Most parents would agree that it is good to read the Bible to--and with--their children. But when you do this, what are you doing to help them understand what they hear?
In II Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy of the years of Scripture knowledge he has been blessed with. "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Apparently Timothy not only heard the Word of God as a child, but he understood it to the point where he ultimately gained the wisdom that led to his salvation.
Here are six ways we can help our children understand the Word of God:
1. Ask questions to determine how much they understand.
My husband starts at the bottom and works his way up through the ranks of our children when asking questions, so that even the young ones get a chance to guess at the answer.
This reveals very funny misunderstandings sometimes, like when we read about the people of Israel putting off their "ornaments" and discovered that one of our children thought that it meant clothing, because they had gotten "ornaments" and "adornments" mixed up. Or when the Bible said that Moses "pitched the tent outside the camp," and someone thought that it meant that he tossed it out there.
2. Explain challenging words.
3. Pull in cross-references to help with your explanations.
The Bible explains itself. Sometimes all you need in order to clear up a misunderstanding about a verse is a different verse. Check the margin notes in your Bible for possible cross references.
4. Share a story that illustrates the truth you just read.
Or ask your children to share a story. God is real to your family. The same God who wrote the Words you just read is also working His very real providential care in your life.
5. When geography is involved, look at maps and pictures.
This makes it real to your children. My children clamor for the chance to see a map. You can use the ones in your Bible or you can have your spouse look these up on the internet while you are reading.
6. Explain important doctrines as they come up.
When children are young, doctrines like the Trinity can be a little confusing. "Jesus is God and God is Jesus," some of our children would say. We would gently correct them, "Jesus is God; but God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Songs are very effective for teaching doctrines like this, so add some doctrine-rich songs to your family devotional time. Also, catechisms were created primarily for teaching doctrine, so when it comes to challenging words like "justification" or "propitiation" you could help your children memorize a definition from a theologically accurate catechism.
What have you done to help your children understand the Bible?
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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