The students in Protestant Reformed Christian schools who are to be disciplined by and in the truths of the Scriptures are members of God’s Church, and Covenant. They are those who have been ingrafted into the Christian Church by work of the Holy Spirit. Of this baptism is an undoubted sign and seal. The children that attend the Protestant Reformed Christian schools are distinguished from the children of unbelievers. It is true that not everyone who is of Israel is an Israelite but the approach of the teacher toward the children of the covenant is a vastly different approach from that of the infidel toward his children. The approach of the teacher to the children of the covenant is not dictated by those who are not ingrafted by a true faith into Christ (the teacher cannot do anything in and of himself about these) but the approach is always dictated by those who are ingrafted into Christ and His church as living members. The attitude toward these children is never that they are potential candidates for heaven or hell! They are sinners but they are nevertheless saints who are sincerely sorry for their sins, who must he reminded to be sorry for they are sinners, who confess their sins, and must be reminded to confess their sins. Therefore, the Christian virtue of confession must not Ire neglected in the school but must always be cultivated.
The Heidelberg Catechism in speaking of the reasons for the baptism of infants gives spiritual directives for the attitudes of teachers toward the child of the covenant as this relates to the instruction of the Bible.
“. . . since, they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and he distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision. . .” 1
John Calvin in his incomparable Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter XVI, paragraphs 6, 7, 8, and 9, is very convincing in his arguments concerning the baptism of infants. I submit that it is the calling of Christian teachers to be constantly very aware of the fact that the students who they teach each day are members of God’s covenant; this being signified and sealed by the sacrament of holy baptism which is upon their foreheads. Such an awareness will elicit from the teacher a methodology which is wholly distinctive and thoroughly Scriptural. I also suggest that children in Protestant Reformed Christian schools are those who be taught not simply from the principle, “I believe there is a God” — but “I believe in God, the covenant God, who is the same Jehovah that gave and kept his covenant promises to the Old Testament saints.” The pupil is not merely approached as one who knows that there is a Creator but as one who knows who is his Creator.
The child in the Protestant Reformed Christian school needs a pedagogue — one who understands the measure of intelligence, maturity and nature of a child. A child does not have an integrated nor complete knowledge of the two books in which God can be known. The child is not simply a miniature adult. The child does not have a complete knowledge of the creation or of the holy divine Word of God. He is one who needs to be led because of his limited experience. Even though he can’t fit all the parts together he can be led to see that all the parts fit, and that they all tell one grand story. Gradually, as the child matures intellectually and spiritually the pieces begin to fit; he begins to see the trees as so many parts of one grand and beautiful forest. The child is one who can understand in an ever increasing measure the unfolding of the whole counsel and promise of Cod as this appears in the Word of God in all its successive stages. As a flower is opened by the warm rays of the sun and the dew that falls; so the mind of the child is gradually opened by the Holy Spirit to know the meaning and intent of the Scriptures. He can grasp and put together the events as so many parts of the puzzle which combine to make one meaningful picture.
The subject matter to be taught in a Bible course is the Word of God. The source book for study of sacred history, prophecy, and literature is the holy, infallible, divinely inspired Word which was delivered to holy men of old who were inspired by the Spirit of God to write things relating to the eternal joy of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven and to reveal what shall be the eternal reward of those who have turned their faces against the Lord of heaven and earth.
“We confess that this Word of God was not sent, nor delivered by the will of man but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, as the apostle Peter saith. And that afterwards God, from a special care, which he has for us and our salvation, commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit his revealed word to writing; and He himself wrote with his own finger, the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.” 2
The holy, canonical books of the inspired Scriptures are declared by Paul to be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 3 This Scripture which is able to “make one wise unto salvation” when applied to the believer’s heart by the Spirit of God is the subject matter in the Bible course of Protestant Reformed Christian schools. It is a record of God’s working in tlime, redeeming fallen men from sin, revealing Himself as a God who is righteous and gracious. As a just God he punishes all transgressors of his commandments but he is also truly merciful and gracious in the salvation which he initiates and completes in those whom he has elected unto everlasting life. It is a record of the creation of all things by God. This story of the whole creation which was absolutely perfect at its inception but fell into sin because of the fall and disobedience of Adam, the legal and representative head of the whole creation, is contained in the Word of God. The Word of God contains a record of all things from Genesis (beginning) to the Revelation concerning the last things. The Word of God presents the history of the covenant God made with his people and the pronouncement of the laws from Mt. Sinai. He continues to establish this covenant by making the Israelites a nation, a Theocracy, after having led them, a conglomerate, grumbling group out of the land of bondage and sin, Egypt. He symbolized this covenant by coming to live among them in the Shekinah. The cloud and pillar of the fire of God’s presence centralized itself in, around and above the tabernacle. He protected His people even though they were not satisfied with His plan for them. There was always a remnant according to the election of grace even though they fell into sin as a nation and as a nation they were carried away into captivity. They were the chosen people of God. God revealed himself as a God of mercy for he remembered His people in the fulness of times and sent His only begotten Son into the world to save that elect race of people. He it is that carried the sword of division. To some His name means death and to others it means eternal life.
- Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day XXVII, Question and Answer 74.
- The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article III.
- II Timothy 3:16.