Dear radio friends,
In our message today we want to turn our attention to the beginning of another school year for our children.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and from the Scriptures, we confess that our children are a blessing of God given to us as their parents and guardians, and that they are given to us with the calling that we are to equip them to be soldiers of the cross of Jesus Christ and prepare them for a life of service in His kingdom.
The passage that I would like to use today to give us instruction concerning our calling in the education of our children and the reason for Christian schools is Deuteronomy 4:9, 10. We read these words of Moses spoken to the people of God (Israel) just before they were to cross over the Jordan River and enter into the land of promise. Moses said this to them: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”
Now you will notice with me that those words of God focus not on those who will receive Christian instruction, namely, the children and young people. It focuses upon those who are called to give that instruction. Every part of the Bible is very plain that the calling to educate, to educate children and young people, belongs to parents, not to the state, not even to the church, with respect to their formal education. The calling of the education of children belongs to parents. Isaiah 38:19, “the fathers to the children shall make known thy truth.” Ephesians 6:4, “and ye fathers … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The Scriptures are plain. It is a parental privilege, it is a parental duty, to educate our children.
God gives us a child, then, not first of all for our enjoyment. It is not simply that we see our children as a reflection of ourselves and we set them before others as our handiwork. But as parents we see ourselves as custodians of God, who has given us a calling with each one of our children to bring that child up to know Him, to worship Him, to obey and love Him, and to trust Him.
The passage that I read from Deuteronomy 4 emphasizes that there are two qualities that are needed by every parent if he is to bring up his children properly. Those two qualities or qualifications are not a college degree in child psychology or the parental abilities of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those two qualifications are these: 1) a diligent, daily, faithful walk with God. Moses says to the parents who must instruct their children these words: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently.” So, first of all, what is necessary for the education of your children? You must maintain a diligent walk with God — your personal walk with God — you must give your heart to that. And the second qualification is this: You must teach them out of your own experience of God’s grace. Moses says, “Teach your children the things your eye hath seen,” the things you have experienced from God. Christian education is the transmitting of the faith of the parent to the child. We are to teach as an eyewitness.
Moses says to the people of God in his day: “Teach your sons and your daughters the things that your eye hath seen.” All the things that Israel had seen were marvelous and breathtaking. They were inspiring. Just think of what that generation — the generation that had been taken from Egypt and now stood at the banks of the Jordan ready to enter into the land of Canaan — had seen. Had any generation seen the like of what they had witnessed?
Then we must say that we, children of God today, have seen more, much more. We have seen the fulfillment of all the things all their eyes saw. We have seen the full light of the cross, the empty tomb of Jesus Christ, the ascension into heaven. All the things we have seen!
Specifically, what had Israel seen and what have we seen as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ?
First of all, they (and we) have seen the powerful hand of God to redeem. Moses was calling them, first of all, to remember that God had brought them out with a strong arm from the bondage of Egypt. They had been slaves. They were incapable of saving themselves or bringing themselves out of their distress. They could not do it. And Moses, when he was forty years old (you might remember), thought he could do it by his strength. But God says, “No, Moses, you can’t do it either. I will bring forth My people.” Israel saw the powerful hand of God to redeem. Remember how God sent ten plagues upon the land of Egypt. God broke the back of Egypt, the mightiest nation in the world at that time. Israel had not fired a shot. They had not been called to kill or to take up the sword. But God had shown the might of His hand to redeem His people from the bondage of their sin. God had spoken, “Let My people go,” and God showed that the heathen gods were vain and helpless. And by a mighty, powerful hand, He brought them out of the bondage of Egypt and now to the shores of Canaan.
The second thing that they had seen was the faithful hand of God to perform the impossible. God had brought them, immediately upon deliverance from the land of Egypt, to the Red Sea. God had led them to a point where all that they had was His Word. When God said to Moses, “Moses, go forward,” their eyes could not see it. There were mountains to the right and to the left; Pharaoh and his chariots pursuing them from behind; and the Red Sea in front of them. And God, by His powerful and faithful hand, parted the Red Sea and brought His people through the midst of the Sea upon dry ground. And Pharaoh and all of his host, when they entered into that Red Sea, had been drowned. God had led His people through because He was faithful to them. And in His faithfulness, all the impossibilities that shouted against His promises had been overcome. The Israelites had seen a faithful hand of God.
The third thing they had seen was the loving hand of God — to preserve them who were very, very sinful! Repeatedly, for those forty years that they were in the wilderness, Israel had lusted and grumbled and rebelled. It began immediately after the Red Sea — at the waters of Marah. God gave them water from rock. Then there had been bread from heaven. There had been the defeating of kings and armies that had come out to the wilderness to destroy them. They had seen the pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night leading them across the desert plains. They had experienced all of God’s powerful preservation. They had seen the loving hand of God. And they had responded repeatedly in unbelief, repeatedly in sin. Yet they had seen a loving hand of God to preserve them.
Finally, they had seen a holy hand of God at Mount Sinai. This is emphasized in the words that we are considering today from Deuteronomy 4 in verse 10. Moses said, Remember “specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb (that is Mount Sinai).” On that day they had heard the trumpet blast. They had felt the ground shake. They had seen the mountain in fire and smoke. They had heard God speak the Ten Commandments of His Law. They had seen the revelation of a holy and righteous God. They had received His will for their life.
What more could they have seen? What wonderful things. They had seen the hand of God’s power, the hand of God’s faithfulness, the hand of God’s love. And they had seen the holy hand of God. That is what that generation witnessed. And we today have much much more, by the grace of God!
You say to me, perhaps, “We haven’t seen with our eye what they saw. We’ve never seen the Red Sea parted or manna come down from heaven. We have not seen water come out of a rock.” But I say to you, you have, if you are a child of God. You have seen more than that! Perhaps you are puzzled, children, as you listen to this. Then listen to this. To be able to see something, really truly to see it, you do not have to be there with your physical eyes. True sight is faith. You need with me today to remember what the Bible is. The Bible is not just a history book. It is not just a record of things that happened. It is a living Word. It lives. It is God’s Word! And when God speaks something in the Bible, by the Holy Spirit, granting us faith, He also gives us eyes that personally we see it as true for us.
In Moses, in the children of Israel, in all that marvelous deliverance out of Egypt and across the wilderness for forty years, we see what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. It all takes place before our eyes. We see the hand of God. We see the hand of God’s power in the cross. We see the hand of God’s faithfulness over every day of our life. We see the hand of God’s love in forgiving us our sins. We see a holy God before us in the Scriptures.
We see it all by faith in our hearts. We see the redemption, the preservation, the might of the Lord our God. We experience that! Moses says, “Thine eyes have seen.” That refers not simply to knowledge. That refers to something they had embraced, something of which they were persuaded. So also the Holy Spirit persuades us, seals in our experience through the Holy Scriptures, that this God is our God forever and ever, and that He has rescued us from the great, great bondage of our sin and death. We have seen the Lord, mighty, faithful, loving, and holy!
That is by grace. The eye to which I refer is the eye of faith. And the eye of faith is a gift of grace. We must remember that! Sovereign grace, God Himself, the Holy Spirit must open our hearts before we will ever stand before the Word of God and say, “That word is true, it is true for me and it is true about me.” It is by grace, by the mighty act of God, that we have sight, sight to see our own sinful nature, our sins, our bondage, and our hopelessness. Sight to see the wonderful mercies of God in Jesus Christ. It is grace working in our hearts that gives us to see God.
Now, parents, you have seen. Teach your children. Teach them as an eyewitness, as one who has experienced, as one who knows, what you are talking about. It is the faith abiding in the parent that is to be taught to the child. The Scriptures are clear on that. All the jargon, all the nonsense of the world that the duty of a parent or the duty of an educator is just to set before the children choices is nonsense. That is not biblical. That is of the darkness. The calling of parents is, humbly, to transmit that which they know of God through the Holy Scriptures, the faith and the truth of the Holy Scriptures, to impart that from a loving heart to their children.
So God is speaking to every parent, every grandparent, every adult. And He says, “Only take heed to yourself and keep thy soul diligently.” If you are to be a teacher of your children, you must daily give yourselves to live a life of faith. You must maintain a spiritual walk with God. The Lord is saying to you and to me as a parent, “You cannot simply tell your child. You must live the truth before your child.” God is saying to us, “If you are committed in the love of God to the spiritual good of our children, if you are to impart the things of God to your children, then as parents, as fathers, as mothers, as guardians, you must see that your own spiritual life and maintaining your spiritual life is indispensable.” That is the teaching of Scripture.
What is the first word to an elder in the church, to the elder who is entrusted to hold up the things of God before the precious flock of God? We read in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock.” Where does it begin? Take heed to thyself! God is saying to us as parents, “I have not placed you to be an abstract lecturer, a detached teacher. You are not simply an employee in the matters of another. But these are the things you have tasted. These are the things you have experienced of My salvation. Now teach them out of your own life of faith. Take heed to yourself. Be spiritually sensitive to Me! Take heed to your spiritual walk of life, and then communicate, then bring the truth to your children.”
A believing parent does not simply stand before his children and say, “Do this, do that!” But “Do what I do, and do it the way I do, and do it for the reason that I do it.” Then we will teach our children by placing ourselves and our children with us before the Word of God, before the pure Word of God, the truth of the infallible (that means without error) Scriptures.
If you are to do that, as a parent, you must understand the calling of God that you have to be under the faithful preaching of the Word of God in the church. The church you attend must be measured by its belief, by what it is teaching you. Is it teaching you the truth of God?
Moses said to the people, “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words.” So also God says that we are to gather, we are to come together on the Lord’s day as a body of believers in Jesus Christ under the Word of God. That, by the way, is worship! The worship of the church is the gathering of the congregation, a body of believers, under the Word of God, placing themselves under that Word of God twice on the Lord’s day, and in a place where they are going to hear the Word of God — not apologies for the Word of God, not explanations that the Word of God really is not relevant in its various parts, that it is not scientifically accurate, that it is historically mistaken. No, no! The Word of the living God, the Word that is able to enter into the soul and give life and hope and strength. God uses, in the church, what the world calls foolishness (I Cor. 1), the preaching of the Word. God calls preachers. They are to expound the Word of God.
And through that Word of God we are given to see. We become eyewitnesses of these things. We teach our children, then, by placing ourselves under the Word of God in a faithful church. But we also do that by taking them with us in our life, in our families, and reading God’s Word with them, and reading good books with them too, and talking with them about what we read.
Then we do that also by actually teaching. This exalts the calling of a mother to greatest importance. Mother is with the little children in the home. And she is always teaching in everything she does — how she dresses them, how she cleans the house — always praying with them, talking with them, folding the laundry, showing them how to bake, how to clean the room — how she disciplines them. It is always out of the Word of God.
We do that as fathers. Let us first of all remember, fathers, that our wives are our help meet and the responsibility rests upon us for the direction of our home — not upon your wife, but upon you. That means involvement. It means that you are to live for your children — that the focus of your life is your home and your children. The focus of the father is to be the home. The true life in Christ is in the home. You are to identify yourself not simply as a computer programmer, as a carpenter, as a vice-president of an organization, as an accountant, but as a father.
Then we teach our children, under the preaching of the Word, by bringing the Word to them, by living under the Word of God with them in the home. And parents of one faith gather together in love with grandparents and with other believing adults to form a Christian day-school. In the establishing of such Christian day-schools, we seek that every subject be taught in the light of what we have seen with our eyes, of what lives in our hearts.
We want our children to be taught in the light of God’s Word. Why? Moses says that this is the reason: “that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” We want to teach them the things that our eyes have seen because, first of all, we want them to fear Jehovah. That is a very beautiful idea in the Scriptures. You must not think of being afraid of God, terrorized by God. But when you hear, “Fear the Lord,” it means reverence. Stand in awe at how glorious, how good, and how sufficient God is. You can define the fear of God in this way: It is when God gives you to know that the greatest good for you is God’s smile upon you; and the greatest dread for you is that He would frown upon you. It means that the majesty, the immensity, the glory of God has dawned upon your heart and you are forever changed. Yet, in the light of that majesty, while you would want to draw back as a sinner, yet you are drawn closer. You must worship, you must cast yourself before such a God so glorious and so rich.
We teach our children the things that we have seen in order that they may so fear the Lord, in order that they may so see God, the God all-sufficient, the God who can save, the God who is wonderful. If that is our desire, then we are going to be on our knees day after day asking for grace.
But there is also this reason: That they may teach their children — so that there might be a people of God from generation to generation to generation who know the glory of the true God in Jesus Christ.
As we begin, then, another season of the instruction of our children in the Christian school and in our homes, let us hear the Word of God, let us hear God speak. He says, “Take heed to yourself, to your own soul.” He says, “Out of your experience of what I have done for you, of the things that your own heart and soul have seen, out of that experience, teach your children.”
Let us look to God for the strength, for the wisdom, for the faithfulness to do this.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the precious Word of God that we have heard this day, and we ask that it may be applied to our hearts as much encouragement and wisdom and strength for us in the coming year. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.