Conviction for Christian Education

September 1, 1996 / No. 2799

Many of us this week will mark the return of our children to school. In light of that fact we want to consider the biblical calling that Christian parents have to provide a Christian school for their children.

Next to our love for the church of Jesus Christ stands our love for Christian homes and the schools organized by and existing as an extension of those homes. We love the church of Jesus Christ as the body of our Lord. And we love the Christian school as the place where the precious seed of the covenant is nurtured, where our children are taught to know the Lord and to stand in awe of His mighty works.

We ought to consider, then, why should we have a Christian school? Why should it be our priority? And if it is not our priority, why it should be, in the light of God’s Word.

You understand that a Christian school must arise out of conviction, not preference. A preference is what one chooses for reasons other than deep-seated belief, merely a choice of one thing above the other and, in that sense, a priority. For example, suppose you were applying for a job and would say, “I prefer not to work on Sunday.” Then a call comes from the boss that you should come in for Sunday work, and you respond, “Well, my plans are made for that day, I prefer not to.” If the boss would respond, “Your job is on the line. You either come in or lose your job,” you would cave in and go in. It is merely a preference for you not to work on Sunday.

But a conviction is different. A conviction is founded upon belief in God’s Word, consistently followed in one’s life. A biblical conviction is the persuasion of faith that my duty in this matter has been made clear to me in God’s will revealed in the Scriptures.

Christian schools must arise out of conviction. That conviction is this: that it is the calling of a parent to educate his child according to what the parent believes, with the goal of equipping his child to live as a child of God in this world to the glory of God. Christian schools, you see, must not arise merely out of a reactionary movement. The motive for a Christian school is not simply that parents want to get their children away from evolution and the sex education of public schools and the shameful and false teachings of many Christian schools. Though that certainly has a place, it is not the core of our biblical conviction. Nor does the Christian school arise out of a desire to establish a Christian kingdom on this earth; simply to bring what many call “dominion” to every sphere of life by Christian education.

But the conviction out of which a Christian school arises is this: it is the calling of a parent to train his child according to what he believes so that the child might know how to serve God. We read in Isaiah 38:19 that the father shall make known God’s truth unto the children. So, a biblical school is a distinctive school. According to Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.” A Christian school is educational. Fathers shall nurture their children (Eph. 6:4). A Christian school arises, then, out of conviction reasonably and wisely followed, as that conviction weighs upon the soul.

Convictions are formed by the Word of God bringing its light to bear upon our hearts. Convictions, you see, are not formed by arguments. Convictions are not formed by strong-arming people to do certain things. And they are not formed by a pressure-group upon other individuals to conform to their way. No; convictions are holy and sacred things. Convictions are formed when the Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to bear upon a believing heart to show a person his path of gratitude to God.

That is the basis of a Christian school. It arises out of conviction, a conviction that the believing parent has from God’s Word concerning his calling to his children.

Let us ask the question now: What do you want for your children and for the young people in your home?

We would answer that question: Perhaps there are many things that we want for them which, of themselves. are right and proper. There are some things that are very carnal. We hear sometimes that a father’s goal is that his son be the leading scorer on a basketball team, or grow up to have a beautiful house, wear tailor-made suits; or that his daughter be the most beautiful and popular and fashionable of all young girls. These are all goals which arc centered upon the eye of man.

But we have not only carnal desires but also legitimate desires, especially with respect to the future of our children. We ask the questions: whom will they marry, who will their friends be, where will they go, with whom will they go, what work will they get, what about their future education? When they are young children and young people, it all centers in this question: Where will they go to school, what education will they get, what will be the environment? Is it going to be an education adequate to equip them, or is it going to be inadequate? While we reject with all of our souls the attitude that the only education worth anything is that which teaches one how to make a dollar, to be successful, to get ahead, nevertheless, as Christians we want an education for our children which will serve them in today’s world, to teach them to be that godly husband or that godly wife or parent; to teach them to provide for their family, and to stand in the church of God and in this world as the friend of God.

What do we want for our children and for our young people? We want that they live a godly live and that they are instructed and taught how to live that godly life in this world. I am not speaking here of a false piety, not of what some think of when they hear of a godly life. Some see in those words merely a mask, someone who is of no help in the present-day situations in which he lives, merely a hypocrite. No; biblical godliness is what we want for our children: a full-orbed, solid, faith-rooted godliness. That is what we read in the Scriptures. Abraham, in Genesis 17:18, speaking of his flesh-and-blood thirteen-year old son Ishmael, said this: “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” That is, it was his desire that his son order his life by the eye and the presence of the living God. That is the desire of the Christian parent. And that is written throughout the book of Proverbs. This book turns the heart of a believing parent inside out and tells him what ought to be in the inside of his heart. Repeatedly we read in Proverbs the words: “My son, be thou in the fear of God all thy days, in your companionship, in your employment, in sexual purity, in honesty, in integrity.”

What do we want for our children? We want that they be men and women of God, thoroughly equipped unto every good work, possessing the comfort and the attractiveness of a vital religion. We want them educated to make their way in this world, wise to discern with God’s Word in their heart, skillful to work, delivered from folly, immorality, greed, pride, dishonesty which stalks the world and claims the world’s youth. We want them to be strong sons, beautiful daughters, nobility in Jesus Christ. That is what we want for them.

And, you see, it is out of that conviction that we form a Christian school.

What is a good Christian school?

A good Christian school has three characteristics about it. It is, first of all, parental. It is run directly by parents of like-minded faith, a faith which bows to the authority of an infallible and inspired Bible. This school, run by parents, is operated through a board of men selected by the parents, and is staffed by teachers who are given their mission by the parents. It is not a school handed over to so-called experts who secretly believe that parents are an ineffective way, at best, of training children, a la public education. It is not a school which drifts off into its own statement of purpose, vision, and mission. And it is not a school in which parents take an antagonistic stance over against the teacher. Some think that that is the essence of a parental school: that you always have a negative attitude towards the teacher. No, that is not a parental school. A parental school means vital involvement of the parent, the love and the covenant fellowship of the parent, teachers standing in the place of the parent and sharing the same Reformed and credal belief of the parent. A good Christian school, by its definition, is parental, that is, it is run by the parents and it teaches the convictions and beliefs of those parents.

Secondly, a good Christian school is doctrinal. The instruction of that school is founded upon the truth of the infallible and inerrant Word of God as it is expressed in the Reformed faith. There is no place in a good Christian school for the leaven of relativism. Follow me carefully. Relativism refers to the forsaking of absolutes, the teaching that we really cannot be sure of anything, the idea that an educated person is the enlightened one who sees that former absolutes of right and wrong just are not so, and, really, there is nothing dependable, and we simply have to learn to adjust and cope as best we can with the confused world. I say, that is the leaven of relativism. It infiltrates public education. And with shameful compromise on the authority of the Bible, it begins to permeate many Christian schools in the teaching of evolution. A good Christian school is doctrinal, that is, it is built upon the Word of truth, it is built upon the principle that we find in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true … every man a liar.” It does not seek to send forth students on a sea of life with no chart and one paddle in a rubber dingy. But a good Christian school sets the feet of the child upon the solid ground of the Scriptures which, come what may, will not change in their life.

Thirdly, a good Christian school is educational. A good Christian school provides a well-rounded, academically-sound education, teaching the children to use their talents, whatever talents the Lord has given. You see, a good Christian school is not just a school with a Bible class. For some, that is the idea of Christian education: simply have a Bible class and then anything else that happens is unimportant until the bell rings and the child goes back home. That is not biblical thinking. That is not according to the Bible. The Word of God in Ephesians 6:4 says that we are to nurture our children. That is not just their soul, but their mind, everything the child is. Paul is saying we must press everything into the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, every thought into the service of Christ. A Christian school uses the abilities and talents of each child, and the inclinations given to each child, calling upon the child to develop those talents and inclinations. A good Christian school will never downplay solid learning, because learning is one of the most fascinating and necessary gifts that God has ever given.

That is what we want. We want our children to be godly, to be trained to live a godly life in a parental, doctrinal, educational school.

Is that your conviction?

Why should it be?

Let me answer that question first of all negatively, and then positively.

We would want this for our children not in order to shirk our responsibility as a parent. You say, that is an odd thing to say. No, it is not, because the real danger is that Christian parents begin to conclude, “Well, my child is in a good Christian school. I don’t need to worry about him. My obligations are done. It’s like punching. the time-card. I punch out when the child gets on the bus and goes to school. I punch back in when the child comes home.” Well, dear ones in Jesus Christ, you must understand that if you are a parent today, you are always on duty! You must never establish a Christian school as a day-care center, allowing you to go about what you want to do unhampered by your child. A Christian school will be Christian and effective only to the extent that it is a tool in your hand and the extension of yourhome which is committed to its task of rearing your children. We do not want a Christian school, therefore, to shirk our responsibilities.

Secondly, we do not want a Christian school because we are isolationists, because we are a bunch of odd-balls, because we want to get away and we do not know where we’re going and we do not know what to put in the place of what we reject. Oh no! We know where we are going and we know what we want to teach our children!

Why do we want a Christian school? Positively, for two reasons. First of all, our commitment to the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of our sovereign God before whom we delight to bow and to serve. Why do we desire Christian schools? Why cannot we be satisfied, perhaps, with existing Christian schools? We cannot be satisfied today because of compromise, in fact of denial, of the infallibility, the authority, the perspicuity of the Bible. That means the denial that the Bible is word for word the Word of God which must be believed in all its teaching and obeyed in all of its commands. You will have to investigate a school for your child.

If you area conscientious parent you are going to ask questions. Perhaps you will ask the question, Where do you stand in this school on the sports program? What place does sports play? You might receive a vague answer on that question, one that you would personally disagree with. You might ask, What about music and band? What about extra-curricular activities? What about college preparation, secretarial schooling, home-ec.? Many of those answers that are given to you in a school might not satisfy you. But there is one question, above all others, that you must ask. Where do you stand regarding Holy Scripture? Is it word-for-word the Word of God who cannot lie, to be trusted in all of its teachings? The answer to that question is: “Yes’ or no”! No one can hedge on that question. For any church or Christian school or Christian organization to deny the authority of the Word of God is to put the first letter of Ichabod upon that organization or school. All the good that would remain in such a place cannot last because the prop has been knocked out from under it.

The commitment to the Scripture as the inerrant Word of God is first of all our reason for establishing Christian schools. The second reason is our commitment to the antithesis. Maybe you have not heard of that word before. That word refers to the separation, the spiritual separation, that God places between a believer and an unbeliever, between the world and the Christian. That is not the same as saying that the Christian is one who believes in isolationism. It is not to say that we confuse things with sin. It is not that we, as Christians, reject legitimate findings of science, math, chemistry. All the legitimate findings of science do not contradict the Scriptures. If you look upon the creation through the eye of faith, you will see that the Word of God is true. But the antithesis is that spiritual difference that God has placed between the child of God and this world. We have a Christian school because we want to train our children to look like, to act like children of God, to conduct themselves not as the world but as those who belong to the living God, who are made wise to the ways of this world, and who know the God who has created them. So a Christian school has the conduct of students in godly standards. school which is interested in forming biblical character -that is why we want a Christian school.

Do you want to have such a place? There is always going to be sacrifice for a Christian school. And the commitment and taxing work of getting a Christian school together and supporting the same is always going to be difficult. Sometimes we get discouraged and sometimes we can say, It’s just not possible! But that is not true. A little experience in the kingdom of Jesus will teach us that it is exactly when we feel that we are at our end and that the task is too great for us, it is exactly then that God delights to work and to give to us.

May God work in your heart the conviction of your calling as a parent and as a Christian to support good Christians schools for the education of your children and young people to the glory of His name.

Let us pray.

Our Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and we thank Thee for the beginning of another year of education. Cause, O Lord, that we may be faithful to Thy Word in this. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.