30 November 2011

The Fear of the Lord and Education Part I - Educating Generations for Christ

 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Prov 9:10
 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov 1:7

A foundational principle in the Bible is:  “the fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom and of knowledge.
All true learning and education must begin with the knowledge of God and the holy fear of the Lord.  

 In what is probably the oldest book in the Bible, and certainly one of the oldest verses in the Scriptures, we read:
“Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? ….God understands its [wisdom’s] way; and He knows its place….Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out. And to man He said, ‘Behold, the FEAR OF THE LORD, that is wisdomand to depart from evil is understanding’….With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding.”  Job 28:12,23,27-28 and 12:13

What exactly is "the fear of the Lord?”

Noah Webster defines it as:  “In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear [of the Lord].”

As we see in this definition and in the Scriptures above, the fear of the Lord is often coupled with the accompanying heart attitude and behavioral action of hating evil and departing from evil. Here are a few other Scriptures that show this important relationship:

“By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord, one keeps away from evil.” Prov 16:6 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.” Prov 8:13  “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”  Prov 3:7

In light of these Scriptures, a more thorough definition would be:  "The fear of the Lord" is to hate evil as much as God hates evil, and thereby to shun evil and turn away from evil so as not to offend such a holy being. This holy fear of God provides the conscience with the motive to be pleasing and obedient to God in everything, to turn away from evil, and to not give in to temptation.

The book of Proverbs makes it clear that “the fear of the Lord” is a godly virtue that must be valued, that must be chosen, that must be sought after, and that must be desired and searched for as for hidden treasure. Proverbs chapter two teaches how a disciple of Jesus can discern, cultivate, and find the fear of the Lord. Simply put, there is man’s part and there is God’s part, described in an “IF” condition followed by a “THEN” resulting reward. Man’s part is to actively cry out for discernment, to ask for understanding, and to seek for wisdom from God as silver and to search for her as for hidden treasure. This includes receiving God’s words and treasuring His commandments within one’s heart, actively listening to God’s wisdom, and inclining one’s heart to understanding.

In practical steps, this involves listening, reading, praying over, meditating upon, and memorizing God’s Word and God’s commandments. Christian parents need to model this to their children, practice it with them, and teach them this holy discipline of crying out for and searching for God’s hidden treasure of wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and understanding. This process can also be fostered, encouraged, modeled, and practiced in Christian home schools and in Christian day schools

However, this invaluable spiritual and moral discipline cannot be modeled and taught in public schools which despise the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Holy One and which are built upon the shifting sandy foundations of secular humanism, socialism, and atheism. The fear of the Lord is a virtue that is the antithesis of everything the government schools stand for. The fear of the Lord is incompatible with humanism and the idolatry of man found in government schools.

God’s part, the “THEN” aspect of this principle, is to impart into the heart of the searching disciple the fear of the Lord, the knowledge of God, discernment, and understanding. It is the Lord alone who gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. In this whole process, the disciple of Jesus will discover the knowledge of God and will discern the fear of the Lord, righteousness, justice, equity, and discretion. God’s stored up wisdom will be poured out on the disciple so that wisdom will enter his heart, knowledge will become pleasant to his soul, discretion will guard him, and understanding will watch over him to deliver him from the evil way and from the perverted man and from the strange woman and the adulteress. 

I will continue this message in Part 2 soon to follow...

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