This post contains notes from Ryan Golias at the Children Desiring God Conference 2011. Click here to see all the sessions.
The Sum or Your Word Is Truth: John Piper
Teaching our children to approach truth with a cavalier and disdaining attitude is the greatest scandal today with regard to the minds of our young people. The worst we can do is teach them that there is no truth. On the other hand, one of the best things we can do for our young people is give them truth.
But we don’t need to give our children just truth in general, but a specific truth. How do we find that truth, the truth we need to pass to the next generation? Asking questions is key to discovering truth. I am going to ask three questions tonight: Why? What? How?
Question 1: Why should you care about passing on a passion about truth to the next generation?
Answer: Because Jesus does not deal with people who do not take a stand for truth.
If Jesus doesn’t deal with you, you perish. Making light of truth is eternally serious. Look at the exchange Jesus had with the chief priests and elders in Matthew 21:
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
For the chief priests and elders truth went underneath ego; truth went underneath expedience. They would rather look wise and save their skin than speak truth. Jesus listens, and says I am not going to talk to you. If your students don’t take truth seriously Jesus will have no dealing with them. Without Jesus we are lost.
The willingness to take a stand for truth is inseparable from saving faith. It is necessary for faith—faith doesn’t work in the human mind without some kind of perception of truth.
Question 2: What is the sum of truth that we want the next generation to embrace?
What exactly is the that truth? What do we need to embrace for Jesus to deal with us?
Answer: The Word of God is the truth we want the next generation to embrace. Psalm 119:160 says “The sum of your word is truth, and everyone one of your righteous rules endures forever. John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
The reason God’s word is ultimate truth is because God is ultimate reality. The concept of truth depends upon the concept of the real. Truth is telling us what is real. Something must be real behind truth. Truth and what it represents comes together perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ, who spoke as Truth, and was truth (John 14:6)
So Jesus is the core of the truth we are teaching. What is the scope of His truth? We get the scope by listening to Jesus. Jesus endorses and accepts the Old Testament as truth. He also prepares and sends out his disciples to write His words.
That God has spoken to us is breathtaking. The God of the the universe has spoken to us in a book. It is impossible to overstate this simple, perfect truth. He hasn’t left us without a way to measure every vital thing we face. This is simply a priceless legacy to give to our children. Everything our children will face, directly or indirectly, is touched by the Bible.
So again, our answer to the second question is that the sixty-six books of the Bible with Jesus, as word incarnate, at the center is the truth we want our children to embrace.
Question 3: How can our little ones come to know that this is true, and be joyfully confident in it?
Do your children need to understand complicated apologetic arguments to believe God’s Word is true? Or do we ask them to make a blind leap in the dark? Consider Matthew 16:16-17
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The external evidences for Peter were not decisive, and they’re still not. One thing is decisive: “My Father opened your eyes to see my glory. You don’t need a long train of arguments when you have seen the king in the story of the gospel.
We’re not asking our young children to leap in the dark. Real light is shining when you tell the story of the gospel. As you speak faithfully about the Bible, real, self-authenticating glory is being revealed. Our children do not need to understand how this works yet, they need to experience it. God’s light shining into our souls through the gospel must happen before you can be saved.
So portray the Bible—especially the gospel—faithfully, render this in simply stories, illustrations, and lessons, with the prayer that God would do this work. Pray their minds would ascend to conviction through the beam of glory revealed in through God’s Word. Don’t be settled for compliance in your children. Plead for the miracle.
Answer for question three: Our children come to know this truth by the opening of their eyes to see light of Christ in the gospels. Your job isn’t to make that happen, God does it. Your job is to present the truth and pray.