This one is for the Sunday school teachers. Your job is more vital than some of you probably realize. I’ll note right here that I can only go from my personal experiences and observations. That being said, here I go!
I was encouraged to write this after a frustrating but enlightening encounter with a young man last night. This conversation kept me up all hours of the night. Finally, here I am, penning my reaction in hopes that someone will read and take it to heart.
A man (no names, sorry) made a vain attempt to ask me out last night. Since I had his full attention, I took the opportunity to share the gospel of the grace of God with him. And yes, I take every opportunity. I asked him to tell me about his faith. He took it as a preliminary questionnaire. His response was,” Oh I love the Lord! I grew up in the church. I was in Sunday school every Sunday. I believe in God.”
“But, do you believe you’re going to heaven?”
“Oh yes ma’am! I know I’m going to heaven! God’s going to open those double doors for me,” he stated, confidently.
He didn’t hesitate to answer. Like a programmed robot, he recited, “Because I believe that God created everything. He is God! You can’t tell me there is no God. I look at the oceans and the trees and I know He lives!”
“What about Jesus?”
“Oh yes, Jesus is the Son of God. He died on the cross for our sins.”
Now, we’re getting somewhere.
“Do you believe that because Jesus died on the cross for your sins that you are saved and that alone gets you to heaven?”
It must have sounded like a trick question because he hesitated. After a few seconds, he came back with, “No. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, yes. I believe He died on the cross from our sins and without that I wouldn’t be here.”
Then he proceeded to teach me, or so he thought. “You see, there is God, the Father, Jesus is the Son, he’s not God, and then there’s the Holy Ghost. Without that, we wouldn’t be here sweetheart.”
I nodded, thinking that he must have missed a few Sundays. “The Bible says that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a remission for our sins so that we would not have to do anything to gain God’s favor or salvation, just trust that Jesus’ sacrifice bought eternal life for us.” I cited Ephesians 2:4-6, 8-9.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
“That simply means Jesus has done all that is necessary for you and I to get to heaven one day. All we have to do is trust in that.”
He agreed with his lips but out of his heart spilled the classic Sunday school answers. I know one when I hear it. Like I said, I grew up in the Sunday school class where the teachers (bless their hearts most didn’t know better) made us memorize cute answers to their questions after a Bible story reading. We were programmed to learn these little sayings and to recite them on demand. This man’s answers came as no surprise to me.
“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I told you I grew up in church. I know the Lord. I know that Jesus died for my sins. I know that because He did that I wouldn’t be here today.”
He was proud of himself. My heart went out to him as he continued to testify.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have called upon the name of Jesus and He came to my rescue. I know the Lord and I love the Lord!”
At the risk of sounding vain, I believe that part of his charismatic speech was in part because I had not given him the answer to his invitation to dinner. (Note: Guys,your effort to impress by agreeing even though you have admitted that you believe differently, does not make you appear to be charming. Instead, it just confirms that you are confused. In short, be honest and open.)
By now, I am imagining that the Sunday school class was much like my own. I wonder how much he really knows and how much he is just mimicking. It was hard to get a read, but then he broke out into song.
“Something about the name Jesus. Something about the name Jesus. It is the sweetest name, I know.”
He had a nice voice and I recognized the song. I allowed him to continue his serenade smiling awkwardly and pondering my next move. I decided that my quest to share the gospel of the grace of God with this person was pretty much dead for the moment. After he finished, I thanked him for the song and offered to send him some pamphlets. Maybe he would sit and read one day when he didn’t have an audience. After all, it is that one on one relationship with the Lord that is important.
I concluded that this man was much like I had been before I was saved. I had memorized scriptures and cliche Sunday school sayings. But I did not know anything. I had no relationship with God. I was only following orders, so to speak. To study the word of God and hide it in my heart. The problem was that the word of God was stuck in my head and had not yet made it to my heart. Only after I received the word of truth did I let go of my traditions, my training in false doctrine and allowed myself to place my faith in Jesus Christ, did God’s word as truth, fall into my heart.
Sunday school teachers, children’s church pastors or anyone who teaches these young people on a daily or weekly basis. Your job is more than training these children to recite phrases because they sound cute. Do you realize that you are taking responsibility for the destination of the child’s soul? The things you teach them just may determine whether or not they are saved or stay lost for eternity. The next time a child comes to your class and you try to think of an adorable song or saying or verse to teach them, remember that their soul is dependent on what you say or better yet, what you don’t.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9