At this time of the year graduation is in the minds of many young people. Some will graduate from the eighth grade and others from high school, and still others have completed a course of study in college. Many parents are as enthused about it as their children, and they have a perfect right to be proud if they have given that child the best education possible. When one graduates it signifies that one has completed a prescribed course of study and thereupon receives a diploma from the school board which is a document to that effect. Viewed in its full light, graduation implies the successful completion of a full course of study and the complete preparedness of one to pursue his life’s task or calling in the midst of this world.
When we speak of successful graduation we mean that the best education possible has been received, which in anyone’s mind is when the instruction given in the home, the school, and the church are basically the same. We know that this is not always possible, but at the same time it remains a truth that unless covenant children from Protestant Reformed parents have received Protestant Reformed education, it is not as complete as it should or could have been.
The education received in the home is first in importance and also the first place the child receives any instruction. Even before a child can talk it is taught to discern between right and wrong. There is nothing more important than the virtue of obedience. At home a child is taught to have respect for older people, to obey God, parents and teachers. Obedience is expected and may at times have to be enforced with the stick or some other severe punishment. However, it should always be made plain to the child that this obedience to God, to parents and to other authorities is not primarily for our sake but for God’s sake. God demands His covenant children to be obedient.
The education received in the church is next. Here the child receives his catechetical instruction, which prepares him for the partaking of the means of grace, primarily the preaching of the Word and the sacraments.
Thirdly, we have the education or instruction one receives in the school. The school prepares the child for his place in the world. All schools prepare young people to assume their place in the world. Medicine, law, farming, teaching, etc., all are taught in schools. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to attend or receive one’s education in a Protestant Reformed school. We may ask: why is it such a privilege or why is it so necessary? Children, young men, and young women have a great ability to learn; it is only natural for them to learn. You learn either the wrong way to conduct yourself in the world or the right way. One way or the other, learn we must and learn we do. A child is like a sponge. A sponge has a great ability to absorb moisture; put it in water and it absorbs water; put it in vinegar and it absorbs vinegar; put it in poison and it absorbs poison. But absorb it must and will. Put a child where it can absorb poison and it certainly will. The devil finds great delight in feeding poison to God’s covenant children. A Protestant Reformed child should be in a school that will equip him to conduct himself as Protestant Reformed in the midst of the world. This conduct is based on the truth that God is God alone, wholly sovereign in the lives of both the elect and the reprobate. He alone works all things after the counsel of His sovereign will and unto His glory; all things must be done, not for one’s own honor and glory but to the honor and glory of the Most High God. Covenant children must know that they do not attend the Christian School to MAKE them children of God, but because they ARE children of God and must conduct themselves as such.
God must have a place in all subjects taught. In history we see God’s eternal plans and purposes in regard to the earth’s peoples, as these purposes have been, and throughout the ages are being carried out. God calls us to see His power and His Godhead in history, together with His majesty and wisdom. Geography is the study of the earth, its disposition and its fulness as it belongs to God, and also as it has been given into the hands of man to use, for the earth is only man’s temporal home. In hygiene we examine the God-ordained rules that we should observe in order to further the best possible functioning of our bodies and to use our bodies in the service of our covenant God. Reading is comprehending the thought expressed in any writing. God gave man the gift of reading and the highest purpose of all readings is to have fellowship with God and know Him through His revelation. We realize that reading alone will not bring us to the knowledge of God, for natural man, no matter how well he reads, cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritual.
Arithmetic is the dealing with the order and arrangement of numbers which God has given us. In arithmetic there is no such thing as “about right;” it is either “right” or “wrong.” The use of numbers is necessary for the child of God here in this world. To do any business successfully we must be able to use numbers correctly. We may by no means study arithmetic only as a means to worldly success but God’s children must be efficient in their calling here below. Therefore, whatever subject we study, God is in all and all things are to His honor and glory.
Having received such an education, it should enable the seed of God’s covenant people to walk antithetically in the world as children of light in the midst of darkness. The world is exclusively wicked. God’s people are of His party, called to walk in the midst of an evil world as His witnesses unto the praise of His glory. Merely to receive this education in the lower grades is not enough. We need Protestant Reformed education all along the line. We all know that a building must be well constructed throughout; a good foundation is not enough.
Finally, having attended such a school imposes a severe obligation upon the graduates. They must now also walk as Protestant Reformed people; that is the reason they received this instruction, and the more knowledge they have the greater their obligation. Whatever your future occupations, ye are light; walk as children of light. May God bless our graduates and our schools and give us the grace to be faithful.