“God is greater than anything we can imagine and more beautiful than anything we’ve seen.”
Bruce Ware wrote Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God with the goal of teaching children to love theology, but this book has much broader applications.
Ware tackles all the basics of theology in short chapters with just enough Scripture and illustrations to satisfy anyone hungry to know more about God. Topics he covers include God as God, God’s Word, the Trinity, God the Creator, human nature and sin, Jesus—God Incarnate, Holy Spirit, Salvation, and the Church. He writes with simple, but not simplistic arguments. Ware doesn’t shy away from using theological terms, and he also acknowledges certain topics as unusually difficult. Each chapter ends with a couple of discussion questions and a Bible verse to memorize. This would be an excellent book for those new to the Christian faith or parents who want to teach their children biblical truths.
With the use of the imagination, Ware helps his readers grasp difficult topics like the uniqueness of God. For example, he wrote that, “God doesn’t need air to breathe, or food to eat or water to drink. He doesn’t need help with the work that he decides to do. He doesn’t need anything at all in the whole world, even though everything in the world needs God.” Word pictures like these give readers not only a glimpse into theological truths, but also provide a visual to help them grasp those same truths.
With sensitivity and tact, Ware helps his readers understand hard topics like the sovereignty of God and suffering. After sharing the story of Joseph, he ends with a powerful summary statement. “God is completely and only good. If God is not in control of bad things, then we would be led to deep sadness, thinking that a bad thing that is happening will serve no good purpose. But that is not so! When bad things happen we know that God is using them for good purposes.” Knowing these truths is helpful to believers of all ages!
With very challenging questions, Ware encourages his readers to think more deeply and articulate what they have been learning. “What is the main idea of Philippians 2:5-8? How can we learn from Jesus’ example in living our own lives?” “Why is it so important to understand that God is completely good and not evil in any respect ever?” These are not the kind of questions that can be answered in one or two words. They require some pondering and maybe discussion—but those are the best tools for learning theology.
With personal stories and illustrations, Ware helps his readers apply what they are learning. “The closest thing I’ve imagined to the Trinity is drawing one circle using three colored markers. If you draw that same circle three times, with each color overlapping exactly the previous one, you have one circle.” I especially liked the stories he told of how he taught his daughters these abstract concepts at the beach and in the car.
With short outlines and summary statements in his chapters, Ware keeps his readers closely following his train of logic. “1) Why is it that Christ could not have sinned? 2) Why is it that Christ did not sin?” Or to make sure the reader gets the point: “Now we are at a very important point in understanding why the cross was necessary for God to save us from our sin.” Helping the reader along with the train of thought is not only helpful, but also gracious.
From my counseling experience, counselees often have a lack of good, solid theology. They don’t know who God is and why He can be trusted even when life is really hard. Often counselees are unsure about who Jesus is and what His work accomplished for them. They may frequently need reminders of who the Holy Spirit is and His role in their sanctification process. This book is a great starting place to understand such necessary truths for the change process.