Isn’t it wonderful to teach the stories in Scripture to children? Many of us who are parents, Sunday school teachers, VBS leaders, or elementary school teachers know that the accounts of David and Goliath and Israel Crossing the Red Sea is more exciting for eight-year-olds than teaching them justification by faith alone from Romans 3:21–28 (as vital as the latter is). My ten-year-old finds a vivid telling of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones more exhilarating than a treatise on the doctrine of the resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15! Most kids’ imaginations are more captivated by the thought of Noah and his family being rescued through the cataclysmic flood waters of judgment than learning abstract (yet essential) truths like sanctification. After all, most of the Bible is written in narrative story form, as the drama and plot of salvation history unfolds from Genesis to the Gospels and the book of Acts.
Did you notice what I called biblical history in the prior sentence? It is salvation history, also called redemptive history, because it is the infallible record of God’s one unfolding story of salvation fulfilled and accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is safe to say that the resurrected Christ taught his disciples to understand that the stories of the Old Testament find their ultimate meaning in the person and work of Jesus (see Luke 24:27, 44). After all, Jesus told the Pharisees, “Moses wrote about me” (John 5:46). It’s no wonder then, that when Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, they were speaking with Jesus about the exodus he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31), referring to his death and resurrection that would set his people free from sin, death, and Satan. It is no wonder that our Lord interpreted David’s defeat of Goliath and his stripping of his armor as a preview for the Son of David’s overthrow of Satan and his demonic kingdom (Luke 11:22). Jesus even calls the signpost pointing forward to his resurrection on the third day, “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39). Thus, all the prior events of God intervening to deliver his people were in some way prefiguring the ultimate salvation accomplished by Christ’s shed blood and defeat of the grave.
In fact, the God-breathed Old Testament narratives serve to put “skin and bones” on Christian doctrine, which can help our kids learn the essentials of the Christian faith. The Lord removing Joshua’s filthy garments and replacing them with clean robes of righteousness provide rich imagery for the doctrine of justification by faith alone (Zechariah 3, Psalm 132:1–9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Isaac being rescued from death with a ram slaughtered in his place is a striking picture of the substitutionary death of Christ, “the Son of Abraham” (Genesis 22:1, John 1:29, Romans 8:32).
Connecting the Dots
This begs the question: when I teach the stories in the Bible to children, do I primarily make them a moral example for the kids to follow, or do I help the children understand how the people, places, and events of Scripture are “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17)?
If I do not connect the dots of the Bible stories that I share with kids, to the gospel of Christ, can I really call my lesson “Christian”? If the way I teach Daniel and the lions’ den is not different than it would be taught in a Jewish synagogue where Jesus is denied as the Messiah, my Bible lesson is not really Christian—even though the author and fulfiller of that story is Christ (see 1 Peter. 1:10-12)!
There is much value in helping children become more familiar with the various details of the stories in the Bible, even apart from pointing out the “redemptive-historical” connections of each story to the gospel of Christ. Neither do we have to remove all moral examples from our lesson (James 5:11, 17). Yet the way we teach children the stories of Scripture can help provide a much-needed roadmap and big-picture understanding for them of how the whole Bible fits together as “the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Since the “gospel is the power of God for salvation for all who believe” (Romans 1:16–17), may we never hinder the children from coming to Jesus by failing to show them Jesus as the fulfillment of each story.
The Acrostic of Scripture: A Rhyming Theology for Kids
The Acrostic of Scripture gives parents and teachers a unique way to teach theology to children and makes catechism fun! An alphabet of words introducing biblical theology, written to a rhyming beat, paints a detailed and varied portrait of the unfolding story of the Bible, as it is fulfilled by Jesus.