Many people assume children do not understand as much theology as they should. Others prefer to keep children in sunday school where they can play with video games, have pizza parties and become distracted to death with endless games. Dr Wayne Grudem has another idea regarding teaching children theology and in particular fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith:
Wayne mentioned that he taught 4th grade Sunday school from 1967-1969 at Park Street Church in Boston. His other form of experience came from parenting (together with his wife Margaret) three sons who are now 33, 30, and 27 years old.
[On the doctrine of predestination or election] Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.
Children can understand choosing. They have experiences of being chosen for a team, or a play. So we can tell them “God chose you to be a part of his team, his family.” Being chosen could encourage pride, unless we also teach kids that it was not a result of anything that they did (Eph. 1:4-6, I Thes. 1:4-5).
“Well, when did he choose us, Daddy?” A child may ask. “Before the foundation of the world” would be the reply. “But when did we know he chose us?” “When we repented and believed.” Wayne noted that it is OK to say to kids, “God chose you.”
Wayne recognizes that there are misunderstandings or abuses of the doctrine of predestination. Nevertheless, since it is in the Bible, we should teach it. We should not avoid it just because there is a possibility of misunderstanding.
So how does the New Testament present election?
1. As a comfort. (Rom. 8:28-30)
God’s predestinating love is the basis upon which we can know that God is working all things for our good.
2. As a reason to praise God. (Eph. 1:5-6)
Children will instinctively understand this. What could be more natural than to thank God for choosing us?
3. As an encouragement to evangelism. (II Tim. 2:10)
Paul had been beaten, persecuted, and driven from town to town. He said he endured all things for the sake of the elect, so that the people that God had chosen would come to know him.
“So, did God choose my friend Sally, Daddy?” “Well, I don’t know, let’s invite her to church, let’s tell her about Jesus, and if she receive him, then yes, we’ll know that God chose her.” And if she doesn’t, we don’t know. Because God might still call her to himself later.