The Importance of a Spiritual Education

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. 

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

School is coming back into session.  It’s a time when our children are given knowledge, knowledge concerning skills which they will need in order to live as adults in this world.  So while education, its value, and the acquiring of it is on our minds, it might be good for us to reflect not only on the value of the secular education we receive, but also on the value, quantity, and quality of the spiritual education we receive.  Friends, take a moment to think about how much knowledge of the Bible you possess.  Is it quite a lot?

Statistically, unfortunately many will answer that question in the negative.  According to the Barna Group, less than half of all adults can name the four gospel books in the New Testament which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the inspired biographies of Jesus’ life and ministry here on earth.  This same source also reports that many professed Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the apostles by name.  (If I had to guess, I’d say they would cite Peter and Paul.  Perhaps some might even say that Mary is an apostle if they assume the 1960’s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary was based on the names of Bible characters who were all apostles.)  60% of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments given to Moses.  82% believe the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.  (It isn’t.)  A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’s family, even though the Bible teaches that our actual purpose in life is fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13), of which is included the command to take care of one’s family (1 Tim. 5:8).  At least 12% of adults actually believe Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.  (I guess I’m glad that percentage is low, but shouldn’t that number be zero?)  Over 50% of graduating high school seniors believe Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife, when they were actually neighboring cities destroyed by God with fire.  Sadly, a considerable number of responders to one poll believe the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.

Parents recognize the value of a secular education and thus choose to educate their children through public, private, or home schools.  Do we also recognize the value of both our children and ourselves receiving a spiritual education?

As seen above, God through Moses commanded Israelite parents to talk about the Bible every day, morning and night.  He also said that the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2).  Through Hosea He said that His people were destroyed by “lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).  He instructs Christians to “long for the pure milk of the word” like a newborn longs for milk, and thus “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).  He also rebukes Christians who are no longer new converts and yet still know nothing but the elementary principles of Christianity, if that (Heb. 5:12-6:1).

Our children will have received around 16,800 hours of secular education in 12 years by going to school 7 hours a day, five days a week, 10 months out of the year.  This will help them get ahead in this world…but then they will leave this world.  Will they be prepared for the next?  Not if we give them only 1-4 hours a week of spiritual education in the church building.  12 years of that will give them only 1,248 hours of biblical doctrine before they leave the nest.  Statistically, many children these days leave the church never to return once they leave the home.  There’s a reason for that.

Let us bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  Sit down together every single day and learn from God’s Word together.

—  Jon

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