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The Ministry of Education

The ministry of the word is not only important to initially bringing people to Christ in evangelism, but it also involves teaching or bringing up people in the Christian faith so they will be able to stand in their faith in God but also become productive members of Godís workforce to change their society for the better.

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth."  (2 Peter 1:3-12)

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What are the objectives of Christian Education?

1. Christian education must point to God as the source of life, truth and morality that will develop a life long trust in Him as all sufficient for the human condition.

2. Christian education develops godly character based on God-centered values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors through the imitation of Jesus Christ that in turn reflects Godís nature in every way.

3. Christian education must uphold a strong sufficiency in the word of God as the total source of faith, character, doctrine, ministry methods, manner in all Christian works.

4. Christian education must understand the human spirit from Godís perspective as He instructed about humanity rather than lean on the fallibility of the human perspectives from social sciences that are mostly based squarely on the doctrine of the religious Secular Humanism.

5. Christian education has the goal of teaching students to be independent learners of the word who will be internally and divinely motivated toward ministry to the glory of God. Individual accountability in learning Godís word is a must.

6. Christian education is obligated to teach students to discover Christianity in faith and practice as taught in the scriptures without reliance on the baggage of previous faith systems or creeds to cloud the vision of God-shaped minds.

7. Christian education is responsible to prepare Christians for active service to actively promote Christian values and teachings to further the faith and transform human society in the image of God rather than in the image of humanity.

8. Christian education must develop leadership within the Christian community that is self-replicative and reflects the authoritative servant spirit of Christ; who are stripped of the need for selfish ambition, power, manipulation and influence peddling so indicative of authoritarian hierarchical cultic-minded leadership so prevalent in modern Christianity.

*For a fuller discussion on much of these statements, look to the Biblical Literacy ethic, learning and the objectives of the site.

 

Biblical Literacy at the center of godly Education

From the time that a written record was kept for the education of future generations, Biblical literacy was the focus. The fact that God provided a written record of the truths He wanted the human race to know, gives a good reason to conclude that God expected humanity to be able to read and understand it well enough to build lives on it. Just as God set in motion physical laws to govern the processes of the physical world (i.e. time, energy, force, matter, etc.), God also established a body of laws, promises, conditions, principles and consequences to provide guidance to the human race. When the human race accepts Godís directives as the solace of their lives, they must also recognize and follow Godís teachings that communicate His expectations. When people accept Godís commands, they in turn accept God Himself since the commands tell a little bit of Godís nature and their heart felt faith filled lives is demonstrated in obedience as devotion to God.

God delivered His teachings or laws to the human race in a variety of ways, such as through the patriarchs and prophets of old and through the person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-4; John 1:1,14). Later, God delivered His message, not only in spoken form or in personal form but also in written form as well (2 Tim. 3:16). To understand Godís expectations and intensions for His people to know how to understand and communicate His laws and principles was the focus of literacy. God gave the Israelites an explicit command to educate their children to love God with all their being through verbal instruction during everyday routine and through environmental print which are at least two methods for passing on Godís truth to each generation (Deut. 6:4-9).

The of the first formal statements of education appears in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 on the education of the community:

" 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. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Parents were the first teachers! They were commanded to teach their children to look to God through a variety of teaching methods: (1) verbal instruction; (2) "vicarious" type, "as-you-go-along" teaching; (3) and through environmental print. By using these methods, the goal was to teach the people to internalize their faith in God from the time of their youth.

Educators could imitate God in His creative approaches to communicate His truths. God used a wide variety of literary devises to teach His people over the generations about Himself and His truths. From the natural world, genealogies, poetry, peopleís names, covenants, law, narrative history, letters, wisdom literature, prophetic devises to Jesus Himself, God communicated creatively to humanity to capture the creative spirit He placed in the human heart. God was passionate about having His truths and wisdom available to those who would listen. As the authors of Proverbs described wisdom like a woman crying aloud in the streets [Prov. 8; Prov. 9:1-6], Godís truths are available to those who will seek His knowledge out like fine treasure [Prov. 3:5-20]. Apostle Paul identified that "All scripture isÖuseful for teaching, rebuking, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God will be completely equipped for every good work" [2 Tim. 3:16,17].

Not only did God want the nation of Israel to be literate, but He also expected the leadership of Israel, such as kings to copy the Law and study it continually to guide his steps in leading Godís people (Deut. 17:18). Educational leadership came from the priests and Levites who were the instructors of the law. Later on, the Israelites developed a level of passion for learning to the point that a few texts were written to promote the Law of God. The book of Proverbs presented a formal curriculum that was developed to specifically teach "critical thinking" skills to the students through moral lessons and pithy statements (look at the prologue of Proverbs {Prov.1:1-6}).

Later on in Deuteronomy, it is said that God expected the Israelites to follow the written law handed to them with negative consequences for them if they refused to obey it and respect the name of the Lord (Deut. 28:58). And again, in Joshua 23:6, Joshua reminded the Israelites to obey the written law of God with great devotion. These passages demonstrate that God held His people accountable to know and understand His revealed truths in written form. However, the Israelites did not always follow the command in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and they fell into dire spiritual catastrophes when they could not understand Godís revealed truths such as in the case of Isa. 29:11-14 where God compared their inability to a literate man who is unable to read a sealed scroll and to an illiterate man who could not read at all.

The fact that God wanted the Israelites to love Him with all their being showed that learning was to go beyond mere memorization but to transformation of their whole being as the preferred outcome of Godís educational plan (Ps. 1; Ps. 119:9-11; Prov. 7:1-5). Though the Old Law was passed down to Mosses and the Israelites, it could not achieve the task of permanent spiritual change in Godís people because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 7). The New Testament echoes Godís same desire expressed in the Old Testament for His people to be changed through the partnership between being literate in the word of God and being influenced by the Spirit through the word (i.e. John 8:31,32; Rom. 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 8:8-12).

bulletLITERACY AND RESTORATION PRINCIPLES

Though history is replete with examples of Godís people falling away from their devotion to God, it is interesting that every time that God restored His people, He did so through revealing to them His truth through the spoken and written message of His truth. In the days of Josiah, the child king, the covenant was renewed with Josiah reading the rediscovered Law to the Israelites. Again, the word of God was presented to the Jews by Ezra, as Nehemiah was leading the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple from ruins after a time of captivity in the story presented in the book of Nehemiah.

Another example appears in Ezekiel 37 where the prophet experienced a vision of Israel as a fallen army lying in a killing field. God instructed the prophet of Ezekiel to speak the word of God to bring the Israelites back to life (Ezekiel 37:4-14). Again, the ministry of John the Baptist was another example of the spoken word being used to bring about a restoration of Godís people to prepare them to receive the promised Messiah--Jesus the son of God (Matthew 3:1-6). In all the cases mentioned, the word of God was always involved in revitalizing the nation of Israel after the down fall to bring them into the greatness God intended for them. Again, it can be seen that God expected His people to know and understand His word, whether is it was presented in spoken or written form.

bulletCHRISTIANITY AND THE WORD

The New Testament record shows that the written word was an important part in teaching the way of the Lord. Jesus said in John 8:31,32, "If you abide in my words, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." The Jerusalem Bible states Jesusí comments this way: "If you make my words your home. . . ." This again reflects the level of devotion God desires His people to have in dealing with His written word.

The gospel of John was given for the specific purpose of providing us the basis for our faith in Jesus as the Son of God (John 20:30,31). Again, the gospel of Luke begins saying, "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed" (Luke 1:3).

When the church was established and the Apostles saw the need for correction, instruction, training in righteousness, encouragement, or rebuke, various written accounts and letters were written to teach what Christians needed to know about carrying on in the faith of Christianity. Addressing the 1st century church on a variety of matters, Paul mentioned six times that he did not want the Christians to whom he wrote to be uninformed about any information they would need for instruction. Information was freely given for learning so Christians could mature. Ignorance was not a condition that God would desire for His people. Paul told Timothy that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16; Italics mine).

The Gospel of Luke, one of four biographical works that traced the highlights of Jesusí life, opens by explaining the purpose for the account. Luke said, ". . .it seemed good to me also, having accurately followed all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed" (Luke 1:3,4; Italics mine). Both passages (John 20: 30,31 & Luke 1:3,4) address the fact that the true Christian faith is built on a firm foundation of spoken and written instruction. Christianity is not built on subjectivity or mysticism or on forced orthodoxy but on provable facts that provide the evidence needed to have a clearly objective faith in Christ (compare to Heb. 11:1,2).

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word" (2 Thess. 2: 15-17; Italics mine). Both written and spoken communication became the center of providing information to the fledgling church for maturation and to supply a resource for future generations of believers as well. To use the resource today, Christians must have the necessary skills to gain the knowledge that will help them to have a link to first century Christianity.

In his letter to the Colossians Christians, Paul encouraged them to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" since the Colossians congregation was being bombarded with various teachings that opposed the truth (see Col. 2:2-23). The "word of Christ" refers primarily to the teachings that have to do with Christís personal nature. Later, Paul demonstrated that what he wrote to the Colossians was more universal in nature by instructing the Colossians to share their letter with the Laodiceans and have the Laodiceans do the same (Col. 4:16). When Paul instructed the Colossians to read his letters, likely he was referring to public reading.

Not only were members of the Lordís own instructed to give attention to the written word, those who taught the doctrine of God were especially instructed to do so. Paul said in I Tim. 4:15 & 16, "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and teaching closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." Paul also encouraged Timothy to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15; Italics mine). To be an unashamed worker of the word, one must possess the skills necessary to use the resource of truth provided to them. While providing instruction on the qualifications of elders, Paul wrote to Titus, a commissioned proclaimer left in Crete, that elders ". . . must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that {they} can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9).

By instructing those who lead the Lordís number in proclaiming and teaching the word of God, the leadership can continue Christianity as God intended it. By preparing themselves to handle the word carefully, the leadership of the Church will be qualified to "prepare the saints for works of service" (see Eph. 4:11-16). In so doing, the leadership would also protect the Christian community from those who would try to deceive them.

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