We believe that our gracious God, in His sovereign good pleasure has entered into covenant with His people and has established with them that everlasting covenant of grace which God one time promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God will be their God and they shall be unto Him a people. There you have the two sides to that glorious covenant. He will be God unto them. That is, all that which belongs unto Him as God, which characterizes Him for what He has revealed Himself to be, all His God-ness will become the experience of His people. His goodness, righteousness and mercy and kindness, His people will taste it all. Ps. 34:8 will go into fulfillment, “O taste and see that the Lord is good”, and, as Peter says concerning the newborn babes, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious”. The Covenant is therefore an economy in which God causes His people to taste His goodness and grace, His friendship and His fellowship centrally God does this through Jesus Christ crucified and through His Spirit and Word.
The other side of this same covenant is that “they shall be unto me a people”. Signifying that this people becomes God’s private property and God is jealous oi their affection, service and worship. The covenant people is the Bride of Christ. They must not go a whoring, nor bestow their time and affection upon some other than their proper man, which is God in Christ. They shall be unto God a people in that they shall respond with lives of new obedience to His Wore and reveal themselves as the wife of the bridegroom Christ.
The Covenant and Our School Children.
Against the background of that covenant we have in our Baptism Form a prayer with Thanksgiving. The prayer that God may look upon our children, that is, bestow upon them His divine attention, take them out of our earthly family into His divine family. Further, that they may be piously and religiously educated grow up in Christ Jesus, daily follow Him, joyfully bearing His cross, live in all righteousness under their only teacher and manfully fight against sin, Satan and his whole dominion.
Concerning our baptized children we therefore have the calling to educate them piously and religiously, in order that they may rise up in the midst of this world to reveal themselves as of God’s party to fight the good fight of faith and receive the victory oi grace.
Time will reveal that not all who are baptized are members of this multitude which shall attain the victory, but those things belong to the inscrutable wisdom of the sovereign God. We are called to educate them piously and religiously. And we rest assured that this pious education will reveal that in our generations there is the “man of God”.
Our Children In This World.
Hence the instruction our children receive must serve to prepare them to take that place in this world which the covenant assigns to them. And if we ask what this place is, the answer is: their place is to live in obedience under their only teacher and to reveal themselves as of God’s party in this world.
Our children are not called to bring about a new world order, to form bulwarks for democracy, to rebuild the world, to claim the world for Christ or to develop a Pro Rege. No, they are first of all called to live in new obedience and righteousness under their only teacher, to fight the good fight of faith and to reveal themselves as of God’s party in this world. God’s party has always been in this world. Since the days that Cain’s children went off to develop the world and Seth’s children went out to build an altar and call upon the name of the Lord, since those days, God’s party has been in the world and they were a different party. They led a distinctly different life. God’s party is in the world. And there they are called to reveal themselves as of God’s party. Whether this type of education develops a new world-order, forms a bulwark for democracy, rebuilds the world, or whether it ends the world in confusion and destroys democracy. . . . essentially that makes no difference. They need the God-centered, covenant-inspired type of education. They must be taught to live in righteousness under their only teacher.
As our Baptism Form expresses so beautifully and as the Scripture teaches on almost every page, next to this party of the living God there is another party. There is what the Baptism Form calls “sin, Satan, and his whole dominion.” In the face of that fact this world and world-life becomes for the children of God a battle-field and they are called “manfully to fight”. Christ has the victory. Already in the Garden of Eden, when this warfare was first announced and brought into being, God rises up to announce that in Christ the seed of the woman will conquer over the seed of the serpent. God hath the victory. But for us the victory lies on the other side of a battle-field. Battlefield? Yes, so God has ordained it. One time creation was organically united under one head, namely Adam. But sin came. Creation became divided against itself. In that creation there are who hate God, who live out of the principle of sin and use this creation in the direction of sin. But in that creation there are also who have been touched by the grace of God have been renewed and love God, and use creation in the direction of God. These two never get along with each other. Everlastingly they pull in opposite directions. After sin came into the world there is no such thing anymore as a quiet development of creation. Everything is warfare. Whatever is developed with a view to this war between light and darkness. Into such a world come our children.
Under their only Teacher they must learn the art of this holy warfare. Warfare against their own sinfulness, against sin, Satan and his whole dominion, and thus reveal themselves as obedient children, not fashioning themselves after the world, but after God, and revealing themselves as party of the covenant God.
The Fear of God, Beginning of Wisdom.
The beginning, that is the fundamental principle, of living in righteousness under this only teacher is the fear of God. That is the beginning of wisdom. Not mere history, geography, physiology or what have you will equip him to rise up in this world as the man of God, but the constant instruction in the fear of God, as it touches him in history, physiology, geography, etc. He needs to be educated in the fear of God. His fear of God needs to be developed. By the grace of God that fear is present, that fear has to grow, it has to become keen, strong, unmovable. History has to develop that fear of God in his heart, geography and physiology—yea, all serve the development and strengthening of that fear of God.
This fear is composed not of terror nor dread for God, but of amazement at Him, of wondering at Him of feeling reverence and awe for Him. When Job inspected the mighty things of God’s hands he fell down in fear of God, amazed at His greatness, keenly aware of his own significance.
This fear and reverence becomes the principle out of which true wisdom proceeds. With this fear in their hearts our children learn the things our schools have on their curriculum, but through it all they acquire wisdom, and become equipped to stand in the midst of this world, wherever God calls them, and show forth that they are of God’s party. God’s covenant is with them that fear Him.
Therefore the instruction in Christian schools must revolve around the fear of God, be God-centered, covenant-directed and be a process in that pious and religious education for which we prayed when we had our children baptized.
(to be continued)