Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Spiritual Children : The Business of Christian Education LXXIV

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 9:6-13

            The busyness of the world often sparks from the need to provide for our family.  One of the noblest things to do is to care for the weak.  Our children are considered among the weakest in the line of man.  Many times, then, our focus is fixed upon our children.  We have our imagination and dream about the future of our children.  We always want the best for them.  We always hope that they will succeed us in a greater and better way.  My dad always told me that he hoped for me to live a better life than he could ever be.  And so, my dad, together with all parents in the world, strives to provide for the best for their children.  We work day and night in order to manage our income that will put food on the table.  Food is essential in the growth and survival of our family.  On top of that, we also build our house for our family’s shelter.  Clothing is one of the main concerns as well that we do not neglect.  And we often go overboard to enslave ourselves so that we could also provide beyond the essentials.  In this modern world, we push ourselves over the limit in order to put our children in the
best school.  We want to ensure the future competitive edge of our children in the world.  As much as we can we prepare and equip our children to survive in the harsh world of man.  We want them to be successful.  Every night at dinner time, we boast about our heroes in the hope that our children would become as successful as our heroes.  We feed them on the table, plus on their imagination of what they would want to be.  In short, we often devote ourselves for the life of our children.

            No doubt children are important.  Any culture in the world would agree on this one thing.  Despite our differences, we all agree that keeping our children alive and rearing them to be successful in the world is the dream of all of us.  When our children go astray and commit terrible mistakes, our heart is broken.  When our children fail, or when they stumble, or when they are destroyed, we weep.  In that situation, we take up our case to heaven, and complain to the God of all the earth.  Because in our children rests our pattern, our hope, our strength, our dream, our life.  When they fail, we too feel the failure.  Their failure is ours.  In that context, we do not abandon our children.  We see in our children our future too.  We envision in our children our most noble intention and purpose of life.  That is why when there is news of parents abandoning their children, or parents harming their children, or parents manipulating their children, the entire society reacts strongly condemning the wicked parents.  We hang all our hope and dream on the shoulder of our children.  And we pass it on from generation to generation.  In this noble vision, we are like God in many ways.

            Paul spoke about the true children of God in Romans 9.  Obviously, not all humans who are born on earth can be called children of God.  Specifically, only those children who are born of the promise that is included in the family of God.  Not even the physical descendants of Abraham are considered children of God.  The acceptance of God’s promise can only happen through faith.  So, even if a person is born through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but if he or she has not faith, then such person is not counted among the children of God.  Paul gave evidence in the word of God to Rebecca regarding the twins, Esau and Jacob.  Jacob was a child of promise.  Not Esau.  Even though Esau too was born through Abraham and Isaac.  The birth of God’s children is not through physical birth.  But as Jesus explained in John 3, the birth of God’s children is through the spiritual birth that is done by the Holy Spirit.  For these children of the promise, who accept the promise through faith just like their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is God’s vision of their future glory.  And so, even though we are not physically born from the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we are counted as children of God through faith.  Through faith we are born again in the Holy Spirit.  All of us children of God are destined for glorious purpose in eternity.  But we cannot instantly become what God purposed us to be.  For in our limitation as creatures of space and time, we ourselves need to go through certain things in order to grasp the hope and dream God has for us.  So God has to grow our spirit through faith in order for us to reach maturity.  God’s noble purpose for us sets the course in our life.  Spiritual food is provided by God in his word (Matthew 4:4).  Spiritual home is being built by God, which we know as the church – the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).  Spiritual clothing is prepared for us in the truth, love, kindness, and all the angles of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 6:14-17).  God goes beyond by ensuring our eternal destiny through the death of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ that redeemed us through his holy blood, and through the Holy Spirit that dwells within our hearts as a deposit that guarantees our eternal destination to be with God forever.  No, God does not abandon us.  If we who are full of sins can will our heart and life in such a way so as to take care of our children and strive to ensure the future success of our children, how much more the Holy God provides, prepares, and equips his children for the future glory in eternity.

            The glorious ministry of Christian education is that we are entrusted with the education of God’s children.  Louis Berkhof and Cornelius Van Til in “Foundations of Christian Education” spoke of Christian education as educating the royal children.  These royal children are the children of the King of kings.  And thus they deserve royal education.  In this way, Christian education is the royal education of the King’s children.  If we are given the task to educate the children of the royal family of the English monarchy, we won’t dare give them crappie materials or useless courses or meaningless discussions.  We give them the best of the best.  Now, we are given the task to educate the children of the royal family of the Kingdom of Heaven monarchy, would we give them crappie materials or useless courses or meaningless discussions?  The answer should be: NO!!  We then are to give God’s children the best education.  God gives this task for us in order for all God’s children may achieve the glorious purpose God has set for us.  That glorious purpose is understood in the truth that all children of God are to reach “unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  In other words, we all as children of God are destined to be like Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.  This corresponds our constitution as being created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28).  And the true image of God is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20).  What a glorious and noble purpose it is.

            All Christian educators must realize this reality.  Moreover, all Christian educators must realize the glorious ministry of Christian education.  Christian leaders must understand the importance of supporting Christian education in all seriousness and might.  The sad thing is that when Christian leaders neglect the ministry of Christian education.  Horace Bushnell already spoke about it in his “Christian Nurture.”  The realization that we are given the task to raise the children of the promise must sink in deep in our hearts.  Church business is not merely about proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ in the evangelistic mode.  Even Paul stayed for years in one city in order to educate the new converts so that they too might grow mature in Jesus Christ.  The business of Christian education is indeed the business of Christian faith.  The business of Christian education is undoubtedly the business of the church of God.  God’s church must consider very carefully all its programs and plans.  God’s church must be in sync with the vision God himself has for his children.  Spiritual home for the children of God cannot provide a different kind of education.  The only education permitted in the spiritual home of the children of God is the royal education of the kingdom of heaven.  And this does not stop at the four walls of the visible church.  It penetrates the life of the Christian family, Christian community, Christian practices, Christian schools, and also Christian churches of the local areas in all their programs and activities.

            The royal education curriculum should not be limited only within the boundary of theology.  For God has two revelations to us.  General and Special revelations.  This means that the royal education curriculum must include every area of all disciplines.  But the core values of all must be founded upon the belief of the Triune God, such is the presupposition (cf. Cornelius Van Til in Introduction to Systematic Theology).  Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that an important task is given to us, which is to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  This truth gives us guidance that we do not incorporate the “wisdom” of the world that rejects God into our education.  But rather we demolish such arguments and take them captive in order to subdue so that it may be made obedient to Christ.  In that way we do not toss away all findings or inventions, but we bring them to be purged for the usage by the rightful owner of all knowledge, God.  The spiritual children, the children of God, are to be educated in all seriousness and might with all kinds of knowledge that God has revealed to us, and be founded upon the knowledge of God himself (cf. John Calvin “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” John Frame “The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God,” and A.W. Tozer “The Knowledge of the Holy”).  All this is for the future glory in eternity as God envisioned it for all of us, the spiritual children, the children of God.  Praise God forever and ever!

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