Over the past several weeks, we have been discussing what Baptists believe about the church - how it is made-up, how it operates, what ordinance it practices, and so on. Last week we considered evangelism and missions, which is one of the highest callings of the church - both for its individual members and the collective body. But preaching the message of salvation is not the entire purpose of the church…
Once a person accepts Christ, their walk with the Lord is only just beginning. At this point, teaching and training for the new believer must become the focus. Therefore, education or discipleship is another key activity of the church. Southern Baptists have a rich heritage of Christian education, and our doctrinal statement reads as follows...
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth
opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the
Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should
receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education
is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ's people.
In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic
responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute.
The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of
Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the
This morning we will summarize our beliefs regarding Christian education by looking at its foundation, its forms, and its freedom.
Christianity is not a blind or unreasonable faith. As a matter of fact, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those whom claim to be wise and of superior intelligence are themselves deceived apart from Christ. In Him alone lie all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. As creator and sustainer of this world and universe, God has established all natural law and well as spiritual law. Therefore, He is the source of all true knowledge - both religious and non-religious. From science to literature, mathematics to the arts, everything there is to be known - all wisdom and knowledge - finds its origin and foundation in God.
One of our primary tasks as believers is to "make disciples" by teaching others to follow the commands and example of Jesus. Christian education is critical to the survival of the church, and we must be deliberate about passing our beliefs down to the next generation so that our faith is preserved and enduring. As such, we must support and be advocates of Christian education.
Discipleship comes I various forms. At the denominational level, we as Southern Baptists provide support for six theological seminaries across the country that train our churches leaders. As state conventions, we provide funding for Baptist colleges and universities that help equip people to serve and lead in ministry. At the local church level, we provide numerous educational programs including Sunday School, Bible Study, Discipleship Classes, VBS, and countless other teaching ministries designed to help believers grow in Christ. As parents, we are ultimately responsible for teaching our own children the truths of God through the use of family devotionals and by numerous other means.
As students of God, we are responsible for our own personal level of Christian maturity. Along with the freedom that we have as Christians to study or neglect the teachings of God comes tremendous accountability. Knowing this, we should actively and continually be learning more and more about God, putting that knowledge into practice, and growing in our faith and Christlikeness.
Finally, as teachers of the things of God, we may use our freedom to vary our style and teaching methods or approaches. Some strategies are more affective than others, depending upon the learners involved. But we must maintain strict adherence to the Word of God, careful not to teach anything contrary to Scripture. We must preserve the doctrinal integrity which we profess, and never digress into "false teaching" that would lead listeners astray.
It is easy to understand why teaching and Christian education are so important to the faith. Clearly, discipleship is one of the most critical purposes of the church. The very continuance of Christianity depends on it. Please join us again next week as we continue this series by exploring what Baptists believe about stewardship. Until then, blessings.