by Smith Bibens
In the long ago, God spoke the following tribute of Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Gen. 18:19). Many years later, Moses instructed Israel: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6-7).
Abraham faithfully did what God said he would, and Abraham was blessed for it. The Israelites, however, did not always teach and instruct their children, not to mention themselves, in the Word of God. As a result, they often erred from God’s Will, and were chastised severely by Him. In summing up their transgressions against God’s Will, Scripture says,
“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand” (2 Chron. 36:15-17).
Not only in the home, but in the church at large, there is a great dearth of Bible knowledge. What ruin will fall upon us and our children if we fail to instill in them a lively love for, and obedience to, God’s Will! This situation must be remedied or there will be disastrous consequences! Many of us do not study the Bible as we should. Of course, our children do not study the Bible as they should, because we do not. We are ignorant of God’s Word, and our children will be even more ignorant. This portends a day when another dark cloud of apostasy and digression will sweep away many.
The Sunday school or “Bible class” arrangement must be rejected as unscriptural. All through the years that we have fought this innovation, we have steadfastly and scripturally maintained that the responsibility of teaching children God’s Will was the home’s. It is up to fathers and mothers, not Sunday school teachers, to train up children in God’s Will (Eph. 6:4). “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). We know that this is a home duty.
But, I ask, who will be judged with greater severity in the Judgment Day? The Sunday school enthusiast who is ignorant and untaught about God’s arrangement, or those of us who know the truth, but do not practice it? We are guilty of the Pharisee’s hypocrisy “for they say and do not” when we tell the Sunday school supporter that it is the home’s job to teach the children, and then we do not do so.
One of the most helpful things we can do, for our family’s spiritual welfare and the church’s, is to engage in regular Bible study in the family circle. It is my observation that those Christians who have been most successful in keeping their families in the Lord, are those who have made a diligent effort to read the Bible and pray regularly with their families.
First, you must decide on a regular time for Bible study in the family circle. Ideally, you should read and discuss the Bible together on a daily basis. Christians should form the habit of daily Bible study, for this is the example of Scripture (Acts 17:11). The lifelong habit of daily Bible reading and study is best formed in childhood. There are few things you can teach your child more important than this. Set a regular time, of thirty minutes to an hour, and adhere to it as faithfully as you would to your dinner schedule. Usually, it is parents who get too busy and neglect gathering the family for Bible study. So it is primarily incumbent upon them to adhere to the schedule. It is important for parents to be enthused about the Bible study. If the parents approach it as a chore, then the children will too.
Second, include prayer and singing in the time you take for family Bible study. Allow children who are able to read to take turns at reading portions of Scripture. Select verses from time to time for memorization. Memory verses from the Psalms and Proverbs, as well as the New Testament, are especially appropriate for young people.
Third, ask questions during your study. Encourage the children to ask questions and do your best to answer them. A Bible handbook, dictionary, or other reference material needs to be at hand to use. Also, ask questions for the purpose of reviewing the reading. Questions can be tailored to the age level of the participants. Also, get in the habit of asking the following general questions of each passage and formulating brief answers. In one sentence, what is the key idea of the passage? Who is speaking? Who is being addressed? What persons are mentioned here? What places? (Look up any that are unfamiliar). Are there any words that you do not understand? (Be especially aware of the need of younger children to have words or terms explained.) What does this passage reveal about God? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? The church? etc. Is there any sin mentioned to avoid or repent of? Is there any example here to imitate? Is there a bad example to avoid? Is there any prayer to echo? Is there any promise to accept in faith?
Finally, remember the words of Moses to Israel cited above (Deut. 6:6-7). Be ready to talk to your children about God and His Word at any time. Look for teaching opportunities.
The key to success in family Bible study is very simple. Resolve to make it a priority. Make time for it! Do not treat it like a chore. Be inquisitive with the Scriptures. Seek out the answers to questions. Ask questions about the reading for the purpose of review. Put some preparation into leading the studies. The results will pay dividends both here and in eternity!