God in the School
August 8th, 1976 @ 7:30 PM
GOD IN THE SCHOOL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-8-76 7:30 p.m.
Once again we welcome you who are listening to this service on KRLD and on KCBI. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled God in the School. We are honoring tonight our young people who are going away to college, and we are honoring their parents. We are praying tonight—and will, in a special intercessory appeal—for those who are preparing, beginning in the morning, the leadership and guiding-ship for our First Baptist Academy.
Dr. Mel Carter, the principal of our academy, with these who are leaders and teachers in the school, heard me deliver an address at a state Christian educational meeting in Houston, Texas. And he said, “For some reason, I have been unable to obtain a tape of that address. And I wonder if, on this night, you would deliver the same address that you delivered in Houston?” I doubtless could not do it exactly. And on account of our college students, I thought I would add to it, so that the address tonight is both for the college and for our students who will soon enroll in our Baptist Academy.
Now before I begin to speak, would you turn in your Bible to the First Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, and read with me out loud beginning at verse 24, in chapter 7, the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew chapter 7, beginning at verse 24, to the end of the chapter, and reading it out loud here. If you have opportunity, you who are listening on radio, to read it out loud there, let us all read it together; Matthew, chapter 7, beginning at verse 24, together:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock;
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock:
And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine;
For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
This is the background for the message tonight, builing upon the Word of God and the Person and deity of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, the Bible will speak of a man as a dichotomy. For example, Paul will write in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Though the outward man—the body man—perish, yet the inward man—the spiritual man—is renewed day by day.” Paul uses the word, the exo anthropos, the “outward man,” and then the eso anthropos, the “inward man,” a dichotomy looked upon as twofold. But oft times in the Bible the man is looked upon as a trichotomy.
In the fifth chapter of the first Thessalonians letter [1 Thessalonians 5:23], for example, Paul will speak of the man as “body” and “soul” and “spirit.” That is the somatikos man, the body man; the psuchikos man, the sensuous, intellectual man; and the pneumatikos, the spiritual man that knows God. Life is looked upon, therefore, in the Bible as though we lived in a house of three tiers, a basement and a first floor and a top floor. It is possible for a man to live in the basement of life. He is nothing but a clod. He’s just an animal, and he thinks of nothing but the appeasing of the desires of the flesh.
There were two students who were brought into the dean who were failing, and he turned to the girl and said, “Why did you come to college, anyway?” And she replied, “Well, sir, I came here to be went with, and I ain’t been yet.” And he turned to the boy and said, “Why did you come to college?” And he replied, “Sir, I don’t rightly know. My mother says I’m here to be prepared to be president of the United States. My Uncle John says I’m to sow my wild oats. My Mary says I’m here in order to get her a boyfriend. And my father says I’m here in order to bankrupt the family.”
There were three men in a hotel who were talking, and one said, “I am a painter. I deal with paints and colors.”
The second said, “I am a sculptor. I deal in stone and in bronze.”
And the third said, “I’m a professor. I’m a teacher. I work in ivory.” It is possible for those who are in this world to live in the basement of life. Did you get that? “I deal in ivory—dumb heads.” I have to explain it once in a while.
There is a second tier of human life. That is the sensuous life and the intellectual life, raised up from the somatikos life. It is possible for us to reach out for the trained mind and to be smart in our heads.
There was a couple who had adopted a Korean child, and they went to a studio and said, “We hear that you offer thirty easy lessons how to speak Korean. Why, we want to take them.” And the man said, “Why?” And the couple said, “Well, we have just adopted a little Korean baby. And when little Ling Fu starts speaking, we want to be able to understand him.”
A little boy came to his mother and said, “Why doesn’t baby talk?” And the mother replied, “Babies don’t talk.” And the little fellow said, “But my Sunday school teacher read to us out of the Bible that Job cursed the day that he was born” [Job 3:1-3].
These are intellectual achievements! But there is a third level. Not only is there a somatikos man, a body man; not only is there a psuchikos man, an intellectual man; but there is also the man who is created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27]. There is a third level to which life can be brought. For example, Proverbs 1 says, “This is wisdom: to fear God” [Proverbs 1:7]. And the Lord prayed in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John: “This is life everlasting: to know Thee, the only true and living God, [and Jesus Christ], whom Thou hast sent” [John 17:3]. There is also in the man the ableness to know God—spiritual acquaintance with the great Maker of our souls.
There was a boy who went to a headmaster of a school in the Ozarks, in northern Arkansas, and said he wanted to go to school. He was a very uncouth lad—barefoot, ragged clothes. And the headmaster asked him, “Son, why do you want to go to school?” And he replied, “Sir, I want to learn to read that signs down at the crossroads.” And that is the great, tremendous assignment of education: to teach the boy and to teach the girl to read the sign down at the crossroads, for in the providences of God, practically all of the great decisions that are made are made in the youth time of our lives.
What is that Christian education, and how does it differ from any other? In three ways; Christian education is education in the environment and context of a Christian people and a Christian body. The headmaster is a Christian. All of the teachers are Christians. The trustees are Christians. And the format of the school is Christian. They have chapel services. They read the Bible. They teach the Word of God in the classroom. They pray unashamedly, and most of the student group is Christian. The whole environment and context of the school is godly and Christian.
Second: what is taught is taught in the interpretation of the mind of Christ. Every subject is looked upon through His mind and through His heart. There is no subject that is in itself worldly or secular, but it is Christian and is interpreted in the mind of God in Christ Jesus. If there is a course in geology, He is the Rock of Ages [1 Corinthians 10:4]. If there is a course in astronomy, He is the Bright and the Morning Star [Revelation 22:16]. If there is a course in anthropology, He is the great God-Man, Christ Jesus [John 1:1-4]. If there’s a course in botany, He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley [Song of Solomon 2:1]. If there is a course in zoology, He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah [Revelation 5:5]. If there is a course in eschatology, He is the great and the coming King [Revelation 14:14]. Every subject is taught in the mind of Christ.
And third: Christian education is dedicated to a preparation of the young people for the moral leadership in church, in home, in business, in politics, in life, in the world. And how desperately is that needed. All of your old universities—every one of them—were founded to prepare young men for the gospel ministry. That is true in Europe. It is true in England. It is true with all of the old universities in America. Without exception, they were founded to prepare men of God to preach the gospel of Christ.
And today, it is the dedication of the Christian-educated school to prepare ministers of the gospel, to prepare staff leaders for the church, and to prepare a Christian lay leadership in the world that lies beyond: in the business world, a Christian businessman; in the professional world, a Christian lawyer or doctor or teacher; in the home, a Christian father and a Christian mother. This is the great dedication and outreach of the Christian school.
There are some cogent reasons why the Christian school. Number one: in America for us, is this: because of the separation of church and state. One of our trustees mentioned just now that by law we are prohibited from teaching religion in the school. It is becoming extreme. We are in many places prohibited from using the Bible and even praying in the public school system. This throws back upon the church a tremendous burden of moral, and spiritual, and religious, and Christian education; the separation of church and state,
Let Caesar’s dues be paid
To Caesar and his throne,
But conscience and soul were made
To serve the Lord alone.
[published in The First Epistle of the Apostle Peter, John Brown, 1851
The reason we have this academy in the First Baptist Church in Dallas is because of the superintendent of the public school system in Dallas, Dr. Nolan Estes, one of our deacons. When I was pressing for the school—and for so many years had been thwarted and frustrated, at a called meeting of our deacons, Dr. Nolan Estes stood up and said—and I quote him, “If the day ever comes when education is the sole prerogative of the government, totalitarianism, dictatorship, is just around the corner.” We desperately need the option of a Christian school. And we have that in our academy in the First Baptist Church here in Dallas. We are seeking to prepare our boys and our girls for moral leadership in the state, in the home, in the business world, in the community, in the nation.
Roger Babson one time said, “What we desperately need this day and this hour is not more factories, and more materials, and more railroads, and more steamship lines, nor even more armies and more navies.” Roger Babson said, “What we desperately need this hour is more teaching based upon the simple teaching of Jesus Christ.” This is the thing toward which we reach as a school: that there be not expediency in business or in government, but what is right—a businessman who is honest in these great corporations, not bribing; in the political leadership in the nation, men who are upright and upstanding, tall and sun-crowned. It is desperately needed in our world, in government, and in business.
And again, this is the desperate need of our churches, of our denomination. We are striving, we’re fighting for our very life. The flood tides of secularism and materialism are about to overwhelm us and to drown us. On every hand, on every side, do I see it.
A newspaper reporter called me after I’d been speaking to one of our state evangelism conferences, and he said, “What is this that I hear you say: that, beginning with this twenty-first century, Christianity will be almost extinct?” Well, I said, “Do you have a pencil there and a piece of paper? Well,” I said, “start up there in the left right-hand corner, in the left, top corner. Start up there and follow with your pencil. A hundred eighty-five years ago, this world was eighty-five percent evangelical Christian. Now, bring the graph down. Today, it is less than eight percent. Bring it down. By 1980, it will be less than four percent. Bring the graph down. By the year 2000, it will be less than two percent. Now,” I said, “follow the graph on down and see what you think.”
Materialism is the same here as it is in Russia. Secularism is the same here as it is in Russia. These things are the same all over the world when man is defined in terms of the material, the worldly, and the secular. I repeat, we are struggling for our very existence in the secular and material world. You bring your children to school and teach them evolution. To my amazement, when I went through the great Kazan Cathedral in Leningrad, the whole cathedral was given over to a display of the “truth,” so-called, of evolution. Why? Because they’re trying to destroy the spiritual in man, and if they can make an animal of him, then they can expect that he act like an animal. And that’s what communism does to the human race. It animalizes them. It makes them clods. It takes out of them the image of God.
And that is the purpose of the Christian school is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to exalt the image of God in the man [Genesis 1:27]. We were created by Him, for His glory [Isaiah 43:7]. And to teach children that, exalts them as sons and daughters of the Most High. We have come in our present day to a great “continental divide,” a very watershed of the life of our nation. There is change everywhere and on every hand.
In the days of the French Revolution, there was political change. In the days of the Renaissance, there was intellectual change. In the days of the Reformation, there was religious change. But today, there is change in every area of human life. And for the most part, it is terrifying what is happening. There is the decay of the human spirit, and you see it in the decay of a great city like New York. I hardly recognized vast areas of New York, where a man dare not walk. But is that unique or alone?
I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and having been on the plane and having spoken at a meeting, I thought I’d walk on the street of Atlanta, just for a breath of fresh air before I went to bed. Walking down the street, I was stopped by a policeman, and he said, “You go back to your room.” I said, “I’m just walking for a breath of air before I go to sleep.” He said, “It is not safe to walk on the street of Atlanta at night. You go back to your room.”
This is what is happening to America—not just New York, not just Atlanta, but it is increasingly happening to the soul of all the cities of our beloved America, including Dallas. There needs to be a change, a renaissance, a turning around. And one of the ways to begin is in the molding of the lives of our boys and girls—that they be shaped in the image and in the mind of Christ [1 Corinthians 2:16].
Before such awesome change as is flooding our world today, what shall we do? Shall we say, “God is not able, and the Lord is not with us, and we don’t have an answer, and the Bible isn’t the Word and the sword of the Spirit of God?’” No! Let us rise and meet it for these who will listen to our appeal and who will respond to our call. No battle was ever won by surrender, by capitulation, by retreat. It’s an onwardness and an upwardness that God blesses.
Somebody asked Alexander the Great one time, “How did you conquer the world?”
And he replied, “By never wavering.”
When he lay dying, his generals asked him, “Sir, whose is the kingdom?”
And Alexander the Great replied, “It is for him who can take it.”
I feel that way about America. America lies at a crossroads, at a great divide. And the soul of America is for him who can take it! God grant that in boldness and confrontation we present the name and the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ! And to do it with our children is one way to present it unto God. As William Blake, the mystic English poet, said:
Bring me my bow of burning gold.
Bring me my arrows of desire.
Bring me my spear all clouds unfold.
Bring me my chariot of fire.
We shall not cease from battle strife,
Nor shall the sword sleep in our hands
‘Til we have built Jerusalem
In this fair and pleasant land.
[“And did those feet in ancient time,” William Blake, 1808]
We haven’t quit. We haven’t surrendered. God’s not dead, and Jesus has not relinquished His throne. We’re the people of the Lord. The victory is ours. And we believe the blessings of Almighty God are upon us when we seek to teach His Word, to inculcate in our youth the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and to build in the image of God these that the Lord hath given to us, our boys and our girls.
May the Lord bless the preaching of the gospel in this holy place. May the Lord bless the teaching of His Word in the days of the week. And upon school and church alike, may heaven’s benedictions, rich and beautiful, abide.
We’re going to stand and sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, to give your heart to Christ [Romans 10:9-10, 13], to put your life in the fellowship of the church, to stand with us, to march with us, to pilgrimage with us to the glory that is prepared for those who love the Lord—as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, come now. Make it now. Do it now. In the balcony round, there’s a stairway at the front and the back and on either side. There’s an aisle close to you who are seated in the pew. Down that stairway or into that aisle, on the first note of the stanza, come. May the Spirit of God lead you in the way. May angels attend you as you answer with your life. Do it now. Come now. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.