Michelle is a member of Hull Protestant Reformed Church in Hull, Iowa. She wrote is article for the 2001 Protestant Reformed Scholarship
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith, Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching…” (Romans 12:4-7).
God has given each of His people a place in the body of Christ and gifts to use for the benefit of others. As I take my place in the body, I must examine the gifts He has given me and develop them so that I can best serve others in the kingdom of God. One of the gifts that God has given me to put to use among His people is the gift of teaching, and I am studying to become a teacher in order to serve God and the people around me.
Each time an infant is baptized in our church, I am reminded of my calling to be an active servant. As the parents stand to answer the questions, the third question is also directed to me and the other members of the congregation. The parents answer, “Yes,” also for me when they promise “to see these children when come to the years of discretion (whereof you are either parent or witness), instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power.” This applies to each church member and is a serious calling for me and other teachers. As I make this promise and develop the gifts I have been given, it becomes clear to me that I must be a teacher in a Protestant Reformed School.
Since children are included in the covenant, they are to be respected and cared for along with other members of the church. As fellow-partakers with me of God’s grace, I love the children and care about their growth and development. As John writes (III John verse 4), “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” As they develop intellectually, our covenant children must also recognize God’s presence and power all around them and show spiritual growth. I am excited and eager to share the passion and joy of God that is in me by being an instrument of God enabling students to see God’s Providence in His creation. God is my peace, hope, and joy, and the thankfulness for the blessings He gives me naturally overflows to the children, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).
Because I see how God’s Providence upholds all His creation, I want to teach children to also be able to see Him in all the subjects they learn in school. In a Protestant Reformed School I would be able to show students in a science class how God created and upholds His Creation and makes it work so perfectly and efficiently. They can also be reminded of God’s grace and brought to humility as they see the vastness of creation and its intricacies on a microscopic level and stand in awe, wondering, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Palm 8:4). In a math class students discover the orderliness and patterns God created as they discover number patterns. His hand can also be seen guiding people throughout the history of the world, always working for the good of those who love Him and showing His power over even the greatest world powers. In a geography class students can learn not only about the physical and cultural environments of many people, but also learn about how people from every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation were redeemed to God by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).
When people in a secular environment ask me where I want to teach I often say I want to teach in a Christian school, not bothering to explain that I want to teach in a Protestant Reformed School, since they do not comprehend the difference between our schools and other Christian schools. Even within Christian circles it is difficult for people to understand that our Protestant Reformed Schools are very important to me and that they are different from other Christian schools. It is important to me to teach in a Protestant Reformed School so I can share my faith and beliefs completely, without compromising views that might oppose what others would teach. Attending a Christian college has made me more aware of the differences between the views our churches hold and the ideas of other denominations, and has made me desire even more to become a teacher in our schools, showing our children the truth and encouraging them to learn and internalize the truths of God’s Word.
In a Protestant Reformed School I would whole-heartedly agree with the principles and doctrines being upheld and be able to teach the children as the parents would teach them at home. I would not be immersed in a teaching environment filled with views such as evolution, but would be able to help students to see God’s creativity and power in creating everything out of nothing in six days. Common grace would be refuted; students would be taught to treasure God’s amazing grace in the predestination of His people and learn to be discerning as they live in this world, whose culture is the opposite, the antithesis, of a Christ-like life. False views of the end of the world would be opposed as students anticipate His Kingdom coming, gender issues would be repudiated and students would appreciate the unique places and roles God has given men and women in His Kingdom, and students would learn the importance of witnessing in modern culture, letting their lights shine in the world without compromising the Gospel.
A teacher must stand in the place of the parents while teaching the children of the covenant. I want to teach in a Protestant Reformed School because God has given me the gifts needed to teach His children in the place of parents and with the help of the parents I want to work along with parents to bring up their children in the fear of the Lord, because to “fear God and keep His commandments…is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). As I develop the talents God has given me, I do so not for my own benefit, but for the building up of the church, which I can do by teaching children that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Parents and teachers work together to raise up the children of the covenant in the ways of the Lord. I desire to take up my calling in the church by teaching the youth about God and His dominion over all aspects of creation as they learn to take their places in His Kingdom, striving to live for their King.
“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). As I seek to sacrifice myself to God, I recognize my calling to fulfill His will by teaching in a Protestant Reformed School, having His Word, commands, and love on my heart. My calling is that “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” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me I will teach you the fear of the Lord” ( Psalm 34:11). I will do this by being an example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity” (I Timothy 4:12) as a teacher in the Protestant Reformed schools.
Michelle is a member of Hull Protestant Reformed Church in Hull, Iowa. PR Scholarship Essay.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3: 1). Our youth are taught the signs of the times that are laid out for us in passages such as Matthew 24 and know that wars, natural disasters, persecution, and apostasy must increase before the return of our Lord. We are called to be ready for His return (Matthew 24:44), and it is important for us and our youth to know what this preparation entails.
Being firmly grounded in the truth is of greatest importance for Christians who face the dangers of the last days. The weakness of the human nature makes each of us susceptible to giving up our beliefs for physical comforts, and when persecution arises we may be afraid to stand firm in God’s truths until the end. The only way to combat this weakness is when we, through the strength of Christ, know what we believe, are assured of the salvation given to us, and hold fast to the gospel in faith and love (II Timothy 1:12, 13). In order to hold fast to the truths of the Scriptures we must “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Paul uses the figure of a soldier to show the Ephesians that they need to be properly equipped for battle. A soldier must be properly protected from danger. We fight a spiritual battle and must also be protected by learning to completely trust God and stand on His Word. A soldier does not go out to battle without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent, or without being aware of the methods which may be employed against him. We also need to search the Scriptures to learn how the devil plans to attack us. Passages such as Matthew 24, Mark 13, and II Timothy 3 tell us of the signs of the times and warn about the apostasy and persecution that will occur to try to make God’s people stumble.
The apostle Paul faced many persecutions because of the gospel which he held to. He tells the Thessalonians that his preaching was done with a proper motive because, even after much suffering, he was “bold in [his] God to speak unto [them] the gospel of God” (I Thessalonians 2:1, 2). If he had not had a proper motive he probably would not have continued preaching God’s Word in the face of all the dangers around him. Likewise, unless we are firm in our faith and know that what we believe is the truth, we will falter in times of persecution.
The importance of knowing the Scriptures has been held to in our Protestant Reformed churches and schools. Even our youngest children receive instruction in the home about God’s faithfulness throughout all time. As our youth grow, they learn in greater detail about the doctrines and truths that our churches have learned from God’s Word. As we approach the end times this knowledge remains important. In order to overcome the world we must have faith and believe that Jesus is the Son of God (I John 5:4, 5). Searching the Scriptures to learn the truth is of great importance. II Timothy 3:12ff warns us of persecution and deceivers, but we are urged to continue in the things we have been taught, knowing that “the holy scriptures… are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
We need to teach our youth the importance of being firmly rooted in Christ. Jesus gave the illustration of building a house on a rock, so that when strong winds came the house could not be shaken. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that believers work together as a body to strengthen each other in the knowledge of God, “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they He in wait to deceive.”
I John 4:1 teaches us to “believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” As we teach our youth about the end times and as they learn the doctrines of our Christian church, we must also encourage them to “try the spirits.” They must not only try the spirits outside their own churches, but also try the things they have been taught, seeking not only to know what they believe, but also perceiving why they have the beliefs they do. When they understand why they have these beliefs, our youth will be able to live a life of faith that is not only what their parents and their church have taught them. They will also have an owned faith, a confidence that what they have been taught is without a doubt the truth of Scriptures. Such a faith is necessary in the end times in order to stand against the apostasy and persecutions that will undoubtedly come upon those who remain faithful to God.
In the face of the end times and the persecution that will occur, our youth must know the importance of perseverance and patience in adversity. Just as Jesus silently suffered and did not retaliate or threaten those who caused Him to suffer, our patient suffering is commendable in God’s eyes (I Peter 2:19-24). In the next chapter, Peter says that those who suffer for Christ’s sake are blessed. We must teach our youth so that they be not troubled and be ready always to give an answer concerning their fear of God and their lifestyle that makes them different from the world. We must teach them to patiently continue their godly conduct as witnesses to their oppressors.
The body of Christ must be strengthened to face the trials that it will meet and be reminded that the end is near. Our youth must realize that it is better to suffer for doing God’s will than to suffer God’s judgment for doing evil because “if we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12). We must also show our youth that the Lord is mindful of His promises and will never forget His people, “so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5, 6). Teach them then to bear reproach for Christ’s sake, knowing that “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” when we focus on eternal things instead of the temporary sufferings (II Corinthians 4:17, 18).
Perseverance is made easier if we remind our youth that all God’s people face the same perils. We must resist the devil, “knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Peter 5:9). We must teach our youth not to think only of their own sufferings, but to pray for and encourage God’s people all over the world. Our fight against the devil includes “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:19). Paul gave us an example to follow when he gave thanks to God for the patience of the Thessalonians in the persecution they faced, strengthening the church and encouraging them to continue in their walk with Christ (II Thessalonians). “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
We must impress upon our youth the importance of watching carefully and observing the signs that the end is near, “lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-37). They must know and understand the truths they profess that they may be strengthened and not falter in their faith when Satan will appear as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). Turning to Christ in prayer, His people will obtain mercy and grace to be helped through the end times. When we teach our youth about the end times and as they grasp the importance of the truth of Scripture we can rest assured that nothing will separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). If by God’s grace they endure with patience and perseverance, doing the will of God, they will receive the promise of eternal life.