In part 1 of this series, I asked the question, What do our children need to know? If you haven’t read that blog, I encourage you to go back and read it before reading this week’s post. I ended that post by sharing another biblical principle for how we educate future generations. The principle reads,
The education of children and youth must have as its primary focus the increase in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10; 2:2-3; John 17:3; Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-6; Ephesians 1:16-19; 4:13; Philippians 1:9; 3:8-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 3:18; Proverbs 1:7; 2:4-5; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; Isaiah 5:13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Exodus 20:3-4
Paul warned Christians in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up. Just knowing facts and figures can very easily lead to pride. I believe that is why so many people who have earned advanced degrees reject the truths of Christianity. They believe that they know so much that they don’t need religion in their lives. They have become proud in the knowledge they have accumulated. Unfortunately, they may not know truth just because they know some facts. John Piper understands that knowing God gives true meaning to any facts one may acquire when he stated,
Modern people suppose that if they have the facts about a given thing, person, or event, they have the truth. They forget that facts are not meaningless or value free, and that if we do not associate the meaning with the fact, we do not have the truth.
I am convinced that what is lacking in our own lives and in the education we are giving the next generation is an increase in the knowledge of God. In fact, God says that His people are destroyed and find themselves in captivity because they lack this all-important knowledge. Knowing God is of utmost important to Him.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you that ye may…increase in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10 KJV
…cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:15-17 KJV
God makes it clear that He desires that every Christian grow in the knowledge of Himself more than growing in any other area of his/her life.
For I desire goodness; and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 KJV
The reason why God puts such a high premium on the knowledge of God can be best understood by remembering why God created man in the first place. If you recall, God created the entire universe as an expression of who He is and for His glory. On the sixth day of creation God put a capstone on His creation with the creation of man. The reason why I believe the creation of man was the capstone of creation is because only man is created in the image of God. By being created in the image of God, only man can know God personally and intimately. The great theologian, J. I Packer, states this truth clearly.
Once you become aware that the main business you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall in place of their own accord.
Solomon understood how the knowledge of God is foundational to any true education. The wisest man who ever lived, apart from Christ, wrote,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. If thou search for [understanding]…thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 1:7; 2:4-5 KJV
Increasing in knowledge begins with the fear or reverence of God. Then, when you search for wisdom and understanding, it will result in you understanding the fear of the Lord and this is what leads you to know God.
You might be asking yourself a question right about now. How does all of this emphasis on knowing God relate to how we educate our children. Again, I am reminded that God created everything as an expression of His nature. If our most important purpose for our existence is to know Him, then we can come to know Him by studying what He has made. This reality is found throughout God’s Word.
The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1 NKJV
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead… Romans 1:20 NKJV
Whenever I study some part of God’s magnificent creation, I should be increasing in my knowledge of God. The late Albert Greene grasped this important principle of education in his book, Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education. He wrote,
We must avoid the impression that academics represents the fullness of what school is all about. Knowing God in and through the creation is what is important…It brings no honor to the Holy Spirit if we then proceed to treat the ordinary school studies, which are derived totally from the created world, as if they had nothing to do with God. They are laden with meaning because they are all part of God’s way of giving Himself to us, of making Himself known to us.
I am becoming more and more concerned about how most Christians approach education, especially schooling. I believe that we may have it backwards. We are pursuing more knowledge so that we have better standardized test scores, higher SAT and ACT scores, strong STEM programs, etc. Then, because we are Christians in a Christian school, we ADD Jesus and/or the Bible to the curriculum. I am not against wanting our children and grandchildren to achieve good test scores or to be strong in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, it appears that we should be pursuing a knowledge of God first as we study the various subjects and, then, our children may end up achieving more in the STEM areas of schooling and scoring well on various standardized tests.
This is what happened with men in the past. They were not pursuing science per se. They were pursuing a knowledge of God by studying His two books, the Bible and Creation. Consider the words of George Washington Carver:
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.
More and more as we come closer and closer in touch with nature and its teachings are we able to see the Divine and are therefore fitted to interpret correctly the various languages spoken by all forms of nature about us.
Isaac Newton also had it right when he said,
This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.
In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.
Gravity may put the planets into motion, but without the divine Power, it could never put them into such a circulating motion as they have about the Sun; and therefore, for this as well as other reasons, I am compelled to ascribe the frame of this System to an intelligent Agent.
Even though Jonathan Edwards was a powerful revivalist preacher, he also had a strong grasp of the sciences. He understood science because of his pursuit of the knowledge of God. Here is how Edwards puts it.
We have seen that the Son of God created the world for this very end, to communicate Himself in an image of His own excellency. … When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous (rain)bow, we behold the adumbrations of His glory and goodness; and in the blue sky, of his mildness and gentleness.
Among the many acts of gratitude we owe to God, it may be accounted one to study and contemplate the perfections and beauties of His work of creation. Every new discovery must necessarily raise in us a fresh sense of the greatness, wisdom, and power of God.
When one’s knowledge of God increases, it will, in turn, bring true meaning to one’s knowledge of the facts being studied. When this happens one will increase in wisdom and understanding. Again, I turn to Jonathan Edwards to make this truth crystal clear.
Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves are the most important…He who does not know Him, knows nothing else as it truly is.
I close by asking you to ponder Paul’s admonition to his students.
According to the riches of His glory, . . . may [the Father] grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
An increase in the knowledge of God must be the highest priority in the education that we give our children and youth!