The Mandate to Teach
August 28th, 1988 @ 8:15 AM
2 Timothy 2:1-2
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 2: 1-2
8-28-88 8:15 a.m.
And thank God for the multitudes of you who share the hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor delivering the message. Actually, it is the beginning, the introduction, of our fall program and is centered around the mandate to teach. And as a background text, we read three passages. One, out of the section that you read:
Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of Me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
[2 Timothy 2:1-2]
And not to repeat the Great Commission which is so familiar to all who read God’s Word, the last three verses of Matthew:
The Lord came and said, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the triune God:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
And the third one is in Deuteronomy chapter 6:
These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart,
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children. You are to talk of them when you sit in the house, and when you walk in the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
You shall bind them for a sign – for frontlets – on thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets – a phylacteries between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house – the mezuzahs – and on thy gates.
If you seek an answer why all of those ancient people, all of them, have disappeared from the face of the earth, and why the Jew is still here – you can walk up and down the streets of Dallas and see him. You can go in any other city in the earth and find him. And he now has, in the prophecy fulfillment of the Lord God, a home where God gave his land to his Father Abraham. Why is it that the Jew is still here? He has been persecuted beyond any way that mind could imagine or words could describe. Why? The answer is in the passage I just read. "He taught his children" [Proverbs 22:6]. faithfully and wel. That’s the beginning of the Christian faith – in the mandate to teach.
Our gifted deacon, Jack Hamm, has drawn a cartoon that’s been published in papers around the whole earth. Christianity is described in the picture as a fast-moving railway train. And then in the foreground, he has drawn the two tracks. One he labeled, "Soul-Winning; Evangelism." The other he labeled, "Education; Teaching." And the Christian thrust the dynamic moves on those two rails – the teaching of the Word of God after the soul has been born again in a soul-winning invitation.
Those two God-blessed Gemini are the shining lights of the centuries. All education in these centuries and centuries past has been under the aegis, under the direction of the Christian faith, of the Christian church. They began by these Gospel tracts, these four Gospels. Then they gathered catechumens who were taught the truth of the gospel. Then they founded great universities. All of the old universities, all of them, were founded by the followers of Christ, the Christian people, whether it be the Sorbonne in Paris, or Oxford and Cambridge in [the United Kingdom], or whether it be Harvard and Yale and Columbia and all the rest of them in America. All education was under the direction and aegis of the church. It is only in recent years, very recent years, that education was taken over by the state and became tax-supported.
That leads us to a great and vital necessity in the age and in the day in which God hath cast our life and lot. Here is a headline about two or three days ago. "Fewer in the Poll Believe the Bible to be the Word of God."
Only thirty-one percent of Americans now believe the Bible is the actual Word of God. There also has been an increase in the percentage of Americans who do not believe that the Bible was inspired by God. Education is the major variable with belief in the literal truth of the Bible, decreasing as the level of education increases.
This is from the Gallup Poll.
William Allen White has written, "Unless those who believe in a Christian civilization are willing to sacrifice to educate Christian leaders, they will find that their dream has vanished. If American churchmen fail to support the kind of education that turns out Christian leaders, American life, under another leadership soon will close the church. You will cease to exist."
Humanism has taken possession of our public schools and colleges, the entire educational system. The Humanist Manifesto says, and I quote, "We find no evidence for belief in the existence of the supernatural. We can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. No deity can save us. We must save ourselves." End quote.
Now may I read the result? In 1940, before the humanist took over our schools, the major offenses in a public schools were running in the halls, chewing gum, making noise, not putting paper in the wastebaskets, getting out of turn in line. In the 1980s, after years of tax-supported humanist infiltration, the major offenses are rape, robbery, assault, burglary, drug abuse, arson, drunkenness, carrying of weapons, vandalism, murder, extortion and gang warfare. That’s the result of humanism in our public school systems.
You take your child to Sunday school on Sunday, and he is taught Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created." Then you take your child to school on Monday and he is taught how man evolves from apes. I have here a pericope from the Texas Education Today magazine, a publication of the Texas Education Agency. Quote, headline: "Teaching of Evolution Mandated in Texas Textbooks." And the first sentence, "For the first time, the State Board of Education has mandated that the teaching of evolution be included in all high school textbooks approved for use in the state’s public schools." If the text doesn’t teach evolution, that we are descended from apes, then it is not acceptable in our public schools in the state of Texas.
Our answer to this humanist propaganda that has taken over our educational system in America, our answer is, number one: our Bible study, our Bible schools. We propose in this church, in our church, we propose to build our Sunday school as we have never attempted to build it before. And we can do it.
Upon a day, a few, can’t remember when, a few years ago, not many years ago, we had twelve thousand two hundred fifty here in Sunday school. And not one anybody said to me, "We were crowded." This is one of the most unusual church facilities in this earth. We can house over twelve thousand five hundred or thirteen thousand people here in Sunday school and it never be crowded. God has given us an open door.
Number two: beginning the first Sunday in September, next Sunday, I want us to change our nomenclature in our reporting from "Sunday school" to "Bible Study" – Bible school – "Bible Study." The beginning reason for that is my sensitivity to the fact that the legislature has opened these stores on Sunday. And there are many, many, many people who work in the stores on Sunday, and they cannot, therefore, attend Sunday school. So let’s change it to "Monday school" and "Tuesday school" and "Wednesday school" and "Thursday school" and "Friday school" and "Saturday school." Let’s call it "Bible study school." And we can have our Sunday school on Sunday, and all of us who are free to attend are welcome to come. Then we’ll have weekday schools, and we’ll have them everywhere, day and night.
I think of three categories. Number one: let’s have our Bible schools in these institutions. Right across the street is a big, tremendous YMCA. They have seven thousand members in that YMCA, within a block of our church. I went over there two days ago and this is the letter I received from my visit.
It was good to talk to you today regarding the possibility of the YMCA weekly Bible study being sponsored by the educational division of the First Baptist Church. We want to offer more events to our members that emphasize the C – the Christian – in the Young Men’s Christian Association. Let’s make it a point to review the possibilities is the near future. I’m here to assist you.
And that from the official executive leadership of the YMCA.
What’s the matter with teaching the Word of God over there on Monday? What’s the matter with teaching the Word of God on Tuesday? What’s the matter with teaching the Word of God of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday? And not only that institution, but every institution in the city of Dallas that will open its doors for us. Why not teach the Word of God?
We have under our wonderful Willie Waye Young, we have a ministry of teaching out at Tremont Nursing Home. Why not do that at Autumn Leaves? Why not do that at every place in this great metroplex, where they’d open the doors of God for us to teach the Bible? Then instead of just having the report "Sunday school," let’s have the report "Bible study." Let’s do it down here.
I found out just this last week the W.M.U. here in our church has four Bible study classes. Think of the possibilities of teaching the Word of God, and if we have any hope of turning our nation heavenward and God-ward, it lies in those kinds of ministries.
Then I have one other: the home; the home, the house, where we live, the house, the home. Maybe we could sponsor it by our evangel groups. Last night, right here, I had a beautiful wedding. And I learned that the couple met one another in a Bible study group sponsored by our church, where they had in the beginning just four people. Why not? The whole world is open to us to teach God’s infallible Book.
Now may I turn aside here to make an observation? If you study Christ, you study the Word. You can’t study Christ in any other way except in studying His Word. He is revealed in the Word of God. Christ the Lord God identifies Himself with the Word:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of God
[John 1:1, 14]
Or Revelation 19:
I beheld heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was [called] Faithful and True.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns;
And He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God.
God and His Word are identified! A man and his word may be two different things, but not God and His Word. God’s Word is like God Himself, the same yesterday, and today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8]. Psalm 119:89, "Forever, O God, Thy word is fixed in heaven." Or Matthew, "Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words will never pass away" [Matthew 24:35]. If I study Christ, I study the Word. If I know God, I know the Word. If I’m introduced to the Lord Jehovah, I’m introduced to Him through His Word. And when we teach the Word of God, we’re teaching the Lord Christ Himself.
May I add here in the few moments that remain, may I add the tremendous dedication of our church toward the teaching of the Bible in these institutions that God hath given us in our gracious, God-blessed communion and congregation. I have in my hands here the statement of philosophy of our First Baptist Academy; "First Baptist Academy Statement of Philosophy." I wish I had time to expatiate upon it. I have here a brochure from our academy, and the first sentence is, "In the tax supported school, it costs $4,921 dollars last year to educate a child, while at the First Baptist Academy it was $3,290 for the year." And this is the headline of the paper a day ago, "The DISD Hikes Taxes by 14.88%." Then the next headline, "The Big Boost." Then the first sentence, "The Dallas school board increased property taxes by 14.88% Thursday night. The school board voted 7-1 for the tax increase." We can do it much cheaper and we can do it infinitely better.
If you want your child to be taught in the most marvelous way in this world, you take your child to our academy. If you want the child to have a Christian education, enroll the child in our school. The brochure says, "After a national study, there is hardly a family that cannot afford to send their children to a Christian school." We think, "This price beyond what we’re able." That’s not true, they say. It’s just whether we’ve got the heart and the spirit to do it or not.
I praise God for our academy. We opened our school year; our fall term last week, and we opened it with a pastor. We opened it with a chapel service. We opened it with a singing of God’s hymns. We opened it with a reading of the Bible, and we opened it with a message from the pastor’s heart from heaven. By law you can’t do that in a tax-supported school. You can’t pray. You can’t read the Bible. You can’t have chapel. You can’t name the name of Jesus.
I was getting ready upon an occasion to speak at one of the great high schools here in the city of Dallas. And the administration, the school said to me, "The American Civil Liberties Union has sent us word that if you name the name of Jesus, we’ll shut down the school." That’s humanism that has taken possession of our great teaching ministries here in our beloved America.
We need that school, and God is blessing us in teaching those children, not that they are animals, but that they are created in the image of God, and as such we ought to magnify the Lord in our lives.
We have another wonderful educational institution in our dear church. We have a college, a Bible school. Charles Malik, who has been here in this pulpit – Charles Malik, he’s from Lebanon – Charles Malik, president of the United Nations Assembly said, and I’m quoting:
History is decisively in the making today, and yet quality of decision is largely absent. There is an ominous drift. People appear to be overwhelmed. It is as though the complexity and multiplicity of present issues are too much for the mind of man. America must mean more than bombs, dollars and technical assistance to Asia and Africa. More than ever there is a need for teachers and students who confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and who are engaged in a serious search for the knowledge of God, His universe, and His demands upon life. The responsibility placed on our schools is greater than ever before.
I quote David Lloyd George, a great Baptist and the prime minister of England during that First World War. He said, "Our biggest foe is not the arsenals of the corrupt munitions factories, but the schools and the colleges of Germany." How is it that Germany ever turned into that awesome factory of hate, and terror, and war, and bloodshed that resulted in the lives lost of eighteen million men? How did that happen? It happened because of the schools and the universities of Germany.
Our college has a marvelous program. I have this brochure, The Last Shophar, the college impacting the world through its curriculum, through new mission points, through the graduates.
And this is the last and I have to stop, our KCBI. I cannot believe what God has done and is doing in this church. You could sell that one hundred thousand watt station for millions and millions of dollars. And we have it. I cannot believe it. There’s not any station in American any bigger than our KCBI; KRLD, all of them. And we are building a network. We have nine outlets, nine stations affiliated here in Texas. We have one in Mississippi, one in Michigan, one in Georgia, another in Georgia, one in Nevada, and it is multiplying. Preaching the gospel, singing the songs of Zion, making the name of Jesus known; I’m overwhelmed by what God is doing here in our midst. It is for us to dedicate ourselves to that enlarging outreaching ministry, teaching, obeying the mandate of Christ.
Now that’s two things. Number one: our wonderful KCBI station borrowed one hundred fifty thousand dollars and then again one hundred fifty-nine thousand dollars from our college that so desperately needs funds. I want to pay it back. You want to pay it back. We all want to pay it back.
And then, of course, the support our schools; they have no support except from us. And on the first Sunday in October, the first Sunday in October, I’m praying that every member of our communion, every member of our dear church, every member of our congregation, on the first Sunday in October will bring a gift for our mandated educational assignment. Doesn’t matter how much it is, just however we’re able or God would put it on our heart; on the first Sunday in October, we bring a special gift for our educational work.
Three years ago, I asked our people for a special gift on the first Sunday in October, and we brought one million fifty thousand dollars. I do not know of another church in Christendom that on one Sunday ever brought a monetary offering of a million dollars to our Lord. However much it would be this coming October, it’s in God’s hands, but I want every one of us who will, on the first Sunday in October, to bring a special gift for the educational work of our dear church.
And then the second appeal, that’s now, that’s now. We may not even be here the first Sunday in October. Jesus may come. The Lord may take us to heaven. But I have now, I have this moment, I have this precious opportunity. And "Pastor, I am making a decision for the Lord right now. One, I want to give my heart to Christ, accepting Him as my Savior." Or, "I want to come into the fellowship of this wonderful church." And, "This is my family, pastor. We’re all coming this morning." Or, "I want to answer God’s call in my heart. The Lord has spoken to me, and I’m answering with my life." In this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, down a stairway, on the throngs in this lower floor, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, I’ve decided for God, and here I stand and here I come." May angels attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.