Your Calling with respect to the School with the Bible (3)
Our attitude toward the School with the Bible is also determined by the second Article of our confession: We believe in God the Son and our redemption.
We don’t have our school because “we want to lead our children to Jesus”
Earlier on I mentioned the claim that “we must lead our children to Jesus” and that this has special meaning in the school. That expression is to be very much regretted for yet another reason. (Our people have many suchlike expressions which have gained currency among us and are sincerely meant. Yet, they undermine our faith and impede our insight.)
To say that we have our school because “we want to lead our children to Jesus” denies the fact that God in Jesus Christ has already come to us and to our children. Those who want to lead children to Christ imply that there is a gap which we must bridge by means of our school instruction. These people act as though our children do not already belong to Christ.
They have no eye for the excellence of God’s covenant, for the reality of God’s grace in the life of our children, which is so encompassing that they are unconditionally born and raised under the dominion of that grace.
We have our school because, as covenant children, they already belong to Jesus
In providing schooling for our children we should no longer be uncertain about the work of God the Father. There must be no uncertainty about the purpose of bringing up children: that the Name of the Father is to be glorified in His work of creation.
It follows that this must also not leave room for uncertainty about the position of our children in that creation thanks to the work of God the Son. There is that reality of the covenant, the unshakeable certainty of God’s promise that the children are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ who has incorporated them into the communion of His death and resurrection. As soon as we lose sight of that for only one moment, our children have become baptised heathens. Their prospects of being saved may possibly be somewhat better because they’re confronted more with God’s grace. But the School with the Bible has then lost its usefulness because we have obliterated the radical difference between our children and those of the unbelievers.
I notice time and again how many parents really do not live and work on the basis of faithful acceptance of God’s covenant promise. For example, despite the commonplace announcement that the promise of the covenant is a rich comfort, my experience at the funerals of young children has been very dismal indeed. There is uncertainty: “Has God really accepted those children in grace?”
Added to this, many are afraid of the covenant. They believe it easily makes people careless and wicked. They point out that the Bible also speaks of election, and that focusing attention on the covenant is at least one-sided. After all, doesn’t the Bible also tell us about persons like Esau?
Covenant and election
Yes, I too am well aware of it. Considering our understanding of these terms, the relationship between election and covenant is a huge problem for which we have no answer. But I am just as firmly convinced that God has not revealed the truth of the election to us in order to rob us of the comfort and reliability of the covenant.
People again and again point to Romans 9 which says that “they are not all Israel who are of Israel”; that only part of Israel is saved; and that they are not saved because they are in the covenant but on the ground of having been elected in grace, while the others were hardened.
But why do people always forget the first part of that same letter? Paul also says: What if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Esau was sexually immoral and godless. But was he sexually immoral and godless because God had not chosen him. And did the covenant therefore have no real meaning for him? Was the covenant for Esau not a reality, and was it without substance? Can his unbelief nullify God’s faithfulness?
We can speak about Esau’s unfaithfulness only on the basis of God’s faithfulness. Esau’s unfaithfulness pre-supposes God’s faithfulness; it pre-supposes the reality of the covenant. Was Esau not allowed to make the covenant promise his own? The Lord has against him that he neglects and scorns that promise, that he rejected as worthless the birthright and blessing of Abraham. Esau was not rejected because God from His side was not sincere, but because Esau from his side was unwilling.
True, Jacob was really just as wicked. Jacob is not saved because of his good works, but on the ground of his election in grace. Jacob is saved because God’s faithfulness overcomes Jacob’s unfaithfulness. But Esau suffers a just judgment because his unfaithfulness presumes God’s faithfulness. God can judge the world, God can judge Esau only on the basis of His faithfulness.
There are indeed disobedient covenant children. Many who attended the Christian school wander away, while others turn to God’s ways.
But that may never be a reason for parents and teachers to abandon God’s faithfulness toward those who wander away, and to think in their heart: In the end you will never know. Yes, they do not know how those children will live in later life. But they must start from the reality of the covenant toward each and every one of them, and plead on it, and act on that basis both in the home and at school.
When Jacob has finally come into the eternal glory, he can praise only God’s loving-kindness. He will say: God was faithful, else I would never have come here. But when Esau lifts up his eyes in the pain, he too can say only the same: God was faithful, else I would never have come here.
The School with the Bible because, in the covenant, God has separated the children from unbelievers
That is why we have, and will cling to, the School with the Bible.
Not because we want to make our own hesitant effort to put our children in touch with Jesus Christ and in that manner separate them from the children of the unbelievers. But because God in His sovereign grace has separated them and always makes allowance for that distinction.
If we have a school only for the purpose of making the distinction ourselves, we will be lost. For then we make a distinction not worked by God Himself.
Then those on the other side are right in saying that we cause division in the nation; that we sow the seed of disruption; that we destroy the national unity. Then we have no reply. Although we may act with the best of intentions, it is then we, and not God, who set the antithesis!
In that situation we despair when we look at the results of that school education. We have erected the partitions ourselves, with the result that later some of our children find themselves on the other side, while children from the State school are in the Christian camp. The antithesis God sets will then run right through both the Christian school and the State school. And if God’s separation is of a completely different nature than ours, what then is the sense of maintaining our separation?
But now we say: God has made the distinction at baptism. And we accept that.
God regards our children differently, and He has given them a mark. It is He who has put the separation into effect, and we have no choice but to accept that as reality also in the home and the school. Do we in that manner break the national unity? But God has broken it! God has radically split the communion of blood and place and time by setting the antithesis of the covenant. We will maintain that over against everyone who speaks differently. We know this to be our duty. And we know that in upholding this position we are a blessing for the nation. If we would hide the antithesis of the covenant under the cloak of national unity, we would be committing a crime toward those who are outside.
But now that we are School with the Bible because in His covenant God made a distinction, now we open their eyes for the real distinction, as well as for the real unity that exists in the world: the unity in Christ Jesus despite all possible differences, the distinction through Christ Jesus despite all incidental similarity. That is the other pillar upon which the School with the Bible is founded: the covenant as the most excellent and profound truth. We desire the School with the Bible because there is no disunity in the cosmos. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. God’s ownership is not limited to part of this world only, for example to the sector of religion. But we also desire the School with the Bible because there is disunity among men; because the God to whom the whole world belongs makes separation in Jesus Christ.
(to be continued)