Help your kids understand the New Testament by teaching the full story of God. Check out these easy and practical ways to help them.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to coach an elementary soccer team. Coaching that age group is very entertaining because most of them have no idea what’s going on! To teach them about soccer, I didn’t start with intense workouts or drills. Instead, I started with the basic things (like “Don’t touch the ball with your hands!”). But even though they were learning a very simple version of soccer, they were still learning soccer.
For kids, getting saved can be similar to this. While their understanding of the gospel may be very basic when they get saved, it is still salvation (Matthew 18:2–3)! But just like children need to grow in their understanding of sports, they also need to grow in their understanding of the gospel to understand the riches of their new identity in Christ. Salvation is so much more than a prayer to go to heaven. Salvation is a call to courageous, audacious faith in Jesus that changes us from the inside out every single day.
For kids to understand the meaning and beauty of the gospel, it’s important for them to understand the New Testament. The New Testament reveals the coming of the promised Messiah from the Old Testament, tells about His life, death, and resurrection, and invites us to be part of His kingdom.
How to help your kids understand the New Testament
1. Read and study each verse in context
If you opened Netflix one day, picked a show you’d never seen, and started on episode 14 of season 6, you probably would have no idea what was going on! Sometimes that’s how kids feel when they learn individual Bible stories. While they may master the facts in the stories, they don’t always understand how those stories fit together. Without an understanding of this, the Bible can become a book of names, places, and events that contain morals to just make us better people. But the Bible isn’t a compilation of random stories to guide us through life—the Bible is a book that tells us about God. As you study the Bible with your kids, ask questions to help them understand the context of each verse and show them how everything points toward God.
2. Show how Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament
Imagine if you went on a mission trip to people who had never heard the gospel. If you said to the first person you met, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins, so would you like to be saved?” they would be so confused! Without background information, that question doesn’t make any sense. When we teach the New Testament without the Old Testament, we can cause similar confusion. How does blood forgive sin? Without knowing the answer to questions like that, Jesus’ sacrifice can sound confusing at best and ridiculous at worst. As you read the Bible with your kids, help them understand how Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament. Creation had been longing for a Messiah since the fall of Adam, and by fulfilling the Old Testament promises, Jesus proved He is the Messiah we’ve been waiting for (Luke 24:27).
3. Explain how each book of the New Testament is about the gospel
Just like the Old Testament, the New Testament is not a random compilation of stories that give us great behavior modification strategies. The Bible is a library of sixty-six books that all tell one story of Jesus redeeming a sin-cursed planet and bringing it back into harmony with its Creator. The layout of the Bible is similar to a book series that uses a variety of characters and events to tell one cohesive story. (Except the Bible story is true and the most important story you’ll ever read!) The Old Testament prophesies that the Messiah is coming, and the New Testament declares that the Messiah has come. As you study the New Testament with your kids, look for opportunities to show how fitting Scripture together points toward the gospel on each page.
4. Teach where we fit in God’s story
When we understand who Jesus is and what the New Testament is about, we learn who we are and why we are here. The Bible isn’t about us, but it is written for us. It tells us how the everyday, life-changing reality of the gospel speaks into the hearts of people struggling with things like sin, apathy, depression, insecurity, anxiety, and rebellion. Because many Christians view salvation simply as a “get out of hell free” card, they have no idea what the gospel means for their everyday life.
Without the gospel, no amount of social reform, behavior modification, or charity efforts could ever accomplish real change in us or the world because we can only find lasting victory, hope, joy, and purpose in the message of Jesus. As you read the New Testament with your kids, explain how the gospel defines who they are, how God sees them, and what God is calling them to do.
Resources to help you
Too many kids believe salvation is only about heaven, but it’s not! Heaven is PART of salvation, but it isn’t the POINT of salvation. The gospel is a spiritual miracle that changes us right now, and the New Testament tells us how we can experience that miracle.
When you try to study the New Testament through this lens, knowing where to start can be challenging. But we’ve made it easy for you! We wrote God’s Story: A Study Through the New Testament to help your family learn the redemptive story of the gospel in the last twenty-seven books of the Bible so they can understand who they are in Christ, how they fit into God’s story, and how they should live according to God’s plan. Click the image below to find out more!
After receiving a master’s degree in Christian education, Mark had the opportunity to serve as both a children’s pastor and youth pastor during his first years in full-time ministry. He loves working with children and teens to make the Bible come alive and help them understand how its redemptive story can change everything about their lives. He also loves graphic design and photography and is passionate about using those skills to spread the gospel.