The next FHC meeting will be the first Sunday of February, that is February 7 , 1987. The meeting will begin at 1 pm at: Earl & Diane Rodd's 93 Gt. Ryrie St. Heathmont, Vic. 3135
For those who have not come before, our format is (1) Bring a simple picnic lunch along (sandwiches, fruit etc.) and avoid the rush of eating at home and getting to the meeting. (2) Spend our lunch time sharing with each other.
For those who receieve The Teaching Home magazine, there has been some concern about the expiration date on the label. The date is "09/01/88". This is American date format so should be read September 1, 1988, not 9 January 1988.
This month's newsletter has the first of several discussions on the subject of Biblical Discipleship. This first part contains a foundation for what follows and then continues with the application of the principles for very young children.
The Disciple in the Bible
Luke 6 :40 says, "A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher."
The Greek word translated pupil in the New American Standard Bible has only one other translation in the New Testament. Every other place where the word is used it is translated disciple or disciples. There are over 250 references to disciple in the New Testament. The purpose of this study is to determine what is the attitude of a pupil or disciple, what is the behavior of a pupil or a disciple and what is further significance of this verse to parents who have chosen to hometrain their children.
Isaiah contains all three Old Testament instances of the English word "disciple". The Hebrew word is limmud which means "taught." This same Hebrew word is used in only three other places, one in Isaiah and two in Jeremiah. In one reference it is translated "taught" and the other two "accustomed to" rather than disciple, but the a disciple or pupil is one who is specifically taught or trained by one specific person. A disciple or pupil according to the Bible does not have many teachers or is subjected to many voices or opinions to confuse, distract or cause unnecessary distress.
The Isaiah references make God's standards very clear. The first reference is Isaiah 8 :16 which says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." That verse by itself doesn't seem to speak very much to hometraining parents, but when the whole context of the verse (verses 11-22) is examined, hometraining parents discover Biblical truth and guidance. These words were truth for Isaiah, and they are truth for us today who wish to obey them. Isaiah 8 :11-22 says,
For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, "You are not to say, `It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; they will even be snared and caught." Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the wizards who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. And they will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness.
Isaiah 50 :4 contains the other two uses of the English word "disciple" (or "disciples"). Isaiah 50 :4 says,
The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear as a disciple.
Because many believe this is a Messianic prophecy that can only apply to Jesus, the Messiah, the truth or reality of true discipleship is lost. Jesus said His disciples would become like Him. Paul understood this Biblical principle too. Romans 8 :29 says.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.
Again the whole context of the passage from Isaiah needs to be read not only to understand the attitude of a disciple but to also be warned. Isaiah 50 :4-11 says,
The Lord has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back. I gave my back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He who vindicates Me is near; who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord God helps Me; who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them. Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your own fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand; and you will lie down in torment.
The final use of the Hebrew word limmud in Isaiah is Isaiah 54 :13 which says,
And all your sons will be taught (Hebrew limmud ) of the Lord, and the well-being of your sons will be great.
The Hebrew word translated "sons" is also translated "children" and "grandchildren." The Hebrew word translated "well-being" means "completeness, soundness, welfare and peace."
The book of Jeremiah uses the Hebrew word limmud twice and in both places it is translated as "accustomed to". The first reference (Jer. 2 :24) speaks of donkeys. The other reference is Jeremiah 13 :23:
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leapord his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
This verse shows the power of regular habit and teaching by declaring the difficulty of doing good when one is taught ( limmud ) regularly to do evil.
Hometraining parents must be confident in their decision to keep their children home and under their singular influence. However, we must also realize that many alternative lifestyle families, New Age disciples etc., have also chosen to train their children at home. The issue is not only the safety, security, time and opportunities that the home provides, but it is also the curriculum that parents choose to provide for their children that distinguishes Christian hometraining.
The main issue for Christians parents who are hometraining is: Are we secure in the choice of the Bible and its contents as the first and most important foundation for our children?
Family, friends and educational authorities (Christian and non-Christian) accuse hometraining parents of being too narrow in their thinking and in their choices of curriculum. These hometraining parents are tempted to substitute curriculum materials that appeal to the worldly ideas of man's philosophies, man's criteria and man's achievements rather than seeking diligently for Biblically based curriculum that will disciple or train a child in the way that child should go, the ways of the Do we believe the Word of God can adequately train our children to be equipped for the 21st century? It is so easy to quote II Timothy 3 :16,17 but do we really have faith to rely totally upon it? It says,
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
This issue must be faced for most educators agree the years 0-7 are the most crucial learning years of a human being. This is why educational institutions (non-Christian and Christian) insist upon having children at earlier and earlier ages. The Russian communists have a known reputation for taking 3 year-olds from their family environments because they understand this basic foundational principle of the human personality. The one who trains a child is the one who has influence and power over the child. From the Old Testament references we have seen that this influence and power belongs not to parents but to the Lord Himself. He is the One who wants to teach and instruct our children. Parents are called to assist Him in this process not to replace Him. We are called to create an environment where He is able to teach freely without hindrance or opposition. His Word makes this very clear, but do hometraining parents believe this and so order their curriculum and activities according to this basic principle?
If so, then the basic curriculum from years 0-7 must be the Bible. Any other substitute will only bring distraction and confusion. The foundational years of a child should be spent in laying a Biblical foundation that will be the child's standard for the rest of his life. Proverbs 22 :6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." All other curriculum used after those years will have to be accepted or rejected by whether it meets the Biblical standards.
Biblical Truth Relevant to the Very Young
The human spirit can learn to hear and obey the Lord long before reading is a skill. Isaiah knew this and wrote the following,
Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me, and He has also made Me a select arrow; He has hidden Me in His quiver. And He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory." But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, and My reward with My God." And now says, the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and My God is My strength),...Isaiah 49 :1-5
Jeremiah knew this and wrote,
The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month. Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, `I am a youth,' because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord. Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth, see I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1 :1-10
David knew this and wrote the following
Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou has been my God from my mother's womb. Psalm 22 :9,10
and in Psalm 71 :5,6 David says,
For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth. By Thee I have been sustained from my birth; Thou are He who took me from my mother's womb; My praise is continually of Thee.
Luke knew this and wrote
And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. "...For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." Luke 1 :41,44
Paul knew this when he wrote
But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Galatians 1 :15-17
We do not need modern scientific knowledge or psychology to teach the truth about the intricacies of the human species. Our Lord has provided the basic truth about humanity in His written word. If we will read it, search it out and believe it, the Lord will be able to guide us through all the challenges and unknowns that lie before us as hometraining parents.
Practical Application of Biblical Truth
Parental reading of the Bible from conception to age 4 enhanced by music, songs, stories, etc. that are Biblically based and sanctioned by the Lord should be the basic curriculum for hometrained children. Ephesians 5 :15-21 says,
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another is psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Parental discipline and chastisement should be the major concerns at the ages 0-4. Children have only one basic commandment as stated in Ephesians 6 :1-3 which says,
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
If this commandment is neglected or abused at an early age, confusion, rebellion and grief will be the inevitable result.
Hometraining parents should reject any pressure to provide a "kindergarten" program. Webster's Third International dictionary defines "kindergarten" as
"a school or division of a school below the first grade usually serving pupils of the 4-6 age group and fostering their natural growth and social development through constructive play with blocks, clay, crayons and by group games, songs and exercise."
The 1985 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica has this historical definition of kindergarten,
It stressed the emotional and spiritual nature of the child, encouraging self-understanding through play activities and greater freedom, rather than the imposition of adult ideas. p.867 Vol.6
A more extensive description says this,
The kindergarten was unique for its time (1837). Whereas the first institutions for small children that earlier appeared in Holland, Germany, and England had been welfare nursery schools or day-care centres intended merely for looking after children while parents worked, (Friedrich) Froebel stood for the socializing or educational idea of providing, as he put it in founding his kindergarten, "a school for the psychological training of little children by means of play and occupations." The school, that is, was to have a purpose for the children, not the adults. The curriculum consisted chiefly of (1) playing with the "gifts" or toys, and engaging in other occupations designed to familiarize children with inanimate things : (2) playing games and singing songs for the purpose not only of exercising the limbs and voice but also of instilling a spirit of humanity and nature; and (3) gardening and caring for animals in order to induce sympathy for plants and animals. All this was to be systematic activity. p. 55 Vol.18.
From these two explanations it is readily apparent that the historical root of the kindergarten program is based in humanism and not in godly principles. Day-care centers were organized to care for children whose parents were working in factories during the Industrial Revolution. Kindergarten attempted to replace the home atmosphere that was neglected by working parents with activities that could easily be performed by a mother who was home all day with her children. However, kindergarten also encouraged freedom and play rather than adult instruction and values. This view of kindergarten is now viewed by most western nations as an essential experience to a child's educational and sociological development. However, history has proven that the parental abdication of hometraining and education has produced a society that is incapable of establishing the Biblical standard upon its society. The problems get worse every year. God's word says,
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.Proverbs 14 :1
In our modern culture we now have the insane situation of mothers who have to work to keep their little ones in a kindergarten program. These mothers are convinced they are not capable of providing for their children once they reach the age of 3-4, and thus they abandon their homes to provide the necessary money to keep those children in quality kindergarten programs. Christian kindergartens fit into this category. It is a deception that started in the Industrial Revolution. Money replaced dependence upon God as the One who was the best provider. Now the vicious cycle is complete. Kindergartens are supported by women who could stay home with their children, if they believed they were capable of training, disciplining and educating their own children. God's people perish for a lack of knowledge.
As these definitions have shown a kindergarten is an environment where children are "socialized," and their natural man is allowed to gain ascendency. At the age of 3-4 small children are subjected to many voices, varied entertaining and interesting activities, multiple concepts and ideas, differing cultures, numerous behavior patterns (good and bad) and this all occurs in an environment over which parents have little or no control. Parents can only depend upon their child's report at the end of the day of what occurred there, or the teacher's report of what occurred there may find its way to the home. The parents are not there to assess or discern any situation correctly or wisely. Parents are totally dependent upon a stranger's assessment of their child. Can parents trust this assessment?
Jesus said,"...everyone after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. " A child who attends kindergarten etc. from years 3-5 will have a multiplicity of teachers, various adults (who may say and do contradictory things), numerous peers (whose behavior and speech patterns are untrustworthy) and literature (stories, plays, music, songs, etc.) that present divergent and confusing concepts, lifestyles and philosophies -- these are the teachers of a child who attends kindergarten and all this in violation a disciple has one teacher.
The word of God as has been previously quoted states that God desires to speak to a child while still in the womb. Yet modern man refuses to obey a "Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God" Psalm 46 :10. From the womb to the grave modern man has an uphill battle to hear the voice of God and obey Him only.
Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd