EDUCATION FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-29-62 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled Education for the Glory of God. I am in a revival meeting at Center, Texas and will return this afternoon in order to bring the closing appeal in that revival meeting tonight. You are going to have a marvelous preacher here tonight, one of the finest in this present generation; Dr. Kenneth Chafin from the department of preaching and homiletics in the Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. You will have a great service here tonight. But I drove that two hundred miles for us in this morning hour, and I will drive back that two hundred miles this afternoon in order to deliver these addresses on Christian education. If you have opportunity and will listen on the radio, there is an altogether different message on this subject that will be delivered at the eleven o’clock hour, and I hope that you have opportunity to tune in the radio and to listen to that address also.
The assignment given to us is staggering, and there is no possibility of our achieving any measure of success in that assignment unless there is on the part of our people a tremendous spiritual commitment to its goals, to its purposes. In the current issue of the Baptist Standard, Dr. E. S. James’ leading editorial concerns today, which has been designated all over the state of Texas as "Commitment Day for Christian Education." Our church will just introduce it today, then Wednesday evening, as Brother Martin Lovvorn said, we will discuss it. Then next Sunday morning, next Lord’s Day, at both of these morning hours, we will vote upon it as a church.
Now there are four main goals, four great objectives that Dr. James lists in this leading editorial. For those who may have forgotten what the four objectives are, we list them again, and here are the four. One: to enroll twenty percent of Texas Baptist students in Baptist schools; that would be for us, out of all the graduating group from senior high school in our congregation, that one out of five of them at least attend one of our Baptist schools. The second objective: to enlist fifty percent of the Baptist students on state school campuses in the Baptist Student Union. The other four who would go to state colleges, that half of them be enlisted in the Baptist Student Union. And the third objective: to strive to train a sufficient number of students in Christian vocational work to meet the needs of the present and immediate future. That is, we must, out of our young people – God must, and we must help the Lord, God must call numbers of our boys and girls into the ministry, if we’re going to have any preachers in the next generation, into the office of music and educational director, into the office of these divisional leaders, beside the vast army of consecrated, dedicated people who guide our denomination, who go to the foreign mission fields, who are nurses in our Baptist hospitals, who teach in our Baptist schools, in a thousand other categories.
If we fail in the enlistment of those young people for those dedicated vocations, of course, it goes without expatiation, explanation. It just naturally follows that all that we have and purpose for God will disappear from the earth. You’re not going to have any churches without preachers. You’re not going to have any foreign mission enterprises without young people who give themselves to be foreign missionaries. You’re not going to have any educational directors and music leaders and divisional leaders in a church unless young people give themselves to those holy purposes. Well, that’s the third great objective. And then the fourth is to obtain in cash and pledges twenty-eight million dollars for buildings and equipment on Baptist campuses in Texas. I wish I had opportunity to read the whole editorial. It’s in the current issue of your Baptist Standard, and I pray that you will read it.
Now, as I said, I have come back to the church this morning in order to seek, with God’s help, to lay a spiritual foundation for this appeal. If all it means is the mechanics and if there are no spiritual values in what we are trying to do, best thing to do is to tax our people and educate all of our youngsters in state institutions. But the purpose of course of our Christian college, and our Christian university, and our Christian schools is to seek to do for our young people what the state institution by law is proscribed and interdicted from doing. Now, I am not an authority on the ultimate of these things, but I am supposing that if we were to depend upon our state institutions alone for the preparation of our Christian leaders, that our denomination would finally perish from the earth. I may be mistaken in that judgment, but I do not know any other thing except that if that is not true, if that is not true, I have no way of learning of its untruth. If I could put in another way something Martin Lovvorn said, let me say it like this: next to the loss of our churches themselves would be the disastrous loss of our schools.
Now to begin the message; in the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts, in the twenty-second verse, in the sermon, in the apology of Stephen, he says, "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" [Acts 7:22]. I wish you could have been party to a little discussion that centered around Karl Steele, who is a professor in the Christian school of Wheaton, Illinois. He was saying that the height of the cultural activity, the literacy of the people, and the advancement in every branch of knowledge of those ancients is far above and beyond what we realize today, and when it says that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, his reference is not to a smattering of knowledge, but his reference is to knowledge to which we today have not yet attained.
Those ancients did things such as in the realm of embalming, such as in the realm of building, as the pyramids which are yet the largest structures ever raised by human hands; they had advanced tremendously in the arts and the sciences. There’s not a company today – and some of the members of this church manufacture paint – there’s not a company today that can produce a paint that will last for six thousand years; but the Egyptians did it.
You’ll go to Cairo and look in the Cairo Museum; you will find paintings by those ancient Egyptians, the pigments in which are as bright and as brilliant today as they were the day they were painted. You go out here and paint you a sign and let the weather touch it, and pretty soon the red is washed out, and you wonder what color it ever was to begin with. That’s modern science.
So when it says that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, it is a reference to no small attainment. Brought up in the household of Pharaoh, the heir apparent to the throne, the Prince of Wales to the kingdom, the next in line in succession, Moses as a youth and as a young man was carefully taught and carefully trained [Exodus 2:2-10; Acts 7:20-22], but it was not enough. After forty years in the training of the arts and the sciences of Egypt, God in His providence sent Moses away [Acts 7:23-29]. And in the twenty-ninth and thirtieth verses it refers to Moses in the land of Midian; and there for forty years he was taught of the Lord [Acts 7:29-30], and at the end of the forty years, there appeared unto him in the wilderness of Sinai the angel of the Lord in the burning bush who called him to his great task and ministry for God [Acts 7:30]. Trained in the arts and the sciences of the Egyptians was not enough [Acts 7:22]; God said, "He must be trained in My learning, and in My wisdom, and in My school." And God sent him out into the desert, where he was taught of the Lord [Acts 22:3].
Now, may I choose one other illustration of that same thing? Moses, God’s great servant in the old dispensation; may I now refer to Paul, God’s great servant in this dispensation, in this age of grace? Acts 22, verse 3, in his apology Paul said, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia," the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, "brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel," the greatest rabbi of his day, "and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers" [Acts 22:3]. Yet that was not enough.
Apparently, from the Greek language that Paul used, and from his quotation from classical Greek poets [Acts 17:22, 28], apparently Paul was a graduate of the University of Tarsus, one of the great Hellenistic Greek schools of the ancient world. Then he was taught according to the rabbinical law in the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem [Acts 22:3]. But that was not enough. To be taught Hellenistic culture, and language, and art, and literature, and to be taught rabbinical lore was not enough. On the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him, and Paul said, "What shall I do, Lord?" And the Lord said, "Arise, go into Damascus, there it shall be told thee things which are appointed for thee to do" [Acts 9:3-6].
Then in the first chapter of Galatians and the seventeenth verse, Paul says that when he went to Damascus according to the word of the Lord [Galatians 1:17], and there Ananias was sent to him to tell him what to do, that, in obedience to the word and the commandment of the Lord [Acts 9:10-11], Paul went into Arabia; "Neither went I up to Jerusalem after I was converted; but I went into Arabia, and stayed there three years in the deserts alone" [Galatians 1:17-18], taught in the school of God.
You say that your school days are over;
Why lad, they have only begun.
Go forth and count the sands of the sea,
Or look on the blazing sun,
when its last red ray shall tremble
at Father Time’s caress,
The Master will still be keeping school,
’twill be only the first recess.
When the earth is worn to its axis,
and when all the seven seas
Are numbered among the things that were,
you’re still in your abc’s
For so long as Heaven and nature
remain with an unsolved rule
And God has a truth that is unrevealed,
why lad, you are still in school
[Title and author unknown]
There is a knowledge; there is a wisdom; there is a revelation of God that is over and beyond what a man can learn in physics, or in chemistry, or in geology, or in astronomy, or in any of the natural sciences. There is a learning, there is a wisdom, there is a knowledge, there is a revelation of God that goes far beyond any of these things that we learn in the natural arts and the sciences.
And it was that that God did for Moses when He said, "Moses, learned and taught in all of the arts and sciences of the Egyptians [Acts 7:22], it is not enough; there is a wisdom and a knowledge of God over and beyond these natural phenomena" [1 Corinthians 2:14]. Same thing about Paul: Paul, brought up in a great ancient Greek university, taught in rabbinical lore [Acts 22:3], "There is still over and beyond another great revelation that My servant must know." And there in the deserts taught of God for three years, Paul sat at the feet of the Lord [Galatians 1:11-18; Ephesians 3:1-4].
Could I parenthesize by saying so many times in the epistles of Paul he will say, "For I received from the Lord," not from men, "I received from the Lord these things that I bring unto the churches" [1 Corinthians 11:3].
Now, when you enter the field of Christian history and follow through the days of the fathers, and follow through the Spirit of God leading through the centuries and to this present day, you will find that same pattern that you find in the life of Moses and in the life of the apostle Paul. Justin Martyr was a Greek philosopher. He was as learned and as taught, as eloquent, as able as any man who lived in his day. He lived in the day immediately following the apostles. Yet there was a great knowledge, a great teaching that Justin Martyr came into when he found the gospel of Christ and embraced it, and became the first great Greek apologist for the Christian faith; over and beyond all that he’d ever learned in the physical sciences, in the universities of the Greek world. That same thing was true of Tertullian. Tertullian was an able, great lawyer in the Greek; he was a great Greek spokesman and a lawyer in Carthage. Following the days of Justin Martyr, and beyond those days of his learning and his rhetoric and his law practice, he found the knowledge of God, and became a mighty apologist and defender for the Christian faith.
John Chrysostom, following through, John Chrysostom was the most brilliant scholar in the school of philosophy at ancient Antioch; nobody like him. And in the midst of his studies as a philosopher in the Greek world, he found over and beyond the true knowledge of God, and became John Chrysostom, John the Golden Mouth, one of the most eloquent preachers and defenders of the faith of all the Christian millenniums. Augustine, the same way but I mustn’t take time, we must hurry. John Wesley: taught as an Oxford don, a brilliant man, even in the Oxford community looked upon as a brilliant scholar; yet at Aldersgate Chapel, having been taught by the Moravian missionaries, he found, over and beyond, the great true knowledge of the Lord, and became, as you know, God’s itinerate preacher.
Oh, that there were more like him today! John Wesley, how his followers have fallen away from that evangelistic heart that up and down the byways and the highways out in the commons, out in the opens, on the riverbanks, under the trees, preaching the gospel of the Son of God! That is John Wesley, God’s great evangelist and preacher and soulwinner. And the same thing of Charles G. Finney, a brilliant lawyer of the state of New York; and then, over and beyond, finding the knowledge of the Son of God; and then preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ, bringing to America its greatest revival.
Now, that has always been in the Christian faith; that has always been a part of the people of God. Beyond what is learned in the physical sciences, and beyond what can be taught in a world of materialism, there is another world, there is a spiritual world, there is a moral world, there is a world of God; and the true, the queen of all of the sciences is the teaching and the knowledge and the science of the living God. That has always been in the soul and in the spirit of God’s people. And that is why through these two thousand years of Christian history, wherever God’s people have lived, there will you find the Christian school; all the way through.
The ancient universities of continental Europe, all of them were founded by the churches of Jesus Christ. The great ancient schools of England, where our forefathers came from, all of them were founded by the churches of the Lord: Cambridge, Oxford, all of them. And the same pattern you will find in America; all of the old schools in America, all of them, were founded by the churches of Jesus Christ: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, all of them. And it was no less true with our forefathers in the Baptist faith. Wherever your Baptist people went, there would you find the founding of that Christian school: Brown in Rhode Island, Furman in South Carolina, Mercer in Georgia, Union in Tennessee, Baylor in Texas. And wherever our people go, there you will find that Christian school, founded by a people who are persuaded that there is a knowledge and a truth and a wisdom over and beyond what is taught in the physical sciences – there is a knowledge of God.
Now, you know the tragedy that overwhelms our schools? And if we had hours, we’d follow that through. The tragedy that overwhelms our schools is this: that the forefathers who found them, out of the great surging love of their heart for God and for their children that they are taught in the things of God, finally they lose interest in them, and the infidel comes and takes them away, and the materialistic professor comes and takes them away, and the people refuse to support their own schools, and the materialist, and the infidel, and the agnostic, and the vile and loathsome sinner comes, and he takes away the Christian school. Why? Because God’s people lose interest in it, and God’s people don’t support it, and God’s people don’t control it, and God’s people don’t keep it.
These schools are ours as much as the Sunday school department is, as much as that Baptist Foundation is, as much as the Training Union is, as much as these encampments are, as much as these church buildings are; these schools are ours, we own them, we control them. We are responsible for them. The Baptist General Convention of Texas elects their trustees. And the trustees are chosen by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and the trustee controls the school. And what’s the matter with us is that we so pass them by and forget them, and leave them into other interests and into other hands, until sometimes our schools instead of approaching and achieving those great spiritual results for which they were created, they fall into decline, spiritual decline, and they fall into backsliding, and they fall into a thousand other things that not honor and glorify our Lord.
Now, the thing for us to do is, as a church, and as a people, and as a congregation, and as a denomination, to interest ourselves in these schools, to pray for them, to guide them, to help them to those great spiritual purposes and achievements for which they were created. And if they refuse, they’re our schools: we can do what we please with them. Every faculty member that is elected, every president that is chosen, every activity on the campus, all of those things are in our hands. Now may I say a brief word in closing?
We are by law interdicted from anywise – by the way, I pray that law will be raised higher and higher and higher, and made wider and stronger and stronger – we are interdicted from joining church and state. The state is not to teach religion. It’s not to teach doctrine. That belongs to God’s people. Then if we are to do this according to the system of America, this is what obtains and must obtain.
First: while that child is a youngster, while that child is small, sending him to the public school, he must be taught in the church the things of the Lord; he cannot, by law, be taught that in the public school. He must be taught that in the church. This thing that we have in our Sunday school is no optional thing; what we have in our Training Union, what we have in our missionary program, these RA’s, GA’s, all of these things, they’re not just adjuncts and addendum; they are the very heart and soul of the very life of our people, if we have any future and any destiny.
And when we send our children to the public school, I am not wanting them to be taught to be a Mormon. I am not wanting them to be taught a Unitarian. I am not wanting them to be taught a Christian Scientist. I don’t want them taught anything of religion in that public school. That is the prerogative, that is the assignment, that is the responsibility of the church. That’s what we’re trying to do, feeble as it is, to teach these children the truth and wisdom of God in the church.
Now this little word and I have to close, and I regret it. When that child gets to be a teenager, when he gets to be a teenager and he is sent away from home, have our responsibilities ceased? While they’re little children, we have a responsibility to teach them the truth of God. But when they get to be teenagers and go away to school, then our responsibility ceases; is that correct? Just to ask the question is its own answer.
When we get through teaching that little boy and that little girl here in the house of our Lord, and in your home, at your knee teaching him God and the things of God, when we get through teaching that little fellow here in our home and in our school, then he gets to be older and we send him away; that same loving care, if you have the love of God in your heart for him, that same loving care should attend the boy and the girl: if he goes to a state school, that he be a part of the Baptist Student Union; if he goes to one of our schools, that he have around him those Christian influences and that doctrinal care as shall make the young fellow all that God would have him be. As God trained Moses, as God trained Paul, and as God calls our young people into these places of ministry and even as a layman, a great Christian lawyer, a great Christian physician, a marvelous Christian teacher, a great, fine, godly businessman, oh, how sublime this calling that God hath spoken unto us: to guide and to shape the generation yet to come in the mind and in the Spirit of Christ.
Now it is some of these things that we’re asked to pray about, and to think about, and in which to ask God’s leadership as we look upon our future in the face of that little boy and that little girl.
Now while we sing this stanza, on the first note of the first stanza, somebody this morning publicly to give his heart to the Lord, somebody publicly to put his life in the fellowship of the church, just the first note of that first stanza, you come. We’ll not tarry just but the moment. To put your heart with us in this work and ministry, come. To put your life with us in this church, come. As God shall say the word and lead in the way, on the first note of that first stanza, if God bids you, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.