Pillar 3: Working the Bible Rubik’s Cube
The Bible is like a Rubik’s cube.
Not the completed cube with all six colors lined up on their respective sides, but the scrambled puzzle with different colors scattered on each side.
Even despite past attempts, and failures, to unscramble the puzzle, we all still want to engage and unlock its mysteries.
The Bible isn’t organized like the user’s manual for your car. There’s no certain book or set of chapters that tell you everything you need to know about baptism, or salvation, or forgiveness, or God’s sovereignty… or life in general.
While there are “pockets” of verses, or passages, that shed particular light on an idea, God wants us to understand the puzzle of scriptures – to search more deeply for the answer to our questions.
Who is God? What is Heaven? What is Hell? What is Atonement? What is the Trinity? What is Sin? What is Election?
Good Bible students and teachers of the past have taken the time to work the puzzle and line up the colors, in order to tell one coherent explanation about a particular Bible topic, principle, or set of beliefs.
In Bible-talk, we call these principles “doctrines.”
A doctrine is a way we communicate patterns of truth found in scripture.
Families seeking to know truth must talk about basic Bible doctrines.
Youth and teens need to know that studying the Bible involves answering life’s questions with one source alone: the Bible. And they need to see you looking to the Bible for everyday answers.
Young adults today are drifting… swimming in the seas of confusion about their religion and faith. Many learned Bible stories as kids but can’t seem to put these stories in context for the 25-year old mind.
They might know the story of Abraham – and when God asked him to sacrifice his son. But they don’t understand the symbolic connection to when God would one day sacrifice His own son.
It’s like knowing there was a World War I and World War II, but not understanding how these events were connected—and how they shaped policy and worldview today.
For example, if we only look at the New Testament side of the cube, the significance of Jesus blood sacrifice doesn’t really make sense. Why did something have to die because of sin?
If we can’t articulate coherent answers to basic questions about life and faith, there’s no way we’ll be able to wrestle with deeper questions and connect the answers to our faith.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do children get cancer?
Why will many people go to hell, and so few people go to heaven?
Why is Jesus the only way to eternal life?
Answering these tough questions goes beyond knowing the crucifixion story, or the books of the Bible, or even certain popular memory passages. We need to understand doctrine—simple principles grounded on scripture.
Do I need to be a theologian to lead my family?
If you understand what doctrine is, you’re well on your way to leading your family through the truths of the Bible.
No, you don’t need to be a theologian to lead your family in what I call the “five pillars” of biblical literacy. (Read Pillar #1 and Pillar #2 here) But you do need to be one step ahead of your family in order to lead.
And besides, we don’t have to figure it all out on our own. Some godly guides have gone before us, and offer some solid doctrines to learn about. And the Holy Spirit is with us to reveal truth.
A few good questions to ask yourself:
Do I, as the parent, have a solid foundation for biblical truth?
Can I at least arrange a few colors together on my Bible-cube to confidently articulate positions on life and faith?
How well do I understand the biblical doctrines of justification, redemption, and sanctification?
Where can I go to learn about sound theology?
What is grace—and why is it so amazing?
Do I really understand “the gospel?” (And what is the gospel?)
Keep your eyes on the goal
Often parents see their job completed when their child is baptized, or when the family consistently attends church. But processing the deep questions of faith continues as children grow older.
Just as kids process their place in society, their roles in the family, and their acceptance among peers – we want them to be equally (actually more) confident in their role as a child of God and their acceptance as a child of God.
It’s crucial that our children continue to learn and grow in their knowledge and understanding of the deep things of God. The world seems to delight in confusing the colors on the cube, and is deviously good at it.
In fact, these days the world won’t even admit that red is red and blue is blue.
What does this faith development look like in the home?
In addition to reading and discussing the Bible as a family, below are three suggestions for taking your family deeper in the knowledge of Bible doctrine.
- Toss around some discussion topics during a family meal. Recently my college son was home from school. Somehow our dinner discussion turned to eternity and I asked my son if he still believed there was a hell? (I was testing his doctrine). He said yes. This led to a healthy discussion with my three sons about the realities of God’s judgments.
As I mentioned in Pillar #2, basic ideas like heaven and hell are no longer automatically assumed by young people in the church today.
- Read a book of basic doctrines with your family. One recommendation is a book called Christian Beliefs: Twenty basics every Christian should know (by Wayne Grudem). It’s a simple short book that addresses twenty basic doctrines.
There’s even a book for parents to read with younger children called Big Truths for Young Hearts (by Bruce Ware).
- Take a systematic theology class. If your church, or a nearby church, offers a basic Bible doctrine or theology class, take it! Seek out solid Bible classes that unpack basic Bible doctrines.
Understanding and discussing Bible doctrines is not just for theologians or seminary students. It’s for families seeking to grow in Christ. It’s for families unwilling to let their teens drift from faith because of dumbed down beliefs about God and the Bible.
Be a family that studies the faith. Be a family that discusses doctrine.
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