Last time I talked about how unprepared Christians can be for defending their faith in the face of pushback, but what we didn’t address is why. The only answer I can come up with is a lack of purposeful Christian education. If you look at the amount of time dedicated to Christian education in the past (i.e. Christian school, Sunday School, catechism classes, two Church services, Bible studies, etc.), it far exceeds what we see today. I fear history will not look fondly at our generations, as we have shrunk the ministries and services of the Church to a 1-hour service per week. Usually, then, that hour needs to catch our attention with an engaging message and upbeat music; otherwise, we’d rather take the time off to be with our family. Less and less do Christians see themselves as coming to serve and worship God, and more and more have we bought into the consumer mentality of a Church service needing to meet our entertainment appetites. We chase experience; we chase a feeling, but we should be chasing God’s glory. No wonder kids leave and don’t come back.
The Word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). One look at statistics would show that either the Scriptures are wrong, or we have failed to adequately train up our children. A Christian education should be robust; it should train a child in a defense of the gospel, engaging the mind and intellect in addition to the affections. There are 18 years between a baptism and going off to college, and yet too many young adults are stepping into the world without the ability to articulate and defend even the basics of their faith. After 18 years of anything, we should have it mastered.
This is why the Word teaches us, “6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
A few chapters later we then again read, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
Clearly, it is important to God to always have the Scriptures before us, and to “diligently teach [our] children”. In the New Testament, then, those same children receive this command: “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Paul is writing to Timothy, but it’s something all Christian children must take to heart, because what we see is that the child must be trained so that later they can stand firm.
Now, this is certainly not an exhaustive survey, but wherever there is a lack of education there inevitably comes a watering down of the faith. As the world grows more hostile, and when we find ourselves unable to defend what we believe, we will have three options: dig deep into it, abandon it, or water it down. We typically trend to the latter two, which are two sides of the same coin. Yet Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 that he was not ashamed of the gospel. After all, of what is there to be ashamed? It’s not simple morality; it’s not a program to get your life in order; it’s not a comforting collection of fairy tales. Christianity teaches the self-revelation of God through His Word, His Son, and in nature.
In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul shares, “14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
How amazing! We have the mind of Christ! – The mind that was there in the beginning, that formed the mountains and the rivers, the dawn, the rain, and all things is ours to plumb through the Word. The inexhaustible well of truth is ours in the Spirit of the Living God. As Proverbs 8 says, “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, 11 for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11). How can we be ashamed when that is our heritage, when that has been given to us? How can we fail to desire to keep learning, keep searching the Scriptures?
I don’t advocate for the believer what my college professor advocated for me: saying something confident enough to make another second-guess themselves. We don’t need to do that, because truth is on our side. Instead, we must advocate for training and equipping in the Scriptures from a young age. After all, Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The battle for our faith is fought primarily in the mind and not in the feelings. If there is any hope for this country, our children, and the thriving of the gospel, we need to recapture Christian education, and we need to do it now.
My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!