The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung

the biggest storyby John Ellis

No matter how hard I tried during my twenties, I was unable to escape Jesus. During the Holy Spirit’s gracious pursuit of me, one of the primary means God used was the many Bible stories that my mom had drilled into my head when I was a child. My mom loved stories, and she loved Jesus even more. She also loved her thoroughgoing little pagan of a son, and she patiently, lovingly, and persistently told me about Jesus, using a variety of mediums. At the time, outside of the fact that I found many of the stories interesting, I thought that the only benefit was that I was money at Sunday school Bible quiz time.

By the time I had reached my twenties, I believed that I had left those Bible stories behind and had replaced them with the freedom found in pursuing the desires of my flesh. God, thankfully, had other plans. Even getting high didn’t stop the flood of Bible stories from playing through my mind as I desperately sought to escape God. And ever since I bowed my knee to King Jesus in God given faith and repentance, I’ve been eternally grateful for a Christian mother who believed that it was important for her children to learn about Jesus.

By no means do I believe that reading Bible stories to children will ensure their salvation. But the Holy Spirit uses means to reveal God the Father and provide saving faith and repentance, and one of the primary means used is the teaching of the Word. The Bible is replete with passages admonishing the study and instruction of God’s word – from the Old Testament – Deuteronomy 6:4-7 for one[1] – to the New Testament – 2Timothy 3:14-17 being a great example[2]. Very few Christians doubt the necessity of engaging with God’s word; even fewer Christian parents, I think, would claim that teaching their children about God is negotiable. However, many Christian parents, including me and my wife, struggle with finding age-appropriate, God-honoring, and Gospel-soaked books to read to our little pagans. Thankfully, Kevin DeYoung hasn’t been too crazy busy to write The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden. Even better, his book is a wonderfully engaging tool to help teach your kids, as well as yourself, about God and the story of the Bible.

Standing in the children’s section of local Christian bookstores, parents are faced with a myriad of aids to help teach their children about God. Unfortunately, parents quickly discover that many of the Bible story books geared towards children suffer from the fault of turning the human characters into the heroes of the stories; God occupies a guest spot in the background, and the beautifully grand and unified story of the Bible is reduced to action packed episodes that serve as mini-morality tales. That’s not to say that there are no good, gospel-centered resources out there. Over the years, my wife and I have used several books during our family devotions – including The Big Picture Story Bible, The Gospel Story Bible, and even God’s Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts[3]. Our children are currently nine and four years old, and the five year age gap isn’t bridged very well by many of the Bible story books that we would recommend. Over the last couple of years, we’ve often resorted to reading two books – one for each child. Which is fine, and can certainly be helpful, but the practice can also be problematic as, at times, it can feel as if instead of family devotions, we’re having individual devotions[4]. DeYoung’s book has proven engaging and thought provoking for the youngest member of our family all the way up to the eldest member, which is me, and the two family members in-between.

Of course, universal appeal, although important, isn’t the main criteria when choosing resources to aid in teaching your children about God. And, although the writing is clear and interesting with tight storytelling, and the illustrations are vivid, eye-popping, and aid in the imagination, the strength of The Biggest Story is found in how Kevin DeYoung honors the unified story of God found in the Bible.

Beginning with, well, the Beginning and tracing the story through history of how God, defeating the serpent, redeems a people unto Himself making a new nation from every tribe and tongue, and ends with the return of King Jesus, The Biggest Story is divided up into ten chapters. Each chapter is short enough so as not to overwhelm the younger readers/listeners, but has more than enough theological richness for even the oldest readers/listeners to chew on and to stimulate thought and discussion. And that discussion, which leads straight to the Bible and Jesus, is vital, I believe, in the training of all of us, much less children.

As alluded to above, The Biggest Story properly places God as the protagonist, and all those famous Biblical characters, honored in our society with songs like “Only a Boy Named David,” are given their rightful roles of flawed instruments in the hand of a sovereign God who is working through history to defeat the serpent. The ten chapters aren’t episodic, but are true chapters tracing God’s working through the lives of men and women in the course of history. Our hearts, including our children’s, are deceitfully wicked, and to see the focus of The Biggest Story as on the human characters, turning them into heroes, requires deceit. In other words, of course it’s possible for our children, or even us, to miss Kevin DeYoung’s heart and intent to display the glory of God, but that won’t be the fault of DeYoung’s book.

The thought of our kids never meeting Jesus is scary. Yes, our children are ultimately in the hands of a sovereign God, but that doesn’t mean that we’re allowed to sit back, let go, and let God. I’m thankful for a mother who was concerned enough for her children to devote time and energy to prayer and instruction. God used that concern and the actions motivated by that concern to reveal Himself to me and to save me from my sins. I’m thankful that Kevin DeYoung has written a book that can be a wonderful tool to teach my kids about God. I highly encourage you, parent or not, to buy The Biggest Story and allow yourself to be overwhelmed with God’s sovereign love displayed through the course of history as He defeats the serpent and saves a people unto Himself.

The Biggest Story, and other books by Kevin DeYoung can be purchased here.

[1] “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

[2] “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. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

[3] If you’re not familiar with God’s Big Picture, you should be. If you are familiar with it and you have kids, I encourage you to consider going through it with your children. We read it this past year with our nine year old, and while some of it was over her head, it was a profitable time of instruction.

[4] It doesn’t have to be that way, and we definitely try and combat that tendency. But, we’re flawed.


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