The Successful Home And Marriage Series
Thou Shalt Teach Them
Editor’s note: The following is a continuation of the “Successful Home & Marriage” series by Jimmy Swaggart.
If asked the question, do you want your children educated? Most would say, “Oh, yes. I’m really anxious to send my children to college. We will do everything we can to help them get a good education.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with college or university training, or with getting a degree. We must make this point, however: To entrust your child’s education to the “professional educators,” without first training them in the Word of God will almost guarantee the loss of your child’s eternal soul.
Without any foundation in the Word of God, they will have no basis for life. Tragically, multitudes are being taught how to make a living, but few are being taught how to live. Without the foundation of the Word of God and the knowledge of the basic principles of life, these young people must face teachers and educators who do not know God. Such atheistic teachers seem dedicated to tearing down what little faith may be in the hearts of children not firmly anchored in the Word.
We can be grateful to God for every Christian teacher we have in the public schools. There are those in education who love the Lord and are truly committed to Him. Their dedication is commendable. Many Christians working in the field of education feel it is a ministry. One of my dear friends in Baton Rouge has a bachelor’s degree and also a master’s. Despite all of his training, education, and ability, his salary is less than that of many jobs requiring no prior preparation. He doesn’t make a lot of money, but he said, “Brother Swaggart, this is my ministry.”
That man—as well as thousands more like him—is a blessing to children who know nothing of God. It is his ministry. A great educator and proclaimer of the gospel made the statement years ago that a knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education in preparation for a useful and happy life.
At the time he made this statement, the schools were not nearly as anti-Christ as they are today. If it were true then, this great man’s statement is even more valid today.
I have no desire to degrade or minimize the significance of a college education and higher degrees, but we should emphasize the fact that the basic training of a child should be in the Word of God. The place he should receive this foundation is in the home. This will help him establish the kind of life that will not result in his or her becoming an alcoholic, a prostitute, a drug addict, or having his or her life destroyed by the many evils existing today. It is imperative that your child know the Bible. And above and beyond all the other reasons we have outlined, remember that this is the only route that will bring your child to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Starting As A Child
Paul said to Timothy, “And that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15).
I remember when I was a boy and the Lord saved me and filled me with His Holy Spirit at 8 years old. I devoured the Word of God. Going back and thinking about it in my mind’s eye, I can still see it today.
The Scriptures were so interesting; I read them by the hour. I had a little Bible that probably cost $4 or $5—if that much. It had a zipper around it and made me very proud.
My little Bible didn’t have headings or any of the other aids that make today’s Bibles so easily read. I remember reading it, though, and studying it by the hour . Even though I was just a child, I would study particular passages of Scripture and meditate on them.
In all honesty, I didn’t really know what meditation was, but subconsciously I gave serious thought to each passage, asking the Lord to explain it. The Holy Spirit would open up God’s Word.
Satan subsequently fought hard to destroy me, and would have succeeded if it weren’t for this foundation. My mother, dad, and I would discuss Scriptures for hours. What a blessed time that was. I can still see the living room of our little frame house.
I would sit with my mother, dad, and my sister who was six years younger. We would often talk back and forth. My daddy would say, “Jimmy, what does this Scripture mean?”
I would explain it to him as best I could and he would sit there and think about it I don’t know if my perceptions were all that deep, but he would act as if they were the greatest things he had ever heard.
My mother would say, “Oh, that is wonderful.” And then my dad would praise me, and I would grow by inches. It inspired me with greater delight and a desire for studying the Word further.
Beyond that, I would go out behind the house to a little log I used for an altar. I would pray there for hours on end. Many times I would put my little black Bible there and study it on my knees. Mother and dad encouraged me and strengthened me in every way possible.
They were simple people and uneducated. They had been raised during the Depression and had had no opportunity for a formal education at the college level. There were many things in the world they didn’t know and many with which they were unacquainted.
I thank God I was not born into a rich mansion with all the emphasis on material things. I thank God that I wasn’t born to parents who would not come to know Jesus Christ. Even though they had little education and our home was humble, we had the things that counted most: we knew God.
My parents taught me the Word of God. They instilled it in me; poured it into me; and helped me with it. They guided my life, and created a hunger in my heart that burns to this day. It literally saved my life. The Word of God, promoted by my parents, saved my soul. You see how important this is. God commands that His Word be taught in the home. He didn’t make a vague request or suggest it be done if convenient. He commands that it be done.
The home is the best place in the world to teach the Bible. That is where God places the responsibility. The Sunday school teacher, the pastor of the church, or other ministries are supplemental and helpful, but it is the home that is most effective. The teaching of the Bible in the home is supremely important.
No Substitute For The Home
It is good for children to go to church and to Sunday school. But the Sunday school teacher and the pastor cannot be responsible for foundational teaching. They are supplements to the home, but the home must build the base. Parents must become familiar with the Word of God first, and then instruct their children in it broadly and in-depth.
In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses said, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Note the scriptural language here. It says, “thy children” and that they are to be taught diligently. It is to be done whether you are sitting in the house, walking by the way, or “when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is certainly a wide-ranging prescription and a perfect picture of parents teaching the Word of God to their children. It presents diligent, earnest teaching within the line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept setting. It is further stated, “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:9).
This presents the Word of God as being a constant influence, ever present in and about the home. When this is done, it will produce concrete results and change society.
This teaching of children must be done with consistency. A Sunday school session of less than an hour a week is not enough. Children couldn’t be expected to learn arithmetic or English with less than an hour’s exposure per week. Sunday school is a fine institution and a great help. It is not, however, sufficient exposure as a total teaching tool for God’s Word.
The complete teaching of God’s Word must be centered in the home. There are many attending church and Sunday school regularly who know little about the great doctrines of the Bible. Obviously, more is needed and this is where the home enters in.
Some would note that daily vacation Bible schools can be a great help. Certainly, in the hands of well-trained and spiritually capable workers who concentrate on teaching the Bible, vacation Bible schools are a valuable adjunct in teaching God’s Word to children. They use many techniques such as gospel choruses, object lessons, Scripture memorization, Bible stories, the plan of salvation, and other tools. But as excellent as these Bible schools can be, they are only a concentrated course lasting a few days a year. Certainly this is not enough for a well-rounded Bible background.
There are, of course, Christian grade schools, and even high schools, being built across the land. This is an excellent development. But even though they teach the fundamentals of faith and the Word in abbreviated form, their basic purpose is to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and other academic courses. Their main concentration can’t be the Word of God. Christian schools are, however, a wonderful environment for children and a great help in developing them as well-rounded Christians. (In fact, Family Christian Academy, which we started more than 30 years ago, is an excellent school located right here on the ministry grounds.)
Training and teaching outside the home, good as it may be, just can’t adequately meet the full needs of the child in respect to moral and spiritual development. Ideally, godly parents should do the complete job.
Training and worship in the home will pay rich dividends in the lives of children, when properly approached. It is, of course, easier to side-step parental responsibilities and impose the job you should be doing on the pastor or Sunday school teacher. The trouble with this is that you can’t be sure they will do the job that you would want done.
How much better to shoulder your responsibilities and develop the truly fine Christian children that you desire. In addition, when the job is done, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you obeyed God’s Word—and are personally responsible for the sound, moral character your children display.
Editor’s note: This article is a continuation of the “Successful Home & Marriage” series by Jimmy Swaggart.