In the past, or coming, week the schools across our land will again open for another year of instruction. In that connection I want to talk with you about the biblical basis for Christian schools.
Do you know what a Christian school is? Are your children in a Christian school? Is there a Christian school in your area? Do you use it? Why, or why not?
Suppose someone would ask you the question, What is a Christian school? Would you be able to give an intelligent and reasonable answer to that question, an answer which is based upon conviction from the Word of God? Could you give an answer which is rooted in something more than simply saying, Well, I don’t like that evolution stuff taught in the public schools and that sex education stuff, and we’re going to get away from that? Is that your only reason? Have you really seen to the heart of what a Christian school is all about?
I will use a simple illustration. We are all acquainted, I trust, with the building trade: construction, carpenters, and bricklayers. Inevitably, before a builder begins cutting boards and mixing cement, he will go to the blueprint to find out what the architect had in mind. He does not simply arrive on the job one day and madly start sawing, nailing, and slapping things together, mixing cement, and throwing bricks around. Then the owner of the building would come and say, “Fellows, have you consulted the blueprint?” The builders would look at the owner and say, “Blueprint? A blueprint can’t keep the rain off your back! A blueprint can’t protect you from the cold. We’ve got to get going, we’ve got to do something.” No, a wise builder will go to the blueprint and he will follow it very carefully.
What is the point? Just this: If you are to understand the foundation for a Christian school, you must go to the blueprint. That blueprint can only be found in the Word of God.
I want to consider with you today some of the biblical principles which stand behind a good Christian school. Certainly, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, when you see these biblical truths explained to you (and they must also work in your heart), then you will become committed to a Christian school in your life and in the life of your children, and you will work patiently, lovingly, and supportingly with other Christian parents both to form and to maintain a good Christian school.
A good Christian school is one which is committed to the truth of God’s Word. It is not a Christian school which is seeking to establish its own basis or mission statement or vision for existence. The vision for its existence has been given. That is simply this: The Bible is God’s Word, it is thetruth without any error. And all education, to be truly education, must take place in the light of what the Bible teaches, the absolute truth of God’s Word.
But, more specifically, a good Christian school is, first of all, a parental school. The Bible teaches us that the training of the child, in the totality of his being, is the God-given responsibility of parents. The mind, the body, the social relationships, the emotional and spiritual development of a child, the totality of a child’s being is the parents’ responsibility.
Where is that taught? Ephesians 6:4. Having spoken first to wives and then to husbands and then to children, the apostle says this: “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Now note what God says there. He did not say, “And ye teachers, bring up children in the nurture of the Lord.” He did not say, “And ye state rulers and powers.” He did not even say, “Ye church leaders.” Nor did He say, “Ye mothers,” or “Ye parents.” But He says: “Ye fathers.” Now the apostle Paul in the holy Scriptures had a word for mothers. He used it in verse 2. He had a word for parents. He used it in verse 1: “Children, obey your parents.” But when he comes to this task of child-rearing he does not say, “And ye parents.” He says, “And ye fathers.”
The biblical truth is that the father is the administrative head of his home and also the administrative head in the training of his children. In other words, you as a father are primarily responsible for the totality of the development of your children. Being a father is not simply a biological ability to conceive another life. That is not what God’s Word teaches. But God’s Word teaches that the calling of a father is responsibility. The calling is to nurture your child in the love of God.
Nurture them! Not just their bodies by bringing home the gravy, the paycheck, by being a bread-winner. Many consider that the end of all fatherhood. They say, “I’ve done everything. I’ve provided a home, haven’t I?” Well, that was good. That was part of your calling. But it was not the end of your calling, nor even the heart of your calling. You must train them-their minds which were created with the ability to learn; their bodies so that they learn to regard their bodies as God’s gift to be used with all their energies to do God’s will; their social development, that they learn to take up their place in the world and their calling in this life; their spiritual development so that they learn to think God’s thoughts after Him. Whose job is that? That is mine, as a father, with my wife to share it with me prayerfully and wisely, under the conviction that it is our calling to nurture our children in the way of God.
When we stand before God to give an answer to what has been done with our children, God will not, first of all, call the school board of your school to give an answer to what they have done with your child. God will not, first of all, call the teacher to whom you have entrusted your child to give an answer. But God will call you as a parent and as a father. What has happened with this child?
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is a beautiful example of this. We read in Luke 2:52 that the child (that is, Jesus) grew in wisdom (that is mental development), stature (that is physical development), and in favor with God (that is spiritual development), and favor with man (that is social development). The Lord Jesus Christ, in the wonder of His incarnation, assuming our flesh, grew as a boy into an adult. He grew in wisdom (mental development), physical development, spiritual development, and social development. How did He do that? What were the tools? What was the instrumentality for that growth? We read that He went down with His mother, Mary, and stepfather Joseph, and was subject to them. The Lord Jesus Christ, in His human nature, passed through every stage of human development, and was reared by the gracious influence of a godly mother and stepfather.
Applied now to a Christian school, that means that a good Christian school is one which has been organized by parents who share like convictions of the absolute truth of God’s Word and, more, the absolute truth that to God is the glory of all things, our salvation, yea of all things!
The Christian school which parents establish does not become a substitute for their home, but the extension of their home. So these parents will be vitally involved in their Christian school. That vital involvement will not be a negative thing of harsh and unreasonable criticism based upon resentment or suspicion. That involvement will not be only when there is a problem with your child. But that involvement in the child’s education in the good Christian school will be the involvement of caring and nurturing and a loving involvement with the school and keeping communication lines open and knowing from day to day what is going on with your child. Coming to the school, looking around, and dropping in when you have the time-not to make a nuisance of yourself, but striving to be vitally involved and to support all that happens.
But a good Christian school is more than this. It is not only parental. It is also covenantal. What does that mean? The truth of God’s covenant in the Scriptures (which I do not have time right now to explain in its wonderful detail) is the truth that God establishes a bond of faithful love with His people in Jesus Christ, a bond which can never be broken. In that bond He not only saves us, but gives to us the promise that He will bring forth His children out of our children, so that in the covenant God says that the children born to believers are a holy seed, are the seed out of which He will build His kingdom. Therefore, because they are of the seed of the Lord, the seed out of which He will build His kingdom, we are called to teach and to instruct them. They are covenantal children, born in the line of believing parents.
But we must not stop just there. We must remember that the covenant is a bond of love and friendship between God and us in which He is our God and we are His people – a bond that He has established in Christ by grace alone. God has not established this bond on the condition of our works. When you begin to believe that the bond of the covenant is conditioned by your works, and when you apply that to the rearing of your children, you begin to believe that it is in your power to make your child a child of God who will either fill you with pride or will fill you with doom and gloom when that does not happen, perhaps. No, the covenant is something that God establishes by grace with us and with our children, and in that intimacy of His love and grace He calls us to serve Him and to live before Him thankfully.
Now the principle is this: As God is to us in His covenant, so must we be to our children and so must a good Christian school be. God in the covenant is our heavenly Father. And He says that our rearing and teaching of children in a school must be patterned after His own rearing and after His own teaching of us. Now think about that. What is the atmosphere, what is the climate of the covenant of God? What is the atmosphere, the climate, of house of God with His people? That climate and atmosphere is defined in the words: closeness, warmth, good will, affection, chastening, reverence, discipline, nurture.
How do you picture God’s covenant? Do you picture it as a home in which you have a child filled with insecurities, huddled off in a corner, unable and afraid to look into the scowling eyes of the father? Is that the way you picture God’s heavenly covenant?
How do you picture God’s heavenly covenant? Do you picture it as a child walking around in defiance of his father’s authority? Do you picture it as children pulling each other’s hair, mocking the weaker, choosing up sides for a fight? No! God’s covenant of grace is a covenant which is defined as closeness, warmth, respect, affection, instruction, chastening.
This is what is to be reflected, not only in a believing home, but also now in a Christian school. A Christian school is to be characterized by the loving warmth of the covenant of God, by reverence for God and His holy truth, by wise discipline and chastening, by love and nurture from the heart, that a child might see all things in the light of God’s Word and be brought to the point to adore God.
A Christian school is where God’s truth is applied to every area of learning, but in the covenantal atmosphere. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day taught their children, too. They gave them a very strict and conservative upbringing. But there was no love of God at the root of their hearts. And Jesus said they made their children twofold more the children of hell than themselves. Their instruction lacked the heart of the covenant, said Jesus, which was mercy and judgment, truth and faith.
A good Christian school, in all of its activities, in all of its relationships of parent to teacher and parent to parent and teacher to student and student to teacher, is characterized by the very atmosphere of God’s covenant. That means that there will be respect and reverence for teacher which will run through the whole school. There will not simply be the discipline imposed, but it will be a discipline which is rooted in God, a discipline which seeks to have the order of God and reverence for God as the heart. In the covenant we reverence our heavenly Father. So children are to reverence their parents and the teacher who stands in the place of their parents. That order, I say again, is not the order of a prison camp. It is an order of respect and reverence rooted in the love of God. Pupils listen to their teacher. The teacher says it once and there is compliance. The teacher disciplines even as God would discipline His children through wisdom and patience. And in all of the relationship the covenant of God is reflected.
The covenant means that there is something spiritually attractive about a Christian school. It means that a Christian school will savor of the grace and mercy of the heavenly Father which will run through every aspect of the school. A good Christian school is covenantal. Even an outsider, in coming to visit that school and observing how that school operates, will get the impression that God is in this place! That person will get the understanding of what it means that God is the covenant Father who nurtures His children in the bond of warmth, closeness, good will, and affection.
There is another thing that we can say about a good Christian school. Not only is it parental and covenantal, it is educational. A good Christian school provides the best education that it is able to provide. It is a mistake to think that a good education is something that is not very important to a good Christian school. Sometimes the attitude comes across that, well, education is not so important so long as the Bible is taught. That does not honor the Bible. Scripture does not minimize the importance of a solid education, the very best that we are able to provide as parents. We do not pit those two against each other: learning and the Bible. They go together! That is because the mind was made by God to be used, to learn things about creation and to learn them in the light of His holy Word. God has given talents to your child. Among the talents that He has given is the ability of the mind to learn and thus to glorify God in all things of this creation. Laziness, sloth, is a sin. We must learn things not simply for the purpose of the world, to tickle our pride, or to make a bigger salary. But we must learn things so that we are able to glorify God out of thankfulness, to bring everything into subjection to Him, to learn all that we can that we may know the glory of our God. Each child must learn according to his ability. It does not matter if the child has five or two talents, or one. God assigns that according to His wisdom. He makes me with my abilities and with my talents. What matters is: do you use them? Whether its five, two, or one, do you use it to the best of your ability, to the glory of God.
A good Christian school will be educational. It will teach everything in the light of God’s Word, dependent upon God, preparing the child for his place in this world as a parent, elder, teacher, farmer, bricklayer, tax-consultant, mother, in order that he may stand to the glory of God and confess God’s name in this world. That is a good Christian school. So long as we are on this earth, we must always strive for this. We never have this perfectly. The Lord has given us the blueprint.
Now do you know what a good Christian school is? May it be your conviction to use such a school in this coming year. And may you do so in humble thanksgiving, bowing at the cross for strength and wisdom. And may you have the confidence as you go about another year of Christian education, the confidence that is given in God’s Word (Deuteronomy 11:12), “the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy word. We would ask that Thou wilt apply it to our hearts and bless the cause of good Christian schools. Amen.