Christian Education Answers the Big Questions in Life
O LORD, You have instructed us to draw close to You and to bring our children up to know You, the one true God, and to understand the truths of Your Word. Send Your Spirit to guide our worship this day, so that Your will might be done in our lives, and so that the power of Your kingdom might come to me and to my fellow believers. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
God’s Word is to be hidden in our hearts, heeded, and never forgotten, for it cleanses us through its message of atonement, guides us with its revelation of God’s will, and brings us unending joy. God’s Word is at the heart of Christian education!
Living a godly life in this world is not easy and will bring persecution. Paul encourages us to continue to believe the truths revealed in God’s Word—truths leading to our personal salvation, but also equipping us to do every good work. God’s Word is the primary tool of Christian education!
Jesus once admonished His disciples to let the little children come to Him. Those who hope to enter His kingdom must have that simple faith of a child. Jesus then picked up those children and blessed them. The goal of Christian education is to assure each child of that blessing of Jesus!
Text: Mathew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
In Christ Jesus, the Source of truth, knowledge, wisdom, and salvation, dear fellow redeemed:
Who is responsible for a child’s education? This is a topic of hot debate in our country with the introduction of “No Child Left Behind” legislation several years ago and now with the possibility of adopting national “Common Core” standards of education. There are those who maintain that the federal government should be in control of public education, while there are others who insist that public education has been and should remain the province of state and local governments. But are either of those choices the right choice? Not according to God and His Word.
God places the responsibility for educating children squarely on the shoulders of parents. As our Word of Truth states today, God told His Old Testament people through Moses: “You shall teach… (the words I command you) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise us” (Deut. 6:7). God tells His New Testament people through the apostle Paul: “You, fathers,…bring… (your children) up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Clearly, God wants parents to be the primary educators of their children. He wants them to share with their children their love for Jesus and the fact that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10a).
This does not mean, however, that parents cannot seek out others to help them in this endeavor. The apostle Paul clearly states that Jesus Himself “gave some to be…pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). Hence you had the rise of both private/parochial and public education.
Early in our country’s history education was completely private and essentially parochial or religious in nature. By the time of the American Revolution some public schools had begun to appear, and by 1850 they were nearly universal, but in those days public schools embraced the Bible and its teachings. George Washington, for instance, stated in a speech in 1779, “What students…learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” In his plan for public schools in Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin insisted that schools teach “the excellency of the Christian religion.” Benjamin Rush, the man identified as the “Father of (American) Public Schools” stated, “the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government…is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.” Now, let it be said that teaching religion in the public schools was not always wise, for it was not always taught correctly, but in our present day the absolute absence of biblical influence in public education is not any better and, therefore, necessitates that Christian parents choosing public education dutifully supplement their children’s education at home with the important truths of the Bible and, in particular, those truths relating to our salvation.
Today we want to speak about the blessing of Christian education and in particular our Christian Day School for our parents as they seek to fulfill their responsibility to educate their children. Why is our school such a precious blessing to our congregation—its parents and its children? It is because CHRISTIAN EDUCATIONANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS IN LIFE!
The first of which is who are we? Who are we is an important question to answer. How does the world answer that question? Its answer is curious and unsettling in many ways. Because much of the world embraces the philosophy of secular humanism, which is based upon evolution, which in turn denies the existence of God, the fundamental answer to the question is that we are simply highly organized matter. We are in the end, they say, the chance result of random mutations, leading to the superiority of our species over that of other animal species. In the end we are, in the eyes of the world, simply highly organized animals of no greater or lesser value than a chicken or an earthworm. Depending on the trend of the times, educators who are secular humanists will emphasize such things as high self-esteem to help children feel good about themselves, but upon what basis and to what end? It is interesting to note that the self-esteem movement is now generally recognized as having failed, because when not tied to performance it ultimately accomplishes little of lasting value even when speaking only of this life.
How does Christian education answer the question, who are we? Its answer is nuanced, for by nature we are sinners, yet by God’s grace through faith we become saints! The Bible reveals that we are all, believer and unbeliever alike, the individual and special creations of God giving us great value in His sight. While addressing God the Psalmist informs us, “You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14a). We are not the result of chance mutations but rather the result of God’s creative and individual touch! Yet, the Bible reveals that by nature we are sinful and separated from God. David informs us, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my conceived me” (Ps. 51:5 – NIV). Paul describes us by nature as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
Yet, in our text Jesus says to each of us, “You are the light of the world!” This is who we are by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus! Through the preaching of God’s law Christian education portrays accurately the situation in which people find themselves by nature. Look around you. We are living in a world riddled by sin and inhabited by people imprisoned by spiritual darkness! But God by His grace leads people to repentance and through faith into the light of Christ Jesus. Christian education holds before children’s eyes the love of their heavenly Father in sending Jesus, His only-begotten Son, to bear their punishment upon the cross and to bestow upon them His own perfect righteousness and the gift of eternal salvation. In this way Jesus, who is truly “the light of the world” (cf. Jn. 9:5b), enlightens our hearts, making us “children of light” and encourages us to walk in the light, thereby becoming Christ to those living around us(cf. Eph. 5:8). Yes, CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS IN LIFE! Who are we? We are by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus God’s children and the light of the world!
A second big question in life is, “What are we to do in this world?” The world answers that question in any number of ways, depending on the philosophy a person embraces, but in the absence of divine revelation all human philosophies inevitably lead back to the desires and suggestions of sinful human beings. Consequently, we find people most frequently focused solely on their thoughts, their dreams, and the accomplishing of their goals with no real thought given to any of what God may have in mind. On the more positive side, for instance, one can think of some more recent advertizing slogans of the U.S. Army—“be all that you can be” and “the army of one,” which encourage people to strive to achieve and to develop themselves, but which indeed focus solely on the individual. On the more negative side, you have those who simply want to satisfy their own desires—to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow they die!
How does Christian education answer the question, “What are we to do in this world?” Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine!” As God’s children, the Bible tells us that we are new creations and that in our lives all things are to become new (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). As “the light of the world” and as “cities set on a hill,” we are to “let our lights shine.” That means that we are to reflect the love of God to those people we meet in our lives.
Now, this is something very personal and individual. God has a plan for each of us in our lives. He has placed us in our particular families, giving us our parents, our siblings, and our other relatives. He has done so for a purpose. We are to love them, as we love ourselves (cf. Mt. 22:39) and to serve them as we have been served by Christ (cf. Mt. 20:28). In addition, God leads us on our life paths. God gives us classmates in school, workmates on the job, and the countless individuals who cross our paths on a daily basis. We are to be ready to minister to them, as the Lord opens doors and as the Lord gives us opportunities. What we do in a positive way for them, Jesus says we do for Him (cf. Mt. 25:40). This is the ultimate goal of sanctified living as presented through Christian education—not the relentless pursuit of personal and private success, but rather the development of a commitment to do for others what God would have us do and what God enables us to do. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS IN LIFE! What are we to do in this world? As God’s children, we are to let our lights shine!
A third big question, however, is “Why?” Why are we here in this world? The secular humanist has great difficulty answering this question, for if there is no God, there is no existence beyond life in this world. If we are simply the chance result of random mutations, there is no real meaning to life—no ultimate purpose other than as sensual people to feed our sensual desires. Oh yes, human beings have a natural knowledge of God even in the midst of their denial of Him, and that knowledge allows them to live outwardly at times and to a limited extent in conformity to that law. People can and do develop answers to this question, which are socially redeeming—to realize personal potential, to serve the higher good (although without God it is somewhat hard to determine the true nature of that higher good), to leave a positive legacy, and the list can go on. But in the end, apart from faith in Christ, death overcomes life and all seems to have been lived in vain. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes: “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Eccles. 2:17).
Why are we here in this world? Christian education answers that question--to lead others to glorify our Father in heaven! Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our ultimate purpose in life is to draw close to God ourselves and to lead others into a close relationship with God as well! As God’s children, we are His ambassadors (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). We are to share His message of love and reconciliation with others—sharing the reason for our hope and doing so with gentleness and respect (cf. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV). When selfless love radiates from our persons—our words and actions— people notice that we are different. This causes them to wonder, to question, and when they find out that the source of our joy, our hope, and our confidence is the love of God in Christ, they too will draw near to God and glorify their Father in heaven.
My dear friends, we are so blessed to have a Christian Day School here at Immanuel. We are so blessed to have teachers, two of whom we will later install in this service, who have dedicated themselves to assist our parents in instructing their children in the word and ways of God! CHRISTIAN EDUCATION indeed ANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS IN LIFE! May we appreciate the blessing God has given us and support the work of both our church and school with diligence and faithfulness! Amen.