You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15, ESV)
Second Timothy was Paul’s last letter, written from prison shortly before his execution. In this letter he left final instructions to Timothy, whom he had mentored.
Paul tells Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice” (2 Timothy 1:5). In the absence of a father, Timothy’s mother and grandmother did what God calls fathers to do. They passed on their faith in a way that made Timothy want to take ownership of it. How? In 3:15 Paul says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Hearing God’s Word cultivates saving faith (Romans 10:17). God used His Word to bring Timothy to faith, apparently at a very early age.
The word for “childhood” here is often translated “infancy.” Parents are called to read Scripture to their children at very early ages. Some of our daughters’ earliest spoken sentences were verses, and both Karina and Angela came to Christ very young. There is no set age at which children can come to faith, but there does need to be some understanding of right and wrong, and of the fact that Jesus died so that we might be forgiven and live with Him in Heaven.
May we all look for opportunities to share Scripture and talk about Jesus and Heaven with the children we love. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to the needs and interests of your children (and grandchildren). The following points might be good starting places for your conversations with them:
The World God Made
God made the earth, the sun and moon, and all the stars and planets. And He made the animals, then Adam and Eve. He put them in the beautiful Garden of Eden to work and rule the earth and to enjoy God and each other. It was a perfect place. (See Genesis 1–2.)
Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God. This is known as the Fall. Now we are under the Curse. People—and the earth—are no longer perfect. (See Genesis 3.) This is all because of our sin. God is perfectly holy, so He couldn’t let people get away with sinning. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden, and work became harder. Suddenly there was suffering and death. Minds and hearts and bodies didn’t work right anymore. It was very sad.
God never gave up his original plan. That plan is for people who love and obey Him to rule a perfect earth, like the one God originally created.
Jesus and Us
Jesus, God’s Son, came from Heaven to earth. He became a human being and grew up to be a carpenter. Carpenters make things and fix things. Someday Jesus will fix us up so we’ll be perfect forever. He will make the earth perfect forever too! Jesus said that everything will be made like new again (see Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:5).
Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross for our sins. Then He came back to life. That’s called his resurrection. When we believe that this is true and ask Jesus to forgive us, He becomes our Savior!
We can let Jesus take charge of our lives because He knows what’s best for us. (Sometimes that includes difficult things, such as having a disability or sad things happening.) Letting Jesus be our King means we can enjoy having Him as our friend and leader, now and forever.
Heaven and Us
When people die, those who know Jesus as their Savior and King will go to Heaven. Life there is much better than it is here and now (see Philippians 1:21-23).
When people we love go to Heaven, we feel sad because we miss them. But we can be happy that they are in a wonderful place. If we love Jesus, we will see them again and live with them forever.
After Jesus comes back to earth, Heaven will be even more wonderful, because God will come down to live with us in a perfect New Earth. Even animals will no longer suffer. (See Romans 8:19-21.) It will be like the Garden of Eden, but better. Nothing bad or sad will be there (see Revelation 20:10; 21:1-4).
On the New Earth we will eat and laugh and play. We will have resurrection bodies like Jesus has (see Philippians 3:20-21). We know Jesus has a physical body, because after his resurrection He ate and let people touch Him. He said, “A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (see Luke 24:38-43).
There will be a great city, the New Jerusalem, where we will worship God and serve Him and rule the earth with Him forever (see Revelation 21:1-2; 22:3-5). This means that we will never be bored. There will always be fun and exciting things to do! We will do what people were made to do—worship and talk and walk and eat and run and play and rest.
People of all different races and nations will be on the New Earth, and they will bring beautiful things to God, the King on the throne in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:23-26). Since God will live there, the New Earth will be at the center of Heaven.
The tree of life, which was in Eden, will be there, and we will eat from it (see Revelation 2:7; 22:1-2).
God will live with us, and we’ll never cry or get sick or have pain or disabilities (see Revelation 21:3-4). We’ll live forever with Jesus, the person we were made for, and we’ll live in Heaven, the place we were made for!
Photo by Kenny Krosky on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.