My children have grown up in the Middle East hearing arguments against the Bible. Their Muslim friends say it’s been corrupted. Their Hindu friends say it’s just one among many sacred books. Other friends just dismiss it as archaic. When my oldest daughter went to college in the U.S., she heard all of these statements multiple times. She expected to hear them from secularist professors, but what surprised her was hearing them from other students who claimed to “love Jesus”:
“Yeah, I know the Bible says those things, but that applied to society 2,000 years ago, not today!”
“There are so many translations of different manuscripts of the Bible, the ideas were changed and muddled over time.”
“The Bible never actually says that people go to hell.”
There’s a disturbing trend among young people to say they are Christians but still somehow reject universal truth. Their statements, which undermine the gospel, show a troubling ignorance about the Bible. Insufficiently taught by their parents or churches, these students have allowed the surrounding culture to shape their beliefs about God’s word.
As parents, we have a sacred opportunity and a special responsibility to ensure that our sons and daughters have the utmost confidence in the Bible before they leave our homes. Whether they’re students in high school, graduates about to go to college, or young adults entering the working world, it’s vitally important for our children to know the Bible is true and applies across times and cultures. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is God speaking to us. We cannot claim to “love Jesus” if we don’t trust His word. Without the Scriptures, our children cannot be competent or equipped to go out into the world.
Does your daughter have confidence in the 66 books of the Bible? Is your son sure that every word is God-breathed? Will they be able to defend their beliefs when they’re called into question by hostile professors, fellow students or colleagues?
Here are five ways to instill confidence in the Bible:
1. Delight in your Bible regularly. The blessed man delights “in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). If your children see you regularly enjoying time in God’s word, they will grow up thinking the Bible is a vital and pleasurable part of having a relationship with God. They will see that a quiet time filled with the Scriptures is an irreplaceable activity in the warp and woof of life. The converse is also true. If you don’t spend regular time with the Lord in His word, it signals to your children that they don’t need to hear from God.
2. Read the Bible with the teenagers in your home. We are to “bring [children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We certainly need to teach our children right and wrong, but our “instruction in the Lord” should be so much more. Our children need to know that the Bible is not just a book of rules. The Bible is God revealing Himself, telling us Who He is and what He has done through His Son. We should regularly read through books from the Old Testament and New with our teens, pointing out God’s overarching plan of saving a people for Himself. And we should show our precious children where they can fit into that plan of salvation.
3. Join a church that puts the Bible front and center. It’s true that sometimes teenagers have a hard time sitting through meaty sermons, but a church that sings, prays, reads and preaches the Scriptures sends a message to kids. It tells them that the gathering of saints is different than gathering to watch a movie or sporting event. We gather “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” to be “built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20, 22). As teenagers hear solid gospel-centered preaching, their understanding of the Bible grows. As they see adults, young and old, hungering for the Scriptures, their trust in the Bible increases. And those long sermons? You’ll be surprised at how much they learn from them.
4. Be open to questions about the Bible, the world and how they fit together. Three Muslim background friends came over the other day. They said they were taught to stifle their questions about the Quran and just submit. Being rebellious types, they began searching the Internet and visiting churches to find answers. The Quran didn’t stand up to scrutiny. The Bible does stand up to scrutiny. Every word is true. We don’t always know the answers but the questions don’t intimidate our God. Why should we believe a book that was written 2,000 years ago? Does James contradict Paul? Is the New Testament God different than the God of the Old Testament? When your teenager asks a question, don’t feel threatened. Rather, enjoy discovering the answer with her.
5. Read a good book about the Bible with your teen. A book on the doctrine of Scripture will explain why we have confidence that the Bible is God’s word and absolutely true. It will explain the authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture. This will give your teenager opportunities to ask questions and consider controversies before they are brought up by friends at school. You can enjoy time together and have discussions that will bear much fruit.
No mother or father can ensure their children will believe on Christ and be saved. The Holy Spirit must sovereignly move in their hearts. But we can pack in truth, kindling for the Holy Spirit to ignite. Let’s send our young adults into the world with power—power for their own sanctification, power to withstand trials, and power to share the gospel. Let’s send them off with the power of the Scriptures, “which are able to make [them] wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15).