I went to public schools while growing up and received a thoroughly secular education. Every one of my science teachers presented the Big Bang and evolution as facts. And they required that I learn them as facts. On one occasion one of my high school science teachers taught about the eras of history—a history that included billions of years and evolution. I had a hard time studying for that test, since I didn’t believe that what I was memorizing was true. I wasn’t too disappointed when I failed to recall some of the information on the test. After all, what I failed to remember was information men had made up as a means of writing God out of history.
Looking back on my secular education, I have to ask myself what kept me from adopting the secular worldview that my teachers universally taught. Why wasn’t I enamored with the tales of a world billions of years old that dinosaurs and other amazing creatures eventually inhabited? Why didn’t I buy into the idea that our universe started with a spectacular bang or that mankind descended from apes?
The answer is twofold. I attended a church, Karen Street Baptist in Omaha, that taught me that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word, and I had a family that took God’s Word seriously. As a result of these influences, I not only survived my secular schooling, but I also grew stronger as a believer. In fact, it was while I was in high school that I responded to God’s call on my life to enter full-time ministry.
Teaching the Bible as Authoritative
What did I learn about the Bible as I was growing up in my church? I learned that the Bible is all-sufficient, powerful, perfect, and living. I knew these truths primarily because my Sunday School teachers taught them to me from the Scriptures. My teachers presented God’s Word as God intended. They were faithful to God’s Word. And God’s Word does a thorough job of defending its divine origin and power. Consider these familiar verses.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
The witness of the Word to its divine origin is rather convincing. The Holy Spirit uses this witness to convince the reader that the Bible is indeed God’s Word.
What I learned about the Bible in church proved to be accurate in my personal interaction with the Word. The Bible’s power was real in my life. As I read and studied it, I knew that it was no ordinary book. God spoke to me through it. I learned by experience that God’s Word has the power both to encourage me in times of despair and to convict me of my sin. Passages that speak of God’s character and His love for me strengthened my relationship with God and challenged me to respond to Him with loving, submissive obedience.
God’s Word is powerful. The Scriptures must remain at the center of the church’s ministry. Pastors and teachers must present God’s Word as authoritative. My pastor and Sunday School teachers did exactly that as I was growing up. They did not compromise the Scriptures by allowing for billions of years. They taught me that God is my creator and that I am accountable to Him. They taught me the Bible stories as true accounts of God’s working through history.
What I learned about the Bible at church was echoed by my parents. They took the Bible seriously and used it as the authority in their own lives. They taught me to have a high view of the Scriptures and to use it as my guide for life.
Choosing Curriculum That Is True to God’s Word
Sunday School curriculum was perhaps the most important component in helping me understand the authority of the Scriptures. My church chose curriculum that taught the Bible as God’s Word. The curriculum didn’t allow for millions or billions of years. It taught the timeline of history starting with the creation account in Genesis and ending with the prophecies concerning the end times. The curriculum helped me see the Bible as relevant.
The curriculum my church used throughout my growing up years was created by Regular Baptist Press. While using the curriculum, I was captivated by the accounts of the heroes and villains of the Old Testament and by the spread of the gospel and the establishment of the church in the New Testament. I still remember tracking the Israelites through the wilderness on a 3-D map my junior-class teacher made to go along with the curriculum. The map included a clay Mount Sinai, by the way, that I was always tempted to pull off the map and play with. The Bible accounts came alive to me as I understood God’s working throughout history. I was convinced that what I was learning in church made much more sense than what the public school taught about the history of the universe. Having a Sunday School curriculum that taught the Bible as God intended made an important difference in my life.
The Sunday School curriculum churches use today needs to have the same high view of the Scriptures that my Sunday School curriculum did when I was growing up. Curriculums that ignore or downplay origins and the historicity of the Bible are leaving the door open for doubt. Those curriculums actually help undermine the authority of the Bible and even the gospel.
RBP curriculum makes a point to show from God’s Word that creation was six literal days. It teaches that mankind is made in the image of God and is not an animal descended from apes. It presents the introduction of death and decay into the world in relation to Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. It depicts the ark as a real boat and relates the massive cargo space available for all the animals and the food Noah needed to take on the ark. It shows the timeline of the Bible in relation to other events happening in the world. It ties the need for salvation to actual historical events in Genesis. Overall, it presents the Bible as relevant to students today.
We live in a secular world that scoffs at the notion of a creator and an authoritative Bible. Recognizing this, Regular Baptist Press has continued to produce Sunday School curriculum that prepares students to live in a secular world. And as a teacher of RBP curriculum, I can attest to the fact that it works!
Recently I taught an RBP Sunday School lesson to a group of fifth and sixth graders. The lesson was about God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. We learned amazing facts about the universe, one of the means God uses to reveal Himself (Psalm 19). Naturally our conversation turned to how the universe was formed. My students commented without any prompting from me about the absurdity of believing that a big bang was responsible for forming the universe. Their comments were reassuring to me that I am using Bible curriculum that is making a difference in the lives of my students.
Living out God’s Word before the next generation of students is just as important as choosing a curriculum that is true to God’s Word. Students will be hesitant to accept a message they don’t see their parents and teachers living out. RBP’s Life Design curriculum for adults challenges learners to apply God’s Word so they are ready to instruct with their lips and their lives.
Choose your church’s Sunday School curriculum wisely and pay attention to your testimony before your students. Both have the potential to impact your students deeply.
Alex Bauman is the director of Regular Baptist Press.