Should testing the spirits be applied to education? This article shows that 1 John 4:1 applies to the education of your children.

2 pages.

Testing the Teachers

Having just completed the study if 1, 2 & 3 John in Family Bible Hour, we perhaps are especially sensitive to the need for us to be on guard against those who would attempt to delude either ourselves or others concerning the fundamental doctrine of Christ. John leaves us with no doubts concerning the proper response to those who profess Christ and yet who at the same time reject the truth of Christ, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:9-1).   Such are not to be treated as believers; they are not to be given the ‘right hand of fellowship’ (Galatians 2:9) for clearly they are not authentic believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. But by what process is this to be discerned? John tells us in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

By listening to what teachers confess (see, vv. 2, 3) as well as by asking pertinent/probing questions, one may discern whether such a professed Christian teacher is actually Christian

Clearly there is a need for this in every local church in every period of Church history and our generation is no exception. In fact, much literature has been written over the past 40 years exhorting the Church to do so. This is good, it is helpful and this contributes to the health of the local church.   

But there is one area of the Christian life that I have never heard this being applied to, and yet it is an area of absolute importance: those who teach our children.  I don’t mean to limit this to those who teach Sunday School and Awana. Rather I am speaking with reference to those who teach your children Monday thru Friday at their local school.

BBC has done a pretty thorough job of ensuring that your children are being taught truth when they sit under the teaching of the various ministries of BBC. But how are you, as a parent, doing when it comes to testing what your children are being taught at your child’s school have you ‘tested the teacher?’ Are they teaching truth to your children?  Since believing parents are required by God to train their child(ren) in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; since believing parents are required by God to teach them about the Lord in all areas of life (see Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6:1-4), then clearly they have the responsibility to ensure that those to whom they have delegated the responsibility to teach their children at school do not undermine the truth of God’s Word.  Clearly it is important that the local church instruct your children according to the truth of Christ. Can it even be argued that this is not important the rest of the week while they sit in a classroom? Since all truth is God’s truth, is your child’s teacher faithful with His truth? The purpose of this article is to motivate you (if you need motivation) to be proactive in guarding the hearts and minds of you children when they attend school.

When we initially enrolled our children in a local government school I made an appointment with the Headmistress to ask her some pertinent questions about the kind of education that my children would be getting. I realised later that I should also have asked the individual teachers the same questions. The Headmistress was obviously nervous as I asked the questions but she responded courteously and I appreciated it. I would assume that your child’s teacher will also respond well, but if he/she doesn’t then perhaps you should consider an alternative to that school. After all, as the parent you have a right to know the worldview of those who will be influencing the worldview of your child. Following are some fair questions. Please understand that I am thinking primarily of grade school/primary phase children:

  • Are you a Christian? How do you define ‘Christian?’
  • If they are a Christian, to which local church do you belong? Are you an involved member?
  • What is your view of the inspiration of Scriptures? Are they authoritative and sufficient in all areas?
  • If you are a Christian, what are your views concerning evolution? Do completely reject this philosophy? Are you willing to teach, without apology, biblical creation?
  • If the teacher is not a Christian then ask them what religion, if any, that they practice. Do they speak against the Christian faith? Are they antagonistic? Are they evangelistic with their religious worldview? That is, will they be seeking to convert your child to their religion?
  • What is your philosophy of education? That is, what is your purpose in the educating of my child?
  • What are your views of human sexuality? Do you believe that homosexuality is a legitimate lifestyle choice? Do you believe it is a sin for unmarried people to sleep together? What are your views on marriage? What are your views concerning the roles of the husband and of the wife?
  • What are your views regarding biblical manhood and womanhood? Do you subscribe to the popular idea that fundamentally men and woman are no different and that the ‘traditional’ roles can be reversed without violating any principle?
  • What are your views regarding the present clamour over climate change and other related issues of the ‘green’ movement. 
  • What is your view regarding the State’s involvement in education? Do you believe that the State has the legitimate role to provide and to determine a curriculum?

Certainly these are questions that no legitimate teacher should be uncomfortable about answering. These are only suggested questions, clearly there are many more that could be considered, and yet these samples all point to the fundamental issue of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If your child’s teacher cannot give a right answer (and of course we trust that their answers will be substantiated by their lifestyle) then you would be wise to think deeply about how you will guard the heart of your child.  If you need further assistance regarding this subject then I would be happy to discuss this with you further. 

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