do youthink? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does henot leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that isstraying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices moreover that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray” (Matthew18 v11-13).God is a holy and just God. Therefore He must punish sin: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men,resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act thefree gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5 v18).
8 Chapter 2 “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2 v3). We have already seen that all children are lost, as far as their position is concerned. Those children who have reached an age of understanding, and accountability (and this age is much lower than many believe), and have not trusted Jesus Christ, are also lost as far as their condition is concerned, and are under the just condemnation of God. If they die in that condition, without trusting Jesus Christ, they will be lost forever. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3 v18). Children therefore need to trust Jesus Christ as their Saviour. They are not saved by baptism, or any other church ceremonies; they are not saved because of their parents; they are not saved by “being good”. They are only saved through personal faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3 v28). “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1 v12 and 13). When they trust Jesus Christ there are two main results: They are justified. All their sin is forgiven, and God sees them as pure and as perfect as Jesus Christ. “And by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13 v39). They are regenerated. They are “new creatures” with a new nature. They are not perfect but they are changed: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3 v3). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5 v17). In considering the spiritual condition and the needs ofchildren there must be no room for speculation, opinions ormistaken ideas. We are dealing with the never-dying souls of
U-can Evangelize Children 9boys and girls. If they are already in God’s kingdom, and arenot lost, they do not need to be evangelized. But if they arespiritually dead (and we have seen that this is the clear teachingof the Scriptures), outside God’s kingdom and under God’s justcondemnation (if they have reached the age of understanding)– they need to be evangelized. It is when our eyes are opened to the true spiritual conditionof children, that we will begin to have a burden to evangelizethem. Children Can be Saved True biblical conversion involves a turning from sin(repentance) and a turning to Jesus Christ (faith). Salvation ispromised to all who repent and believe (Acts 3 v19; 16 v31). Butthe question is — can a child turn from sin and have true savingfaith in Jesus Christ? Unfortunately many Christians believe that children are tooyoung to turn to Jesus Christ, and that they need to wait untilthey are around twelve, thirteen or fourteen years old. But thisis not what the Bible teaches.Can a child be saved? God tells us in His Word that a child can truly believe, and be saved: “And that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 31 v13). “That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children; that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78 v6, 7). “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea”(Matthew 18 v6). All the words used in these verses with regard to children – “fear”, “set their hope” and “believe in” (or trust) — make it clear that a child can have a personal relationship with God, and like Samuel can, respond to the voice of God
10 Chapter 2 (1 Samuel 3 v10) – as God the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. Also the Bible teaches us, over and over again, that where there is true faith in Jesus Christ – at whatever age – there is salvation. Salvation is promised to “whoever believes” and there is no age limit: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3 v16). Experience also shows us that children can trust Christ. Many Christians, including a good number of pastors, missionaries and well known Christians, date their conversion from childhood. While this has usually been followed by a deepening understanding, and a growth in faith and repentance, they themselves have no doubt that justification and regeneration took place at that moment when, as children, they truly believed and were saved.At what age can a child trust Christ and be saved? We don’t know. The Bible does not give an age, and neithershould we. Children differ from each other. But the Lord Jesusdid speak about little ones trusting Him (Matthew 18 v6). Sothe age when a child can trust Christ is generally much lowerthan what many Christians believe. I have found, for examplein my evangelistic ministry, that many children between the agesof 7 and 10 trusted Christ (plus, of course, some earlier, andsome later, than this age). This is the vision we need for our ministry to children. Weneed to see that as God the Holy Spirit works in their heartsthey can trust Jesus Christ and be saved. And we need to makethis our goal at all times.There are two kinds of children Therefore, and as a consequence of all we have outlined, weneed to understand that there are two kinds of children: Children who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour, who have been born again, are spiritually alive and have eternal life, and who are in God’s kingdom. These children
U-can Evangelize Children 11 need to be fed and built up in their faith. Children who have not trusted Jesus Christ. These children are spiritually dead, lost and outside God’s kingdom. They need to be evangelized. Every children’s worker has therefore two responsibilities: To feed saved children. I have written a book entitled “Ucan help Christian children to grow” which will help you with this ministry. To evangelize unsaved children. This present book has been written to help you do this. God Loves Children The Bible makes it very clear that God loves children: God showed His love and deep concern for children by giving many instructions about teaching them in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4 v9, 10; 6 v5-7; 11 v18 and 19; Psalms 34 v11; 78 v1-8; Proverbs 22 v6; Joel 1 v3). The Lord Jesus showed His deep love and concern for boys and girls in a number of ways: He welcomed them (Mark 10 v13). He took them in His arms (Mark 10 v16). He accepted their praise (Matthew 21 v15, 16). He cared for their physical needs (John 4 v46-54; Mark 5 v38-43). He did not want them to be offended (Matthew 18 v6), rejected (Matthew 18 v5) or despised (Matthew 18 v10). He invited them to come to Him (Mark 10 v14). He wanted them to be saved (Matthew 18 v11). He did not want them to be lost (Matthew 18 v14). What assurance this gives us, as we teach God’s Word toboys and girls, and as we evangelize them! Children are close tothe heart of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so is yourwork, as you minister to their needs.
12 Chapter 2 Children Are Open to the Gospel Children are open to anything and everything. They aresensitive, vulnerable and very impressionable: The world knows this and tries to win the children. The advertisers develop special techniques to influence them. The cults and false religions take every opportunity to influence them. The communists have always made it their goal to indoctrinate children from an early age. Unfortunately the Church of Jesus Christ is not always soalert, and very often misses opportunities to bring the Gospel tochildren. You and I need to understand the following biblical factsabout children, and how they respond to the Gospel: Children are more open to the Gospel than adults. An adult must become like a child before he can be saved. A child already is a child, and God can use the childlike qualities he possesses (trustfulness, openness and humility) to lead him to Christ: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18 v3). “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10 v15). The older a person is the harder he becomes, and the less likely he is to trust Jesus Christ: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12 v1). “That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78 v7, 8). The teaching of God’s Word can have a deep effect on children’s lives, and impressions and influences implanted in childhood are lasting. Win a child and you win an adult:
U-can Evangelize Children 13 “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”(2 Timothy 3 v15). “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22 v6). These biblical facts show us how important it is to evangelizethe children. If they are open to the Gospel; if they are ready tolisten; if these are the years of opportunity when they are beingformed; if it will be harder to reach them in later years – then itwould be a tragedy, and very unwise, if we don’t evangelizethem – NOW. A Child Saved Is a Life Saved When is the best age to trust Jesus Christ? The simple answeris – the sooner the better. Is it not better to be saved at sevenyears old rather than seventy? Common sense and experienceagree that it is better to come to Christ early in life. It is better toknow Christ as Saviour during the years when habits andpersonality are being formed, rather than after they have beenformed. It is better to learn and absorb the Word of God whenthe mind is open and learning is easy, rather than try to do soafterwards. The children’s evangelist is not only interested in, andlabouring for, the souls of children, and not only praying thatthey will be saved; his goal is also the salvation of lives – wholelives to be lived for the glory of God. Many believers, who trustedJesus Christ in later years, have one regret – that they did not doso earlier and as children. In this way they would have avoidedthe waste of many precious years. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them. While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain” (Ecclesiastes 12 v1, 2). “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3 v27). The Bible includes testimonies of those who started to walkwith God while they were young. David said: “You have taught me from my youth” (Psalm 71 v17).
14 Chapter 2 “For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71 v5). Obadiah declared: “ I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth” (1 Kings 18 v12). Josiah first began to seek the Lord when he was eight yearsold (2 Chronicles 34 v3) and Samuel first responded to the voiceof God when he was still very young (1 Samuel 3 v10), and theLord was with him from that time onwards (1 Samuel 3 v19).Also a number of others, like Daniel, Joseph and Isaac, all seemto have started walking with God when still young. Think ofthe influence and value of such lives, and of many others whowere converted in childhood. Church history tells us that many spiritual giants were savedas children.
U-can Evangelize Children 15Chapter 3:Understand EvangelismW orld evangelism is the task entrusted to the Church by theLord Jesus Christ.“Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16v15). Every believer must take this commission seriously and beinvolved in fulfilling it. However, you and I cannot go into all the world, nor is itpossible for any of us to preach the Gospel to every creature.Therefore, we need to ask God, the Lord of the Harvest, to showus where we should evangelize, and whom we shouldevangelize. World evangelism, or total evangelism, involves bringing thegospel to every tribe and nation, and also to every age group –including children. Children are included in the words “everycreature”. Indeed children make up one third of the totalpopulation of the world, and in some countries one half!Therefore, as we ask God to show us where to go and whom toreach, it is clear that He will lead a substantial number of usinto a ministry to evangelize the children. Our purpose in this book is to study the evangelism ofchildren and, in particular, to find out what the Bible teaches usabout the message of salvation, and the methods we should usein proclaiming and teaching that message. There are eleven basic principles concerning evangelism, andespecially the evangelism of children, which we must, first ofall, be aware of, and understand; and we will look at them inthis chapter. The Bible Is Our Source Book We have already dealt with this point in the first chapter.But it is so important that we need to come back to it and
16 Chapter 3emphasize it again. The starting point in considering your message and methodsis not “What do children enjoy?” or “What can childrenunderstand?” or “What will the children listen to?” or “Whatdo people tell us to teach and to do?” Your first considerationmust be “What does the Bible say concerning what you shouldteach, and how you should teach?” What people say and whatyou say is not what matters. You must find out what God says! The Word of God is your manual for evangelism and,especially, the Acts of the Apostles, where you can find out whatthe apostles taught when they were evangelizing and how theydid this. You need to learn about evangelism from them. There Is Only One Gospel Message The New Testament makes it clear, over and over again,that there is only one gospel message, and only one message ofsalvation: “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16 v15). “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1 v8, 9). The gospel message does not change according to the agegroup being evangelized. There is not one message for one groupof people and another message for a different group. The gospelmessage for children is the same as the gospel message for adults.You do not have a short list of truths which are “suitable forchildren”, a longer list for teenagers, and an even longer one foradults. Of course the evangelist must always consider both the agegroup and the background of those to whom he speaks, andthis will influence his presentation and application. The waythe message is presented, the methods used, and the emphasis givento different aspects may vary, but the basic message must alwaysremain constant. The message must never be altered or diluted inany way. When working with children you must be careful not tosacrifice truth in the interests of so-called “simplicity”:
U-can Evangelize Children 17 The Gospel Is an Extensive Message You have been entrusted with the Gospel, and it is yourresponsibility to teach it to boys and girls. But you must knowwhat the Gospel is and that it consists of five main groups oftruths! Firstly, they need to be taught about Jesus Christ. The word “Gospel” means “Good News”. The Gospel is Good News about Jesus Christ – Who He is and what He has done. He must always be the central theme of our Gospel preaching, as He was in the Gospel preaching of the apostles. But if you begin to teach children who know nothing about the Bible, about the death of Jesus Christ, or the fact that He is our Saviour, you will find that they have great difficulty in understanding these truths. Other truths need to be taught as a foundation for the teaching of these truths. Secondly, they need to be taught about sin. They cannot understand salvation from sin if they don’t know what sin is. So teaching about the Saviour needs to be preceded by teaching about sin. Thirdly, they need to be taught about God. They cannot understand what sin is if they know nothing about God. Sin is rebellion against God and the breaking of His laws. Consequently, the proclamation and teaching of the Good News concerning Jesus Christ needs to be preceded by teaching concerning God, and teaching concerning sin. Fourthly, the children also need to be taught what they should do to be saved. Therefore the message of salvation should also include Jesus Christ’s invitation and command to come to Him, in repentance and faith. Fifthly, the children need to be taught the results of salvation and what God promises to do if they trust Christ. So, it is a help for the children to know what will happen if they do trust Jesus Christ – that all their sins will be forgiven, and that they will have a new nature. Therefore, the message of salvation is an extensive message
18 Chapter 3which includes teaching about five groups of truths – with anumber of truths in each group. These groups of truths, in theirlogical order, are truths about God, truths about sin, truths aboutJesus Christ, truths about what children should do to be savedand truths about the results of salvation. THE GOSPEL MESSAGE ITS ITS ITS ITS FOUNDATION HEART COM- PR OM IS E MAND JESUS REPENT- RESULTS GOD SIN ANCE & OF CHRIST FAITH SALVA- TION The Gospel Is a Powerful Message When God calls you and me to evangelize children, our firstreaction is usually “But what can I do to help children and tolead them to Jesus Christ?” We have a feeling of completehelplessness, and that is because we spend so little time withthem, and have little influence on them. At the same time thechildren receive such massive influence and input from so manyother sources. But you need to remember what God tells you about theGospel in His Word: “For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1 v16). “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1 v18). “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4 v12). “’Is not My word like a fire?’ says the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that
U-can Evangelize Children 19 breaks the rock in pieces?’” (Jeremiah 23 v29). “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55 v11). The power of your ministry is not in you and your abilities;it is in the message you preach. You have the greatest and mostpowerful message boys and girls can ever hear. The Gospel Is a Doctrinal Message The teaching of doctrine is simply teaching the great truthsof the Bible – and a number of these truths are included in thegospel message. It is impossible to truly evangelize childrenwithout teaching doctrine. We can see many examples of“doctrinal evangelism” in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles in their evangelism often taught truths about God: God the Creator (Acts 14 v15), the Sovereign One (Acts 17 v26), the One Who planned salvation (Acts 3 v18), and the kind and just One (Acts 14 v17; 17 v31). The apostles dealt faithfully with, and taught about, sin when they were evangelizing. They accused the Jews of having crucified the Lord (Acts 2 v36; 3 v14, 15; Acts 7 v51-53). They told them that they needed to turn from sin (Acts 3 v26), from wickedness (Acts 8 v22), from vanities (Acts 14 v15), that their sin would be judged (Acts 17 v31; 24 v25), and that they needed to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2 v38, 3 v19, 10 v43, 13 v39, 26 v18). The apostles preached Christ when they were evangelizing, and in doing so taught many great truths, or doctrines, about Him: His humanity (Acts 2 v22), His death (Acts 2 v23); His resurrection (Acts 2 v24), His exaltation (Acts 2 v32-36), and His appointment as judge of mankind (Acts 17 v31). The apostles taught the unsaved the truths of repentance (Acts 3 v19) and faith (Acts 16 v31) when they evangelized. The apostles in their evangelism taught forgiveness, justification and the gift of the Spirit for all who would
20 Chapter 3 believe (Acts 13 v38, 39; 2 v38). The evangelism of the apostles certainly was doctrinal. Consequently, the doctrines, or truths, of the gospel messageshould be taught to children. It is unwise and unbiblical toencourage children to come to Christ when you have notexplained to them “Why”, “How”, and “What for?” Theanswers to these questions are the doctrines which you shouldinclude in your teaching. The teaching of doctrine does not followevangelism; it should be included in your evangelism. In otherwords you must carry out a teaching evangelism. Evangelism Should Aim for the Mind, Emotions and Will As you evangelize children you should instruct the mind,praying that God will enlighten it; involve the emotions, prayingthat God will stir them; and challenge the will, praying thatGod will change its direction: A n “ i n t e l l e c t u a l ” GOSPEL evangelism, which aims only at the mind, is dry and sterile. An“emotional” evangelism, which aims only at the emotions, is superficial and temporary. A “volitional” evangelism, which aims only at the will, is premature and hasty. You need to follow the pattern of evangelism to which the believers at Rome responded. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed (that is the will) from the heart (these are the emotions) that form of doctrine (that is the mind) to which you were delivered” (Romans 6 v17).
U-can Evangelize Children 21 If you don’t follow this pattern, you run the risk of spurious conversions or, if the child is truly saved, he may be easily confused, and quickly discouraged, in the early days of his Christian life. We Do Not Know How Much a Child Needs to Understand to be Saved We are not told in the Bible how much a child, or anyoneelse, needs to understand, before they can come to Christ. Somechildren come to Christ on the basis of much understanding ofthe Gospel; some children come to Christ with comparativelylittle understanding of the Gospel. God is sovereign in salvation: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3 v8). Obviously there must be some sense of need and convictionof sin; there must also be some understanding of what JesusChrist has done for them, and some understanding of how theycan come to Him. But you must be careful, on the one hand, notto impose rules and regulations about how much needs to beunderstood; and yet, on the other hand, you need to do all youcan to teach the truths of the Gospel to children, and help themto understand them. When a farmer finds grain growing in soilwhich has not been thoroughly prepared, he realises that this isthe exception rather than the rule – and he does not take it as anexcuse to stop preparing his ground thoroughly. Only the Holy Spirit Can Regenerate You, as the evangelist, cannot give life to a spiritually deadchild, no matter how gifted you are. This is a work only Godcan do. Only the Holy Spirit can regenerate and give spirituallife. Unless God speaks and works in the child’s life, absolutelynothing can be accomplished. There can be human effort, andeven human results – when a child responds to pressure, or tothe influence of a teacher’s personality – but, without thegracious, convicting, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit,nothing of spiritual significance will happen.
22 Chapter 3 God Is Sovereign in Salvation It is often difficult, even impossible, to understand andexplain the results of our evangelism: One child can be deeply convicted of sin, and another remain totally unconcerned, after listening to the same message. One teacher may see several children come to Christ; and another teacher who is equally faithful may see none trust the Saviour. A children’s evangelist may hear that several children trusted Christ, after he brought a gospel message; and yet he could teach that same message on other occasions – without any obvious results. These are all evidences of God’s sovereignty in salvation.Understanding this truth will save us from sinful pride whenchildren trust Christ; it will save us from despair, if we do notsee results; and it will, above all, keep us dependent upon oursovereign God. God Has Committed the Ministry of Evangelism to You and Me But the truth of God’s sovereignty should not make uscomplacent in our evangelism. God does not work in a vacuum.God uses people like you and me to accomplish His sovereignpurposes: “That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5 v19, 20). God commands you to evangelize the children, and you mustobey that command with all your heart. A true belief in God’ssovereignty will not keep you from evangelism. It will, instead,encourage you to get involved in a ministry of evangelism –trusting your Sovereign God to work according to His graciouspurpose.
U-can Evangelize Children 23 THE GOSPEL MESSAGE n priatio SALVATION RESULTS Through Justification Repentance and JESUS and Appro Faith Regeneration CHRIST His Person and Work GOD SIN ation His Holiness and Its Universality Love and Results Found We Need to Know the Message We have already seen that God uses the Gospel message tospeak to the hearts of unsaved children, to convict them of sinand to regenerate them. It is therefore obvious that the messengermust know, and understand, the message he is to preach. It will be our task in the chapters which follow to discoverand examine this message. But it can be summarized briefly asfollows: Teach the children about God – especially about His holiness and His love. Teach the children about sin – especially about its universality and its results. Teach the children about Jesus Christ – especially about His Person and His work. Teach the children what they need to do to be saved – especially about repentance and faith. Teach the children the results of salvation – especially about justification and regeneration. It is the Gospel, the message of salvation, which we are goingto examine together, and study, in this book. I would again
24 Chapter 3encourage you to make it your goal to find out exactly what theBible teaches on the subject of evangelism and, as I have alreadyemphasized several times, I would encourage you, especially,to study the Acts of the Apostles with this in mind. You need tostudy the biblical message of salvation and the biblical methodsof evangelism for yourself. You need to think them throughcarefully and prayerfully, and then come up with your ownconclusions from the Word of God. You and I need to follow inthe footsteps of the Berean believers of whom we read: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17 v11). I trust that my book, and the many chapters which followthis one, will help you in your study.
U-can Evangelize Children 25Chapter 4:Teach About God In EvangelismMany children, indeed the vast majority of children, have noidea at all of Who God is and of what He is like, although this isall clearly revealed in the Bible. Teaching About God Is the Basis of Evangelism While the Gospel message focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ –Who He is and what He did – the foundation and basis of thatmessage is teaching about God: Teaching about God is essential in your evangelism because of what the Bible teaches about the purpose and goal of salvation: The primary purpose of the Gospel, and the work of Christ, is to bring people to God (1 Peter 3 v18). Salvation is turning to God from idols (1 Thessalonians 1 v9). Salvation is knowing God (John 17 v3). The Gospel begins with God, and your evangelism shouldbegin there also. Teaching about God is essential in your evangelism, because the children need to know that the plan of salvation comes from Him: It was He Who planned our salvation (1 Peter 1 v20). It was He Who gave His Son (John 3 v16). It was He Who took the initiative in our salvation (John 3 v16; 1 John 4 v10). Teaching about God is essential in your evangelism, because the doctrine of God is the background and context of every other doctrine or truth in the gospel message.
26 Chapter 4 An understanding of the character of God helps children to understand what sin is (Psalm 51 v4): An understanding of the character of God helps children to understand why Jesus Christ had to die (Romans 3 v25, 26). An understanding of the character of God encourages children to repent and believe (Romans 2 v4). The Apostles Taught About God When Evangelizing Teaching about God played a major part in the ministry ofthe apostles when they were evangelizing. When the apostles preached to Jews, they assumed some basic knowledge of the Old Testament teaching about God – but they still included much teaching about God in their messages. They especially outlined, in their preaching, what God had foretold in His Word (Acts 2 v17-24; 3 v18), how He had performed miracles through His Son (Acts 2 v22), how He had planned Christ’s sacrifice for sin (Acts 2 v23), how He raised His Son from the dead (Acts 2 v24- 32; 3 v15) and how He had exalted His Son (Acts 2 v33- 36; 3 v13). When the apostles preached to Gentiles in Lystra and Athens, they found it necessary to teach them more basic doctrines about God – especially the truth that God is the Creator to Whom they were responsible (Acts 14 v15; Acts 17 v24-26), that He is the living God (Acts 14 v15), that He is holy and righteous (Acts 17 v31), and that He will judge the world (Acts 17 v31). If you follow the example of these early (and inspired)evangelists, your evangelism of children will include muchteaching about God. The four most important truths about God to include inyour evangelistic messages are: God has spoken to us through the Bible. God is Creator.
U-can Evangelize Children 27 God is holy and just. God is love. THE GOSPEL STARTS WITH TEACHING ABOUT GOD HE HAS HE IS SPOKEN CREATOR God Has Spoken to Us Through the Bible The first truth which children need to hear about God isthat He has spoken to us, and that He has revealed Himself tous, in and through, the Bible. It is important for children to learn and understand that theBible is the Word of God, and that what you teach is from thatWord. You need, in this way, to establish the authority of yourmessage and to answer the question which children frequentlyask – “How do you know this?” Children need to see that the message you bring is not basedupon your ideas, or someone else’s ideas, but it is what Godsays in His written Word. Consequently, you need to explain that the Bible is differentfrom any other book in that, while it was written by men, thesemen were guided in what they wrote by God the Holy Spirit: “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”(2 Peter 1 v21). We believe that the Bible is inspired, that it is absolutely trueand that it can be depended upon completely and withoutreservation, and you need to teach this to the children.
28 Chapter 4 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction inrighteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3 v16, 17). “Boys and girls: You need to realise that this Book is a special Book, because it comes from God. God used men to write it but He guided them in what they should write. Therefore it is absolutely true. You need to read it, believe it and do what it says.” (Here and on the pages which follow I have included a brief applicationto the children of each of these truths. In each case I include the words “Boys and girls” not to indicate thatyou should use these words – but to explain that these are applicationsdirected to THEM.) God Is Creator One of the greatest, and most fundamental, truths ofevangelism is the fact that God has created boys and girls, andthat they are therefore responsible to Him. This is a truth whichhas often been neglected in present day evangelism; and youneed to be sure that you do not omit it. This is where the Bible begins: “In the beginning God created …..” (Genesis 1 v1). And as we read on through the Scriptures we find that the call of God to salvation comes from a position of strength. It comes from the Almighty Creator. God is our Maker and so He has a claim on our lives; and we are answerable to Him: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12 v1). This is what the apostle Paul taught the Gentiles. When Paul was evangelizing Gentiles in both Lystra and Athens, he started by teaching them that God was their Creator (Acts 14 v15, 17; Acts 17 v23, 24, 25, 28).They were ignorant of this vital gospel truth, and that was why
U-can Evangelize Children 29 Paul started there. When Peter and Paul were evangelizing Jews who already knew that God was their Creator, they did not need to include this truth in their message to them. Most of the children you are evangelizing are similar in their background to the Gentiles in Lystra and Athens. God is to them, as to the Athenians, the “Unknown God”. Therefore you need to start your evangelism, like Paul, with the truth that God is the Creator. This is what today’s children need to know. Today’s children are taught the theory of evolution as historical fact (which of course it is not). This teaching is completely contrary to, and opposed to, biblical truth, and its main danger is that it eliminates responsibility to God. If God is not our Creator we are not accountable to Him – and this lack of accountability provides the basis for all humanistic philosophies and ways of life. “Boys and girls: The Bible teaches us that God made us. He used our fathers and mothers of course; but it was He Who gave us life. The Bible calls Him ‘our Creator’. But, remember, because He made us, we are responsible to Him, and He has the right to ask for our obedience and loyalty. The Bible says, ‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth’ (Ecclesiastes12 v1).” It is important not just to teach the truth that God is Creator to childrenbut to apply it to them. There are several ways you can do this – both tounsaved children and saved children: “Boys and girls: There are several things which you should understand. The God Who made everything must be very powerful. Therefore, if you are not a Christian, He is able to save you, no matter how bad you have been; and, if you are a Christian, He is able to help you overcome any problems you have – like, for example, a bad temper. God made you. You must answer to Him for everything you do. You will appear before Him one day. “God made you – as you are. Do not complain about how you look. That is how God made you. God made others as they are. Do not make fun of other children who are a different colour from you, or who are not as good at something as you are.”
30 Chapter 4 God Is Holy and Just God’s holiness means that He is completely pure and perfect.God’s justice is His holiness in action. It means that everythingHe does is right, and that He always rewards good and punishesevil. These doctrines are vital in your evangelism of children, andyet they are often neglected. There are a number of reasons whyyou should teach them to our unsaved children. God’s holiness and justice are taught throughout the Bible: Over and over again God is called “The Holy One of Israel” and is described as holy: “And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6 v3). “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57 v15). The holiness of God will be the main theme of the redeemed throughout eternity: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4 v8b). The justice and judgment of God are included many times in the teaching of Scripture — both in the Old and New Testaments: “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Psalm 96 v13). “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3 v36). God’s holiness and justice were preached by the apostles. When the apostles evangelized the Gentiles, they taught these truths as an essential part of their evangelism: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17 v30, 31).
U-can Evangelize Children 31 God’s holiness and justice show man his sin. When children learn something of the purity and holiness of God, they will see how impure they are, and they will see sin as something serious – and that it is rebellion against a holy God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51 v4a). God’s holiness and justice explain the cross. God is holy and therefore a sinner cannot enter His presence, or go to Heaven, when he dies. But Jesus Christ became the sinner’s substitute, and God, in His justice, poured out His wrath and punishment for sin upon His Son. Therefore the death of Christ was necessary for our salvation. If God is not holy, there is no need for salvation. If God is not just, there is no need for the death of Christ: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53 v4 and 5). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3 v18). Today’s children do not understand about holiness and justice. Children are growing up in a world of low moral standards with rampant impurity, dishonesty and profanity. They need to learn what holiness is – as displayed in the character of God, and in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, their concept of justice is warped by the injustices they see all around them – at home, at school and in the community. “Boys and girls: The Bible teaches us that God is completely pure, clean and holy. He never does anythingwhich is wrong. It is hard for us to imagine Someone Who is pure and without sin. But that is whatGod is like. But God is also fair. This means that He will always reward purity; but it also means thatHe will judge and punish sin. And that means that He must punish you and me because we are all sinners.”
32 Chapter 4 It is important not just to teach the children the truth thatGod is holy and just – but also to apply this truth and showthem what it means for them personally. This is a truth which isnecessary for both unsaved and saved children to understand. “Boys and girls: There are several important truths about God which you need to know: God is holy, therefore if you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour you will not be allowed to enter Heaven where God is. But if you trust Jesus Christ, His righteousness or goodness will be put in your account, and God will see you as pure and as holy as Jesus Christ is – and then you can enter Heaven when you die. Because God is fair He must punish sin. There are two possibilities: If you trust Jesus Christ you will not be punished for your sin, because that punishment has been taken for you by Jesus Christ. If you do not trust Jesus Christ, you yourself will bear your punishment. Because God is holy He wants children who have trusted Christ to be holy. He wants each of you to live a life which is pleasing to Him.” God Is Love It is important that children have a correct and biblicalpicture of God. It is therefore essential that children learn thatGod is, as we have seen, holy; but they also need to learn thatHe is love. These two truths should be taught together, and inbalance. To teach or emphasize one of them at the expense ofthe other will give a false, and unbiblical, picture of God. The holiness of God makes salvation necessary. The love of God, His mercy and His grace, make salvation possible. There are a number of very good reasons why you should teach the love of God to your children when you are evangelizing them: God’s love is taught throughout the Bible: In the Old Testament, the love of God is primarily seen in His relationship with His people, the Jews (Hosea 11 v8; Jeremiah 31 v3; Lamentations 3 v22). But it can also be seen in His attitudes towards the
U-can Evangelize Children 33 heathen (Jonah 1 v2 and chapters 3 and 4). In the Old Testament, God’s love is seen in His gracious invitation to sinners:“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, ‘Though your sinsare like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red likecrimson, they shall be as wool’” (Isaiah 1 v18). In the New Testament, the love of God is seen primarily in His sending of Jesus Christ to die on the Cross as the sinner’s substitute:“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, thatwhoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John 3 v16).God’s love and grace are seen in the salvation of thosewho trust Christ:God’s special love gift to those who trust Jesus Christ iseternal life:“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the loveof God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Soninto the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not thatwe loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiationfor our sins”(1 John 4 v, 8, 9, 10).God’s love is shown in His care as a heavenly Fatherfor those who are saved.It is a love from which we can never be separated:“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather intobarns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more valuethan they?”(Matthew 6 v26).“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels norprincipalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heightnor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from thelove of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8 v38, 39).Many children do not know that God is a God of love.They often have a concept of God as someone with a rodready to strike them, if they step out of line. You mustteach them that God is a personal God Who hates sin butloves sinners.Many children have no understanding of what love, truelove, is.Today’s world, and especially today’s media, present“love” as sexual interest and gratification, with the
34 Chapter 4 continued emphasis upon self, rather than wanting the highest good for others. In addition, pop music usually conveys a perversion of love. Children need to hear and see what love really is – as portrayed in the biblical picture of God, and especially in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. All children need to know that, because of God’s love, they can be saved. Above all, children need to see that it is the love of God which makes it possible for anyone (even the worst and most wicked sinner) to be saved, to be forgiven and to be changed. “Boys and girls: Do you know that God really loves you – no matter how bad you have been? He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you, and take the punishment for your sins. Now He wants you to be saved and to live for ever. The greatest truth you will ever learn is: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.’ He loves you and He wants the very best for you.” It is important not just to teach this great truth of God’s love– but to apply it to both unsaved and saved children, and showthem what it means for them personally: “Boys and girls: If you are not saved, the Bible says that God loves you so much that if you ask Jesus Christ to save you (and really mean it) you will receive eternal life, and all your sins will be forgiven for ever. If you are saved, God wants you to show your love for others (even if they don’t deserve it) just as He has shown His love to you.”
U-can Evangelize Children 35Chapter 5:Teach About Sin In EvangelismWe want children to trust Jesus Christ as their Lord andSaviour, but, before they can do so, they must be aware of thesin from which they need to be saved. Consequently, carefuland detailed biblical teaching about sin is an essential part ofthe evangelist’s message. There are six facts, or truths, about sin which you shouldteach the children – not all at once of course, but over a periodof time, and as the exegesis, and explanation, of the Bible passageyou are teaching allows you to do so: Sin is against God. Sin is transgression of the law. Sin must be punished. Sin is universal. Sin is an act. Sin is a nature. TRANSGRESSION OF LAW AGAINST MUST BE GOD PUNISHED UNIVERSAL A NATURE AN ACT
36 Chapter 5 Sin Is Against God Sin can only be understood in relation to God – His characterand His words. After David had sinned against Bathsheba andUriah he then repented, acknowledging that his sin wasprimarily against God: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight; that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51 v4). Sin is, first and foremost, the breaking of God’s commands,and should be taught in its vertical connotation, rather thandealing with it horizontally. Sin, for example, is not just aquestion of disobeying one’s parents; it is a breaking of God’sfifth commandment. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20 v12). Sin is not just a question of stealing or lying; it is a breakingof God’s commandments concerning those two subjects.Illustrations of sin should, of course, be used, but it should bemade clear that sin is wrong because God says it is. “Boys and girls: Do you ever disobey your parents and say words to them which are not nice. Did you know that this is sin? That’s what the Bible calls it. Why is it sin? Because God in His Word has commanded us to honour and obey our parents. If we don’t, we are disobeying God, and that’s what sin is.” You should now be able to see how vital it is that childrenknow something about God and what He is like. Sin Is Transgression of the Law God has revealed the standards He requires in the Law, andin its summary form — the Ten Commandments.The Bible says that “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3 v4). Consequently, it is good to teach the children the TenCommandments. It is impossible for the children to keep thesecommandments, but an understanding of them will help toconvict them of sin, when they see how far short they fall ofthem.
U-can Evangelize Children 37Paul wrote, “I would not have known sin except through the law” (Romans 7 v7). Therefore the teaching, and understanding, of God’scommandments and standards help to prepare the way for thegospel message. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3 v24). “Boys and girls: Did you know that God has given us rules to obey and follow? There are ten main rules called the Ten Commandments and they tell us, for example, that we should not steal, or lie, or use God’s name lightly. Do you know why God gave these rules? He wanted us to know that we are sinners, and so when we break these rules (and we all do so from time to time) we begin to see that we need to be saved.” Sin Must Be Punished The clear teaching of Scripture is that God is just, and thatHe must therefore punish sin. Sin deserves punishment, andseparation from God: “ The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18 v4). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6 v23). However, while you must not omit God’s judgment on sinfrom your message, you should be wise in the way you teachthis solemn truth. It should always be done lovingly and tenderly– and with no attempt to frighten or pressurize the childreninto “making a decision”. Your responsibility is to warn – not tofrighten. Also, the fact that God must punish sin explains the deathof Jesus Christ on the cross – why He died, and what happenedduring those hours on the cross, when God punished Him forour sins. “Boys and girls: You need to understand that God is always fair. Do you know what that means? It means that He will always reward goodness. But it also means that He must punish sin. And you and I have sinned. So God will, and must, punish our sin – however there is someone else who willingly took that punishment. And that Someone is Jesus Christ.”
38 Chapter 5 Sin Is Universal The Bible makes it clear (and experience backs this up) thatsin is absolutely universal, encompassing every nation, age groupand culture: “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3v10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3 v23). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53 v6) . Children need to be taught, therefore, that they are includedin the universality of sin, and that their sins are not unimportant,or a source of amusement. In God’s sight, they are all sinners –and need to be saved. “Boys and girls: The Bible tells us that everybody has sinned. We all find ourselves doing things which are wrong. Old people and young people, boys and girls, those who go to church, and those who don’t. Everybody! And that includes me too. I have done, and said, and thought, many wrong things too, just like you. And because of all the wrong things we have done we all need the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.” Sin Is an Act Sin is anything we do, say or think which displeases God.So it is necessary to speak to children about specific sins, andgive illustrations and examples which are “true to life” andwhich the children understand. This was what the Lord JesusChrist did, when He dealt with people like the rich young rulerand the Samaritan woman.You are not trying to be critical of the children. You are onlypointing out specific sins, so that the children will trust Christ,and so that the precious remedy of the blood of Christ can beapplied. You are not leading the child to despair – but to Christand His forgiveness; you are not leaving the child under theguilt of sin; you are pointing him to the “Lamb of God Who takes awaythe sin of the world” (John 1 v29).
U-can Evangelize Children 39 “Boys and girls: Do you ever feel guilty about the wrong things you have done? Perhaps it was an unkind word to your sister, or a lie to your mother. Perhaps you took something which did not belong to you. Or perhaps you remember bad thoughts you had about someone. These are all sins. But the good news is that God wants to forgive all your sins and take away your guilt – so that you can be happy and contented. He wants you to trust His Son Jesus Christ as your Saviour – and when you do that ‘the slate will be wiped clean’ – for ever.” Sin Is a Nature The children need to understand why they sin. It is becausethey have a sinful nature, and what they do is simply the resultof what they are. Each child is born with a bias towards wrong: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who canknow it?” (Jeremiah 17 v9). Also, it is important for those children who are self-righteous,and do not see themselves as guilty of sinful acts, to realise thatthey are already guilty before God, because of the sinful naturethey possess. “Boys and girls: You need to remember that sin is not just what we do. It is what we are. Our hearts and our natures are sinful. We were born that way. And even babies and little children start doing and saying and thinking things which are wrong. Why? Because they are wrong – inside. We don’t have to be taught to do wrong things. We need to be taught, and to learn, the things which are right. We especially need to learn how to trust Jesus Christ as our Saviour, because He will not only forgive us our sins but He will also give us a new nature.” It is the evangelist’s responsibility therefore to teach childrenabout sin – but only as a preparation for what you are going toteach them about Jesus Christ, and God’s remedy for sin. Thebad news needs to precede the good news – otherwise the goodnews would not be understandable. But, at the same time, thebad news should always be followed by the good news. As you teach about sin, you need to pray that the Holy Spiritwill work in the children’s hearts, and that He will use the Wordyou teach to help the children understand what sin is, and to beconvicted of it.
40 Chapter 6Chapter 6:Teach About The Lord Jesus Christ In EvangelismT he Gospel is, first and foremost, a message about a Person –the Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is that this Person, theLord Jesus Christ, saves boys and girls, men and women: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17 v3). “But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1 v23). Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ there is no Gospel. So yourevangelism must always be Christ-centred. He is the centraltheme of the Scriptures and the central theme of the gospelmessage, and this should be reflected in your ministry to thechildren. This does not mean that you leave out the doctrines aboutGod and sin which we have already discussed. These are thefoundational truths of the Gospel, just as the doctrines of JesusChrist are the heart of the Gospel – and these foundational truthshelp prepare the way for the good news. The New Testament Evangelists Preached Christ We have already seen that the Acts of the Apostles is ourmain primer, or teaching manual, on the subject of evangelism,because in that book we see, and hear, those early apostolicevangelists preach the Gospel. It is significant that, while theydo include the foundational doctrines of God and sin in theirevangelistic messages, their preaching always led to Jesus Christ. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”(Acts 4 v12). “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8 v5). “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8 v35). “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son
U-can Evangelize Children 41 of God”(Acts 9 v20). “Explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ”(Acts 17 v3). They had different approaches, and these approachesdepended upon the circumstances and the people to whom theywere speaking, but they always arrived at the same destination– the great truths concerning Jesus Christ which we will studyin the remainder of this chapter. The preaching of Christ in the gospel message involves theteaching of two main truths, or groups of truths, concerningHim: Truths about the Person of Christ – Who He is. He is God the Son. He is perfect Man. Truths about the Work of Christ – what He did: His sinless life. His death. His resurrection. His exaltation. Both groups of truths should be taught to your children whenyou are evangelizing them. You cannot, of course, do this all atonce! But you should aim to do so over a period of time as theBible passages, on which your lessons are based, allow you todo so. Truths About the Person of Christ It is essential to teach the children Who Jesus Christ is. It isJesus Christ Himself Who saves children. Salvation is a personalrelationship between the child and the Person of the Lord JesusChrist. Therefore the children need to know Who He is, and seeHim as He really is. There are two key truths about the Person of Jesus Christ,which you should teach your children, when you areevangelizing them.
42 Chapter 6 THE GOSPEL CENTRES ON TEACHING ABOUT JESUS CHRIST HIS HIS RESURRECTION IS O K DEATH H WR HIS SINLESS LIFE HIS EXALTATION IS R N H PE SO HE IS HE IS GOD PERFECT THE SON MANJesus Christ is God the Son The Bible teaches clearly, over and over again, that JesusChrist is God. This is a vital truth for children to understand,because it is only as God that He is able to save sinners. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3 v16). The apostles in their evangelistic preaching continuallyemphasized His Lordship and Deity: “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9 v20). The apostles often used the title “Son of God”, when theywere preaching about Him, and this was understood by them(and by their listeners) to mean that He was truly God. Butbecause so many people and cults speak today of Jesus Christ asthe Son of God (without believing that He is divine), it is betterand wiser for you to use the title “God the Son”. And it is alsobetter to give Him His full name “the Lord Jesus Christ” or “theLord Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” rather than just call Him “Jesus”.In this way you are once again emphasizing His deity. The truth of the deity of Jesus Christ is vital because it is asGod that He is able to forgive sins, and to change lives.
U-can Evangelize Children 43 “Boys and girls: You need to remember that Jesus Christ is God. He is different from us. He can tell the wind to stop blowing, and the waves to stop roaring. He can give blind men their sight, and make it possible for lame men to walk. He can even raise people from the dead. He can do anything! This means that if you are not saved He can forgive all your sin – no matter how bad you have been.”Jesus Christ is Perfect Man The clear teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus Christis completely, yet sinlessly, human. “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4 v2, 3). “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5 v21). And the apostles, in their evangelistic preaching made it clearthat Jesus Christ was a man, and that He was human: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13 v38). God the Son, the Word of God, became flesh (John 1 v14)and lived a perfect and sinless life – without, at any time, or inany way, sacrificing His deity. And the children need tounderstand that it was only as a man He could become asubstitute for men. A substitute has to be of the same nature asthose for whom He is the substitute. And He had to be a perfectman because He could only take the place of sinners if He Himselfwas without sin. “Boys and girls: Do you know what a substitute is? He is a person who takes the place of another person. A football team usually has substitutes who sit on the bench at the side of the football pitch. If a player is hurt, or is not playing well, a substitute is sent on to take his place. The substitute is also a football player – like the one whose place he takes. Jesus Christ became our substitute. He was human – just like us but one hundred per cent without sin because He is God; and He took our place when He died on the Cross. He took the punishment for sin so that we would not need to be punished.”
44 Chapter 6Jesus Christ is Both God and Man – Our Mediator Consequently, you teach your children that Jesus Christ isthe God-man, but you need to emphasize that He is One Person– not two! This may be difficult to understand, but it is a truthwhich we need to accept and believe. Only as the God-man could He accomplish the work ofsalvation, and, because He is both God and Man, He can be thelink or Mediator between God and man – and our great HighPriest. Truths About the Work of Christ There are four truths about the saving work of Jesus Christ,which you need to teach your children, when you areevangelizing them.His Sinless Life We have already referred to this truth and its importance.Only a sinless man could die for sin. So you need to show thechildren that everyone who came into contact with Jesus Christ,and knew Him during His 33 years of life here on this earth,testified to His sinlessness: His Father said so (Hebrews 1 v8, 9). His friends said so (Acts 3 v14; 2 Corinthians 5 v21; 1 Peter 2 v22; 1 John 3 v3, 5). His enemies said so (Matthew 27 v3, 4; Matthew 27 v19; Luke 23 v41; Luke 23 v47; John 18 v38). The demons said so (Mark 1 v23, 24). It is also important to realise, and explain, that all thesacrifices of animals “without blemish” for sin in the OldTestament pointed forward to the Sinless One, Who would bethe eternal sacrifice for sin.
U-can Evangelize Children 45 “Boys and girls: You and I have sinned many times – and God must punish our sins, unless someone else takes our place, and bears our punishment for us. But that someone else must have no sin of his own if he is going to die for our sin. Otherwise he would have to be punished for his own sin. Is there Someone like this? Yes, there is! The Lord Jesus Christ never sinned. So He was able to die for our sin. And He loves you and me very much. So He was willing to die for our sin.”His Death The death of Christ is the central theme of the whole Bible,the central theme of the gospel message, and the central themeof the doctrines of Jesus Christ: In the Old Testament it is foretold. In the four Gospels it is outlined. In the epistles it is explained. In the Acts of the Apostles it is preached. The death of Jesus Christ was preached in all the gospelsermons in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 3 v15; 3 v18) – and Hisdeath should also be the focus of the gospel message which youteach your children. There are several aspects of His death which you especiallyneed to teach, and explain, to your unsaved children: The purpose of His Death He died so that sinners could be saved from the consequences of their sin. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”(1 Peter 3 v18a). He died so that sinners could be changed, and live a life pleasing to God: “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2 v14). The nature of His Death It was substitutionary. He took our place. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53 v5).
46 Chapter 6 It was sacrificial. God the Father punished His Son and poured out on Him His wrath for our sin. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53 v6b). “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief” (Isaiah 53 v10a). It was satisfactory. His work on the cross was a finished and completed work; and nothing needs to be added to it: “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19 v30). “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10 v12). The results of His Death When a sinner (child or adult) turns from his sin, and trusts Jesus Christ, there are a number of consequences: He is justified (Romans 3 v24, 25). All his sin is forgiven. He is regenerated (Titus 3 v5, 6). He is a new person. He is adopted (Galatians 4 v3-5). He is a child of God. He is redeemed (1 Peter 1 v18, 19). He is free. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6 v19, 20). He is able to live in a new way. He has eternal life (John 3 v16). He will live forever. All of these results are because Jesus Christ died for us onthe Cross. “Boys and girls: Do you realise how much Jesus Christ must have loved you and me – even though we are sinners, and have done nothing to deserve His love! We were really His enemies and completely ignored Him. And yet He said to His Father, “I will take their sin upon Myself and I will take the punishment for all that sin – so that they don’t have to.” And that is what He did on the Cross. He took our place and our punishment so that we could be saved.”His Resurrection In the Acts of the Apostles the resurrection of Jesus Christplayed a major part in their evangelistic sermons. His resurrection
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