Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15, ESV)
The response to God’s gift of salvation should be an overwhelming desire to please God in obedience to His commandments. If this is not present, it is safe to assume that one has not been visited by the Holy Spirit, even though a person may be influenced by the Christian culture around him. But for those who have the Holy Spirit, there exists a drive to establish oneself truly on the path that leads to life.
Educating oneself and one’s children in the ways of the Lord must be a primary concern for those who are called by God into His Kingdom service. Not only must they acquire a godly perspective and worldview by adhering to the Scripture, they must also unearth the lies, myths, and deceptions attendant to their past humanistic education. This can be a daunting task, but one that, if not undertaken, leads to the impotency of a shallow faith and inconsequential cultural transformation efforts.
So, how does one present oneself approved to God when the task at hand takes so much time and seems too difficult to attain? Since our sanctification is progressive, we need to develop a godly patience in the pursuit.
Rushdoony describes it this way:
Very simply stated, what this means is that, where we have a confident expectation of something, that hope or confidence gives us the patience to wait for it. Thus, even as patience is associated with hope, so by implication the loss of hope means impatience. When we have no hope, both waiting and tribulations become meaningless to us, and we cannot then patiently endure them …
Biblical patience is inseparable from hope; it means a waiting with confidence, that the future holds great reward and an assured fulfillment.1
Any steps taken to become versed in the law of God without a prior conviction of victory are likely to have meager results at best, or end up in failure at worst. That is why the foundation of all preparation to learn, live, and teach the commandments of God must include the expectation that the endeavor will be successful. Obedience and victory are two sides of the same coin.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Rev. 14:12)
This patience means that they believe God’s law and rest assured that its judgment will fully overwhelm all evil-doers. Patience thus has,first, a confidence that this world, being totally God’s creation, will see God’s victory and the vindication of His people. Second, patience means also the certainty that God’s total judgment will be meted out to all offenders, who “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.”2 (Rev. 14:10).
To divert one’s attention away from the task of discipling the nations, because of fearful concerns over the plans of statist politicians or oppressive school boards, implies doubt in the accuracy and veracity of God’s Word. When the people of God are on task in Kingdom service, the gates of hell shudder in their imminent defeat, not the other way around.
Once the certainty of victory is presupposed, the task at hand is to learn God’s perspective on everything. This means evaluating all books and materials studied with the template of God’s Word over them all. True knowledge is not a collection of un-interpreted facts, as no such thing exists. True knowledge seeks to comprehend the divine purpose in all things. When many claim that the Bible is not sufficient to learn about technology or physics, etc. (e.g., “The Bible isn’t a text book!”),3 we must whole-heartedly disagree. For there can be no true understanding of any realm if we deny God His preeminence.
The unbeliever seeks … “knowledge in the abstract” … Abstract knowledge is the attempt to interpret all things without reference to God. God is abstracted from reality, and things are interpreted, not in terms of God, but in terms of themselves …
Nothing has any residue of being or meaning which can be abstracted from God and His creative purpose. Every atom of every particular thing is a creation of God, and it is only truly knowable in terms of Him. To attempt the interpretation of anything without God is to attempt the impossible.4
Does this mean that only books and materials from Christian publishers are reliable tools to learn about the past and present world around us? Ideally, the answer would be “yes,” but a close look throughout the landscape tells us we aren’t there yet when it comes to excellent offerings in all areas.5 The foundational understanding needs to be in conformity to God’s Word, not at odds with it. Thus, knowing and being able to apply the Biblical worldview to one’s study of biology or chemistry or physics or nutrition or medicine or law, is the only sure-fire way to come to correct conclusions. We can learn from secular sources providing we use the standard of God’s law-word to separate fact from fiction.
Research—A Key Tool
Once a person has a good foundational understanding of the law of God and knows how to reference it when the need arises to gain knowledge in a particular area, developing the ability to research additional sources is a vital skill. Research involves more than just learning, it is the application of wisdom, understanding, discretion, and discernment to the subject being pursued.
Webster defines the word “research” as both a noun and a verb:
RESEARCH, n. Diligent inquiry or examination in seeking facts or principles; laborious or continued search after truth.
1. To search or examine with continued care; to seek diligently for the truth.
2. To search again; to examine anew.
When one assumes the role of researcher, the earlier concept of patience needs to be in the forefront, for brick-and-mortar libraries or internet searches can result in many contradictory points of view. An honest pursuit of knowledge that is consistent with Scripture will deliver reliable answers (victory) and allow you to plot a course of action (dominion). It should be noted, this is an activity that might take weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime to fully achieve.
Seeking the counsel of Biblically sound Christian experts in the field being investigated is a must, since you will need someone to help you understand underlying concepts you are unfamiliar with.6 It is vital that in the pursuit of your research, there should be no expectation of good outcomes if you are not constantly evaluating the information you receive up against the Biblical standards. In other words, this is thoroughly tied in to one’s spiritual condition and right-standing as one whose primary concern in life is to “fear God and keep His commandments.”
9. Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care.
10. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.
12. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
14. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:9–14, ESV)
Rushdoony sums this up ably when he comments,
The restoration of knowledge and learning means therefore that we must “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10). On no other basis can there be a renaissance of knowledge… [G]odly knowledge or wisdom “is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her” (Prov. 3:18).7
Suppose you were trying to avert the onset of diabetes, knowing that it is a prevalent malady in your family. Suppose you had been told that you were heading in that direction and therefore needed to follow a particular diet and lifestyle. How would you evaluate the advice given? Would you follow it because the person telling you these things wore a white coat and had a stethoscope around her neck? How would you know if her advice was genuinely researched and not influenced by rewards she would earn if you followed her directives?
Obviously, you would have to have some understanding of how your body works, what causes diabetes, what insulin is, and how your pancreas produces it. Some might say, “Well, that’s why I go to the doctor. I didn’t go to medical school—she did.” But as believers we often disagree with what the medical profession routinely upholds regarding abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and vaccinations. Unless someone has a working knowledge of subjects filtered through the lens of Scripture, they are doomed to be blown around (Eph. 4:14) by any humanistic doctrine they may be fed.
Extracurricular Instruction for Children
When parents desire that their children learn a musical instrument or develop proficiency in a particular sport, they look for an instructor. Especially if the parents are venturing into territory unfamiliar to them, there has to be some standard by which they make their selection. Certainly finances and location will factor into it, but most importantly there should be a sense of how any given teacher will present the material to be learned to the children.
Once again, the lens or template of Scripture needs to be applied. The many things to consider and evaluate include: character of the instructor, expertise, and will parents be allowed to sit in on the instruction, etc. None of these things will be apparent in an ad in the yellow pages or on craigslist. Even word-of-mouth is only reliable if you are certain that you share the same world and life view of those making recommendations.
Pursuing Higher Education
When the time comes for young people to begin to plot the course for their future, many decisions need to be made. It is important that decisions are informed by Biblical principles, including all the implications of the career path according to what God is calling them to do.8 Once they establish a sense of what they wish to focus on, research needs to be done to make wise choices in school selection, day or online classes, full or part time, etc.
Parents should partner with their children in this endeavor because the ramifications of the decision made will affect the entire family. Seeking out those who have gone to a particular school, and asking them what things they would do differently, can help in preventing wasted classes or, worse yet, antagonistic professors. Being able to differentiate your own situation from theirs allows you to accept or reject ideas in a positive way. For this reason, parents need to be years ahead of when decisions will need to be made so that the student is not forced into negative situations.
Presenting Oneself Approved
Not all things are known in factual detail by the believer, but he has the principle and the sight by which all things are seen or perceived. His ability to see or know is there; for those who attempt to know on the tempter’s terms (Gen. 3:5), there is only blindness.9
As we rightly handle the word of truth over all aspects of our lives, and teach others to do so, we are merely giving back to God an increase from the talents He gave to us (Matt. 25:14–30). When we search out matters to understand the context of and calling for our Kingdom service, we can present ourselves approved unto the Lord, not ashamed of our efforts or results.
Andrea Schwartz is the Chalcedon Foundation’s active proponent of Christian education and matters relating to the family. She’s the author of five books dealing with homeschooling and the family. Her latest book is Woman of the House. She oversees the Chalcedon Teacher Training Institute (www.ctti.org) and continues to mentor, lecture, and teach. Visit her website www.thekingdomdrivenfamily.com. She lives in San Jose with her husband of 39 years. She can be reached by email at [email protected]
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1987), 257.
2. Ibid., 258.
3. Most textbooks are full of regurgitated humanistic conclusions that are meant to stultify true knowledge; so, in that sense, the Bible is most definitely not a textbook!
4. R. J. Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, 23.
5. This is a market wide open to those who understand theonomy and reconstruction and desire to share their knowledge in particular areas.
6. I have made use of our family chiropractor who is an avid student of health, nutrition, exercise, and rehabilitation as my tutor to understand and evaluate various sources of information. I will often schedule a visit for that specific purpose, knowing that it is as important to see him when I am well (so I can stay well), as when I am feeling ill.
7. Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, 29.
8. When I taught writing to my own children as well as those who were in co-op classes or privately tutored by me, I always assigned early on an essay entitled “What is God Calling Me to Do,” requiring that they explained based on their talents and inclinations an area they thought they might wish to pursue. A major focus was finding out the necessary prerequisites along with interviewing someone who was already working in that capacity. This is a needed step before one can actually research the best way to pursue higher education.
9. Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, 29.