As the word Christian means different things to different people, so also does the term Christian education.
Many of the catalogues advertising Christian schools will say that they are “Christ-centered” and “Bible-based.” That certainly sounds good, but experience teaches that further investigation is required to discover whether or not we would agree with those claims.
For some people “Christ-centered” means that the name of Christ is used as rallying point for a political agenda–and that agenda can span from far to the left to far to the right, depending upon the flavor of the group. For others “Christ-centered” may be a term describing a version of pharisaism with a Christian twist–that is, work-righteousness, using Christ as the motivation.
What about “Bible-based”? Even those who deny the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture can–and sometimes do–still claim that their institution and teachings are “Bible-based.”
Buffet-style works well at mealtime, but we would not adopt such an approach to Scripture.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and we look to it for insight regarding what Christian education truly is.
Let’s keep it as simple as possible. The objective of Christian education is to make one “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Our little ones are taught hymns about Jesus and simple prayers. In our Christian day schools and high schools we teach about the people and events in the Bible and Christian doctrine. Scriptural teachings and principles are brought out even while subjects like social studies and science are taught. In addition there are Bible classes for adults in our churches, and always sermons when we worship.
Teaching, teaching, all this teaching! Why? It is because we desire that ourselves and our children “be made wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”! Nothing more, nothing less.
More Than Conduct
We could train and regulate our children so that they exhibit exemplary behavior. We ourselves could scrutinize the Golden Rule and strive to live thereby. In the process we would earn the admiration of those around us, who in turn might consider us to be people of principle and character.
Yet if we miss out on eternity in heaven, what would be the value of what was learned?
The heart and core of true Christian education is not about teaching conduct. Neither is it conforming to a certain lifestyle. The basic and most vital aspect of Christian education is manifested when the soul is moved to speak the words of the publican in Jesus’ parable: “God, be merciful to be, a sinner” (Lk. 18:13).
We would rather our children know how to come before their Lord and say these words in all sincerity than be able to do anything else. The reason? It is because then they would be truly justified. Such a penitent, humble heart is in full possession of the remission of sins, the imputed righteousness of Christ, and a place in the Father’s house.
This is not to say that we do not promote good character and proper behavior, but that can truly only flow from a heart in which Christ already dwells–a heart like the contrite publican. Above all else, contrition, humility, and a childlike trust in Christ must be found in the heart.
That is why we want to teach the inviolate Word of God. The Spirit in the Word alone has the power to convict, convert, and give life. The beginning, the middle, and the end of all true Christian education is the salvation of souls by repentance for sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
–Pastor Delwyn Maas