“Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth” – Second of Three…
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them 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 up….” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Our theme for this worship service is Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth. In order to keep a heritage, there really needs to be someone to whom it is passed down. That is where the role of Christian education comes into play. Through His Word may God teach us how we might pass down this heritage of truth, even as it has been passed down to us!
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” This verse of our text establishes the importance of Christian education. There is only one true God. There is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. And there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Through His Word God enabled Martin Luther to understand this importance. Luther wrote: “[Satan] sees that he can not have his way in our times, he thinks to accomplish his purpose with our descendants, whom before our eyes he seeks to withhold from learning and knowledge. And thus, when we are dead, he will have a naked and defenseless people before him, with whom he can do as he pleases.”
Through His Word God enabled our CLC forefathers to also understand the great importance of Christian education. Through His Word God moved the voters of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, Minnesota, to draw up and approve plans of starting a school for higher Christian education—even though there was no budget, no faculty, and no CLC yet to support it!
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”
Before parents can instruct their children, they are to have God’s Word in their own hearts; therefore, these verses establish the fact that Christian education is a cradle-to-grave process. There is no graduate from Christian education this side of heaven!
Through His Word God enabled Martin Luther to write not only the Small Catechism (to be used in instructing children) but also the Large Catechism. The latter was designed as a means to further assist and teach those teachers of the children. “According to Luther, it [was] the duty of every Christian to learn constantly, in order also to be able to teach others in turn.” (From Historical Introduction to the
Book of Concord, F. Bente)
Through His Word God enabled our CLC forefathers to establish institutions that would aid in the cradle-to-grave process. As congregations were established, so also were Christian day schools, Christian high schools, a seminary, Sunday schools, Sunday Bible classes, mid-week Bible classes, confirmation classes, adult instruction classes, as well as two periodicals: the Lutheran Spokesman and the Journal of Theology.
“You shall teach them 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 up.”
The final verses of this text remind us that Christian education takes work. We are to teach our children diligently at all times and concerning every facet of their lives. This may often require sacrifice on the part of the teacher and parent—and yet it is a most wonderful sacrifice, for it is a most wonderful work!
Through His Word God enabled Martin Luther to labor and sacrifice throughout his life, as is evident from the great number of Biblical sermons and teaching materials he left behind.
Through His Word God enabled our forefathers to labor and sacrifice greatly for the soul-saving work of Christian education. When our sister congregation of Luther Memorial in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin was established, they had a Christian day school of 64 students in grades one through eight and two teachers; certainly such a high student-to-teacher ratio required much labor, and surely sacrifices had to be made. Many pastors also served as the Christian day school teachers. Members sacrificed well-paying jobs in order to remain close to the truth. Parents made sacrifices both in hard-earned money as well as in time spent so that their children might have a thorough Christian education. Yes, our CLC forefathers knew both hard work and sacrifice.
Through His Word God enabled! Through that same Word may He also enable us to recognize the importance of Christian education for our own spiritual benefit, to realize that it is a life-long process, and to endure in this blessed hard work as He uses us to pass on our heritage of Truth to sinners in need of Jesus. Amen.