Christian Education Addresses . . .
O Lord God, Your precious Word is so dear to me, for through it I have been brought into a relationship with You, Your Son, and Your Holy Spirit. Together You have given me new life, new hope, and new direction. May I listen attentively today as I worship in Your presence. Fill me with an ever greater understanding of Your truths, and may the fulfillment of Your will become my greatest desire. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Text: Mark 10:13-16
Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
In Christ Jesus, the ultimate source and object of all true education, dear fellow redeemed:
All of life is about relationships! A man and a woman enter the marital relationship. Their love produces children, resulting in the family relationship. Families live in close proximity, creating community relationships. Communities band together, producing governmental relationships. Suppliers and manufacturers form business relationships, as do retailers and customers. Relationships are established through clubs, service organizations, and military service. Life is all about relationships, and I have yet to mention the most important of relationships—the relationship between each of you and your God!
That point was brought home to us here at Immanuel once again this past week with the unexpected death of Paul Stelter. There is no relationship more important for any individual than his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. St. Mark put it so very simply in His Gospel: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (16:16). That is why Christian education is so important, for CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDRESSES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST!
The text before us is filled with relationships and lessons to be learned about those relationships. We have the relationship of parents with children and parents with Jesus; the relationship of parents with the disciples and the disciples with Jesus; and finally the relationship of Jesus with the children! These parents loved their children. They also knew and understood both who Jesus was and how much their children needed His blessing, so they brought their children to Jesus. The disciples rebuked the parents—attempting to guard what they perceived to be Jesus’ need for privacy and judging that these children and their needs were not important enough to disturb Jesus. Jesus, out of love for both the parents and the children, raised His eyebrows at the ignorance of His disciples and rebuked them. Nothing is more important than fostering the relationship of children with their Savior! “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them!” Jesus knew and Jesus taught that unless any individual receives the kingdom of God as a little child—that means to trust in and to entrust oneself to Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord—he or she will not enter it! Jesus, then, lovingly received the children and blessed them!
Christian education involves parents bringing their children to Jesus! Parents…do you see the need? It begins when parents, like Rick and Rachel today, bring their children for baptism. Jesus blesses those children with faith. It continues as parents read to their children about Jesus, sing songs to their children with reference to Jesus, bring their children to church with them to worship Jesus, and finally provide in their own lives a clear example of what it means to follow Jesus! Yes, CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDRESSES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST!
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDRESSES OUR UNDERSTANDING AND USE OF GOD’S WORD! The Bible is the Word of the almighty God, who created the heavens and the earth. Through the apostle Paul He here assures us that “all Scripture—the entire Bible—is given by (His) inspiration…and is profitable” for us. There is no other information, knowledge, or wisdom in our world that can make that claim. The Bible is unique and we rightly understand it to be the one source of ultimate truth and authority for our lives! The proper understanding and use of the Bible, therefore, is the foundation of Christian education.
Parents—God has given you the primary responsibility for the Christian education of your children. This is to occur within your homes. It is within your homes that you are to nurture the faith and strengthen the relationship of your children with Jesus. You cannot assume that one week of Vacation Bible School, as wonderful as it was, is enough! You cannot assume that enrolling your children in Sunday School or even in our Christian Day School is enough! Christian education involves a daily program of familyBible study, family worship, and family prayer. Just as we earlier read in our responsive reading—we are to discuss God’s word when we sit in our houses, walk along the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up (cf. Dt. 6:4-9). Will you succeed in doing this every day? If you do, you are a far better man or woman than I, but such regular emphasis upon Christian education in the home is to be our daily goal and our ideal!
Notice, however, the central aim of Christian education—Paul urges Timothy to “continue in the things” he had learned from the “Holy Scriptures,” because they had made him wise to salvation. Law and gospel…sin and grace are to be at the heart of our Christian education efforts. The goal of Christian education is not simply to produce moral individuals, which I fear is all too often the case in the minds of many Christians. If our children grow up knowing the difference between right and wrong; if they get a good education and a good job; if they marry a nice person and raise well-behaved children—that seems to be the goal of many people, but dear friends—what does Jesus say? He asks, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26a) While it is surely true that I want my children to know right from wrong, to get a good education and job, to have a blessed family life—above all, I want my children to walk humbly before their God confessing their sins and rejoicing in God’s forgiveness graciously bestowed for Jesus’ sake! I want them to do all of those things mentioned previously, but to do them out of love for and appreciation of God’s love for them in Christ Jesus!
My dear friends—as parents you have choices to make regarding the formal education of your children. You may choose to home-school them, or you may choose to send them to public school, or you may choose to send them to our Christian Day School. Whatever your choice, your responsibility is to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). If you home-school make sure the curriculum you use emphasizes a proper understanding of and use of God’s Word. If you send your children to public school, recognize that what you teach your children at home and what they hear in Sunday School and worship services will be challenged, contradicted, and often denied by some if not many of their teachers. Remember, as well, that the Christian teachers in the public school, and there are many of them, are restricted by law from introducing scriptural truth. You will want to take the time for added instruction after the school day. For those of you who send your children to our Christian Day School, I promise you that your pastors and teachers will give you our best effort, not only to teach your children the subject matter of every course in the curriculum, but we will strive faithfully to present the law and gospel so that your children be “complete” through their “instruction in righteousness” and, therefore, “equipped for every good work!”
Text: Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
There is a great danger facing the Christian church today within our American culture. Not only is our faith being challenged by an increasingly secular society, but many Christians are buying into the notion that religious faith should be separated from the other aspects of public life. Religious faith is viewed as something essentially private and, therefore, something which should be kept private. While our religious faith is certainly individual—I cannot believe for you and you cannot believe for me—it is not something we are to keep private! We are to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Mt. 5:13-14). We ought never, therefore, view our faith or Christian education as a “Sunday’s only” aspect of our lives! No,CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ADDRESSES EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES!
The apostle Paul’s comment here to the Colossians is as broad as life itself! “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him!” What is it that you do? What is it that we all do? Some things will be peculiar to each of us, while other things will be common to us all. We all get up—either in the morning or at some other time. Get up in the name of Jesus…get up with thanksgiving! Do not get up on the wrong side of the bed, in other words, but do so thankful that God has given you another day and that you have the health to be able to get up at all! We all eat—generally three meals a day! Eat in Jesus’ name, giving thanks to God! Be truly appreciative of the food God has provided and those through whom it has been provided. Make sure that the conversations you have over the table are intended to encourage and build up those with whom you are eating. These are only two of our daily activities and there are many more.
My dear friends, let us raise our children to bring every aspect of their lives under the guidance of their Lord Jesus. Train them to recognize that their talents are indeed “on loan from God” as one radio talk show host rather frequently mentions. Consequently, when they learn to spell, or read, or add, or conduct a science experiment, or play an instrument, or sing, or even jump rope—they are to do all of these things in honor of Jesus—with joyous and thankful hearts! As our children consider their perspective careers, let us guide them to consider their options while praying for God’s guidance. He will not fail to direct them to the area of His choosing, and having the Lord’s blessing will ensure their ultimate success both here in this life and in the hereafter! This is true whether we are talking about pastors and teachers, plumbers and electricians, or doctors and lawyers.
As we strive to undertake the Christian education of our children, may we do so out of a sincere love for Jesus, with a proper understanding and use of God’s Word, and for the purpose of bringing every aspect of our lives under the guidance of our Lord and Savior! Then we will be blessed both in time and eternity. Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!