I’ll never forget the first time I drove out of town on my own. My first solo road trip was a 3.5-hour drive to my grandparents’ ranch around Comanche, TX. My dad got out a map and showed me the path I would be taking, yes I am that old. We wrote out the highways and roads I would be looking for along the way. I don’t know how my parents felt that day, but I was super excited.
This was not the first time I had driven to my grandparents’ house. I drove my family to Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ more than a year before this first solo adventure. On that trip I drove through the largest thunderstorm in the history of the state of Texas. Not really, but when you’ve been driving for 3 weeks your average thunderstorm feels like a hurricane.
I had driven the route with my parents in the car. My dad and I had gone over the route on the map. It was time for me to make the trip. I made the trip with no problems and right on time. I called my parents from my Nokia cell phone that didn’t text and stored a total of 7 or 8 numbers.
I’ve spent several posts on this blog focusing on things like internet safety, video games, and social media. These posts were focused things hazards Christian families need to navigate. However, raising followers of God is not just about what you keep them away from, it is also about what you put into them. Or... what you help them put into themselves.
This series will focus on the Armor of God, but I think it needs to begin with the gospel. Ephesians kind of works the same way, it opens with the gospel and ends with the Armor of God. The purpose of this post is to encourage parents and believers in the Gospel and prepare us for some posts on the armor of God.
Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV): 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 
Ephesians 1:7-10 (NLT): 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.
God’s grace is so great that we have forgiveness/redemption through it. It is easy to lose sight of the grace of God in the forgiveness of our sins. This is particularly true for people who have been believers for a while. It is easy, having lived for many years forgiven of my sins, to lose sight of the fact that my forgiveness is big. We need to “preach” the gospel to our own heart on a regular basis. Parents need to speak the gospel into the heart and mind of their teens, even the ones who are believers.
Jumping back to my story above, my dad drove the route with me, he got out a map and showed it to me, and finally he turned me lose to drive to my grandparents on my own. I think this can be a road map for teaching your kids the gospel. I will say, I’m not sure that the first two steps have a necessary order. But I think they’re super important.
The road map: Make sure that your kids understand the gospel. Make sure that they can define it, because it does have a definition set by God in scripture. We teach a 5-point outline of the gospel: birth, life, death, resurrection, and return. God the Son came to earth and was born of a virgin as Jesus. He lived a perfect life, never making a single mistake or sin. He chose to die on the cross for your sins. Three days later he came back to life and walked out of the tomb to share his resurrection before ascending into heaven. Finally, some day he will return for those who have trusted him. A 3-year-old is obviously not going to be able to state this gospel this fully, but they can probably state that Jesus died for their sins. A 13 or 14 year old may not be able to eloquently state the deity and manhood of Christ, but they should be able to get this 5-point outline in its most basic form.
Back seat, front seat, & driver’s seat: You know, before my dad put me in the drivers seat, even with my permit, probably rode with him to my grandparents a few dozen times. I started in the back seat watching my parents navigate the highways together. Then eventually my mom and I traded seats and I got to watch my dad drive us, even helping him watch for exits and gas stations. Finally, I got my permit and drove with him watching me and helping me.
Your kids and teens need the same experience with the gospel. They need to observe you use the gospel. They need to see your forgiveness of them in practice and they need to see you forgive others, even people who do not deserve it. The need to see their parents forgive each other and their siblings. They need to see their parents share the gospel with others. They need to witness their parents sharing the love of Christ with other people. What does is say to a kid if they never see their parents share the gospel between birth and graduation? What does that teach them about the importance of value of the gospel?
The road trip: Finally, your kids need to be turned lose for the sake of the gospel. This probably should not occur for the first time when they are an adult and leave home for the first time. It is great when teens can take a “gospel road trip” and return to the safety of their parents’ home when they’re done. When they can purposefully share the gospel and get home to debrief with their parents.
Parents, protecting your teens is important, but part of protecting your teens means equipping them to engage with the world around them. I believe that starts with the gospel.