The Topic is Education
Good morning. I am going to preach to you this morning about a subject you have probably never heard a sermon on before, though there have been some preached. The Topic is Education.
I would like to get you to turn to 2Timothy 2:15 and hold your place for a moment.
This is a difficult subject to preach on because it seems so general, and I admit that if I had the time with you I could easily preach a series of sermons on the subject. But if you will listen to me carefully for the next few minutes you will find out that the sermon topic is a very important one to Christians, and our time together will be over all too quickly.
Now I know that most of the people listening to me this morning fall into four categories of hearers. I am going to tell you what those four categories of hearers are to begin with, so right away you are going to learn something as you decide which of the four you belong in:
Category # 1 – Is those of you whose ears picked up when I said education, or when you found out you were going to hear something you had not heard before, or when you decided that I was just funny enough looking or acting I might be of interest. There can be any number of reasons that you are interested this morning. Some of you might be educators, some might just get interested every time anything related to knowing more about Christ and Christianity comes up. Unless I come across as very boring those of you who are in this group are going to hang with me, and when you walk out the door it is very likely you will have learned something.
Category # 2 – Is those of you who do not have an interest in education. It is my job to convince you the subject is important, and to stir up an interest in you. I have already started trying to do that by telling you that I know you are in my audience. The awareness that you are out there is one of the benefits of an education, except when too many of you are present on a Sunday and then the preacher knowing you are not interested in the sermon is liable to feel discouraged. How about if I were to tell you that education, and in particular Christian education, was being threatened? And, it is. Well, that might still not get your attention, But if I tell you that your way of life, perhaps your very life and freedom is under threat? And, it is. Now that just might get your interest up. Well it is true. You have threats today from people outside Christendom, inside Christendom, and from government. Many of you are not even aware that our Christian heritage in this country is being systematically dismantled from every place the National Parks Service has gotten its hands on for instance. That includes everything from Yellowstone National Park to Christ Church where Benjamin Franklin and his family once attended services. And they are not the only threat.
The Bible says that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge in Hosea 4:6. The devil knows that and is attacking knowledge on every hand. He is doing a good job of it too. I am going to tell you right now that if you are not interested in the subject of education you are helping the devil in his battle against knowledge. So if you do not wish to be on the devil’s side you just might need to take an interest in what I have to say, and in the process look out for your own well being.
Category # 3 – Is those of you who cannot take an interest in what I have to say about education. I want you to know that I know why you cannot take an interest. Everything we might say about reasons you cannot be interested just boils down to two possibilities:
The first possibility is that you are a lost person. You cannot take an interest in things pertaining to the faith because your heart does not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and so you cannot be stirred by issues pertaining to His Kingdom. Christian subjects are for the most part foreign to you, and the longer you have delayed receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, resisted the wooing of the Holy Spirit, the more distant things of the Spirit have become. The issue is not your level of education or what you do for a living that keeps you from being interested in what I am saying.. The issue is your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and your need to get saved so your mind can be opened up to all that God has prepared to bless you with. I would invite you to bow your head right now and ask Jesus Christ into your life and then this sermon will become your first step into a rich and full Christian life.
The second possibility for why you cannot take an interest in this message is that while you are saved, you are living in sin. You are busy minding the things of this world. You might even be so much involved in sin that you have what we call a stronghold in your life, just like a lost person. You are not going to be able to take an interest in education because knowledge will reveal your sin to you and make it even more painful to bear. Like the lost person in the congregation this morning what you need is to get right with God by confessing and turning from your evil ways. You need to get right with the Lord! The devil is trying to tell you that you cannot do it but he has been a liar and a deceiver always and if you believe the lie that you are helpless in your sin, well then, you have really made his day!
Category # 4 – Is those who will not listen to my sermon on education. Whatever your excuse, and people come up with a lot of them, you have decided beforehand to occupy your mind with something else before I ever started talking. You just might not like me, or my positions. You might have read some article I have written in the paper or something I have said on the radio. You might not like the way I look or perhaps my mannerisms. Whatever the reason you have determined not to listen. Of all the categories I have given you are the most hopeless because a change can be worked in every other listener by the Holy Spirit, but no change can be worked in you till you have surrendered your will to God. I invite you to do that right now, so when you walk out of here this morning you will be able to say “It is good to have been in the House of the Lord!”
Now having said all that let us read the Word of God:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2Timothy 2:15)
Let’s take a poll here this morning. I am going to ask you to hold up your hands if you agree. How many of you believe this Scripture is a clear direction to the believer?
Okay, let us read farther where it says:
“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2Timothy 2:16)
Now we will continue our poll and ask how many of you believe that? Raise your hands if you do.
Good. Now has it ever occurred to you that you cannot do the second verse until first you have done the first? I can tell some of you did not get the question. So I will say it again. Has it ever occurred to you that you cannot shun vain and profane babblings until you first have learned to rightly divide the Word of Truth? Until you have become studied in the Word it is impossible to shun what you must identify by the Word. I love the way God never gets the cart before the horse. He always has things in the proper order.
While I am taking my poll, and this time I will not put you on the spot by asking you to raise your hands, but I want you to be honest with yourselves. How many of you even know that the Bible has divisions? How many of you know those divisions are not just the Old and New Testaments? The Old Testament has at least three major divisions that can be further divided and the New Testament has three that can be further divided. I know there are some sitting under the sound of my voice that do not know that. And what I have just told you is a very fundamental thing that is only the beginning of what you should seek to know about God’s Word if you want to be a Christian who is not ashamed. So many times I have heard Christians say that they do not witness to their neighbors because they do not know God’s Word well enough. That is not an excuse, that is a shame! And there are more shames, shames that we could dispel by becoming educated in the Word of God and in the things pertaining to the Word of God.
People are pretty apathetic about knowing God’s Word, and that in itself is a shame. They are like the college student who came back to his dorm room on an evening and said to his roommate that his civics professor had said there were two problems with American citizens that was allowing the country to go to the dogs; these were ignorance and apathy. The student asked his roommate if he could guess what else the professor said, to which the student replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Ignorance and apathy. The two should not be found among Christians, but all too often they are. I want to dispel some ignorance and apathy today by telling you three things and then closing:
First of all I want to tell you some things about the history of education and Christian education in particular.
Second, I want to tell you some things about what is going on now related to education.
Thirdly, I want to tell you a little about what you and I need to be doing as believers in relation to education.
You need to know that education of believers is not something that is of recent vintage. We talk of Sunday Schools being a twentieth century invention and this seems to make people fall into some kind of mindset that Christians only became concerned about instruction and knowledge in recent times. This is far from true. Christianity continued a tradition of education that was common to the Jews. The word scholar is used twice in the Old Testament. It appears once in Chronicles (25:8) which is part of the historic books, and it appears also in Malachi (2:12) who is one of the division we call the Minor Prophets.
Did you know that the Bible also reveals that there were prophetic schools in the Old Testament? One of the things that interest theologians today is what we can learn or discern about the subjects that were taught in those days. I think many of the kinds of subjects we teach in seminaries today were being passed on in those schools back then. There was a need to teach men how to speak well and other things pertaining to the calling of a preacher back then. The prophets’ job was as much to speak about the evils of the day as it was to foretell the future. We sometimes miss that. Now like then education does not give a person a calling from God whether it is to be a preacher, deacon, or Sunday school teacher, or something else. But education can equip a person to be better at it.
Education for the average Jew can be dated back to the various dispersions of Jewish people by conquering nations like the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They developed the synagogue system of worship and it was in the synagogues that children also went to school. They learned to read and write in the synagogues and it was there that they very often had other books in addition to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, for people to read.
The Apostles were trained for the most part in the synagogue system, what we would consider to be like Christian grade school education today. People such as Peter, the fisherman, was familiar with the Aramaic language, Hebrew, which had become the church language, the language of the Scripture, and he also knew Koine Greek, which was the language of business and commerce. People referred to the people where he was from as ignorant. It kind of makes one wonder what the people of those days would think of us doesn’t it? Of the people in the New Testament Paul and Luke were men of letters. Very few others on the Lord’s side were to start with. Paul had actually studied under the most famous Jewish theologian of his day, Gamaliel. It was Gamaliel who was consulted about what to do with the followers of Jesus. (Acts 5:34-39) Gamaliel cited history, then he counseled the people who would persecute the followers of Christ to leave them alone. He was not just a theologian, he was also a historian.
There was a school in Alexandria that had been trying to pervert the Old Testament. People schooled in the literal interpretation of Scripture. They had proved a problem for them over and over. The most famous of these ancient professors was a man called Philo. After Christianity got started, these members of the Alexandrian cult began trying to pervert Christianity. They were not adverse to violence either. They actually had physical attacks made on some schools in the early days of Christianity to keep them from teaching Scripture means literally what it says. Things have not changed much over the years. The Roman Catholic Church was willing to see North Africa overwhelmed by Islam because the people in North Africa were loyal to the doctrines of the early church and the Old Latin Bible, which was much like our King James Bibles. The North Africans were not loyal to the false Catholic Bible, the Latin Vulgate, and the doctrines of the Roman apostate church. The Roman church actively opposed people being able to read the Bible and during the years they were dominant education was controlled by the Catholics. Even kings were not encouraged to become too knowledgeable. Every time men learned to read and got hold of the Scriptures the vain and profane babblings of the Catholic system were opposed.
I could go on for some time telling you of the great sacrifices that made it possible for us to be able to read the word of God for ourselves, but I would like to jump forward to the New World and the land and people that would come to be known as Americans. People want to tell you today that the founding of the American colonies was simply for financial gain, but the primary motivation of those who came to the thirteen original colonies was religious freedom and that is far different than the motivations that drove the Spanish and Portuguese who were primarily interested in riches.
Some of you may have heard of the famous City Upon a Hill sermon delivered by Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor James Winthrop in 1630. It was spoken of recently when former President Ronald Reagan died. Reagan had taken that theme for speeches of his own when he was trying to restore the vision of America back to what it once was. Winthrop viewed what they had begun as something that should be an example to the world and Reagan believed that was America’s destiny. But that is a destiny that can only be achieved by a Christian educated nation. It was just six years after the Puritans arrived and Winthrop made his famous statement that Harvard College was founded. (1636) That’s right, the first institution of higher learning in North America was founded that early for the express purpose of preparing young men for the ministry. Harvard and all the other older colleges were founded for such purpose, but down through the years they have lost their way.
Did you know that as early as 1642, Massachusetts required all parents to insure their children learned to read? The reason was the Puritans were concerned that all people could read the Bible for themselves. In 1647 Massachusetts made a law directing all towns of at least 50 people to hire a teacher to teach their children to read and write. Did you know that most early teachers were also ministers? Towns with 100 households had to establish a Latin grammar school. Nowadays we have areas with many thousands of households that cannot seem to teach any other language than Spanish, if a second language is even taught. We are not concerned with training clergymen, we are concerned with training policemen and social workers. What went wrong? I can tell you. The law that was made in 1647 was for the purpose of defeating “the old deluder Satan.” It is known even to this day as the “Ole’ Deluder Satan Act. There was no ACLU back then to raise a stink about that. If there had been people trying to organize one they would not have been tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail either. They would have been hanged!
Did you know that the first Bible printed in the Colonies was in 1663? It was printed in the Algonquin Indian tongue so those people could read the Bible in their own language. What I am driving at is education has been important to Christianity even as it was to Judaism down through history. So now we jump ahead and talk about what is going on in the world today.
The Current Situation
Today education is in a mess. It does not matter whether you are talking about education in Public schools, in colleges and universities, or whether you are talking about the education going on in churches. One of the problems is that the information available for use in teaching is highly suspect. This is true whether you are talking about Public Education or whether you are talking about Christian education.
For instance, a few years ago I was teaching at a Public school and one of the history books I was supposed to use to teach fourth graders had about five pages devoted to Islam and only one paragraph devoted to Christianity. To top it all, the information contained in the pages on Islam was very wrong. I am qualified to speak on that subject because I have lived and traveled in Islamic countries. So I am not just acquainted with the subject through research, I know about it from actual experience. I could go on and tell you about comparisons I have made between textbooks printed fifty or more years ago and books being written and published today. Suffice it to say because my time is limited that things are very bad. Often what you find in the textbooks is that writers have also taken every opportunity to try to contradict God’s Word. Ever since the 1930’s public education has been growing more and more hostile to Christianity. One of the key turning points in public education took place with the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial. From that point fundamental Christians have been more and more often pictured as some kind of wild-eyed ignorant buffoons who do not even have common sense.
In Christian education, you have seen a great deal done to continue ignorance and confusion in the churches. One of the lies that people have bought into is that two different books can be saying different things and because both of them are called Bibles they are to be accepted as the Word of God. That doesn’t even make common sense, and the real Bible tells us God is not the author of confusion. You know who gets blamed for spreading confusion in the churches? It is the people who have not changed. The folks who are still using the Bible God gave us in the English language through the blood of martyrs and which we have used since the 1600’s are made out to be the bad guys. Now how is it that the people who have not changed away from the Word of God are causing confusion?
Let us talk about education in the church a minute. When I was a boy we Baptists had something called Training Union and people got their first taste of standing before a group and teaching a lesson in Training Union. It was the preparation ground for Sunday School teachers and other jobs within the church. It is gone now, and in some places it has been replaced by something called Church Training. But in most places we do not even have that. Where are people going to come from who know how to be able to prepare lessons and teach classes? The truth is that we have gotten to a point where most people who are called Sunday School teachers really do not know what they are doing.
Let me tell you something else that I know about most Sunday School teachers. Most Sunday School teachers never look at the lessons before some time on Saturday, and some first look at the lesson a little while before they are supposed to come to church on Sunday morning. When I was a boy, my Dad taught me about studying to teach by his example. He started working on the coming Sunday lesson on Monday even as he had his quiet time before leaving for work. That lesson of preparation has been the standard I have tried to emulate in my own adult life not just in teaching but in preaching as well..
The truth is that people who go about their Sunday School preparation at the last minute or haphazardly show it when they come into the classroom. Some people walk into classrooms and open the Bible, read the Scripture, and say what ever pops into their heads. I have heard some things come out of even deacon’s mouths as expository on Scripture that have absolutely nothing to do with the Word of God. Let me also say this. One of the most folly-laden questions I have ever heard is “What does this passage mean to you?” I am not concerned with what the Scripture means to anyone. It is not of any private interpretation. I am concerned with what God is saying to man. We need to get that straight and change our attitudes and treatments of the Holy Word.
So we have an abandonment of Biblical study today, not just by teachers but by students as well. People do not come to Sunday School, having studied to hear a teacher open up the Scripture and fill up what they have learned with additional insight. And, many teachers have not done the very basics to make a presentation of the Word to people who want to hear the Words of Life. This ought not so to be. I could go on talking about the present situation because I have not said the half of it, but I want to get to the finish of my sermon with the answer about what we need to do about it.
Not only is this going on within the churches the government is actually working to hamper the role of the church as a vehicle of education. People in high places do not want churches sounding a moral and ethical alarm or even quoting specific Scripture that condemns the things evil men in high places are doing. There have been quite a few chinks made in the church in recent days, but none has done any more harm than Lyndon B. Johnson. People talk today about George Bush stealing the Presidential election. That is a lie, but a former election official confessed on his deathbed that he actually did steal the 1948 Senate election for Johnson. Afterwards Lyndon Johnson, fearing that churches would rise up in indignation and call for his defeat, they did things like that back then, came up with a plan. Johnson got a provision inserted in the IRS code so that churches that intervened in the political process could lose their tax-exempt status. Johnson then put out the word that the churches had better stay out of the election. Johnson went on to become the most powerful Majority Leader in modern times and then he presided over the meddling in the conduct of war that lead to the death of so many of America’s finest in Vietnam. This is what happens when the churches are silenced, the people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Today spies are even coming into fundamental Bible believing churches and spying out what the preacher has to say and the material made available to the congregations contain. One of these groups has the unlikely name of The Mainstream Coalition. There are others doing this kind of evil as well. They want to have freedom of speech for the people on the devil’s side, but they want the men who are on God’s side silenced.
What We Need to Do
It is here that some of you think that I am about to make my pitch for coming over to the Bible College and take some courses from my professors and myself, but you are in for a surprise. You might expect me to also be promoting Christian activism and getting out and writing letters and picketing Congressmen. If you plan to see me trying to work up the group and promote going out and getting politically involved, becoming a sort of Vocal Majority you’ve missed the point I have been working toward in this message. I am not against those things but they are not the most important thing and they are not what you first should be concerned with.
You see the real need Christians have today is first to get their priorities right. Change from the current situation back to what is in line with the will of God begins not out in the world but internally. What is needed is for Christian people to first get down on their knees and pray that God will give them a love for His Word and a desire to seek His face. Then they need to pray that God in the Person of the Holy Spirit will perform His work in their lives as the Divine Teacher leading them into all truth and protecting them from error. This kind of praying should be on every believer’s lips and we should be praying in that manner all the days of our lives. I began praying this way under the tutelage of a great saint of God many years ago and have seen that the Lord has answered that prayer for me repeatedly over the years.
Nearly four decades ago, having been raised in the church and seeing my own father study to teach classes while growing up I came to a crisis of life where I began to search God’s Word daily and pray the prayer I just told you. And I can give you testimony that God is faithful. If you pray and ask God to teach you He will. He will do so through His Word and through godly people, some who are authors of books that He will send into your life to help you by sharing what the Lord has taught them. He can also keep you from reading books that could hurt or confuse you if you are sincerely praying and seeking to learn what God has for you when He has it for you.
If you depend on your total knowledge of God’s Word to be only what you hear on Sundays and Wednesdays you are likely one day to realize that you have gotten very old, learned very little, and made a lot of mistakes that you could have avoided had you given yourself to the study of the Word of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Every pastor and faithful Sunday School teacher knows that with the limited time he has before the people that if what they learn from him is all they get, they will not learn nearly as much as God would have them to.
Now I know and you have heard that the world, the flesh, and the devil is at work The devil is seeking to keep you from being disciplined to study God’s Word. Not only that he is trying to convince you that you do not have time to study your Bible every day. But when you and I get honest with one another we have to agree that the majority of people waste a great deal of their time. How much time do you spend watching television? How much time do you spend on the Internet? How much time do you spend occupied with sports or some other activity when you need to be learning how to rightly divide the Word of Truth? Some people are not concerned about being workmen who do not need to be ashamed because they have never gotten around to being a workman. Well I have news for you. When this life is over nothing is really going to matter beyond that which we have done that impacts on the eternal. It will not matter what your golf handicap was or whether the Braves won the pennant. The things we think are important today will lose their value when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Almighty God. When we come before God’s Throne we will be looking for a “Well done.” Examine yourself right now and answer this question; If you were to stand before God today would He have any reason to commend you for your service to Him?
The Bible says that being able to rightly divide the Word of Truth makes for a servant who does not need to be ashamed. Can you do that?
Outline: The Topic is Education
Key verse: 2Timothy 2:15
A. Four Categories of hearers:
B. Read text and poll//Read vs 16 and poll.
Ask the people how many knew the Bible has divisions?
C. Three points:
a. some things about the history of Christian education
b. some things now going on related to education.
c. What believers need to be doing related to education.
1. Jewish practice/synagogues/ scholar in Chronicles and Malachi (history and
2. Apostles and Gamaliel
3. War against truth – Alexandria/ North Africa
i. Winthrop- 1630- City on a Hill
j. Harvard – 1636 educate preachers
k. Parents teach children to read –1642
l. Towns of 100 had to teach Latin grammar Ole’ Deluder Satan Act
m. 1663 – Algonquin Bible
1. Lies in the world
2. Lies and confusion in the church
3. Ignorance and apathy in the church.
1. What we need to pray to God for
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