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As I mentioned a few days ago, it is not enough to trust that if our children are in faith schools or attending Sunday School that we can leave their religious instruction up to teachers.

That is not to say that the teachers are insufficient but that it is the responsibility of Christian parents first and foremost to bring up their children in Christ’s teachings.

Today, I offer you two more basic concepts for children to learn during their summer holidays.  For those who have not taught their children Christian basics, don’t delay.  The longer one waits, the more difficult it is.  Children then come up with questions, e.g. ‘Why is this important now?’  At that point, Houston, we have a problem.

Children should be able to recite and understand the Ten Commandments from an early age.  They come to understand that it’s not simply Mum and Dad who are saying certain things must be done, but, ultimately, that God is the One who commands moral conduct.  Mum and Dad are only the enforcers!

Although Christians are no longer bound to the 613 tenets of Mosaic Law in the Old Testament, we are still obliged to obey the Ten Commandments, as Jesus Himself instructed us.  The Gospel of Matthew contains two references for our purposes:

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40)

If you read the Wikipedia link preceding the New Testament excerpt above, you will see that the Ten Commandments differ by denomination and faith.  Although, I am suggesting Martin Luther’s Small Catechism for a simple summary, your denomination might have a different ordering of the Law we are obliged to follow.

Luther’s Small Catechism offers a concise and clear explanation of the Ten Commandments which children can learn easily.  Here are a few excerpts (emphases mine in the text):

The First Commandment
You shall have no other gods [before Me].
What does this mean?

We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother.
What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

The Seventh Commandment
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

The Close of the Commandments
What does God say about all these commandments?
He says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:5–6)

What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.

Another section of the Small Catechism is Christian Questions with Their Answers.  These are simple questions and answers which serve as a good starting point for children to understand basic Christian teachings. Children should be able to memorise most, if not all, of these. Here are the first few  fundamentals from the link:

1. Do you believe that you are a sinner?
Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner.

2. How do you know this?
From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.

3. Are you sorry for your sins?
Yes, I am sorry that I have sinned against God.

4. What have you deserved from God because of your sins?
His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation. See Rom. 6:21, 23.

5. Do you hope to be saved?
Yes, that is my hope.

6. In whom then do you trust?
In my dear Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Who is Christ?
The Son of God, true God and man.

8. How many Gods are there?
Only one, but there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

9. What has Christ done for you that you trust in Him?
He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

10. Did the Father also die for you?
He did not. The Father is God only, as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.

Parents working through these ideas for summer can help their children know what they believe and why they believe it.  The Small Catechism links also offer occasional Bible verses to acquaint children with biblical and scriptural references. It is essential for them to understand that our divine laws are not ‘man-made’, as so many people say today!

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