Implied in my headline is this: we SHOULD teach our children about hell.
As I mentioned yesterday in my post on the justice of eternal punishment, the doctrine of hell is there in the Bible…
And we, as Christians, are liars if we neglect it and cold-hearted if we refuse to warn the unregenerate.
John 3:36 states the wrath of God abides over the unbeliever. Mind you, this is the same unbeliever God loves and does not want to see perish.
Yet his fate rests in his decision on who Jesus Christ is.
And you may not like this, but before their conversion, our children are unregenerate. Like it or not, God’s wrath abides over unregenerate children.
Thus, it’s our pre-eminent duty as parents to guide them in the ways of salvation. This includes teaching them about the doctrine of hell.
Objections to Teaching Children about Hell
Some Christians may resist this on the grounds that teaching children about hell may give them nasty nightmares…
Keep them awake for days on end. As a parent the last thing I want to do is upset my children.
But let me ask you a question: Is it justified in the prospect of a fatal eternity for them that I withhold a biblical doctrine that has its greatest defender in Jesus Christ to save my children a little grief?
The answer would be “no” since the doctrine of hell is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What We Can Learn about Hell
We ourselves could lose a few nights of sleep over the doctrine of hell. Our culture doesn’t fear the Lord enough. Doesn’t respect his majesty, strength and wrath…
The neglect of hell by the church is partly to blame.
By neglecting hell we’ve drained the gospel of it’s potency, God’s mercy of it’s power and our sense of dependency on God has become a carnival devoted to amusing ourselves.
If there are no consequences clearly articulated [whether God’s wrath in this life or the life to come], there is no good news.
There is only a hollow, somewhat baffling sense of why Jesus died on the cross. Without God’s wrath and Jesus is just another man executed on a cross.
Instead, we have one of complacency and promiscuity. In other words, we have an unbiblical god. One Jesus did not affirm.
Our Teacher on the Subject of Hell
I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the side of Jesus. I want to affirm what he affirmed. I want to teach my children what he taught his children.
Did you see that? I’ve given you a clue on how to teach your children about hell.
Look to Jesus and what he said in the Bible. In other words, crack open the Bible with your children and systematically walk them through the New Testament.
Eventually you will cross paths with the doctrine of hell. That would be a perfect time to tell them what hell means. [Keep it age appropriate.]
But please, don’t wallow in the doctrine. Let curiosity guide them, answer their questions, but at some point you must direct them to Jesus Christ, the cross and God’s grace.
A Way to Teach Children about Hell
You must tell your children it’s not hell, demons or Satan they should fear. It is God they should fear: ”And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.’”
Tell them hell is real because sin is real. Tell them that the wrath of God will abide over them as long as they remain unrepentant sinners.
They must know “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And then show them the reward of repentance:
And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.
Tell them the glorious end of repentance is fellowship with God. It is joy unimaginable. Peace unsurpassed. Love sublime.
Bathe the whole procedure in public and private prayer. And push the beautiful grace of God from there.
The Healthy Tension Hell Creates
Yes, in the back of their minds a fear of hell will persist. Therefore it’s our duty to smother that fear with the grace of God.
Sing with your children Psalm 34:8: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Yes, a tension survives in the Christian’s walk [whether a child or an adult] when we allow space for the doctrine of hell. But that’s a healthy tension. One that reminds us that God’s grace does not come freely.
This tension is a small price to pay for the never-ending riches a comprehensive, genuine relationship with God brings.
And that, in my humble opinion, is how we teach our children about hell. What do you think?