Teaching Bible Principles
Kevin longed to help the boys building the clubhouse next door in Jack's yard. But the boys kept to themselves and did not ask Kevin to help them. It came as a complete surprise to Kevin when, after the clubhouse was finished, Jack asked him to come over.
The minute Kevin went into the clubhouse he knew it was no place for him. The walls were covered with posters of rock stars, and the boys were sitting around smoking. Kevin told Jack he did not want anything to do with a club like that, and without hesitation, turned and walked out.
The power of living by principle Kevin's decision to resist sin and temptation shows the power of living by Biblical principles. As early as he could remember, Kevin had been taught by his parents and others that the Bible said, "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23). That principle helped Kevin avoid temptation.
A principle is defined as "a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine or assumption" [Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary]. Principles have a lasting and unchanging quality to them. When based on Bible truths, principles provide spiritual direction for the Christian.
In Old Testament times, God expected Jewish parents to teach the Word of God continually. "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deut. 6:6-7). As a home educator you can have that same element of continuous and spontaneous Bible teaching with your children.
Identifying Bible principles to teach Identify those Bible truths that are necessary for your children to learn, and then plan to incorporate these principles into your teaching. The Bible Action Truths presented in most of the elementary teacher's editions published at BJU Press present a good starting place. These BATs stress specific Christian truths relating to salvation, servanthood, grace, and power.
Another helpful exercise is to formulate your own set of principles. This is not as difficult as it appears. If you were asked to list ten prominent truths you wanted your children to know and obey from your Bible instruction, what would they be? What principles should you stress in your Bible teaching? Use the following suggestions as a start and add to them ten more principles important to you and your children.
- Principle: A Christian should do right in any given situation, not simply what is most convenient or rewarding.
- Principle: Because Christ loved you even when you were a sinner, you should love others no matter how unlovely they are.
- Principle: The surrendered Christian has a burden for missions around the world.
- Principle: The proper measure for success in this life is to find God's will and do it.
Implementing your principles Most Christian parents already know and act on Bible principles; that is, they are award of certain fundamental laws or assumptions that govern their actions as Christians. But these principles often have not been specifically spelled out nor enunciated in a way that they can implement them into their Bible teaching. Here are some suggestions to help you implement Biblical principles as you teach the Bible at home.
- Make use of your present knowledge of Bible truth. Most parents know more Bible truth than they realize. They also have a general idea about the conduct they expect from their children. But some parents may have developed an inferiority complex about their Bible knowledge and have developed the habit of depending on others to do their Bible instruction. Be willing to dig into the Bible for yourself, and allow the Lord to help you to develop principles that reflect your present knowledge of Scripture. Bible truth should first be "in your heart" as God instructed the Jewish parents in Deuteronomy 6.
- Develop the habit of going beyond facts to seeing principles in Scripture. When studying the first few chapters of Nehemiah, for example, go beyond who Nehemiah was and what his occupation was in the royal court to an estimation of what motivated the man to attempt the great task of rebuilding the walls. Nehemiah was someone who saw a need and sought to do something about it. That is a principle: When you see a job that needs to be done, be a leader and show the people you are willing to get involved in the task.
- Remember that specific cultural examples may change, but principles do not. When the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians he would not eat meat if it offended weak brethren, you ought to see in that the Christian's need for self-denial. That is another principle: Christians have the liberty to say "no" to a particular practice, though it may not of itself be sinful. When you act in love and not in a know-it-all spirit, you help the weaker brother not to stumble.
- Focus on a few important principles, and repeat them often. My own children know most of my jokes because I have told them so often. They also heard me talk continually of "murder-cycles," so they never wanted to buy a motorcycle. I spoke about our car as a "lethal weapon" to the point that they despaired of me, but they know have a healthy respect for what their own cars can do when they drive down the highway. In the same manner, a few well-chosen principles implanted in the child's mind and enunciated continually will become an integral part of the child's thinking.
- Provide opportunities for questions and interaction. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land, they were told to place twelve stones at the water's edge. God intended this to be a teaching device. When the children would later ask, "What do these stones mean?" the parents could tell them again of the wonderful power of God that delivered them from Egypt's bondage.
What "stones" can you erect to prompt your children's questions? When children see a communion service or a baptism, they often ask why Christians do what they do. Those questions offer the parent opportunity to speak to the children about Christ's provision in salvation. When mealtime is made a time for pleasant interchange of daily concerns, children may feel more open to begin discussion of matters bothering them at the moment. When you engage your children in conversation about a meaningful portion of the Word of God, you often will prompt your children to further conversation about spiritual matters. Thoughtful and appropriate answers to a child's questions take deep root in the seeking mind of a child.
Applying principles Home educators have the wonderful privilege of following through with God's ideal for imparting Bible truth as demanded in the Bible. In those spontaneous moments during the day or night, whether inside the house or outside along the wayside, parents can impart Bible principles that relate directly to children's questions and respond promptly with spiritual direction. Keep these suggestions in mind.
- Know what you want to teach. Remind yourself often of basic principles you desire your children to know and observe.
- Illustrate with incidents related to your children's lives. Make applications related to their world, not the adult's world.
- Repeat the principles often. Because of the enduring quality of principles, they should be repeated often so your children will see how they apply to various circumstances.
- Continue to build your own set of principles as you prepare your Bible lessons. Take your Bible reading and studying seriously, and go beyond the factual stage; learn to see and emphasize principles.
You do not know the next temptation Kevin will face in his young Christian life. But you can equip him with enduring principles that he can translate into his daily walk for God. Teaching by Bible principles will fortify his young mind with specific guidelines that will help him live a life of victory for the glory of God.